Anybody who had seen him on this travels to and from the ship – and the captain was a frequent user of the buses – would have assumed that this was a man who had lost all interest in life, a man who had been overwhelmed. Like the lawn mower which sat abandoned halfway through his garden, the enemy grass grown up all around it and long ago victorious.
But the crew knew that the captain had stained glass dreams in his brain, pop songs in his stomach and they set about ensuring that this illumination was reflected about his person. One day that wasn’t his birthday but must still have been an anniversary of some event in the captain’s life, they stole his clothes and set about encrusting his jacket with fractured shards of gleaming things. They dangled shiny penny sculpture things from the cuffs of his sleeves, embellished the blank slate of his shirt with felt-tip pictures of things they dreamt up on the spot, planted spinning little windmill things in his hat and painted gleaming little planet things on to his shoes.
On the bus, the captain stared back at anyone who dared look again at this overwhelmed man. A tether at the end of its tether. What did they do to you, he could see people want to ask. And he wanted the chance to tell them that it was none of their business – it had been done to him, not to them.