First I saw the man, walking. Cropped hair. Crows peak. The balding man’s defense. He was dressed in a faded blue bath robe, the belt tied in a rough knot, loose towelling hanging in mouse tails. Between the robe’s hem and the top of this wellington boots, pale sickly skin, a bird’s thin legs. The heels of his boots dragged along the tarmac, forcing their way into its surface. I couldn’t take my eyes off those feet. Over the rubber were hand painted flowers or were they suns? In tipex. The sort of mess made on a ruined sixth form pencil tin.
I then saw the small dog cowered by the post next to the school gate. An escapee. The man bent down, scooping the runaway into his arms. He turned, set back in the direction he came in. We walked in parallel. He on one side of the pavement, I on the other. He paused when he reached his driveway, our eyes meeting, a quiet acknowledgement that I’d seen him in the first clothes he’d laid his hands on, flung on without any thought, probably hoping he could get away with it. Or didn’t give a damn. He’d lived here for god knows how many years, could bloody well wear whatever he pleased. I wasn’t bothered, simply fascinated by his drug haze combo of robe and galoshes. Very Withnail and I.
He turned away, walked towards his doorway muttering stupid dog, stupid dog under his breath. I carried on my way to preschool.