Typical! It was one of those rare days when Dinah found herself with time to think and she could think of nothing at all with which to occupy her mind. Since meeting Shaw she had become used to finding her head full of the kind of clutter that resembled his life, but today it was full of the kind of void that she always imagined lurked between his ears… No, that wasn’t fair. He had more going on in his head than anybody she had ever met. It was just that none of it ever made any sense. Every time she thought she had started to get the hang of him; thought that she might guess where he would go next, he would lithely side-step her, leaving her stranded, like a cataleptic jelly fish abandoned on the ebbing tide. His quantum leaps of illogic were, at times, truly stunning. His arrival at a point of resolution confounded all reason; even he only seemed to know he had reached it after he arrived there. Right through his haphazard progress, whatever that might be, he proceeded in a manner that suggested total conviction of purpose. He never showed doubt. Even when people shouted at him, ‘But that’s not what I paid you to do!’ he would look them straight in the eye and say. ‘But it is what you wanted me to do.’ Heated argument often ensued, bills were often ripped-up and tossed into the air, but Shaw simply smiled, took a step backwards and waited for the anger to subside. ‘You have my number,’ he would say, ‘if you change your mind.’ That’s another thing that Dinah had never got used to; the way that cheques would turn up in the post, days, weeks or even months later, generally with no explanation, just, more often than not, a simple ‘Thank you’ paper-clipped to them. Whatever Shaw had found for them, it obviously took them some time to discover it for themselves.
It wasn’t strange that she’d never met anybody else quite like him – she wasn’t certain that such a person actually existed. Even physically he was perplexing. He was thin to the point of an Estate Agent’s morals and, although barely taller than Dinah herself, he always appeared to tower above her; permanently bewildered. He had a face that actively discouraged ageing – his features flitted between old man and schoolboy. He was always heavy-eyed; giving the appearance of someone who most certainly could do with more sleep. He had a small room behind the office that appeared to be his home, but she didn’t recall ever having seen a bed in it. She wondered if he slept, like a bat, hanging from the light fitting. More often than not, he actually slept in her chair, at the desk – most often with his head across her painstakingly sorted paperwork. When he was awake, he was always on the move. He always had something that had to be done, but he was never quite sure what. His pace alternated between laid-back and languid. She had only ever seen him agitated once, and that was when he was looking for a pencil because he had developed a buzzing in his ear – which he feared might be a bee. He was terrified of bees. She’d spent hours trying to educate him about them: their sociability, their vital importance in propagation; their reluctance to sting, when he eventually looked up at her from darkly hooded eyes and said, ‘Earwigs, I meant earwigs’ and terminated the conversation with an airy wave of his hand, before sensing her annoyance and announcing, ‘Cake. Let me buy you cake… Do you have any money?’
What most annoyed her about Shaw was that he did what he said: he helped people find things – even if they did not know they were missing. Mostly, she had to reflect, what they found was themselves. In Shaw, Dinah had found what was missing in herself, although even now, she was unable to quantify it. She did not know what she had found, only that it was missing before she found it. You know when you try so hard to be one of those girls at school that everybody likes, only to find out that that is exactly why nobody likes you? Well, she’d stopped that now. She’d realised it was no way to get friends. She’d realised that might be why she didn’t have any. For the moment she had Shaw and today, she had to admit, she had never been so pleased to see anyone in her life. ‘Yes, yes,’ she had said in feigned annoyance when she first saw his lopsided quizzical smile. ‘That’s fine. Laugh now, but then go and find ladder to get me out of this tree…’
This is Dinah and Shaw’s third appearance, and probably their last for now. In my head, I have started to develop some idea of where they are going. Now I just have to work out how to get them there…