I know as soon as I see him that I’ve seen him somewhere before, that it wasn’t a pleasant encounter. I’m in the park with my kids and he’s there with his, or perhaps they’re his nephews. The presence of the children is probably a good thing; the animosity is instant and palpable. I’m on a bench, he’s walking past and as our eyes lock a mutual distaste and confusion passes between us, instant, visceral.
Our gaze holds for a moment too long, almost a challenge.
We’ve met before somewhere but I can’t say where, only that it almost came to blows, violence just dodged. It is a scene from a dream, just out of reach, a word on the tip of the tongue, an itch in the middle of the back. I can see his face, cheeky chappy, dimpled cheeks, the sort of face that thinks it can get away with anything, the sort of face that appeals to a dim sort of woman. A liar’s face. I see it twisted in hatred, mocking with sneers and fear he may have bested me. As he passes, the urge to violence wells like oil. He is still fucking grinning, grinning at something his companion has said but he’s looking me in the eye and he’s grinning and I know he knows, that he remembers, but I sense that he too cannot quite place it. There is something between us here that no one else in the park shares, we have a connection.
Where was it? A pub? On the road? The violence mere moments away . . . This mist of remembrance, was it chemical? Alcoholic? Caused by a blow? No. The slogging of time and the years? Perhaps this is just a foretaste of things to come, perhaps this is what happens when you’re older, best not think of it.
He is almost past, still staring, still smiling. It could have been years ago. We both know something happened just not what. Still united in desire to do the other down, to see blood and bone for reasons unknown. The feeling is enough. I can smell it on him.