He wore his clown face – brimming with big boned and jumbled features – and smiled. But his bug-blue eyes, when you looked into them, held only reflections of sad and shaded river pools in some other autumn, and beneath the surface shadows and shapes shifted and were unseen again as the beds eddied.
In retrospect, those pools had held clues all along: that he was merely suspended between elements, between realities, that he would never emerge fully from that quiet dell at the water’s edge into the sunlight of this world. He was a guest to every mirrored surface; brief and, in the sense that he could not be held in their plane for long without inevitably fading, unbearable.
The last time I saw him, some years ago, I, to my shame, walked by him. I was visiting that part of the country for a few days work and having just arrived, all train-bent and tired, was happy to be so close to my destination. He was sat alone on a bench in the diminishing late September half light beneath the beeches that sentried the railings of the church on Augustine Avenue, a quarter of vodka between his legs held his full attention. He looked so unusual to me without his clown face that I only recognised him at the very last moment. And then I passed through his keen shadow and was, again, back into the spilt twilight.