It was a night of slowness and he was sleep. Wandering down the reflected alley in the puddles at his feet, he stepped across a lamp post and out onto the sidewalk. I am Theodore, he thought. Theo. Philosophy. I am thought. I think and I walk. I drink and I talk. I need a diner for my dinner. Where am I to go?

He crossed the pavement over gutters into Radclyffe's on the Square. A moment later he was eating his supper staring at a small piece of laminated cardboard that said 'shooters'. Yellow and green and liquid red colours in glasses in photos on cardboard. They almost look real, he thinks, except they're floating in whiteness.

Dinner was of vegetables and grease with caffeine in a cup. The waitress was amused by Theo. Something about his voice, his speech, his way of talking. She was very nice to him, but in a distant watchful sort of way. I'm putting on a show, he thought, I'm making it up as I go along. It's an improv. It's an improv with a script. That script is Philosophy, and Philosophy is my name. I read Theo and I follow the lines, words and meter.

The waitress asked him if he'd like desert. He collected his thoughts (it was his favourite collection). Did she have ice-cream, he asked and she said yes. "Hold that thought." he said as he placed it in her hand and searched in his pockets for another. He found two more, but they weren't as suitable as the first, so he put them away and said, "That one. I'll have ice-cream."

"What flavour?" the waitress asked him, wanting another trick, thinking maybe he kept flavours in his pockets as well.

"Chocolate." he said quickly. Never perform a trick when asked to, he thought, otherwise its not a trick.

He was fed and watered and there was no need to hurry so he strolled down the late night sidewalk in a world of rush and clamour. Lights everywhere, and motors and people's conversations. There were shoes and boots moving all over the sidewalk. Theo felt himself getting lost. He found the curb and followed it to the corner.

He leaned against the blinking traffic-light post. He looked across at the red, the green, the yellow and the red. These coloured lights meant things to people because different colours would make them do different things. A red light in the shape of a hand, for example, would make people crowd together on the corner, talking to their friends.

The slowness of his thinking followed the action of the evening like a stop motion film. He always leaves the unimportant bits out like holes in swiss-cheese. His sleep comes creeping back to him and he needs his bed and blankets so he boards the midnight bus that travels whining to his home. He mounts the shallow staircase in the yellow tungsten lamp light. His room is warmth and dreaming as he pulls the covers over. Dreams of dogs and paintings tide him over 'till he wakes.

© 2001 Esther Vincent