Once he felt like a real man, dressed in black like the SAS, wool hat, sweater, no one ever said he wasn’t real. He was just like a real soldier, with real hair, life-like eyes that moved. They called him Eagle-Eyes. He had hands that gripped and flexed and could hold his weight as he hung from a wire.
When he was young, just an infant in human years, he had clothes made of real cotton, plastic boots and kit, everything he could need, like picks for ice, like handguns, grenades, pairs of boots that fit perfectly, and a backpack to hold all these things, a tent made of real canvas and binoculars and a rubber dingy, a motor-bike with side-car and his boat would actually float.
Then at thirty six he threw it in.
It might have been the SS uniform, or some unpopular war that meant that little boys didn’t play with weapons or dolls with guns anymore. And yet this was before he was middle-aged, before forty, and no one is middle aged before forty anymore? Not even fifty, surely and yet still he stopped, and threw it in. He took to mountain biking and swapped army kit for board shorts and in-line skates.
And Dr X and Gangrene.
Then after time even that had to stop…
Action man sat up. It was 2 o’clock,
and outside, except for the flared glow of street lights through rain spattered windows panes, the world was dark.
He hadn’t slept. But then again he rarely slept, not properly at least and never the whole night through and when he did sleep his dreams became cluttered with a million useless thoughts, passing through, cramming through the bottle neck of his mind.
It wasn’t the wind either, rattling on the window glass or whistling through the gap in the window seal, nor the gurgling of the pipes in the wall. In fact he couldn’t say what it was that kept him up – not dissatisfaction because he had done it all, nor lonliness because he had never needed friends.
But he had grown tired of pacing the floors of his large, raised and walled house, of watching his big TV or looking out through wall to ceiling windows at the city-scape, at the bridge, the Danube, at a sleeping city that glittered with a million tiny lights.
And perhaps, he had once thought, each of those little lights is someone else who couldn’t sleep, who sat awake and dreamed of what once was, or what would no longer be.
Of glory, adventure, victory!
But none of these thoughts interested him. not anymore. So he turned on his side and tried again to sleep. Useless though, he was as awake as if the sun were shining and pigeons cooed.
Instead he got up and he threw his bed-sheet to the floor.
He went down stairs and inside his big kitchen he stood and filled water into a glass. He drank greedily form his glass, and that was when he noticed it.
Big wheels and painted green,
Camouflage, thick rubber tyres
as high as hills, as wide the world.
It wasn’t new,
he knew it from before,
a pick up with bull-bars and dusty glass.
It was his,
Action Man’s new car.