Friday, 21 December 2012

Bingo

Tired, I look for a place to sit. I drift down a dark road where I think there might be a bench. My thinking is correct. Here is a bench set back from the road under a tall tree. Soft mud under my feet carpet with dried pine needles. I sit down, alone in the dark: a stranger in town with no place to go. Sometimes people pass. When they sense my presence they give me a quick glance. Then look away even faster. Quicken their steps. Give me a wide berth. Who can blame them? Grown men don't sit out on their own at night on dark benches. If only they really knew...

A woman in a hurry comes out of the building just down the road from where I'm sitting. The Digby Hall – a relic from between the wars. Coat-Of-Arms above the door. My Grandmother used to play bingo there. She took me once. I remember the booklets of numbers. The red felt pens for circling the numbers. Best of all, the bingo caller with his hair greased down with Brylcream. Spotty bow-tie at his throat. An old-time compère from the radio days except that he had a terrible speech impediment that might it hard to decipher the numbers. After awhile, you tuned in, understood him. All the twos, dinky doo... two fat ladies, eighty eight, legs eleven... and all the old ladies joining in, laughing as if hearing these strange phrases for the first time.

I think I won. No, I know I won. But I can't remember if it was a line or a house. I think it must have been a line. All I remember for sure was that I stared at the numbers in their red circles with stunned disbelief. This would mean that I would have to call out. Make my voice heard in this dusty old hall. I tugged at my Grandmother's arm. Line, she called. We've got a line and there was a murmuring ripple of voices. All eyes turned our way.

The eyes still, though I'm trying hard not to be noticed, turn my way. But for tonight, at least, I sure haven't got a house.

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