“Hold that thought…” was all the message said. If it had been scribbled on a piece of paper you’d be tempted to turn it over and look at the other side to see if there was more. But it was an email, and there was no other side to it. He wasn’t even sure it was addressed to him. You never could tell with those forums. What troubled him most was that the phrase was so familiar. He’d heard a young woman saying it. He could even smell her perfume. But wrack his brains as he would, he couldn’t remember who, let alone when and where. It must have been a film he’d seen once, or twice. Or maybe a TV series. He felt like the man at the bus stop. You know. The one standing there dreaming of better times, when someone says “Oie you!” He looks around to see who is being addressed. But there’s only him. “Yeah you!” the voice persists. Perplexed our man at the bus stop points his thumb at his chest as if to say: “Who me?” Incredulous. “Sure! You! Can you hold this for me?” the person asks. He hadn’t noticed the little man before. The guy is holding an enormous sheet of glass at least four times his size. And he launches into a lengthy explanation which involves his aunt, a stray dog, the neighbour’s young daughter and a great deal of glue. Our man at the bus stop is tempted to ask “Why me?” but he keeps his mouth shut. It wouldn’t do to show he doesn’t understand a word that’s been said. “Oh my God!” the dwarf exclaims. “Is that the time?” And he agitates the sheet of glass making our man at the stop take a step back for fear the glass might shatter. “Here hold this a sec,” the dwarf says and thrusts the glass in his direction. More to protect himself than to comply, our bus stop man takes what he’s given. “Where did I put that letter?” the dwarf asks himself the moment his hands are free. And he begins searching frantically in every pocket. And he’s got a lot of them. Pockets, I mean. Nothing. “Oh how irritating!” he exclaims. “I must have left it at home.” And he hurries off, calling out over his shoulder: “Be back in a mo!” Our man at the bus stop feels a bit foolish, to put it mildly, but luckily he’s still alone at the stop. Five minutes later though, quite a crowd has gathered. The bus is late. As usual. And several people are looking at him as if he’s escaped from a local mental hospital. He tries desperately to look inconspicuous. It’s a hard task in the circumstances. When the bus finally arrives, there’s still no sign of the dwarf. Our man is getting desperate. People push past him to get on the bus. Some more roughly than others. He tries to fend them off, to protect the glass. What should he do? He can’t just leave the glass there. It would be dangerous. And it’s too big to get on the bus. The bus conductor looks at him quizzically but all our man at the bus stop can do is shrug. So the bus pulls reluctantly away from the curb and accelerates down the street with all its occupants staring out at him.
The photo: Celebrating thirty years of a shop called ‘Chez Josiane’