Judy: The Girl with the Blue Hand
I sat on a weather-beaten brown bench, my feet firmly planted on the gravel. I moved a cigarette butt with my toe. I saw the ants struggling heroically with bits of straw. I felt too rooted, too much in contact with the earth. There is a need to elevate. It has always been this way. There is the need to aspire to a sense of otherness. It occurs regularly and has done so for as long as I can remember.
I rattled the loose coins in my pocket. I dug them out into the light of day and counted. There was just enough to purchase a book of Argentinean writing I had laid my eyes on a week before; Borges, Sabato, Bioy Casares, men who could pull the bog out of the bull and elevate you to the heights of otherness.
I walked down the street to the book store. It was not very far from that little park. I found the book immediately and took it along to the checkout desk. I counted out the coins onto the counter. The girl sighed. A girl with spectacles. I don't know what she smelled of because I didn't get near enough to her. I smelled ink and print and musty books. I wondered what would happen if I struck up a conversation with her. She looked like a studious type counting my coins, even the brown ones of very little value. She placed the book in a small, yellow plastic bag. For all her demure aspect she would be a wild lover, the glasses flung aside, the hair flying loose. And for some unknown reason she made me dream of Judy, a girl I knew in a place so far away in a time so distant, Judy, who had a blue hand which was really a lifeless stump which often hung before me like a warning that mother nature is watching and waiting everywhere with her violet eyes.
Everywhere I went I saw the blue hand. I saw it being held aloft in the half-light of a community centre corridor. I saw it lying quietly in the lap of her father, in the dim light of a back kitchen. At first I could not bear to think of ever touching it or being touched by it though her father seemed to find solace in its very blueness and its very lifelessness.
Walking the streets of Candela City wondering what has become of Judy and her blue hand.
Walking the streets with the book in my grasp. In anticipation of how its contents would elevate me I became affected by a feeling of otherness. Knowing that this feeling is of short duration I reveled in it as I walked among the ordinary, practical men, whom I realise it is ingenuous to envy. I am ingenuous. I passed the stone masons covered in grime and I saw the faces of outdoor types with that very practical view of life; the hunter and the fisherman, the expert poacher, the lumberjack and the tree surgeon. They exuded a practical view of life such as I could never attain. It was useless to even dream of it.
The very book in my grasp signified that I was at odds with the rest of humanity and the stupidity of social intercourse. The smell of the book in the night would make me feel at ease for a duration, if only for a short duration I would be out there beyond all of that. The words of these writers would slow the heartbeat. They would enable me to look quietly into the silence. I would be indifferent for a time at least to the plastic, superficial world that sucks all in. The tapping of the artificial agents at the door would be silenced. It has always been like this.
I know that it was a book that gave me the courage to ask Judy out. At such a time long ago, I don't remember the name of the book; it was long ago, at such a time, enveloped in the feeling of otherness I dug up the courage to ask Judy out on a date. Would she like to go to the pictures? She smiled at first as if I was joking. No one asked her out, no one wanted to be her boyfriend because even though she had lovely long blonde hair and a beautiful face and her hips were slender, there was that awful blue stump of a hand.
I got it into my head to see what it felt like but never did because Judy wore gloves that night and anyway made sure she kept it on the other side to where you were, whether walking or sitting in the cinema or standing in line in the fish and chip shop. It was as if it didn't exist but no it was as if nothing else existed. Judy was nothing but a blue stump of a stillborn hand.
I wonder where she is now. Is she still alive? I remember nothing of our conversation, though converse we did. I remember she had a shrill, metallic ring to her voice. She wore a long coat, colour obscured by time. She wore ear-rings, slipping through the long, blonde hair. She had a big, white forehead, perfume not too strong. I can't remember what I was wearing or what the film was. I remember eating chips on the street. People we knew passed and said hello and saluted us both with equal emphasis because we were neighbours, we knew the same people. Certainly, the tongues were wagging but I didn't care. All that mattered to me then was the feeling that Judy was the kind of girl who would protect me against any form of evil; man or robot.
She sat her chips in the gloved blue hand and picked them out of the newspaper with the good hand, white and slender, long steaming potato chip to soft-moist red lips. I remember the steam from the chips and our breath rising into the street lights. I think it was autumn. It was a long time ago. Now I'm afraid to raise my eyes up from the page for fear I'd see the blue hand floating in through the window, gloveless and dead.
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