Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Fist Full of Fingers

Every Friday afternoon, at four o’clock on the dot, someone would plonk a frosty bottle on Shane’s desk, smile at him and say, “Beer o’clock mate,” as if they’d just invented the expression.

Shane would twist his lips into a smile, give a thin, watery, “Thank-you” and turn back to his work.

At five o’clock on the dot, Shane would drop the unopened bottle into his rubbish bin, and head home.

Shane always watched the same movie, a Western, he knew it by heart.

An unforgiving sun bakes a barren landscape and highlights every line, every contour, of the face of a man with no name.

The camera holds this unflinching face, the hero’s face, far longer than is polite. The face is strong and stoic, brave and uncompromising. It is the face of a man who has no doubts and no rules. It is the face of a man not afraid of who he is.

At the end of the movie Shane finds he is still holding the remote, his thumb still on the play button. He looks down at his arm, his hand, and is reminded that he is not a man with no name: he is Shane.

Every Friday night Shane dreams the same dream: a lens-flare world; a wind blown street; a faceless crowd; a gun fighter; an empty holster. There will be a shot. He will fall to the ground. Rattling spurs will come towards him; and the Man with No Name will be standing over him.

One Friday afternoon, at four o’clock on the dot, Shane swivelled his chair at precisely the same moment as a beer was landing on his desk.

“Not tonight thank-you,” said Shane with force.

“But it’s beer o’clock.”

Shane narrowed his eyes and turned back to his work.

At five o’clock on the dot, Shane headed home. He watched the same movie, had the same realisation and went to bed expecting the same dream.

But that night the dream was different. The hot wind felt the same, and his holster was as empty as ever. The same jangling spurs were coming towards him as he fell to the ground. But as he looked up he didn’t see the Man with No Name: he saw himself.

Shane woke-up happy.

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