"Simon Stares" - by Frank Burton
lives in England. Visit his site.
© 2007 Frank Burton
His main point of interest is people. People on the bus, in shops, cinemas, laundrettes; people he passes on the street; people nobody apart from Simon would ever dream of staring at. He's stopped going to pubs because of the trouble he's caused.
doesn't mean to stare.
It's his eyes. Everyone
stares to a certain extent, but Simon's looks are somehow too intense
for people to handle. Even
though it causes trouble, and occasionally results in injury, he finds it
difficult to understand why people have such a problem.
interested in people. "People
watching" - we all do it, but Simon takes the blame, as though he's
paying the price for everyone.
Simon doesn't listen to other people's conversations much.
He usually finds them boring.
People always have the same conversations, he says, but everyone,
without exception, has an interesting face.
A face with its own unique features; each idiosyncratic wrinkle and
groove telling some story. Simon
may not know what these stories actually are, but he enjoys inventing his
own. The length of Simon's
stare depends entirely on how interesting he finds the person's face.
People ought to be flattered by this, but they're not, even when
he tells them.
Simon stares at the TV. He likes watching TV, but he's very selective. Sometimes he'll sit for hours, punching at the remote, unable to settle on one channel.
likes films, mainly, and when he's really engrossed in one, he'll
stare at the screen without blinking, not wanting to miss a frame.
By the end of the film, he'll have streams of water running down
his cheeks. If you say
anything to Simon while he's watching a film, he doesn't respond until
the film is over, and as soon as the credits roll, he'll respond to
every question or statement, one by one, in strict order. This can be disconcerting when you can't even remember what
you said in the first place.
are not many people who are willing to watch films with Simon.
stares into space. Right now,
he's staring at the kitchen wall having a fantasy about Armageddon - not
the film, but the actual end of the world.
The globe is about to be hit by a meteorite, which the government
has been fully aware of for two years, but they didn't tell anyone until
it started getting visible in the sky, and they escape in their space
ships just before the meteorite strikes the earth and kills everyone on
the planet, apart from Simon, who survives by building himself an
underground bunker in the three days he has before the environment becomes
uninhabitable, while everyone else around him plunges into anarchy,
shooting each other, looting shops and screaming, etc.
Once in his bunker, Simon knows he doesn't have enough food to
last him until it's safe to return to the earth above, so he develops a
way of falling into a long period of hibernation by staring at the tin of
beans on the shelf and hypnotising himself.
When he comes round it's three hundred years later, and he's
very weak and skinny, having lost half his body weight.
For the next three weeks, he feeds himself everything he has in
storage, even though it's mainly past its use-by, and slowly he regains
strength. He performs a daily
workout - at first, he can barely move, but after three weeks, he's
almost regained the strength he had in the old world. He returns to the earth, and to his surprise, finds himself
in a vast jungle. Life again
has flourished, in spite of the human race being destroyed.
And yet, who is this figure running towards him, her arms
outstretched? It is a woman,
naked as Eve, the last woman alive, who left her own bunker five months
ago, and has been spending that time wandering aimlessly in and out of
trees, searching for companionship. Simon
embraces her, and they have mad sex.
snaps out of it, realising he only came into the kitchen to make a
sandwich, but he's just been standing there fantasising about the
future, staring at the wall for the last hour and a half.
makes himself a cheese sandwich, with coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, cucumber,
beetroot and ham. Simon likes
a big sandwich.
the street, in one of the flats in the neighbouring block, a man has been
watching Simon with a pair of binoculars. Every now and again, the man looks back at his wife, who's
watching TV, and says, "He's just standing
there. Staring at
the one who's staring," his wife responds, as she often does when her
husband gets out his binoculars.
least I'm staring at something,"
he responds. "He's just
staring at nothing."
so exciting about him, anyway?" she asks.
don't know," the man replies. "He
just seems so calm."
is eating his sandwich, watching the TV.
He's not staring at the TV, because it's on an ad break, and
Simon doesn't enjoy the adverts. When the adverts are on, he tends to think about other
he thinks people are watching from outside.
Maybe a secret government agency has tapped into his thoughts and
is recording them to sell to American movie companies to make into films
without paying him royalties.
to think of it, he thinks, that concept would make a decent film if they
made it well.
like now, Simon imagines that he can see people staring at him from
outside, with binoculars.
of course, that's a ridiculous thought.
carries on eating his sandwich.
All work is copyrighted property of Frank Burton.
© 2007 SubtleTea Productions All Rights Reserved