I have never seen Dave in such a state. His desperate knocking at my front door signalled total panic. He almost fell in. I supported his shaking, staggering frame down the hall into the kitchen, sat him at the table and put the kettle on.
Dave, hair dishevelled, face drained of all colour, slumped forward, holding his head in cupped hands. His trembling caused his elbows to knock on the table.
I took the chair opposite, trying to make some sense of the situation. He raised his head slightly, staring vacantly, eyes wide and unblinking.
“Dave, hi, how are you?” My first, very inept, attempt to find out what had happened prompted no response.
“Dave, Dave - what’s happened? What the hell has happened to you?”
Silence persisted, then the kettle boiled. I decided I should leave him to adjust and perhaps prepare an explanation while I made the tea.
I placed a mug before him. He cupped his hands around it, the warmth seemed to finally bring him into the moment. He gazed into the rising steam, his eyes watered.
I fetched my mug, sat down and waited. Well?.. I questioned with my eyes and raised eyebrows. I waited. I sensed that Dave was beginning to formulate a response.
“The Canal - shortcut to the corner shop.”
“It was yellow, with green stripes. Rough, suede, velcro to tighten around the wrist.”
“A glove? Sounds like a gardening glove. Is that what you saw?”
“A glove, yeah, lying there on the path. Right there on the towpath. Couldn’t miss it.”
“Well no. Only one? Shame there wasn’t a pair. Did you look?”
“Five fingers, shaped like it was holding something, or shaking your hand…….”
“Yeah, Dave, gloves do have five fingers and gloves like that hold their shape. They’re tough, well made. Bet whoever lost it is cursing!”
“Bent down, picked it up…..”
An uneasy silence again filled the void across the kitchen table. I was unsure of what gentle prompt might move the conversation on. I employed my questioning eyebrows once more, but Dave was still staring down into his tea.
“OK, so you saw a glove on the towpath, you picked it up? Been there long? Smelly? Dirty? Gross? What’s the story Dave?”
“It was heavy……. It was dry…….. and clean…....” Dave folded his arms and lay his head down, he actually began sobbing.
“Dave? What? What’s up mate? What….”
“No, you don’t get it!” he mumbled, “I picked it up. Held it right in front of me. There was a…. There was a hand in it!”
“Bloody hell, no wonder you are spooked! A hand, in the glove. You picked it up and there was a hand in it?” I tried to take this in, “This is a wind up yeah?”
“A hand, someone’s hand. What should I do? Freaked me out. You don’t believe me, look I’ll show you.” He reached down into his coat pocket…...
© Steve Redshaw 2021-07-08