Sunday, 5 April 2009

PJ's Room

PJ, my friend of just a few weeks, has invited me to his place for coffee. He is a keen connoisseur of the bean, so it will actually be a steaming cup of Kenyan Peaberry, not a euphemism.

He's in the kitchen now, brewing up some hot black magic and I'm left alone in his room...

This odd little triangular space is all he has to call his own. The kitchen and bathing facilities are shared with other single men of limited means that share this hostel with him.

The sun is pouring in through the open window, the air smells of summer, and a bird is singing somewhere nearby out of sight...

I look around. It's all pretty unremarkable, clean and tidy – PJ is particular about cleanliness and order – I like this new thing I have learned about him.

We engage in the usual call-and-response which establishes that it's no thank you to both milk and sugar...

The single bed has been made, but is just a little rumpled where PJ has been sitting on it: there's only one chair and with quiet but insistent gallantry, he has given it to me. There is a small desk, cheap-looking but serviceable, and PJ's books are in a neat pile on top of it. I have a greedy eye for books, so I quickly snack on the spines. Most of the titles are concerned with ancient Egypt – a passion of PJ's. His Dungeons & Dragons books are there too. That's how I met him: at the local Wargamer's Club. We clicked within minutes of meeting.

The splash of coffee...

One wall of this room is taken up with a large built-in wardrobe-cum-vanity unit, complete with mirror and tiny washbasin – all spotless.

The tinkle-tinkle of spoon in cup...

Suddenly, all sound rushes away, and I am seized with an overwhelming impression, like a silent thunderclap. There is great pain here and tremendous loss, and a flash of barred windows. This man, my new friend, has spent time locked away somewhere – in a prison or hospital, I'm as sure of this as if the room had spoken aloud.

And just as suddenly, in the interval between tick and tock, the bird is singing again outside the window and PJ is pressing a mug of something that smells like heaven into my hand.

He is smiling, unconcerned that I have been alone here in his space, reading his books and his room, and oblivious to what has passed between us.


  1. VERY nice - it's a story that leaves me wanting more.

  2. Holy cow. This is a revelation just like that flash.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting character. I agree with The Bug, I also want more. Please let us know more about this new friend - it really sounds as if there could be a story worth telling.

  4. Or of course the person could be ex-military?

    Interesting story here

  5. The event I described actually happened 20-odd years ago, pretty much as I have written it - except for the somewhat dramatised structure and language.

    You should know that I'm about as psychic as a teaspoon (and not one of Uri Geller's teaspoons either - they're much better at it than me), and have never had an experience like it either before or since.

    Now, as to what comes next, I found out a few months later that PJ had spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital following a breakdown. He'd been serving overseas in the army (score 1 for Pixies!) and came home to discover his then wife had been having an affair. Now, I'm sure the experience I had was just my subconscious picking up clues from the layout of the room, etc., but it was every bit as sudden and intense as I have described.

    PJ was always rather a fragile person, convinced of his own worthlessness, but he had a keen mind, a ready wit and a good kind heart. He was one of my best ever friends and will certainly feature in future blogs.

  6. Beautiful. Love the perception moment at the end: I felt it.

  7. Great writing. The vulnerability came through in the description. I hope his life became fuller with time. It's odd what tiny things your mind can pick up when you're not actually working at thinking.


Without your comments, I am but a wave without a shore...