Untitled [On connecting the dots]

When I was a small child the mysteries and potentialities of a dot to dot picture would fill my stomach with what I understood were butterflies. I favoured blue-ink pens for the task of doing a dot to dot, colouring the finished picture in with textas or pencils later maybe but treating the dots and blue ink and paper as the the raw, picture-making material. I made my lines from dot to dot as straight and direct as possible, taking my time, delaying the moment that the image hidden in the dots would be revealed.

The best dot to dots were those that were unrecognisable in pure dot form.

I wonder now what dot to dots actually taught me. If they conditioned me to follow a guide and find safety and pleasure in this rather than to do things my way.

I even wonder if I was indeed attracted to the mystery and idea that the picture was waiting to be revealed and that revealing it was in my power, or if it was in fact that if I didn’t get the line from one dot to dot perfectly straight, there was always another opportunity to get it right between the next dots. Or was my attraction simply to the sound of the name dot to dot, the rhythm of it like the rattle of trains along a railway line?

*

City; corporate lunchbreak. I was walking back to the office. As I passed the QVB, I saw a solitary old man crumpled against the building’s wall. People waited for buses and hurried with shopping bags and dined at the cafe on the corner. I eventually turned back. The old man wore pressed trousers and a vest over a button up shirt and was sitting uncomfortably on the footpath, propping himself up on his elbows. The legs of his trousers were hitched up so I could see thin calves and that he had on matching blue socks which, in that moment, was something I interpreted as being uncompromising symbols of sanity and dignity. I walked back to him – his white hair was carefully combed – and I asked if he was OK, called him mate. He looked at me then averted his eyes, unsurprised and unembarrassed but bewildered maybe, like I hadn’t spoken a language he understood. I called him mate again and asked if everything was OK. He looked at himself. He had vomitted down his chest and onto his pants. I waited for some words from him, or an expression that I could interpret, but none came. I went inside the QVB and told the concierge – fringe, eye shadow – that there was an older gentleman outside who was in bad shape. To be clear, I said that he didn’t look like a bum. She sprang into action, literally popping out of her chair, said she would get security. She thanked me but I thought her thanks were misplaced because I was relieved this old man was now her problem.

I thought about him for the rest of the day. And now. My heart is still broken.

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