He was starting to do that thing the shadow man from his childhood did: fall asleep a lot, but at least his back was getting better. Jane in the shop said, “I’m glad my teeth are all false!” It was her usual inane response to something that was going on in his life.
He’d told her about his appointment with the dentist later in the day, “another bloody filling” he’d said, and that had been all she had to say – “glad my teeth are false.” It was similar to how whenever he tried to make any conversation with her, what came back, was always on the defensive, she always got the wrong end of the stick and it always sounded ridiculous to him. He knew she’d lost her mind many years ago.
To make matters worse, she was now asking him to repeat everything he said, as if she’d not heard him the first time. He’d always done this to her, asked her to repeat what she’d said, and all because he had high frequency deafness, the more he heard something the deafer he became. That’s high frequency deafness for you. He was so very tired of hearing the same things said over and over again. It was as if he’d lived hundreds of years, not just fifty two, but she seemed to be just copying him. He knew this because it was a new development. Unless she really was going deaf too.
People simply refused to acknowledge his deafness; the fact they needed his attention before speaking, and how he needed to see their faces to lip read. They simply refused to believe him. Perhaps they also understood what high frequency deafness really meant. Say something interesting though, and you’d catch his attention, that’s for sure. So few did. What did you say? Pardon? Say again? What? Fuck.
The funny thing was, some weeks ago, he’d asked her why she called herself Jane when her name was Carol. He’d seen her sign on with her official name, as it were, on the shop till, so knew her name was really Carol. A name that had a negative blast from the past for him.
Anyway, it turns out, when she was at school, and the teachers called out her name for registration, she wouldn’t hear them, so they started to call out Jane, her second name, and to their surprise, she answered. All that time thinking she was deaf and it was only her name she hated.
It’s funny how the universe seems to pull you, yes that’s the right words, pull you into situations that have some kind of metaphorical meaning; some sad link to the past. That was how he saw it anyway. He’d recently noticed all the scars on her arms from self harm; the amateur tattoos. Yes, she’d lost her mind some years ago, and was now doing over seventy hours a week to compensate.
Perhaps that was the answer then; the escape from all the insanity, just fall asleep and become a shadow man. It didn’t matter who he was talking to, they’re the great pretenders, he would think, I’m sick of this pretending. People mirroring, copying, is there no one else in this world now, am I truly all alone? Where are the real people now? Have they gone forever? Have you gone? It seems as if I’m the only one here, and its got so damn lonely; worse than ever. The silence is deafening. Like his bad back was fading; core strength returned.
Everyone seemed to have some pain; some malady; some complaint. Everyone* He might see a child in the shop though. It was so lovely to see them. So full of life, so full of love; until it’s knocked out of them by the adults that is.
No use complaining though, one grandparent was seen to say: “no sweets today, those are the rules” and it brought some hope. He though today how strange is the human who seems to just fix the problem never the cause. Like the fillings due to his sweet tooth. No sugar – no fillings, like our ancestors with their beautiful teeth, before sugar. It’s almost as if he can remember. So the humans don’t stop eating sugar, they simply invent dentists, and sugar cane fields, and sugar beet fields and shit. And shit.