…be visible, be manifest, be apparent, be an exhibit, be presented on a stage
Helen didn’t see Oscar perform that both ridiculous and miraculous feat; at least, she didn’t see the person who is Oscar perform it. She saw a person, any person, that person could have been her, she saw herself, it was her; Helen was much more comfortable with the idea of being the main act, up on stage, the object of every gap in the curtains from number fifty-three to number one, her face lit up by that yellow street light. She didn’t seem to hear Oscar’s return, didn’t register his stumbling arrival into the hallway, how he must have tripped over something and then fell quite heavily against the door and, tumbling onto the living room floor, his flailing body smashing a glass which must have been left on the floor, and his feet finally crashing down onto the glass top of the coffee table.
Once the lights were on, Helen surveying the damage with a sneer, the show was over. And there was Oscar – newly illuminated as a prostrate figure with a trickle of blood on his forehead, a wince of pain stretching his face, wide eyes registering something he thought he saw on the ceiling, perhaps an explanation, and his lips still half curled into the smile he must have worn since divesting himself of the mattress he had minutes before been weighed down by.
“Where are you going to sleep tonight?” Helen asked by way restoring the usual level of reality to the house.
Oscar’s expression didn’t visibly change. He did not appear to attempt an answer.
“What an exhibition!”
Helen went upstairs in order to plan the next scene – the main act.
Briefly considering which item would be best suited to being flung atop the pile of detritus now becoming a mountain with that skip as its base, Helen exits the stage and enters her bedroom into which we cannot see. There was next the sound of Helen tugging her broken television away from the wall and off her chest of drawers. However, it being, as televisions usually are, attached to the wall with an electrical cord, there was next the sound of it snapping out of her grasp and falling to the floor, shattering its screen.
There next was the sound, or the lack of a sound, of Helen being left momentarily distraught; her television was broken. But Helen decided to defer the drama, the drama of her broken television… I could have been killed, my god you should have heard the bang, there was glass everywhere, it’s was a deafening explosion, it just missed my bare feet or I couldn’t believe it… maybe reminding herself that the television had been broken for at least six months and that another drama had yet to be unfolded on the streets outside.
With the sound of Helen picking up the television, the sound of pieces of its glass screen and electronic insides trailing after her, she made her way back into the glare of the story, onto the landing and then to the top of the stairs where she realised that the weight of the television was substantial and that there was some danger to her person occasioned by this weight, and this danger was heightened by the precipitous fall which confronted her. The front door opening, revealing the shadow of someone who could have been anyone, proved to be sufficient stimulation to prompt Helen to drop the television and scream a scream of distress and shock, though modulating it slightly with a shriek of high amusement when she registered Henry’s distraught face at the sharp end of the spectacle she had just unleashed.
The final crash was worthy of another scream, one of surprise, but Helen chose to abstain, choosing instead a look of supreme indifference, in order to round off the perfect performance.
Henry said nothing, just stood there frozen, but his eyes moved to follow the descent of Helen, her arrival at his level, her leaning over to pick up the television which lay surprisingly in one piece at his feet, and then her matter of fact face, the flick of a stray strand of hair from her face, and her polite cough to remind him of the more than obvious fact that he was stood right in her way.
Now it was her turn – not that she was ever waiting for a turn, her turn, it always being her turn.
Helen took the briefest of looks up either end of the street, but once she was on the footpath she managed to perform an exaggerated survey of the area, stretching her neck, jerkily turning her head, crouching down then standing up on her tiptoes. And now, filling the role of someone who’s up to no good with great aplomb, she strutted down the street in as graceful a manner as the weight of a broken television would allow.
The street was quiet, but every gap in every curtain from number fifty-three to number one would have been aimed at her, of that she could be certain. Henry would have by now closed the door behind her and assumed a position in the gap of the curtains of number twenty-five, calling to Oscar to come and take a look at this. And the danger of getting caught was ever so high. What a risk! What a lark! What a complete and utter drama!
The most frightening thought for Helen would now have been what if no one saw her do it – what if she really was unobserved, no one really looking at her, not under the gaze of, not at the centre of the attention of, not obtaining the displeasure, not the disgust, not the disrespect of strangers, distant neighbours, of Henry and Oscar. Come and look at this, she should call out. She should scream.
But Helen shrugged off all doubts, all nagging doubts, what doubts? – here she was, at the centre of the world, revolving around her was the scene, a quite street, the dark end of an evening, yellow pools of light which she paused in, as though catching her breath, the rubbish skip ahead of her, its promise, its danger, its calling out, its everything, she’s everything. Her approach, now into another pool of yellow light, she pauses, aware of the dangers all around her, discovery moments away, how dare she, how dare she do something so… it was a disgrace, it was disgraceful behaviour, it was shocking, she was shocking… she slowly walked the last few steps, heaved the television as high as she could so that it would crash down, and there would be the sound of smashing glass filling the empty street as she fled from her transgression, the crash of broken glass, and as the television transcribed the briefest of arcs towards its cataclysmic destruction, Helen knew she would have to run, she pictured herself running, and then she was running, and she must have run so fast because she was half way to the back gate of safety and fame at number twenty-five when she finally heard the belated crash of her transgression, as the television had bounced twice on the mattress which Oscar had thrown in, only to finally miss its mark and end up a tangled crash of glass and metal on the other side of the skip.
Helen had hit the bull’s eye.