Stand clear. Luggage doors operate.

by ericavanhorn

15 May Friday

I went to catch the 3.45 post.  The village was full of cars.  I parked at the bottom of the bridge and walked in. I thought the cars were lined up for a funeral but I knew that funerals are always always at 11 in the morning.  This was not the right time of day for a funeral.  People were standing in front of the church and across the street in front of the shop and facing the church.  Everyone was talking but there was not much sound.  It was quiet with the waiting.  I nodded and spoke to people as I went along and into the shop.  The entire side of the street in front of the church was blocked off with striped plastic tapes.  I went into the shop and posted my parcels.  By the time I had done that, the lights were turned off, the shades were pulled down and the door was shut.  Kieran pulled the grating halfway down.  I was trapped in the shop.  I did my photocopying in the dim light.  The three of us talked in low voices even though we were inside the shop and we could have spoken in normal voices.  The man who died was 85 or 86 and had been poorly for 14 years.  For the last 8 years he had been badly taken with Alzheimer’s.  He had a large family.  I did not know the man and I do not think I know his family.  I might know some of them by sight but this was not the time to find out.  He had six or seven daughters and one son and they all had children and then there were some great-grandchildren too. The reason that the funeral had to be so late in the day was because they were waiting for the sister of the deceased.  She was 84 herself and had to take several planes to get here from the western provinces of Canada.

When the hearse arrived all of the striped tapes were quickly removed and the family was able to park all along in front of the church.  We watched from a small unshaded area of the window.   Dozens and dozens of floral wreathes and bouquets were taken out of the back of the hearse.  Each one was handed to a young girl.  There were lots of little girls in bright outfits.  In no time they were each holding flowers.  When the coffin was carried into the church, the girls and their flowers followed close behind and then the rest of the family went in and then other people filed in.  Not everyone went into the church. There are always some men who stand outside and smoke and speak among themselves while the service goes on inside. Other people simply take their leave after the coffin has been carried into the church.  That was when I slipped out and under the grating and headed back to my car.  In the thirty minutes or so that I had been in the shop, another 8 cars had pulled in and parked behind me. Cars were parked right up the side of the narrow bridge.

11 May Monday

I am obsessed with the recorded announcement: STAND CLEAR. LUGGAGE DOORS OPERATE.  It repeats again and again for the entire time that the luggage doors are open.  The doors swing upward from the side of the bus whenever there is a stop and when someone needs to get something out or to put something in under the bus. Underneath is the storage place for baby prams, suitcases and other cumbersome packages.  Each time I listen carefully to the announcement.  There is something wrong with the sentence.  I feel certain it should say LUGGAGE DOORS OPERATING or LUGGAGE DOORS ARE OPERATING. I listen hard to try to hear if I am missing a syllable or a word.  I have listened so hard and so carefully so many times that I now find myself saying the words along with the announcement. I repeat the words at exactly the same speed as the recording.  It is more intoning than speaking the words.  If they are repeated ten times I chant them ten times.  I harbour a fantasy of everyone on the bus repeating the words along with me and along with the announcement.  It would be a quiet kind of joining in.  When the announcement stops and the doors return to their closed position, everyone will continue reading or texting or sleeping and not one of us will refer to the chanting which we did together.  The next time the door opens we will all do it again. And again.  All the way to Cork or Dublin or wherever the bus is going.

10 May Sunday

It is crazy weather.  The sun is out most of the time.  The rain is lashing down most of the time.  The sun does not disappear behind clouds.  The rain just falls hard and then not so hard and then just a little.  The rain continues without cease.  The birds keep singing.  Sometimes the noise of the rain on the roof of the big room is so loud that it is difficult to hear myself think.  But beyond the sound of the heavy rain the bird song breaks through.  The wind is gusting and blowing all the time.  The wind never stops either.  Nothing stops.  Rain. Sun. Birds. Wind.  Nothing stops so nothing else stops.

9 May Saturday

As I walked toward the entrance of the market, I saw a man walking away from the market.  He had four leeks in his left hand.  He had nothing else.  He carried neither a bag nor a basket.  I could hardly believe that he came to the market just to purchase four leeks.  I have been thinking about him all day.

8 May Friday

A cardboard box had been cut open and flattened out on the ground.  On top of the cardboard there was a brown rubber backed door mat.  and the whole thing was topped by an orange rubber traffic cone.  I thought it was all covering up a hole in the tarmac, but instead it was covering up a spill.  Someone had dropped a bucket of paint.  Sky blue paint oozed out from the edges of the cardboard.  The apparatus and the traffic cone were in place to protect customers to the shop from stepping out of their car and right into the pigment.  After three days the cardboard and the carpet have been removed.  What remains is a sky blue shaped mess with orange cones on either side of it. I assume that the cones are still there because if the paint was oil based, it might still be wet.

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