“You called?” said the tall, willowy man who appeared at his side.
Dylan turned his head and stared at the stranger who had suddenly appeared beside him, his hands clenching inside the pockets of his khaki, K -WAY jacket. “Sorry…what?”
The man sighed. Dylan continued to stare at him, waiting for him to get out of his personal space. The stranger remained stationary, arms folded and gazing out at the space front of him. Dylan fingered the mobile phone in his pocket ready to whip it out if necessary. The man didn’t look like a nutter but he was behaving like one. People always seemed to invade your personal space when you wanted to be alone and think. A gentle walk to clear the feeling of uneasiness was all he’d needed and as he’d stopped to admire the timber tiles on the old church and lose his thoughts to the sky, this weirdo pops up out of nowhere. He felt the sole of his trainer catch on the metal ridges of the grate as he shuffled slightly away.
“Why is a manhole cover round?” The man asked.
Dylan looked up from the metal cover that had caught his foot. “What..? look..”
“It’s a circular question, Dylan,” the man interrupted.
“Wha…How do you know my name? Do I know you?” Dylan studied the mans face. Nondescript; fading into beige. He didn’t recognise him.
“Manhole covers are round because manholes are round.” The stranger answered and stared into Dylan’s open mouth. “Like I said Dylan, I heard your call, or should I say, your screaming thoughts.”
The stranger took Dylan’s shoulders and turned him slightly. He didn’t protest because he couldn’t move. The only thing he could feel was the increasing heat from the phone still held firmly in his hand. That and a wave of panic.
“That’s better.” The stranger dusted off his hands and came to face Dylan. “A solid quarter turn to lock you in place. It’s impossible for you to fall into your own hole now. “
“I’m, I…err…I’m not sure I understand…following your meaning.” Dylan stammered.
“Oh come now, Dylan! You’re even starting to drain me. It’s time to put a lid on it. What do you want to become?”
“Yes, Dylan. Become. What is it you want to become? You’ve been thinking about that a lot, have you not?”
“ Well…I…I’ve been thinking about a lot of things.” Dylan felt like a school boy in front of this presence.
“Dylan, you seem to just spiral into a heap of thoughts and get lost in the detritus. You appear to have lost your position in life. Your load has reached maximum capacity, my friend, and you are drowning in your own shit as well as everyone else’s. It won’t be long before people start to avoid you.”
“Get out of the sewer Dylan! Are you human waste or HUMAN waste?”
Dylan wanted to cry. He wanted to cry because he felt violated. He felt small. He felt like this because the man was right. He felt the blockage start to shift.
The man smiled.
“When you become something, you start to be that thing,” the stranger stated as he started to walk away. “Think about that, Dylan.”