There’s Always Someone New For It

When they first arrived, slipping in between cracks and fissures, sliding under doors and past hinges, it was as though they’d been here forever. You’d see them on the street, all shimmer and stop-motion, but you wouldn’t stop yourself to stare. There were always those that muttered away to themselves, but that was always the case, and besides, that wasn’t the sort of thing that the sort of people you liked would have done. That was for the red top people to do, themselves; that was what the red top people were for.

It was the bar-rooms where they started to encroach, you thought. That last place where the jokes could split the air with roaring and bluster. The strange, fluting tones of the paper people starting being heard behind the bars, all half words and twisted phrasing. First one, then every bar, seemingly every bar that you used to go into, there they were. Stood behind the bar, working away. Smiling at you with broken paper mache faces. Asking what it is that you want. As if they could know.

It’s not that you don’t like them. It’s not that. You’re sure they are perfectly all right, just… you know…

There’s more of them now, these paper people. It’s not just the bar staff. It’s the people going into the bar too. Maybe they can fit more in. You’d laugh if it was funny. Paper people, just built of what they’re told to think. One day you’ll take a match to it.

You laugh to yourself, sometimes. The red tops and the black tops, that’s the types of them. Imagine them fighting it out, West Side Story style, two dimensions in random winds. Going at it with round bladed scissors and staplers. Medics standing by with little bottles of glue. Where would you stand, when you wanted to watch?

After all, you have to be open-minded.

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Douglas Noble was born in Scotland and grew up all wrong. Don't blame his parents though, they tried their best.

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