Hand Claps and Bone Snaps

There’s a man round these parts taken to counting out the minutes with hand claps. He stands outside the local church marking time to a blues riff no one else can hear. Eyes closed. Slow. Every now and then a flute of steam comes out his nose like an upside down kettle.

Lunch time he’s going faster, smashing invisible blue bottles in his hands. By tea time his wrists are flapping so fast you can hardly see them. The blues riff  has gone drum and bass. And then, at sunset, his hands fall off. They go hopping down the road like a clam.

I bend down to hear what he has to say. He doesn’t move, he doesn’t open his eyes,  he doesn’t blink.

“Going to the sea,” he says, “those hands are going beachside.”

And he keeps clapping his arms without hands, applauding the silence.

Most days you can see his hands out at sea, flapping and clapping and snapping, cutting coupons from the sky.

You got to hand it to that bluesman. He cannot play the blues. But he cannot help but try.

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