The Jacob Chronicles
by George Pringle
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my favourite person!” he said, bustling in, heavy beneath his carrier bags. He lips spread into a wide smile and hunched over like that he had about him something of a Frog. A sort of charming caricature of a Frog…
I dreaded this daily appointment as much as I looked forward to it. I downed the last of my coffee and pulled together my Jacob strength. It was going to be a trip. I had to get onboard…you know, fasten my seatbelt. Most importantly, I had to perform. This was the thing that made his day.
He sat down in his usual seat in the corner and grinned, wide and antagonistic.
“You know I thought of you the other day. I thought about what you said…” he tailed off before tensing up into a slightly frightening and uncontrollable seizure of mirth.
“What?” I said, defensively.
“But first, I gotta get some water. Could you get me some water?”
I looked at the water stand, I’d forgotten to put it out again. I went to the tap and filled a tumbler for him.
“I mean, you gotta forgive me…” he said, all New York. Thoroughbred. Like a bagel with legs.
“Im sorry…” he said, wheezing into his neatly pressed shirt. “I’m sorry but I just had to tell someone else the story you told me.”
“The story about the 25 year old guy…you know, the date in the bar. When he said…”
“When he said he preferred porn to having sex”
“Yes, Jacob. Yes, it was very funny wasn’t it.”
“Hahahaha. I just thought, what a stupid asshole. You go on a date with this incredible woman and…aye, it totally killed me.”
“Well, Jacob you know, it’s a modern problem.” I said with a loaded sincerity toward his grey hair.
He started rummaging around in his Paul Smith carrier bag. It was beat up around the edges from following him everywhere. He always had the Paul Smith with him.
He produced a bottle of Hermes, “Terre D’Hermes and doused himself, liberally in it.”
The smell permeated the whole space, making it feel like an airport.
“You know how they have Bag Ladies…well…”
“…are you a Bag Man?”
He looked up over his spectacles before retreating his face to his shoulder, gangster style. Like a pissed off De Nero…
With a theatrical hostility, he plunged his hand back into the luminous pink carrier bag before producing a large, yellow roll-on and hoisting it up under his pinstripe shirt.
“Jacob…Are you putting on your deodorant infront of me?”
“What, is that not ok?”
“Seems like kind of a personal thing to do…don’t you think? Wait…is that a L’Occitan deodorant?”
He wrinkled his brow in amazement
“How do you even know that…it hasn’t even got a logo on it anymore”
“I know because I had that deodorant, Jacob. Don’t waste your money on £18 deodorants. Get some Nivea in your life.”
“She knows the price! This is killing me! You’re a real kick, do you know that?”
“Only spend on your face and your hair.’
“You wanna now the real reason I bought it? I was travelling and I couldn’t get anything else.”
“Who are you kidding?! (suddenly going a bit New York, myself) You thought long and hard about that deodorant. You thought about how it will look in your bathroom, what it says about you.”
“You gotta stop it, you’re killing me! You know I told my girlfriend there’s a woman who serves me coffee in London who abuses me. She said, “good!”
“When are you seeing her next?”
“New Year’s! We’re going to Switzerland.”
“Hahaha. This is why I love you. That could only come from you! Euthanasia retreat…The St.Moritz hotel…last meal, on the house!”
“Hahahaha” (I’m really laughing now…)
“Happy New Year! You know it’s going to be my birthday next week too…”
“How old are you going to be?”
“That’s a beautiful age” he said, smiling suddenly in a rather peaceful way.
“Have you got me a present? You know…for all the hard work?”
He looked poleaxed before going back into the Paul Smith for some time and producing a book. He leapt up suddenly and placed it on the counter before returning swiftly to his seat.
I had a look at it. It was “Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky” by Hamilton. I’d read this. And yes…all this…it was a strange moment.
“Thanks Jacob, that’s sweet” I said, picking it up a little hesitantly.
“It’s really starting to happen…age…” I said, pretending to read the back cover, trying to avoid eye contact.
“Will you listen to me?” he said abruptly before fastening his coat and gathering up his many bags before shuffling over the counter and leaning in, conspiratorially.
“Now…you gotta promise me you’re not gonna be a jerk and make me laugh.”
I pulled my face into some kind of a semblance of serious.
“Don’t care about that age bit one bit. Now lissen’ You are one of the most beautiful people I know, both inside and out. I really mean it. Those boys just don’t deserve you!”
And with that he left.
Later that night, I started reading the Hamilton in bed. I noticed something caught between the pages…it was an eyelash. I pulled it out on my finger and looked at it. It was short and black.
Suddenly I felt creeped out, lying there in all my deshabille, with Jacob’s intimate eyelash perched upon my pink index. I got up like a woman possessed and hurriedly thrashed at the blinds, keeping the eyelash steady on my finger. I opened the window and flicked it out.
Blowing it would have been too ceremonial.
As bad as a kiss.