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Upon having to force myself to interview a Londoner–and I am terribly shy and awkward in approaching strangers–was born a character. From David, a real twenty-something I met in Victoria, to Victor, a man of my imagination.
Everything is quiet at 5 o’clock in the evening near Victoria station.
Everything is loud at 5 o’clock in the evening near Victoria station.
Wednesday evenings were better than Thursday evenings and Thursday evenings were better than Friday evenings, he decided a long time ago, back in his first year of uni. Wednesday there were four days until Sunday, and he loved Sunday. But getting through Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were difficult. A message here on Thursday morning, another in the afternoon, an email from a coworker all saying the same thing: Pub tonight?
And he would say yes, of course, because who would say no? And then Friday came the same and then Saturday came the worst of it until Victor’s Sundays came. The Sundays with coffee stronger than necessary and a pencil and a sketchpad.
Victor worked in numbers. Physically he worked in numbers, with his Uncle Al at the insurance company in Victoria. Mentally, he also worked in numbers. He saw numbers before his eyes and in his head and he painted them technicolor to make sense of them. They called him a genius in primary school. He never felt like one. Victor worked numbers like colors on a painter’s palette. They made no sense sitting next to one another in little slimy blobs, but when they were fixed together on a canvas, the picture was clear.
Victor is a peculiar man, or really, he felt like a boy even if he was twenty-four, and lots of people around him liked to notice it.
“Victor, why do you draw on all of your napkins?”
“Victor, I don’t think a novelty tie with a pattern of the Queen on it is appropriate for the workplace.”
“Victor, you’re the only Englishman I know who hates tea the way you do.”
He presumed they felt it alright to comment on his life in this way because he refrained from commenting on anything at all. Liveliness was not Victor’s strong suit and he didn’t mind it that way. But he still couldn’t fathom the courage to tell his mates that he didn’t actually like going to clubs packed wall to wall with sweaty strangers spilling sticky-sweet drinks onto him. (He sincerely mourns the powder blue button down lost to a strawberry mojito in Shoreditch last month).
Before walking to the underground station he sadly walked into the Pret-A-Manger to have a terrible burnt espresso and to sit for a moment. Though he’d been sitting all day at a desk in a building with limited windows and air, he felt as though he’d just run miles and miles.
His voice was soft, but he knew what he wanted and that’s how most of his words sounded, even outside of a cafe. Victor spent a long time thinking before speaking, too long, in fact, so much so that often he would forget to add anything at all to a conversation. People loved him for that. His ex girlfriend certainly did. Victor loved it too. He had crafted a great skill in which he could live in his mind, turn reality into Victor-ality and project it through his eyes like some sort of film reel.
Gingerly sipping his espresso as he scrolled through an app filled with terrible news he didn’t want to see, Victor looked out of the window and sighed at the sight of a setting sun. Sometimes things were good, he thought. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes.