27th February

Daft Davie

I remember Daft Davie standing at the top of the hill where the sign with the name of the village on it was. He must have stood there a lot, out in rain or sun, or why would I have such a strong image of him? A tall, thin man in a dirty anorak, and with a bad lean, as if over many years the wind had forced him to grow like that. Day after day he was there, leaning, and staring down at the houses. I used to think he had walked all the way up and forgotten what for, and that was him staring back down trying to remember.

Guys in cars would wind down their windows and yell abuse, or chuck an empty can at him as they roared past. Sometimes I was in one of those cars. I’m not proud of the way we behaved, but we were stupid kids. If Davie’d been a statue we’d have treated him the same. I don’t know if he even noticed us. He just stood staring back down the hill.

Beyond where he used to stand the road flattened out and headed off into the rest of the world. Davie always had his back to the village sign. You could read the name of the village if you were driving in from outside, but not when you were leaving. There wasn’t a sign that said THANK YOU FOR DRIVING SAFELY. COME BACK SOON or anything like that. We didn’t expect visitors and we didn’t get any. It was a seaside village but not that kind. Sometimes you’d see strangers turning their cars at the bottom of the hill and that was all you’d see of them. They knew right away they’d made a mistake.

I haven’t been back in thirty years. Most of the guys I hung out with never left. They died of drink or in car accidents or maybe they’re still alive. I wouldn’t know.

But one day Daft Davie was gone. Maybe he’d been gone a while, but this one day I was on my own and I noticed his absence. I took it as a sign, and I got out.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harp: Esther Swift
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