Alpinism

The grey smell of cigarettes permeates the air. It seems to hang around his hunched frame like a fine mist, seeping into the personal space of the people around him. To the tongue it tastes of forgotten places and old times, whilst the eye sees the burn holes in his once black jacket. Made from leather it is slightly too big for him, further defining his stocky posture whilst simultaneously grounding his form. From between his lanky shoulders sticks his head like a stony cliff. Amidst the cracks and angles his eyes lie like lochs. Refracting the world they see, his gaze wavering from time to time. The split lips clench as if wanting to hold on to something. As they relax a white-patched tongue glistens from the cavernous mouth and moistens the lips loudly.

Shining from high above is a small globe which illuminates the man rooted to his stool. A stocky right-hand is released from the depths of its pocket and slowly reaches towards the glass that is standing on the bar diagonally across from it. Moving at a glacial pace the hand spreads a deformed shadow over the body of which it is part. The dark crawls over thigh and knee until it is disturbed by the left-hand gliding upwards. This hand goes up, up, up and reaches for long strands of granite. As the one hand envelops the glass, the other moves its thick, nicotined fingers and pushes hair behind ear.

He sits in his corner and absorbs the liquid that spills into his mouth. Small sips are saved in the hollow of his cheek, before sliding further down. His eyes drift, focusing on the not here. Whilst the bar is crowded his space is still home to solitude. His corner was, is and will be his corner. The indent on the wall next to his stool resembles the patch on the back of his jacket, fitting like two sides of a cracked stone. Similar but different.

After taking another drop of drink he mumbles heavily under his breath. The words fall away in the folds of his jacket. Here they mingle with earlier murmurings and small flakes of ash like pebbles in an avalanche. His words seem to have no meaning. The hand that holds the glass moves back to the counter with insurmountable purpose. With a loud thud the glass is placed back upon the wood.

The shape that is the man leans back against the wall with a grinding sigh. His leather jacket shifts and cracks as the man adjusts his frame to fit the wall. The eyelids drop patiently over the water of his eyes. As time passes, man and corner become indistinguishable except for the low rumbling emanating from the man.

 

Pauw Vos

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