Characters on the silver screen, living their unlikely lives, seemed more real to him than ordinary folk, clinging to unsought routines. No different to the rest of us, he would sit silently nodding his head in some complex out of town, willing the changing character’s on to a happier time, because that is where we want to be. Am I right? Perhaps you know ?
He knew those people on the screen, but that unpolished flesh he saw pass by him on the street once the theatre closed its doors, and the sound of drunks yelling abuse, or people frowning impatiently at him because he had lost his point , was not the world he wished to know. He longed to leave his mundane life, and climb the Pyrenees with friends, or escape some inferno dodging flames, holding a gentle heroine in his arms who rewarded his bravery with undying love. He would accept it modestly.
He worked as a Librarian, and on the book shelves were his friends, walking streets where heroes walk, speaking with profound clarity. His age was an embarrassment, and progress in real life was small. His address drew no envious glance, but in the pages of books he read, or unfolding on the silver screen, as he sat wrapped in gentle dark, where tales he knew and understood. Sitting in his single room, unencumbered by romance, and pecking at some ready meal, Thai was what he liked I’m told, his mind was free to roam once more, and leave those walls on which hung nothing of artistic note.
One day at the library, checking out some books, and watching the impassive face of a stranger who did not know his name, he saw, over his shoulder, a girl spill her drink, and drinks were not allowed he knew. As he walked over to tell her this, he saw her close to tears and clinging to her privacy. His heart was moved by this harrowing scene: a heroine trapped by her distress. He found the love within us is often damped by lack of hope.
But now, woken by the sight of a life more wretched than his own, he found compassion for a figure, not sprung from fiction but real life who, it was clear, did not regard him with the normal censure. He took her to the office and gave her another drink Moving to help her, clumsily it must be said, he saw her raise her eyes to his, and something in that forlorn gaze, more lost it seemed any than he had met, made him calm and brave and willing to chase her ghosts.
He found in the unlikeliest circumstances,as some men do, that dignity lies in loving something larger than ourselves: a faith, a night sky or call to ancient chivalry. Heroes, he found, are not always in uniform and so this poor unrecognised knight found compassion, and in protecting her weakness discovered his own strength. She was beautiful, but not for him he understood: chivalry must have no personal agenda. Her name was Laura, and she had lost her home.