Looky-Wooky

Shama made appointments with Zadam but things never worked out. The strange, disfigured man who called himself “Upside-downy” also had a reversed view of time.

It was unclear whether he swapped a.m. for p.m., seconds for minutes, or dates for hours, or some combination of them all. The result was that Shama waited around, became annoyed and went home. His calls to Zadam never went through. Those numbers were probably mixed up too.

Shama bumped into him crossing railway tracks. Zadam was chanting to himself again, saying, “Upside-downy; Upside down me; Everything is and everything isn’t; As it should be and as it shouldn’t; Upside-downy…”

Shama stopped right in front of him and said, “Hello there, stranger.”

Zadam replied in his usual backwards manner, “Goodbye.”

“That’s three appointments you haven’t kept this week. Is it worth making another one?”

Zadam’s mouth rose. This is what happens when it is set near the top, rather than the bottom, of your face. For once he was stuck for words. After a moment he said, “I would like to go for coffee, yes.”

He sometimes sees things so clearly, thought Shama. He anticipates whole conversations and relates them backwards, and can smell what things will become, but he misses so many things. His world is darkened by a hood pulled tightly around his deformed head. He is cut off. Shama felt that he should befriend him further to expand his existence.

They arrived at the coffee shop and took an empty table on the patio. Mt Alba shone white, seeming like an enormous pyramid that could only have been built by aliens. Maybe it was a symbol placed there in hope that we would one day understand. Despite it towering over the village, people remained unaware of its message, so clear, pointing upwards.

Shama brought two coffees to the table. Zadam raised his cup over his eyes and nose, to his lips. Some people stared.

“Does that bother you?” said Shama. “People staring at you?”

“They’ve never seen me before, so I don’t mind. Let them stare.”

Raising his mug, Zadam seemed cross-eyed, which somehow didn’t seem odd. It was the least strange thing about him. He said, “People have expectations. One view of things. But then they see other ways, and after a while they get used to them.”

Was Zadam speaking normally? Were his sentences now progressive rather than reversed? Or was it Shama’s mind compensating somehow?

Zadam continued, “It is silly to have only one view of things. Birds sing sweetly but also shit on your head. Electricity gives light but is made by burning fossil fuel. Cars take you places but also kill people. Rods and cones. Pods and bones. My mother and father, teachers, myself and God, are all good and bad. We see with rods and cones. Lights and colours. Sods and tones. Everything can be seen two ways. This way and that way.”

He was suddenly annoyed by something. He stood up and shouted at the coffee drinkers on the patio, “What are you all looking at?”

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