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Daily Linz 21 - Close Encounter of the Scary Kind
by Lindsay Perigo

Yesterday, Sunday, I rose at a civilised 9 am-ish, looking forward to a leisurely but productive day. With my sister Sally and her husband John—with whom I’ve been living since renting out my own apartment recently—away for the weekend, I would have the place to myself, free of distractions. As I emerged from my bedroom, I was momentarily disconcerted to see the lounge curtains drawn when I was sure I hadn’t drawn them. I was further puzzled to find various shower accoutrements scattered on the shower-box floor instead of the window-ledge which they normally occupy. Still, the window was partly open, and it had been a windy night—obviously the wind had blown them off the ledge … although that didn’t explain why two of them—a shampoo jar and John’s shaving cream brush, were standing upright on the floor outside the shower box.

When thus confronted with things that perplex, I usually attribute them to my advancing senility and carry on as though I have a day or so’s lucidity left. So I proceeded with my morning. At a certain point I remembered that the All Blacks vs. England rugby game that had screened live at 3 am was being replayed. I tuned in to find England ahead, 7-0, a lead that the Kiwis were soon to overturn in true KASS fashion. As I watched the drama unfold, I noted that Sally and John’s bedroom door was closed. Another oddity. They usually left it open when they went away, and I was certain it had been open when I went to bed. Oh well …

The game went to the wire, the All Blacks playing with two men down in much of the second half because of some outrageous yellow-carding by the referee. Still, we won. Jubilant at this ballsy triumph over the whingeing Poms, I rang Sally and John to crow, then took myself off to the gym.

As I opened the apartment door on my return, I was immediately aware of the smell of shampoo and soap. Someone had just taken a shower. I entered the lounge and noticed a bowl of cereal on the coffee-table. I also noticed that Sally and John’s bedroom door was now open. Weird, I thought—they must have returned early, yet they had said nothing about doing so when I spoke to them on the phone. I called out. A male voice called back, “Hello.” I approached the bedroom to see a small but well-formed young man whom I didn’t know from Adam clad in nothing but a towel. Normally I might be expected to think that Christmas had come early, but in the circumstances I didn’t. I stared at him blankly, waiting for him to explain himself. He muttered almost inaudibly. He claimed to have no more idea of who he was than I did. “I’ve been having memory problems,” he said. “I don’t know who I am or how I got here.” Bathroom window, I thought to myself. The drawn curtains, the closed door. I withdrew to let him dress in privacy, then asked him to bring whatever belongings he had with him out into the lounge. He had a back-pack with numerous documents inside, but nothing in them or his cashless wallet to indicate his identity. There was a handwritten sign saying, “Homeless. Girlless. Any help gratefully appreciated.” He must have been a new arrival in town, planning on sleeping out a bit.

All the while I was concerned that he might suddenly pull a knife on me and bring my plans for a productive day to a bloody end. How to call the cops without riling him?

Fortuitously, he told me he had a terrible headache—did I have any pain-killers? I fetched a couple of sleeping pills and handed them to him with a cold beer, saying these were much better pain-killers than your usual Panadol. After ten minutes or so they wove their magic, and I called the police as he dozed lightly on the couch.

Three cops arrived within ten minutes or so. Inspecting his documents much more methodically than I had, they found a birth certificate. Now at least we knew his name, but he could still shed no light on how he’d got here. The police packed up his things, including a skateboard that was still in the bedroom, and took him away. I don’t yet know his fate, but I hope he finds his feet with the same alacrity with which those feet found my abode.

I rang Sally and John to tell them what happened. “How can you be so calm?” they marvelled. At that point I noticed my hands were shaking. “Calm,” I exclaimed—“who the hell’s calm?!”

And so I shelved my plans for a productive day, which was more than half over by now anyway. I did make a decision about my productivity, though—having gotten out of the groove of a daily article during the period of The Free Radical’s preparation, I’m going to stay out of it. Rather than do a daily for its own sake, I shall write articles as the spirit moves me, while focussing primarily on bringing my Fundamental Stuff project together. This freak event made me realise that freak events do happen. My uninvited guest was probably not dangerous, but I’m taking no chances with fate from now on. It’s the important, long-term stuff that will get priority, just in case “long-term” ends up being less long than I expected!
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