It being a pleasant Autumn afternoon, it seemed that a short stroll in the open air was called for. With a couple of errands to attend to, he set off, one foot striding manfully out in front of the other. Past the racked displays of lush orange pumpkins that now decorate the shops where in past times there were only wizened turnips with earth laden wisps of beards. Past plastic effigies of witches and ghouls, false comforters that the age of unreason has been dispelled. And the slanting light of the sun burnished the yellow and red of the leaves. A fine afternoon to be out indeed.
He strode confidently up to Churchill from Morningside, past the Morningside Gallery, past the Indian restaurants and the newspaper shop. His purposeful stride now had to be moderated into a more casual saunter, for he was nearing the place where nonchalance had to be shown. Past the Sony shop and the wedding photographer. A languid air of looking about him had gradually to be assumed. Past the school uniform shop.
Almost there - that langorous gentlemanly air now fully developed. Dead on target. Exactly 5 paces from the lingerie and swim suit shop.
Necessary now just casually to turn his head and, as he had so many times before, take a discreet look at what the well undressed woman might be wearing. So natural that no observer could see him taking an eyeful. The technique had been mastered on so many previous occasions and would see him, slightly warmed, a coy, if wistful, smile on his lips, gain pace as he passed de Luca's ice cream parlour.
All seemed well under control as his head turned to the window. Ah yes, he spotted an appealing pair of purple...........purple what ......aaaargh..........his heart stopped.......he struggled to breathe........time stood still as that chill went down his spine.........what he took to be a mannequin winked and smiled at him.
A live model. Eye contact could not be avoided. He hurried on, no longer as assuredly composed as in his approach.
Halloween brings terror to our streets. There should have been a notice to warn the unsuspecting.