Time is on my side

Thinly veiled contempt

Each morning he’d see them on the railway platform, waiting for the 8:05 to the city: one blonde; one brunette; both beautiful. He’d walk past them, venturing a glance in their direction, looking for a smile, hoping for acknowledgement of his existence; but they were always too engrossed in their conversation to notice him. Only once did the blonde see him from the corner of her eye, and whisper something to the brunette, nodding almost imperceptibly in his direction. But the brunette only glanced at him cursorily with a look of thinly veiled contempt. He looked away quickly, pretending that the collision of glances had been an accident; not wishing his inevitable humiliation to become an entertainment for the bleary-eyed commuters waiting for the 8:05. Right at that moment, the two girls clearly saw nothing in him that they valued. Not handsome, not rich, neither powerful nor influential; just another unremarkable drone catching the 8:05 to perform his drone-like duties in an unremarkable office block in the city. But he knew that it wouldn’t always be that way. He had ambition; he had plans; and he had time on his side.

A local radio station was sponsoring a competition that month to find the most popular rock group.  The Battle of the Bands it was called; and it was the buzz all over town. The venue for the showdown was an old boxing stadium with a capacity of 15,000 and an expectation that every seat would be filled. On the day of the contest, bands converged on the stadium from all over the country. The audience started to arrive late in the afternoon, in hundreds, then thousands, filling the rows of seats as predicted. When his group’s time came to play, they climbed onto the boxing ring stage, performed a quick sound check, and then took their positions. Beyond the first twenty-or-so rows the audience blurred into a darkening haze of featureless faces but as he looked down, right there in front of him, in the second row, were the two girls from the 8:05. They were looking up at him and pointing incredulously, trying to carry on a conversation above the raucous noise of the audience. Yes, it was really that guy from the station, they seemed to be saying to each other. Who’d have thought it? Suddenly, the amplified voice of the MC boomed out above the din, announcing their performance; and the sound of their name, uttered with Biblical reverberation, sent a shiver down his spine and brought a hush to the audience. The five musicians glanced at each other, affirmed their readiness, then the keyboard player launched into the first of four, solemn, solo chords on the organ. The stadium became church-like, reverent, and expectant. The second chord. The third, in almost perfect silence. The fourth. Then a pause, the length of a deep breath, followed by an avalanche of sound as the other instruments and vocals came crashing in together, on the beat. The stadium erupted in a roar of approval that filled the auditorium. Girls were screaming; and among them, the two girls from the 8:05. He looked down and saw them bouncing in their seats, hands buried in their hair, screaming ecstatically. He could have sworn he saw tears in their eyes. His guitar solo came and he played it especially for them; his own microcosm; and everything after that was a blur.

The following Monday morning, he arrived on the railway platform at the usual time and the two girls, the blonde and the brunette were already there, as usual. As he approached, he saw them looking at him and whispering and he knew that, finally, they had noticed him. Should he talk to them, capitalising on his change of status? Echoing inside his head was that unforgettable moment: the avalanche of sound and the crowd’s reaction. He took a deep breath and thought to himself: “Time is on my side”.


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