There was a man who was arrested for impersonating a phone box.
The prison warden released him early on the condition that he delivered a cup of tea to an old man who lived on the other side of the mountains. The journey was long and he had to walk very slowly and carefully to ensure the hot tea would not slop out over the sides of the mug.
With uncertain footsteps he crossed marshland, waded across a small stream, scrambled up slopes covered in scree and back down again, lost his mind and seemed to pop briefly into another medium – stop-motion animation perhaps – and back out again, came to his senses, climbed through the forest and strolled into the village to find the old man’s house.
The old man was grateful for his cup of tea and offered to make him one in return before he started his long walk home. Inside the old man’s house, all the furniture was crumpled against one another as if there had been a traffic collision between the bed and the chest of drawers and everything else had piled up behind them. It was impossible to see through the windows, which were just slabs of coloured plastic. One window was blue, the other green. One yellow, one red.
When he finally got home, his wife asked what he’d been up to.
“Oh… nothing much.” He was taking his shoes off.
She stared at him for a moment, shaking her head. Then she busied herself, muttering under her breath, “don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect… some sensible answer… an explanation of where you’ve been.”
He was busy thinking about his expedition to take the cup of tea to the other side of the mountain, about the difficulties he had faced, each step a balancing act. He had a feeling that completing the task had proved he had repented the error of his ways – and that he was worthy of ongoing existence.