He had found the tea room by chance had been wandering around in the city's back streets to pass time in a day like all his other long and tedious days had come in from the street in the search for something sweet and comforting something which might just lift the dead weight of depression from his shoulders and the sugary cakes were there right enough but so was the odd little birdlike woman who served them she with her irritating twittering her inexhaustible supply of words words and and more words-words gushing over and around him so many platitudes and inconsequential trivialities which at first he had mistaken for friendliness and had even attempted to respond to with the likes of "Oh really, I have a dog too it's..." but the woman only looked at him as if he were insane continuing with her prattle never allowing him enough time to finish his sentences his attempts to be heard were simply swept away unheeded in the never ending flow of verbiage the dreary flood of inescapable chatter and he knew without doubt that he was in mortal danger and in his chest he felt an awful constriction a terrible dead weight dragging him down he was drowning he was drowning in a sea of babble disappearing under the deluge of the woman's inane rambling anecdotes and useless information - could she not see what she was doing to him "please stop please stop please be quiet let me breathe" the plea formed in his mind but the words would not come out of his mouth there was no straw at which to clutch no new customer came helicoptering in to throw him a life line and somehow he knew that if he sat in that twee little teashop for all eternity there never would be another customer
because it had come to him in an awful moment of revelation that he had wandered into his own private hell and that the peculiar bird woman was none other than Satan and that even in hell he was to be constrained by the chains of politeness unable to give voice to the boiling anger he felt inside and fighting for breath now almost in tears he knew that he must do something to silence his tormentor silence her now before it was too late a dreadful vision of himself lying on a slab swam before his misting eyes a couple of men in white coats discussing his demise "an obvious case of drowning" a scalpel cutting into his chest a disgusting gushing of blood red letters spilling out onto the floor and then the final ignominy the quirky little story at the end of the evening news bulletin MAN DROWNS IN BACK STREET TEA SHOP.
And so it happened, finally and inevitably it happened, like it might have been foretold; a life time of Mr. Nice, of quiet sufferance, tolerance and self control were demolished like a row of toy town houses, totally obliterated in the bird womans deluge of words.
Then conjured by the mischievous magician of the subconscious the duct tape began to spew from his imagination, a sticky silvery stream, an infinite ribbon to rival and yes, yes even to surpass - the bird woman's endless chatter. He was strong and she was not, he was in a frenzy of revenge and she frozen in shock. There was no contest , no fight back. Round and round he wound the tape, fastening the bird woman tightly to the chair into which he had forced her. Round and round and round and round until every inch of her was covered, all but for her nose and her eyes. Her startled pale blue eyes, eyes like saucers; the self-same color as the crockery on which she served her afternoon teas, eyes staring out from the silvery gray duct tape cocoon.
And then finally, his work complete and his frenzy subsiding he sat himself down at the small round table opposite the woman. Oh, but the hush and the stillness were blissful! He cocked his head this way and he could hear the sweet chiming of a distant church clock; three o'clock and all's well. He cocked his head that way and he distinctly heard the soft fluttering of the wings of a pale yellow butterfly as it passed by out in the alleyway searching for a city flower. He could even hear the light filtering through the tea shop window! Heaven!
Totally relaxed, he sat back and helped himself to a meringue and a cup of tea. The tea was not really to his liking being far too weak, but he put in plenty of sugar and, to a certain extent, that compensated. Sighing deeply he drank in both the tea and the silence. "Now isn't that better?" he said. The question was rhetorical of course. There was no possibility of an answer.
The depression was gone like chaff in the wind, leaving behind only the wholesome grain of happiness. "Action is the key to the prison of depression," he said it out loud. "Don't make a poem of pain." He liked the sound of that. "Rather wise," he thought and he resolved to remember it for his diary. digging into the inside pocket of his jacket he rummaged amongst the toffee papers (too well brought up to throw them down in the street and never able to find a waste paper bin) and produced what he felt would be enough money to cover his bill and a reasonable tip on top. "You'll be alright," he said, touching the woman ever so gently on her duct-taped shoulder. "Someone will come along eventually."
As he stepped out into the quiet back street it crossed his mind that the woman might not actually be Satan, might be an asthmatic or have a bit of a cold and find breathing through her nose difficult, or then again it might be that what with all the bottled-up chatter inside it her head might explode! She might die! No matter, she was little more than a cipher to him, a stand-in for all the people who had relegated him to the status of an audience, someone to be used, to be talked at and not with.
He stepped away from the tea room with an unaccustomed jauntiness, enjoying the sound of his own footsteps on the cobblestones. The idiot bird woman had talked and talked but, oddly, now he came to think about it he could not remember a single word she had said. That was very strange, no more than that, it was downright troubling. The bright mood of just a moment ago was now tarnished. Like a dog shaking off water from its coat. he shook his head to rid himself of the unwanted thoughts. This was something he found himself doing increasingly lately.
"It was her own fault. She will just have to suffer in silence," he said to himself., mustering as best he could the feeling of righteous indignation.
And he left it at that.