The Man With The Hat

The Man With No Hat strolls into town, and one thing is instantly clear. He is different, aloof alone. Everyone else has a hat, everyone else is moving frenetically, everyone else frowns. And everyone else is a little fascinated and curious about The Man With No Hat. He walks into the bar and orders a drink, his voice quiet and other-worldly, he barely seems to blink. He studies no one and yet everyone has the feeling that, were someone to make a sudden move, he would be ready. Gun in hand, immediately and fiercely in control of the situation. He watches, he waits, he lives in his own time. And later, as the sun is going down he strolls out of town, still wearing no hat, the silent guardian, back to his mysterious hut in the woods. Out of sight, and yet everyone knows, he will return. And pushing open the door as the sun settles for the night, he collapses into his favourite chair, and sighs. Without an audience, he finds his phone. Checks on his mum, she’s not doing so well these days. He messages an old school friend, reaches over and flicks on the kettle, makes himself a heartening cuppa. Later he gets up and ladles some beans onto a slice of comforting toast. He’s weary and is even tempted to get a hat. It’s hard walking around bare-headed and living in his silent, watchful world. He picks up the IKEA catalogue and wonders about buying a new set of shelves. Then he dozes off, beans half finished, tea growing cold, as an old episode of Columbo plays on the old TV in the corner of his dusty front room.

The next day he bumps into a Stranger, this one is wearing a hat as he wanders through the woods, but his hat is not like anyone else’s. The Man With No Hat does his best to look aloof and watchful, but the Stranger With A Different Hat smiles at him and disarms him and tells him a story about reality. He invites him back to his house where he is living the kind of life everyone lives, connected and rooted, and yet also not reliant on the kind of things which anchor The People With Hats so rigidly to their lives. He is not aloof and yet he seems free. The Stranger With A Different Hat cooks a meal of bread and fish and it’s the best bread and fish in the world. And later he takes The Man With No Hat back into town, and suddenly the place seems different. They stop at a hat store and the Stranger offers to buy him a hat. A crowd gathers as they stare at the window display. The Stranger points out a new hat which will make him stand out in a whole other way. This is crunch time for The Man With No Hat. He knows the town is watching. Will he still be the Man With No Hat if he wears one?

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