Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 15 January 2017
The young woman sits in her flat, fantasising about firemen as she has done many times before.
She has reverted to the standard scenario of 'toe stuck in bath tap; downstairs door locked; firemen forced to enter via upstairs window by ladder; water still pleasantly warm in bath, etc.' because the real event, when it happened, was profoundly unfulfilling.
He didn't look like a fireman when she chatted to him in the pub, but the somewhat over-weight, middle aged, married man that he became when off duty and out of uniform, without the huge yellow helmet hiding his receding hair-line.
It had all been over and done with in a sweaty and hurried, drunken struggle, and then he had left immediately to avoid having to fabricate an over-elaborate reason to explain his lateness to his waiting wife.
She had agreed to join him at the archery sessions he held on the following Saturday, but was regretting it. She did not want to repeat the experience, and had no interest in archery whatsoever.
Drifting between fantasy and reality, she becomes aware of a persistent and insistent sound coming from the street outside. A dog is hoarsley barking down on the pavement, and the unchanging volume of it tells her that it is not moving.
She imagines it to be tethered to a lampost, waiting for its owner to come out of a nearby shop and tries to ignore it, but the barking continues for too long, so she summons a mental picture of the street outside her front door. She remembers that there is no post of any kind near enough for the dog to be tied to, so she rises from the chair and goes to the window to investigate.
Down on the pavement, there is an old, large and mangey-looking dog with some indistinct object at its feet. It is staring straight up at her and when she reaches the window, it momentarilly stops barking as its eyes meet hers, then it continues again a little more persistently. Some people walking past pause briefly to look up at her. She wants to explain that this dog is nothing to do with her - she has never seen it before - but decides to go down to see what it wants.
She opens the door and the dog immediatelt puts his head over the threshold, drops the object on the mat at her feet, then turns to walk away in the direction of the station. It is a child's doll.
She takes the doll upstairs and throws it on a table before putting on the kettle to make some tea. When she has the tea in a cup, she goes back to the table and picks up the doll again to examine it more closely.
It is extremely well made for a toy, and the clothes on it are of a microscopically fine and intricately made exquisiteness. She finds a magnifying glass in a drawer and looks closer still. She has never seen fabric like this.
As she turns the little doll over in her hands, it slowly dawns on her that there is something extremely unusual about it. She rolls the thing around through 360 degrees, trying to focus on the minute weft of the fabric. She thinks she must have missed something, but she cannot decide what.
Then she understands. There are no seams on the cloth of the doll's clothes. The only way they could have been made would be to weave the fabric around the doll itself, which would have been impossible.
Feeling slightly faint, she puts the doll into a drawer with the magnifying glass and runs a bath.