xiii Witch Doctor

Let me tell you about a man I observed when sitting upstairs in the bus a few days ago.

He stood at the bus stop, but didn’t get on the bus. He had clearly just arrived from abroad because the unobtrusive black suitcase next to him had a tag reading ‘LGW’; London Gatwick. Even if it hadn’t been for that, I would have guessed he wasn’t a commonplace man because his appearance and manner was remarkably peculiar, and reminded me, what with one thing or another, of what I imagine a Voodoo witch doctor to look like.

He was a very tall, lean, black man with an unmistakeable impression not only of great size, but also an imposing and powerful character. The first thing which drew my eye to him was his unusual blue leather trench coat which reached the length of his body and swung gently at his ankles, for he was listening to something on an anachronistic iPod, to which he swayed slowly and purposefully.

The rest of his wardrobe was unspectacular; a white linen shirt, camel trousers, brown leather shoes, black fingerless gloves… He wore two necklaces (a short length of string with black wooden sticks hanging off it which echoed an amulet of charred bones, and a longer silver chain which disappeared mysteriously under the fabric of his shirt, weighed down by a hidden pendant) and on his nose there rested an oversized pair of sunglasses straight out of the 1970s.

His hair pointed stiffly away from his face as if he had stood too long in a strong, salty wind and was left with a shock of greying curls which tapered several inches behind his head. His skin also looked as though it had been stretched tightly back toward his temples; or rather, it seemed as though his eyebrow bones, his nose, his mouth and chin were straining forwards and out of his face. All in all, a very aerodynamic head (perfect for flying, I thought).

The bus stood for several minutes at the stop but he didn’t look at it once, so deeply immersed was he in some deep trance-like state induced partly by the music and I don’t doubt partly by the joint which hung flaccidly from his lip. At one point he absentmindedly, almost mechanically, took out a tin the size of a pocket-book, opened it and after a brief but intense appraisal of it’s contents, gave it a sharp rap on the side before slipping it once more into an inside pocket. A moment later he reached into his pocket and a lighter fell out. Instead of picking it up, the man looked at it blankly with a cocked eyebrow, settled back into his hips and beckoned to it with a sure, firm flick of the index and middle finger of his right hand. I almost expected it to fly off the pavement and into his palm but after a pause he bent down, unsteady on his feet as if he was unaccustomed to the physical effort, and swept the lighter back into his pocket along with the tin from earlier.

The thing which stayed with me most was the way he swayed in time to the music; at first it seemed as though he were unaware of it, guided by a distant breeze – yet slowly I noticed a rhythmical purposefulness in his movements. He appeared to be simultaneously absolutely transported far away, and yet fiercly intense. His movements were slow and unassuming but something unmistakeably sinister, a frightening power radiated from his every muscle, while the strong, thick, dark, whorled fingers conducted a wild melody; a macabre dance of sticks and of stones and all manner of white sun-bleached bones.

Hello. I seem to have lost momentum regarding the blog,. Would you believe I actually have wit when I speak? I don’t know where it goes when I write but I feel like these blogs are always dull. I used to be such a good writer; but always only regarding fiction. Ask me to write about my thoughts or experiences or observations or hopes and I just end up relying on an unembellished, matter-of-fact tone with the charisma of a limp sock, or pulling out well-worn clichés and phrases which are relatively inaccurate anyway.

Well, it’s not something I can change just like that so I won’t dwell on it.

Bah humbug.


Have you seen anyone unusual lately?

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