Out the Office Window: Sean

Backstory for a character in Out the Office Window.

Sean was born in Warkworth on the Mahurangi River. One quarter of his DNA came courtesy of an American soldier stationed in Warkworth during World War II. Another quarter originated in Cambodia, perhaps explaining the yellowish tint to his skin. The providers of the final half were exclusively colonial.

Sean suffered from early-onset Alopecia universalis. The disease, benign in other respects, renders the individual completely hairless, including eyebrows and eyelashes. Teased by his mates at school, Sean developed into a shy and socially awkward young man. He decamped to Auckland at the earliest possible moment, anxious to lose himself in the anonymous society of the big city.

Like many of the most bashful, Sean was at his best when performing before a crowd. Something about his odd appearance appealed to tourists. His first job in Auckland was narrating eight-hour bus tours. He would entertain the passengers with facts on the ride though the inner city, out the Waitakere rainforest, and, on foot, across the black sands of a beach. He was a bit of a dag and the customers liked that and were satisfied and smiling at his final gidday.

Nonetheless, did he not have a heart that could love and break? Did he not have the desires and needs of a man, albeit a man without hair? Was he not ready to reach out to others, not as a guide but as a simple human being? Yes.

To increase his contact with others, he left his bus gig and guided walking tours instead. He would lead his flock up from the waterfront through the lower city to Albert Park and back. He’d introduce his audience to a thousand years of history, beginning with the Maori, who settled Tamaki Makarau, “the land of many lovers.” Other times, they would stay down by the water, covering the area’s history from Polynesian migration to the early Europeans to the life of Sir Peter Blake. For the fit, he’d choose the Coast-to-Coast Walkway with its ten miles of neighborhoods, vistas, and volcanos, all the way to Onehunga, with a bus back.

It’s quite possible that he passed Brittany on some of these rambles, as she was living on the street at the time.

Sean met a number of women in the course of his work, and formed a number of brief relationships. However, because he was lonely, or needy, or motivated by some other deep-seated psychological condition, every time, with every woman, he took a step too soon, so to speak.

“That’s crook, mate,” said Rachael, an Aussie from Sydney. “Try that with the wrong woman sometime and she’ll break your jaw with a left hook.”

“I misread your signals.” Sean said.

“There were no signals. Forget the signals. Keep your paws to yourself. You can’t go too slow with a woman.”

“No worries, mate,” Sean said, but in a lugubrious tone. “She’ll be right.”

Every slap was an occasion for introspection and self-searching and depression for Sean. He resolved never to jump the gun again. Resolved it repeatedly. Where did this inappropriate optimism come from, which caused his hands to venture onto and over forbidden territory?

It was at such a time of self-doubt that Sean abandoned his guide work. Satisfying – fun – as it had been, he withdrew into himself and sought work in one of the tall buildings of the city, where he could gaze out over the society that made as if to draw him in, only to reject him with a ringing blow to the head as one of his nerveless hands fell away from some ripe hip or buttock.

One Response

  1. As a child in a family with a lot of artistic talent (but little or none myself), I sometimes resorted to “paint by numbers” pictures. Obviously, Sean needed a “feel by numbers” guide book/app.

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