The sound of the oldest boy ricocheted down the alleyway. I ran. I hadn’t done anything but it didn’t matter. Those boys always bullied me. They were about my age but I was small for ten years old.
I ran around a corner only to nearly crash right into some of mother’s friends, especially dottering old Mrs. Wendy who was still wearing mostly black after her husband passed away four months ago.
“Kevin!” Miss Hazlemeare snapped.
“I know!” I managed “I’m sorry”
Behind them I saw a small alley and shot down there, the path rounding it’s way between towering tall buildings. The brick road became narrower and I stopped and cowered in a doorway with a large grey metal bin between me and where I had come from.
I couldn’t hear them. Just the drip, drip, dripping of water from somewhere nearby. I didn’t want to head back the way I came yet, but I had not been in this section of the city before.
I started walking thinking I had the way sorted out. I knew which way home was from when I ran past the ladies so I just needed a road that crossed again and took me that same way.
But then I realized the boys might know I had come down this way and were waiting for that.
Unlikely I realized as I started walking.
Above me in the narrow passage you could barely make out the sky, or any sun at all with the grey network of structures climbing all around. I was supposed to be home by a certain time. I knew I was trouble. They never listened if I talked of bullies.
Then i heard something very strange. It was a plunking sound with a tapping sound going along with it.
Tap tap…ta tap tap. Plunk plunk pu plunk. It made no sense and that is why I stopped. I looked around. Just high walls. Just steel doors. Just a grey street in the shadowed light of what i could guess was around five o’clock.
Then the noise again. I saw it. A single door was opened. But this door wasn’t grey. It was yellow like a gold mark in parts, red like roses in parts and blue like a summer sky. I walked quietly up to the strange door. I looked around to see if anyone could see me inching closer. The sound that went up and down in tone was coming from in there.
I looked in to see the room inside was lit by four handsome lamps, which by itself was extraordinarily extravagant as mother and all the other adults would never abide more than two. And in the middle was an older man, sitting on a simple wooden chair. Beneath him was a piece of wood which he tapped. In his hands was the strangest thing I ever saw. It was golden in parts and chocolate brown in others and had three cords that ran across it which he plunked withone hand, while the other moved a hand along a bright white plank. I didn’t see anyone in the room and he seemed completely fixated on what he was doing. His eyes were closed.
On the wall were other smaller pieces of wood that, like the door, were covered in colors. In one side of the room he had a collection of other devices, in every shape that I never could have imagined.
“Hmmm mmm hmm” he said to noone as he continued, the tone of his humming then rising and falling.
It was strange and I could only stand by the door mesmerized. People didn’t make their door or anything in funny colors. People didn’t make funny noises to the air for no reason but there he was.
“You going to stand there all day boy?” He said with his eyes still closed as he continued to plunk and tap, the plunking changing tone quickly as he went up the white board to its end.
“I’m sorry, Sir” I said as I went inside. Then I saw one of the coloured boards that really caught me off guard. It looked like the great commons in the heart of the city but it was made in his colors. In this case layers of different blues like the sky, the rivers and distant mountains.
“Do you want to take something with you?” He asked.
I just stood there. I was perplexed but also wondering what mother would say if I walked in with something like what I saw.
“You must be late for dinner, young man,” he said “I’ll take you home but here…”
He got up and went over to his desk by the hearth of his fireplace. He took a little wooden bird and brought it over to me. I had never seen anyone make a pretend thing like this, let alone how it seemed colored to look like a baby chick from the farming lands.
“Do you like it?” He asked.
I looked at it. It clearly had taken him long to make it just so and given it bright colors. It felt light in my hands. I have never been to the farming lands but I could imagine it was like that. I liked how it made me think of that.
“I do like it.”
He smiled and gestured for me to follow him. We went outside into his front garage where he had one of those metal grey engines with the side car. After clearing the side car of all kinds of strange things he seemed to have picked from the forest, from the beach and from the cheap markets he had get in. I got in and he passed me a big oversized black helmet which on my head both made me look ridiculous but also made me feel invisible which I liked as well.
“But Sir…” I said as he got on the motorcycle and started it with a loud roar.
“Why do you do these things?”
“I never know,” he said and thought about it “It could be the lady from the moon who started it.”
And with that we zoomed into the street and raced down the road, the cobbles bouncing me so hard that I swear, I thought the vehicle would come apart and I would crash. It was fun as we raced through my old city, passed the commons and into the roads where the housing lights of people were lit warmly. We slid up to my front drive where I could see mother.
“Who’s the lady in the moon?”
“That’s for another time!” he said.
I thanked him and went inside. I told mother about him but decided to keep the bird to myself. She said he was a widower named Mr. Leon and how oh yes, people knew about him. He was very strange and told stories which we dont do because they are lies.
I had supper and after doing homework by the fire I kissed mother goodnight. Upstairs I was soon lying in my bed. The sound of funny Mr. Leon’s plunking came back to mind. Through my curtains I swear I could see the lady in the moon give me a wink.