Glen Abbot and The Green Man
By Leilanie Stewart
Glen Abbot waited at the traffic lights as cars, buses and vans streamed by in the hazy sunlight. He looked at his watch and sighed.
“Takes forever, doesn’t it?” said a man’s voice next to him.
Glen turned and set eyes on his neighbour, then yelped with fright and fell back against the traffic-light post. The green man from the signal stood next to him; all six-foot of it from shoeless-feet to smooth, bald head.
Glen wiped his sweaty brow. Either the summer heat was getting to him or he’d hit his head harder than he had thought at the weekend.
No; there had to be a rational explanation first. It had to be a man wearing a costume of sorts.
“Are you going to a party?” Glen asked.
The green man shook his head. “Why do you ask?”
“Strange costume. I mean, how do you breathe in that thing anyway, with no eye, nose or mouth holes? Is it some sort of new material?”
“Costume? What material? I’m not sure what you mean, but I am what I am.”
Glen looked up at the traffic signal. The red man had been showing for a long time, the screen above black and empty. He looked across at his companion and comprehension dawned. He was having hallucinations caused by his severe concussion - that had to be it.
“What a lazy great oaf he is,” said the green man, jerking his round dome of a head towards the red man. “That’ll teach him - he can pull his weight for a change!”
“This is crazy,” said Glen. “Am I the only one who can see you?”
“Oh please!” said the green man. “I’d like to hope not, considering what I’m about to do. Took me ages to climb down from that post, and I wouldn’t do it if I was some kind of non-entity, like yourself.”
“Me?” said Glen, raising his eyebrow. “Why, what makes you so important?”
“Well, I do more with my life than sit at home, for a start. Drinking whiskey and rotting your brain watching TV all day - it’s no wonder you see me better than the others. What’s your name anyway?”
Glen clenched his teeth. This hallucination was going a bit far - his imagination had never been so rude to him before. “Glen Abbot,” he answered with a frown.
“That’s a nice name. Sounds almost like a Scotch,” said the green man.
“That’s why I picked it. Glen Abbot Tomlinson.”
“Of course - to wash down all the beer you drink,” said the green man. “I don’t have a name. Most people call me, ‘about time’, or ‘let’s go’.”
Glen smirked. “How are we supposed to cross the road if you’re down here, then? Isn’t that the whole point of you - to make it safe for people to cross?”
The green man shrugged. “Yeah, pretty mundane life, eh? But not anymore. I reckon we make a dash for it.”
“Well, you’d know best. You’re the green man. Lead the way.”
Glen followed him into the traffic, weaving between the cars. Nobody seemed to even give a second glance to the green man as they passed. It had to be the strangest hallucination he’d ever had.
“What’s this thing you’re off to do that’s so important anyway?” asked Glen.
“It sounds a bit convoluted,” said the green man.
Glen grinned. “You’re a green man? What could it possibly be apart from flashing at a few people?”
“To tell you the truth, when you’re hanging up there waiting for your turn to shine for twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, you start to see the world in a new light. There are certain things that bother me about society.”
“Like what?” said Glen.
“Two words,” said the green man. “Chewing gum. The damn kids! They stick it all over my post. One time this nasty, fat little brat even climbed up and stuck a chewing gum hat right on my head!”
“Yeah, but what can you do about it? Society won’t change.”
“That’s what you think. There’s a Green Party campaign today on today down at Parliament Square, so I’m going along - who better than me to support a good cause for our planet? I’m a pretty good mascot being the colour that I am, don’t you think?”
Glen Abbot nodded. “Yeah, I suppose you are.”
“And that’s just the first step. I have bigger plans too. I want a law passed in this country like they have in Singapore - jail for people who litter the place with chewing gum. Oh yes, I’m going to do it. I’m going to clean up this town. I’m going to start my own party - I’ll be a politician!”
“Sounds like a better idea than what I was going to do with my afternoon,” said Glen. “I was going to order a takeaway and watch the match.”
Definitely, it was the best delusion he’d ever had. How many dreams turned into reality? And even odder, how many strange entities were motivated by a good cause? So long as it was going to last, Glen made up his mind.
“If you want, I’ll be your canvasser,” he said.
The green man stuck out his stump to Glen and they exchanged a hand-shake of sorts.
“Yes, Glen Abbot who sounds like a whiskey, that sounds like a perfect idea to me. Together we’ll make things right. With your humanity and my brilliance, we’ll be sure to get what I want.”
Glen smiled too. It would most likely all be over tomorrow, but for now, he was enjoying himself. It was certainly a more interesting use of his time than getting hammered and falling down the stairs. His steps fell in sync with the neon-green legs of his new leader as they walked towards the green demonstration and a brighter future.
- - -
Leilanie Stewart's fiction has appeared in literary magazines in the UK and US. Recently her work was included in the Storm Cycle Best of 2013 anthology published by Kind of a Hurricane Press. She currently lives in London with her writer and poet hubby, Joseph Robert. Website: www.leilaniestewart.wordpress.com