Such is what happened to me when I fell asleep by the fire this evening, and it took about ten minutes for the collywobbles to wear off after I woke up. I felt uneasy about going upstairs because it would have meant crossing that bit of the floor where the beetle-like insects had suddenly multiplied and leapt up to settle on my hands. And I feared – irrationally, as I well knew – that one of the four kids who had invaded my house and rushed upstairs into my bedroom might still be there, sitting in the corner of the darkened room looking back at me.
I think this strange phenomenon might be attributed to the wind moaning outside, or the fact that the girl in the chip shop earlier had put too much salt on my chips, or maybe it was due to having met that llama again, the one I encountered in Peru when the woman with the amazingly dark eyes sent me there (which I reported in a post a few weeks ago.)
I was sitting on a bench eating the aforementioned chips when a voice close to my ear said ‘Hello again.’ I turned to see the llama, its head lowered so that its face was on a level with mine and its eyes searching my own for signs of intelligent life.
‘Oh, hello,’ I said. ‘How odd to see you again, and such a long way from Peru.’
‘Indeed,’ replied the llama in that non-committal tone so typical of them.
‘Who are you?’ I continued. ‘Do you have a name?’
The llama inclined its head slightly and turned its eyes skyward.
‘Who am I?’ it mused. ‘Do I have a name? Hmm…’
And then it inclined its head the other way and turned its eyes in the opposite direction.
‘I suppose the more searching question would have to be “What am I? Would it? I rather think so. ”
And then it looked me steadily in the eye again and asked:
‘What do you think?’
‘Oh, I know what you are,’ I said, gaining in confidence. ‘You’re a llama.’
‘Who says so?’
‘It’s common knowledge.’
‘I see. By “common knowledge” I assume you mean that, far from being an unqualified presumption exercised by the majority, it is, in fact, taken as axiomatic by just about everybody.’
‘Well if it is, indeed, common knowledge, and I am, therefore, a llama, I would have to say: “Not to llamas it isn’t.” Good morning.’
And with that dismissive assertion it wandered off down the High Street, occasionally stopping to sniff the heads of passers by and wrinkling its nose in disgust.
And do you know what was really odd? Throughout the whole conversation, the people walking past were looking strangely at me, not the llama.
So be warned: Avoid llamas. Meeting the more enigmatic variety can have a disturbing effect on your state of mind for hours afterwards.