Christian looks at his watch. The bus shakes and rocks past Camberwell Green. People on the grass, picnicking in the Monday Sun, 3h30 pm. Christian feels a little drowsy. He hopes to get back home well in time before the next match starts. The seat next to him is vacant and on the other side of the aisle sits a black student. She stares out of the window, to the shops, to Albertos Hairdressers. He stares at her. His gaze follows her curves. From her pretty face with clear cheeks, her smooth neck and shoulders, her breasts struggling with her relatively tight top, trimmed belly, short skirt and long brown legs ending in low boots. “Hello Jamila” Christian says slowly. She turns around and looks annoyed as she presses the stop button, gets up and fetches her bag. “That’s not my name, perv” she bites at him. Christian laughs “it’s what it says on your bag, lady” he responds. Jamila quickly puts her dangling Uni-ID card back into her bag and walks towards the stairs. As she descends to the lower deck she throws Christian another angry look. But he is looking out the window. “Asshole” she mutters as the 468 bus pulls up to the Camberwell-Denmark Hill bus stop next to the MacDonald’s. As she gets out she feels Christian’s eyes burn in her back but she decides not to turn around and check. She hates these kinds of things. It leaves her feeling dirty.
“Nice ass” Christian says to himself as his eyes follow Jamila while the bus pulls away to resume it’s route. “A little more respect, bruv” says a fellow passenger behind Christian. Christian gets up, he watches through the rear window. Jamila crosses the road towards the corner with Camberwell Church street. She enters and disappears from his sight. Christian turns to the passenger. “I pay shitloads for my monthly ticket. I can at least have some fun for it”. Laughs. The fellow passenger smiles wryly. Christian gets back into his seat and looks at his phone. His finger on the touch screen. He swipes left. He swipes left. He swipes left.
The images enter the brain and connect, reconnect and memories, sensations and urges are recalled. Why left? Why right? “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” they tell us, but then a book hardly ever decides which pictures it places upon its cover. What is it of ourselves that we encode in our selection of five or ten thumbnail pictures on a profile in a dating app? Do we just rather randomly pick images we think of as pleasing for ourselves. Or do we send a hidden message that we ourselves are hardly aware of? Twelve well-chosen images of Christ are likely enough to tell the gist of the gospel. Most of us probably would feel that couldn’t do us justice and yet most of us would remain without words when asked to write down the novel contained within us. So we pick five to ten frozen moments and put them out there musing they are meaningless, yet hoping they ensnare the right people in our spell.
He swipes left. He swipes left. When Christian looks up the sign calls the next bus stop. Blanchedown. He presses the button, jumps up and hurries down the stairs almost losing his phone on the way. As the buss pulls away again Christian walks along Blanchedown till it takes him onto the Green Dale. He likes this walk. Green trees. Birds and Squirrels. A smiling middle-aged lady leaves one of the homes and closes the door behind her. “Hi Ruta” Christian says and waves at her “making your rounds again?” Ruta closes her bag and swings it on her back “still a few more house calls to do” she nods in the direction of Blanchedown. “You’re early today” she smiles. As he passes her he confirms “Football” and smiles. He hears her “Enjoy!” as he continues down the Green Dale. He passes the Mother Goose nurseries. The sound of children playing. Anticipation of being collected by parents. Christian frowns.
Silence falls around him. One step after the other, trees on both sides. An occasional bicyclist passes. Every two minutes a plane descends towards Heathrow. Every five minutes one turning towards the East, to London City. Christian turns left, deeper into the greens, no more cyclists. Blackberry bushes, plums trees. But June hasn’t had enough Sun this year. All still green and sour. All. He looks at the planes overhead. Sometimes here you can see three or four in the air at the same time. “If I had a Stinger” he mumbles. Placing the imagined surface-to-air man-held missile-launcher on his shoulder. Taking aim at an A380 coming in towards Heathrow. “For the Spaghetti monster … bang”.
Christian comes out of the wooded path back onto the asphalt of a street. He approaches a round-about. For a minute he looks at it. It’s a bull’s eye, really. Christian steps into he centre of the bull’s eye and closes his eyes for a few seconds. A deep desire stirs within him. If he were on an app for targets. Would they swipe left? Would they swipe left? Or would they see he’s in the bull’s eye? He steps forward, opening his eyes. His hands reach for the keys to his home’s door. He walks into the street where he lives.