I slumped in my armchair. It was the usual one in which I sat after the sun had fled each day. Aware of my sloth but unable to summon enough mental fortitude to correct my declining posture. Lately I had been more and more inclined to relax in that seat far too early in the evening. The long days at the Steel plant left my body drained to the bones. My usual stack of books lay beside me, illuminated by the overhanging lamp. The room seemed dull, aside that one center of homely light that brought colour to all things around it. After several unsuccessful attempts I gave up on reading and let the weight of the day take its course, the book fell against my chest and my eyes drifted shut.  In the calm of ensuing inactivity there came the sounds of my wife and daughter from the loft, laughing, giggling at some kind of flouncy Frenchman on the television. Miranda was turning 7 tommorrow and as a special treat she got to stay up till 9 tonight. 
     I wasn’t used to all this stability and order, in my life or my families. Until
  my 42nd birthday I’d been an underpaid kicker and had stepped in to play Quarterback when the starting man had got himself injured during the pre-season. We won the superbowl that year. Every now and then they even put me in pass formations because, after all, I wasn’t a bad receiver either. I can remember the thrum of the crowd. Some of the team loved it. I always found the noise distracting. I can still see the road, covered in muted reds and oranges, the golden haze of fall, as I walked away that day. It was the 17thof November, still surprisingly warm for that time of year. Then again, that sort of weather is the norm in the tropical setting of the Port of Jaav.  It’s a small place, just what you’d expect of a tropical port, thatched houses, tiered town structure with fish sellers down by the docks. The Thinker lives in a small hutch out on the main pier, he played for the Deckswabbers for quite a while, but in the end the quiet life by the water drew him back to his musings. I don’t remember much of my life outside the Port of Jaav. The day I got my letter from Bunchman Steaves began a tyrade of activity that lasted 23 years. I’m not sure how I did it but I managed to marry and we’ve lived well here since my retirement. 
     Further reminiscing was interrupted when my ears received a sound, a knock, specifically. Funny thing that, we come to think of knocking as a mundane occurance and consequently not of much importance, but on this particular occasion the transient seemed to hold an unnerving quality. Perhaps it was the effect of being startled out of a dream or the unusual slowness with which they without rapped, either way I was almost hesitant to answer. I strode
slowly to the door. Letting my hand grasp the knob and twist expertly, I stepped back to allow room and bowed deeply to our visitor. Several moments passed and I began to wonder for I had only heard the sound of rustling clothes. Under the circumstances I felt it quite alright to break tradition, I rose my gaze to peek out from beneath the brim of my tweed bowler. From my limited vantage I saw only wet pavement and rain, stretching out to the road, the occasional flash of lightning. I straightened myself and looked about, bushy eyebrow raised, lower lip quivering. I had a vague suspicion as to what might be going on here but I had to test it. I withdrew, shutting the heavy door with a clunk and turned to rest my back against it. Gathering my wits I glowered at the room in front of me, scanning for any disturbance, seeing nothing I moved on. Muscles tense like a lizard preparing to leap I drew up against the doorpost leading into the sitting room, with infinite precaution I peeked around the corner. There it was! A shimmering patch of air, like body of mist standing at my coffee table.  I knew what I had to do... It would require all of my collective skill, all my  years of training. After all my wife and child were up stairs oblivious to this phantasmal item in our living room. I had to show this ghost how to kick!
    In
  a whirl I rushed round the edge, coat tails flying and dashed across the room,
  sliding into a whirlwind kick aimed straight for the shins of the translucent
  being. But my efforts were met with nothing, I slid right through and tumbled
  into a messy heap on the other side of the room! From my very unstudious
  position on the ground I could see the shape quiver slightly and moments later
  I could hear laughter, faded, like the sound on an old
record.
    “Oho, you old rascal Foon! I knew I did right in choosing you...” He went on chuckling for several more moments before I had sufficiently collected myself.
    “Confound it all Paulding! Of all people I would expect at least you to have the manners to at least give a chap a fair 'hello' at the door!” I nearly shouted in a dry voice, brows quivering in annoyance. In haste I gathered myself from the floor, noticing that several of the buttons on my coat had come loose. When I looked up he stood before me, the man I had known so well
in my career, or at least the begginning of it. It was a sortof greyish representation of him, though he was exactly as I remembered. A moment of silence passed between us before we stepped forth and embraced as old friend do, patting eachother on the back (as accurately as could be managed given the state of things) and laughing heartily.              
     “How are you after all these years?”I asked.
    “Oh, it's been absolutely fantastic Harry, I've gone and seen so many places, I only wish I could still do things the way I used to--”
    “Your telling me, old friend! It's been quite a while since I've tried a kick like that...” I scoffed and grinned like a boy. 
     He smiled and looked away a moment before carrying on, 
     “The temples of Greece! Oh, they are really something to see. Even I probably couldn't get the ball all the way across those halls in one go! And the pyramids of Egypt, they have the most fascinating writing and designs, I've even tried my hand at copying some of their work to try and understand it better. Not that I can show you..” He gestured down at himself, a pained look coming over his face momentarily. I nodded to show I understood and wanted to hear more. “I even visited the peaks of Antarctica, it is a view, let me tell you! I only wish I could have tried a kick to see how far it would go... The snow and the wind would've posed a bit of an issue, I admit but it's not as though I didn't have the time to find the blasted thing after the fact!” We both guffawed at his ghostly expense, good heartedly, of course. 
     He asked me all about how the end of my career had come about, what I had done since he had known me. He wanted to know about Sally and Miranda, how I had met my wife and when we had decided to have a child. He was particularly interested in knowing every detail about our superbowl win.  I told him every excrutiating nuance of the pressure, the fall behind and how I had gathered my courage and rallied the bedraggled offense to a stunning conclusion. He was clearly enthralled with the tale and I found a great deal of satisfaction in recalling the memory myself, though, I don't fancy I'd tell anyone so...
    At last the hour was growing late and though it didn't matter much to him my eyelids were drooping and my body ached for sleep. He graciously offered to remove himself and though I protested, true to form, he insisted and I led him to the door. At the threshold he turned as if he knew it was as far as he could go. I saw in his eyes a yearning look as he started back into the vibrant life of my house. I felt pity for him, I really did, however sadly, there was nothing I could do so I did the best I could. I told him he ought to come back whenever he felt lonely and that he'd always have a friend and a colleague to share his explorations with. 
    Donning his hat he turned, looking back with a spark in his eye. “Good luck to you, and thank you, old chap.. Perhaps I'll be back next week, or next
month, at any rate I'll see you again!”


With that he stepped away and passed into the moonlight,
blending seamlessly with the night.

 


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