Characters on the silver screen, living their unlikely lives, seemed more real to him than ordinary folk, clinging to daily routine. No different to the rest of us, he would sit silently nodding his head in some complex out of town, willing the hero on to happier times, because that is where we want to be. Am I right? Perhaps you know?
He knew those people on the screen but later on the walk back home, passing by some drunken beings, rough beyond his wildest fears, who yelled abuse at life and him, was not the place he wished to be. He longed to leave his mundane world, 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 and speaking with potent 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 which teased him with their dreams. 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 at will, and leave those walls on which hung art bought by the yard.
One day at the library, checking out some books, while watching the impassive face of a stranger, he saw, a girl spill her drink, and drinks were not allowed he knew. As he walked over to tell her this, he saw tears washing away her privacy. His heart was moved, whose would not be: 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 discovered 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 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 confront 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 his love unless she wished it so: chivalry must have no personal agenda he believed. Her name was Laura, and she had lost her home.