Smelly cheese and a pair of scissors

Somehow this reminds me of exercises in short creative writing courses – write a short story weaving these two random items together.

Reality can be more bizarre than imagined stories. So here goes. Today’s real life story linking smelly cheese and a pair of scissors.

On the tube between one station and another. Sitting as usual watching those around me with interest, wondering who they are and what their lives are like. The tube pulls into a station and in comes through far away doors a man in his late sixties probably, white hair and beard, big thick glasses, odd collection of clothes. He catches my eye and makes a bee line for the seat next to me as somehow I knew he would, even though there were plenty of plenty closer ones.

A rustle in a plastic bag and soon there he sat with a pair of scissors in one hand and a packet of cheese in the other. With fascination I watched him cut snippets of the paper off, letting the bits of plastic fall to the floor. The stench of very overripe blue cheese escaped and filled the carriage. Noses crinkled, wondering at the smell, people turned to find the source. My neighbour, intent on his task, noticed none of them and still muttering under his breath then started cutting tiny bits of cheese off, manoeuvring them to his mouth carefully balanced on the scissors. A number of pieces of the stinky cheese didn’t make it and gathered around his feet.

“That’s powerful stuff that cheese” I heard myself say to him, wondering why I felt the need to do so. His muttering stopped, the cheese laden scissors stopped mid flight and he turned his head towards me. A mostly toothless grin and then he listed cheeses that in his view were much smellier. Almost no hesitation in the list. Names of cheeses toppled out in a rush and all the while he looked straight at me somehow keeping that tiny bit of cheese perfectly poised.

The tube started to slow down again. My neighbour finished that cheese crumb, pocketed the cheese and knife, got up, smiled and then left me surround by smelly cheese crumbs.

Horror upon horrors. New people started coming in, sniffing and with a face indicating displeasure moved over to the other end of the carriage. I wanted to call out after them just to explain, to disassociate myself from the odour, but couldn’t . They were quickly out of my cheese zone and my calling would have attracted way too much notice. A woman sat down two seats away and then I was aware of her sniffing and searching around her and looking disapprovingly at what she thought was the source, me. I am sure I blushed. This time I couldn’t hold back so explained how the man with cheese had been and gone. She looked at me as if I was only making matters worse. A gibbering woman who smelt bad! So much worse than a silent cheesy smelling one. I called on the woman opposite who with a smile thankfully confirmed my story. The frosty glare of my accuser softened. She almost smiled. My honour restored.

So there I sat for a few more stops. Still assaulted by the smelly cheese yet no longer accused of being the source of the unpleasant odours we were all forced into sharing. A strange relief.

I wonder where he is now… And who else he has left in his wake!

A journey to remember.


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