We didn’t read the news

by Neil McCarthy

I was at my usual booth, half a cold cappuccino 

in front of me, my daughter crawling over my lap

in an attempt to crayon the paper I was reading.

The man at the table across the floor looked like the 

prison warden from The Shawshank Redemption.

Whatshisface. I'd seen him in a few things recently.

He smiled. Stared just long enough for it not to be

awkward. Probably had a flashback of his little one

doing the same some forty years or so before. 

His wife lowered her newspaper too and looked over 

at my daughter, watery-eyed, as if picturing herself

at the same age; not a care in the world and more 

concerned with colouring things in than reading 

those little black shapes that make everyone angry.

Bob Gunton. That was him. The true miscreant of

the tale. That character you sit and watch and pray 

that they get their comeuppance. I looked down at

my table and hoped I hadn't stared back long enough

for it to have been awkward. I took my daughter's 

tiny hand and guided her crayon straight across the 

front page of my newspaper, carved a waxy orange

lined through the column about war; added green 

to the political article, purple to the images of 

Wall Street men transfixed by their sanctity of screens.

We took turns shading a bit here, another bit there,

exchanging crayons until the prismatic pages began

to glow like a city at night — a metropolis viewed from

a distant hill where the engorgement of colours is just 

enough to help us briefly forget about the smaller,

anger-inducing shapes within.