I walk until I hear music and I realise it is coming from a bench by the river underneath the street-lamps where spiders gather beside the light to catch moths and river gnats. Beneath the light there are two men with acoustic guitars and a foot-drum. A woman is asleep on the bench beside them, at her feet there is a dog. I stand a few meters away and watch them play. It’s Saturday night and a few people pass. The air is cold but warmer than I’d ever felt it at this time of the year.
I see another figure, a man stood further back from the buskers in a similar pose to myself, legs slightly open and hands behind his back. I turn my attention back to the music: the song isn’t popular and there are no words but I’m here so I enjoy it. I bop my head. The other man has moved closer and he begins to bop his head too. When I turn my head abruptly to clarify this the man has vanished. I quickly scan the bank of the river and the trees nearby. He has gone. I run over to the buskers.
“Hey – stop!” I shout over their music.
They both stop playing. The woman on the bench stirs and the dog looks up at me, teeth a little bared but with a floppy tongue.
“Sheesh, man. What you doing?” the shorter one in the poncho says, standing up to face me.
“Behind me, just then, there was another man. Did you see where he went?” My voice comes out frantic.
“No, sorry brother, I didn’t see no one else,” the other says.
“Are you okay, man?” poncho-man says, watching my darting eyes. He looks back at his friend, “I don’t think this guy is okay.”
“I’m fine. I’m fine. Thank you for your help,” I have already walked off before I finish my sentence. I don’t look back. After a moment the music starts up again. The river path runs parallel to a cinema car-park, empty at this time bar two cars with golden rims and tinted windows, surrounded by hooded figures. I walk by at a distance and so distracted am I by my anxieties of being hailed by this mob of boy-racers I don’t notice the return of the dark figure.
The man is stood by the doorway to a warehouse used on week-ends for the farmers market and on Tuesday’s for bric-a-brac. He is about fifty meters away and I can see the exposed glow of a bald head. He looks a lot like… I was watching myself cross the car-park. No. The man cannot be me but…but I doubt it, I doubt it already, his legs apart, the clothes, he’s me, he’s me. My ghost. My heart begins to beat faster and suddenly there is a desire to get closer to the figure, to discern my own features, to hear my own voice. I sprint towards him and by the tenth step the figure is gone.
I walk home. I do not see the man again.