Neil McCarthy
We didn’t read the news

I was at my usual booth, half a cold cappuccino
in front of me, my daughter crawling over my lap
in an attempt to crayon the paper I was reading.
The man at the table across the floor looked like the
prison warden from The Shawshank Redemption.
Whatshisface. I’d seen him in a few things recently.
He smiled. Stared just long enough for it not to be
awkward. Probably had a flashback of his little one
doing the same some forty years or so before.
His wife lowered her newspaper too and looked over
at my daughter, watery-eyed, as if picturing herself
at the same age; not a care in the world and more
concerned with colouring things in than reading
those little black shapes that make everyone angry.
Bob Gunton. That was him. The true miscreant of
the tale. That character you sit and watch and pray
that they get their comeuppance. I looked down at
my table and hoped I hadn’t stared back long enough
for it to have been awkward. I took my daughter’s
tiny hand and guided her crayon straight across the
front page of my newspaper, carved a waxy orange
line through the column about war; added green
to the political article, purple to the images of
Wall Street men transfixed by their sanctity of screens.
We took turns shading a bit here, another bit there,
exchanging crayons until the prismatic pages began
to glow like a city at night – a metropolis viewed from
a distant hill where the engorgement of colours is just
enough to help us briefly forget about the smaller,
anger-inducing shapes within.