The pie-man sat up with a start. Something had wakened him. He looked around. Rows of empty chairs looked back, their granulated surfaces stubbornly refusing the bleaching effect of the fluorescent lighting. Satisfied that nothing was amiss, the pie-man reached bellow his own chair and reverently pulled out his prize possession (one could say his only possession). Layers of carefully folded newspaper covered an object of indiscernible size and description. Broken patches of specular hinted at parts of paper that were oil soaked.
The pie-man began the process of uncovering this object. First he loosened the lines of the folds by running his thumb along them; next he gently blew along the edges where the paper met in an attempt to negate the adhesive effects of the spittle. Yellow brown areas still marked places where particularly virulent fleam stood; finally the pie-man began to meticulously work the sheets of paper free, first the one layer, then the next.
At last, the prize was held aloft! The pie-man gazed at it longingly. It was a pie. Not just any pie however, this was a Cornish pastry, the pie-man’s favourite pie.
Large drops fell down to join the spittle already on the package. The pie-man’s head razed a look of steely determination evident in his eyes. NO he would not, could not consume this pie. He should not even partake in a sampling of its delights. Just one bite? No!
The pie-man looked up at the empty ceiling, the back of his neck suddenly crawling. He felt eyes on him. For a while he had tried to hide from them. He had sought refuge in the men’s bathroom at first but they soon found him there. The pie-man reminisced over the numerous sanctuaries he had found since then. The kiosk in the main hall; behind the curtains in the reception; beneath chairs 14, 15 and 16; the hotdog stand; cold room (not very comfortable); the ‘genuine’ animal store (under a big zebra skin mat); and the female’s bathroom. Some lasted longer than others but all were found sooner or later. Recently, after the loss of the girl’s bathroom, he had found some loose boards in the ceiling above seat 27 and this was his latest escape. As he was hiding there the day before however, he had felt them getting closer. He hadn’t returned since, he wasn’t going to lose this one!
Slowly the pie-man with a pie in his hand came out of his reverie. The danger of his current position dawned on him. Looking around furtively, the pie-man crept (or rather waddled carefully) over to a dustbin. Digging in with both hands he let out a cry of triumph. Lifting his hands triumphantly, the prize held aloft. It was a piece of newspaper. It never occurred to the pie-man to wonder how the newspaper got there. He saw no one actually dropping it in. It was just ‘there’, and while it was there, he would use it.
Returning to his seat, the pie-man set the pie down on the seat next to him. The pie-man concerned himself with the task of preparing the paper to rewrap the pie. The paper’s folds had to be perfect and the paper itself without blemish that it might adorn his prize.
So consumed in his business was the pie-man that he did not notice the slight breeze coming from the direction of the back door. Why should he? All the doors were closed. Small pieces of crust were taken up by the breeze and taken away. The pie-man did look up however as he heard a door slam. The look on his face was one of some curiosity, some interest and some fear. His face became more fearful instants later as he noticed the breeze. He heard a faint rustling from around his feet. The old cover for his pie was making its escape, propelled by the breeze.
The pie-man looked around once more. What to do? Fear gripped his heart. His one thought was of his pie, his cornish. He must get it to a place of safety! He held the image of his pie above himself. The pie was him. The pie-man shuddered at the thought of an existence without his pie. What was a pie-man who had no pie? A man? And barely that considering the images of ‘men’ that he had seen on his pie’s packaging. His cornish was more than his idol, it contained his identity as well. He could not remember where it had come from. It had just been, as he had just been, as this place had just been.
The pie-man took up his pie and made his way as quickly as he could to his safe place in the roof. Looking around to make sure there was no one was watching, the pie-man climbed onto seat 27. Still looking around, the pie-man carefully lifted the pie with one hand while the other went ahead to remove the ceiling board. The pie-man’s attentions only shifted to what his hands were doing when it occurred to him that his hand should have felt some resistance by now. The board above him, that he remembered carefully setting back in its place was not there. In its place was a gaping black whole. The pie-man snatched back his pie with a gasp. The dark space teemed with imagined nightmares. After a moment the pie-man detected a faint draft coming through the opening above his head. This quickly grew in intensity till the pie-man was forced to step off the chair and cover his pie. The once immaculate golden crust was now scored with holes were the fine, crispy bits had been.
The pie-man looked at his feet. Like a piece of cloth being ravaged by a turbulent wind, fears chased each other across his brow, down his nose, sought refuge in his cheeks and finally found refuge in his mouth. His lips were yanked first this way, then that as apposing thoughts yanked on the strings. What to do What to do What to do What to do What to do
All of his nooks and hidey-hole had been discovered and couldn’t be trusted. He could perhaps find some random chairs to hide under- but no, this was a stupid plan it would last two seconds. He could perhaps? But no. Possibly? Na ah. The pie-man knew only one thing: He would die before they got his pie.
A shriek rent the air; air untouched by any sound other than the pie-man’s shuffling footsteps. The pie-man’s face shot up, his features frozen in an expression of abject horror. This expression is not pretty on any face, particularly the pie-man’s face. A whimper escaped his lips. No thought controlled his next action; it was as if his body moved on its own violation. Arms pumping, neck straining, body bulging and heart pounding, the pie-man’s legs began carrying him. Direction was aimless, the object was to be in the next split second further away from the point he was at one split second ago.
His legs carried him in a circuitous route. The pie-man would run as fast as he could in one direction until he met a barrier of some kind. He would then veer off in any number of directions and begin the process again. Once or twice his efforts brought him to a door leading to the outside. These moments added fuel to his exertions.
By now, the wind had picked up in its intensity causing these doors to bang against the chains he had once used to secure them. Beyond the doors’ darkened windows, violent movement could be seen. If the pie-man had been outside to see for himself, he would have discovered that these were just trees been dashed about by the wind. As it was, the terrified, unfit pie-man continued his run.
Finally exhausted from his efforts, the pie-man collapsed into a heap on the floor. He pulled himself to the centre of the large hall he was in. “At least this way I will know of any oncoming threat” the pie-man thought. What was left of his ‘natural instincts’ had taken over. The pie-man took out his pie and clutched it to his chest, protectively. The familiar smell of pastry never failed to bring some joy and distraction, regardless of circumstance.
He knew it was unwise to dwell too much on his pie as edible, had he done this he would have devoured it long ago! Nevertheless, his mind could not help but wonder what lay beneath that beautiful, puff pastry. The initial shriek had subsided after a short while and was replaced by a mournful howl. No less terrifying but less urgent. Pie in hand and no new danger presenting itself, the pie-man settled into a place of quasi-contentment.
Crash! The window in the door directly behind him crashed inward. Deadly shards of glass sliced through the air. In quick order, a number of successive crashes could be heard from different parts of the building. Rain water and darkness poured through the opening. The pie-man could just see malevolent movement in the dark as the greenish shape pulled back to take another swing.
The pie-man hunkered over his pie, offering whatever protection he could as the wind howled through the broken panes of glass. A spot of red blossomed on the pie’s surface. Some of the glass had sliced the pie-man’s cheek and in the urgency of protecting his pie had gone unnoticed. The pie-man could not have a thing like that blemish his prize! He carefully used his tongue to clear the pie of the offending liquid. A piece of pastry clung to the blood and entered his mouth.
Perhaps it was this, perhaps it was the situation but a strange thought occurred to the pie-man. “I know I said I wouldn’t” thought the pie-man, “I know I said I would die first…but I AM as good as dead…I am no real pie-man after all…” thought the barely pie-man. Bringing the Cornish to his nose, the barely man closed his eyes and savoured the aroma. Scintillating thoughts about what lay inside caused his mouth to water and his jaw to chomp unbidden. He imagined the feel as the first layer of crust broke away under the pressure of his teeth. On a whim, the barely man picked up the pie and rubbed it against his soft, plump cheek. The pie’s scratchy texture tickled him and made him laugh.
He could not stand it anymore! He had to eat this pie!! The barely man took one or two nibbles at the pastry. It tasted just as he imagined it would. A little like cardboard by itself but when combined with the meat, potato and aromatic spices inside it would blow his mind…he didn’t doubt this for a second. Throwing caution to the wind, the barely man closed his eyes and bit into the pie. At first the barely man refused to believe what his senses were telling him. He munched away, as pleased as only the naive and very young can be. Then, small sensory urgings began to break into his fantasy. “I don’t think Cornish is meant to smell like this… Though perhaps, garlic? And I definitely don’t think I’m meant to feel this inside my mouth…but maybe?”
Finally, the barely man, mouth full of pie and teeth still busy chomping, opened his eyes and gagged. He retched out the half eaten worms, the steaming green meat, the furry potatoes. He retched out the once aromatic spices –Now more ammonia and hydrogen gas then anything substantial. He retched out the cardboard tasting pastry that would have tasted so good with meat, potatoes and aromatic spices. The barely man could not stop vomiting. His dream had been shattered and with it his whole pillar of being, his stomach was just showing its distaste. The barely man kneeled with his head squeezed tightly between his pudgy knees and spat. He spat until he had no more spit. He spat until the insides of his cheeks began to bleed and a red puddle formed beneath him. He spat until no trace of pie was left in him.
The once pie-man but always barely man looked up at the doors. He dragged himself to his feet and began walking towards them. Powerful gusts of wind impeded his motion but he pressed on. Reaching the doors, he jangled the chains as he battled to get them loose. Barely waiting for the chains to fall free, the barely man squeezed through the gap in the doors into the rain; the freezing, biting, cleansing rain.Little Feet