Following KK

Ugh, this is horrible. I feel like I’m the dirtiest thing, hanging out by the bushes at the gates to the cemetery with the other daytime male hangers-on. At least, I have a purpose – not like them, with their endless prowl of the leafy paths, just in case some hot stud has decided to recline alluringly on the many graves of woman called Doris from the 19th century.No, I’m not like them. I’ve got other prey to trail, African hunting tiger that I am.
But, of course, it’s snowing. This was such a stupid day to do this on. My hands are already numb, and I wonder whether if I let them drop off, and wait until tomorrow, I could come back and claim them, as long as I left them on a safe gravestone, well away from those filthy studs. No, no, I won’t. Keep the hands on, pop the stripey gloves over, make sure the coat is a-zipped up, a pull on the long socks, attend to the welly boots, tug the scarf, avoid the gaze of all, and I am off and ready.
Except, who to make the prey? Not her – she’d be ideal in her bonnet, but she has a black and white dog with her and he’d know, and he’d sniff and anyway, if she has a dog, she’ll have to take him home soon, and this project will end sooner than expected. And that, oh that, would be a disaster.
Him? Hmmmm, problem with following a man in this cemetery is that he’s probably here for the studs, and my hair is too curly to go unnoticed in his prowler’s eyes. They’re the real danger to this here tiger on the tundra – the lions, who’ll make the hunter the hunted. But does that mean I must follow a woman? Or a girl? I think I can do it – if the worst comes to me, I don’t look like an offender, so she will but shrug her shoulders and carry on whistling.
Except damn damn damn, I’m falling into the trap! Of telling myself that what I do is far from innocent, when it is all of romantic, amusing, adventurous, buchaneering, picaresque, often picturesque, and most of all, friendly. So with that in mind, and this rush of adrenaline, why not just go for the very next person who walks in here? After all, my knees are giving way in the bush and I have no hands of use anymore. Everyone is interesting. Who is it? I see her coming! Yes, it’s a lady! I don’t mean a girl, I mean a well-proper lady, with hair bunched on the top like…like, Dracula, actually. Okay, well this gives me ever more reason to keep my distance.

She walks with her head bowed towards the right-hand side of the cemetery-forest. Yes, that’s the way I always go too.I keep a respectful distance, and put my dark sunglasses on, so as to keep to my persona. Well, I have a name but what shall I call her? She really is the perfect person for this, with her trailing frilly dress and duffle-coat. I’d never wear a duffle-coat like that – isn’t it something like 10 years fashionably out of date? Interesting, though, that she’s done up the top three buttons, but left the bottom one to the elements. If I had buttons, that’s how I’d wear my coat. But what is also fascinating is how she waves her arm, and kicks her leg in the air. It’s not fascist, it’s something more. Is she disabled? That’s interesting. Well, I don’t think so – I think it was just a spasm. But regardless, that arm-leg-kick combination may never be repeated, but that should be her name for my purposes – “KK” – like an arm and a leg out and proud.
Will she keep to the path, or will she veer in to the rough? It sounds conceptual. It’s not. Ah, I think she’s sticking to the path, and indeed, up for a short walk, because at the end of this right path, she turns inwards, towards the chapel. Interesting, but does this mean that she’s detected me, or is she (like many women in this forest) in the custom of fearing being alone in a big space? I can’t say for sure. But what is KK thinking? She has a thinking face on. But regardless, since there is no-one nearby (not even a lurking man), I should myself veer off to a position where I know I am not seen, but where I can consider what she’s considering. So, here is a rough pathway to go along, into the nettles. It’ll be painful, but at least I can crouch. Does she like nettles? I’ve been stung many a time, but has she? Well, if things continue like this, she won’t be going near any today anyway.
I’d forgotten about the snow for a little. Maybe it had stopped. I look up, from my be-nettled position. Yes, it has stopped, and indeed, the sun is out. KK was wise to go out when she did, experiencing the wetness of the snow on her bunches, but also the warmth of the snow to dry them. Ah yes, an action! Yes! And how coincidental! Just as I ponder the wetness on her bunches, she pokes at her hair, and tidies it. A hair falls, Her hair must be very wet. I’m losing sight of her. I think she may even remove her hair from her bunches because many hairs are falling out now, and it may be better to abandon the bunches altogether. I really am losing sight of her. I have to leave the nettles, but it’s okay, because she’s a long way along the perpendicular path towards the chapel, and I am surely unnoticeable now.

But where has the tiger in me gone? Here, I’m cowering! I should be braver. I speed from tree and tree, but she is walking quite fast – I suspect, more due to the cold than any fear of me or similar. Her hair is half down, and half in a bunch now – very unsymmetrical, quite annoying. Her hair is red – I bet it’d look better if always down, but it is her choice. She’s past the chapel now, weaving amongst the tombstones. She takes an unruly path, nose in the sky. She is definitely thinking about something. I could never know what. Ah, the snow starts again. She doesn’t like this. Why? KK hurries to the outer path, snow settling on her duffle coat, looking as if at any moment, it could eat her up, and leave her a snowlady forever. A Turkish man walks past her, as she passes the tomb of the founder of the Salvation Army – the first she’s encountered since she entered, and just as she is to leave. She actually looks up at him! The cheek! Were I to do that, I’d be taken to the next available secluded area and dealt with, but she outstares the man. Amazing. I would ask for advice from her, were that not a sure way to destroy my project.

She’s out the gate, but I don’t feel satisfied. Is she going to shop? Or go home? Ahhh, to the toy shop! Well, now, she’s more of a cliche than I realise, and the snow (which doesn’t settle, apart from on our coats) gives me a strange clarity. What are KK’s priorities in life if she can afford an hour of cemetery-walking and toy-shopping? Nevertheless, now is not the time for judgements, but for observing. The toy shop would be hard, were it not that I know a girl who works here. I leave an elegant couple of minutes after KK has gone in (surely not enough time to shop, even for her?) and begin chattingly idly with my friend at the desk. Yet, as I suspected, there are other shoppers requiring attention, so our conversation is in fragments, allowing me time to casually glance over at KK. She’s interested in the puppets. There’s a Prince, a Princess, a Lion, a Knight….ahh, my friend is free to talk to again. It’s for the best – all that matters is that KK does buy, not what she rejects. She’s made her choice, I see her out of the corner of my eye that she is approaching the till. The snow has stopped. The radio in the shop has turned to adverts. How am I going to stay cool when KK is standing next to me? Is it better to say hello, to throw her off the scent? Or is she did see me in those nascent cemetery-following moments, should I continue talking to my friend, as if I am the king of coincidences, and she the confused subject?
But, no, it’s all awful. She’s got the princess puppet. I already have a prince puppet, and I can’t resist saying something. It’s not that often that someone buys a puppet around me. She doesn’t think I’m weird or anything (we even have a nice chat), but it ruins the project. Another day ruined. The puppet is for the children she au-pairs for. She’s Hungarian. Even the sun has come out again! Another day ruined. And I have no hands!

Charlie Phillips