“Yeah, uh, Steve? What are you doing, mate?”
“I’m building Jerusalem, ain’t I?”
Keith nodded, as if this was a sensible answer to a question asked in the middle of Suffolk. Indeed, the collection of boxes, fencing, tiles and bricks was an admirable effort for a middle-aged plumber. Steve had even gone to the trouble of using a cricket helmet on an Ikea box to recreate the Temple Mount.
While the tiny city made of litter had upset people, it wasn’t what finally caused the Neighbourhood Association of Little Felsham to act. Direct confrontation was frowned upon, whether it was about garden fences or recreating a foreign city on the village green. It was rather because Steve had taken to wearing nothing but a semi-transparent sheet as a toga. There was no option left after that. A meeting of concerned residents met at Cassandra’s house, and over tea and biscuits, it was decided Keith would be the one to investigate what was going on.
“It’s just, well, Steve,” Keith said, hands buried deep in his pockets. “There already is a Jerusalem, isn’t there? You’ve just been there?”
“Yep,” Steve said, bending over to pick up a brick. Keith averted his eyes. “Those Jews and Muslims arguing over who owns what. It’s a damn shame, Keith, that’s what it is. I knew then I had to go and help.”
Unable to find a link somehow between the litter city and securing peace in the Middle East, Keith resorted to nodding again. “Mmm.”
“It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Once I get this place finished, I can pop back over there and lead the Jews home, you know. Tell them there’s a completely free Jerusalem waiting for them over here. My mother always wanted me to be a prophet.”
“I think she wanted you to always be honest, Steve,” Keith said, feeling himself being sucked into the insanity like a spider toward a sink drain. “Hang on, why are you picking the Jews to come here?”
Steve paused at this question, running a hand through his unbrushed hair. “Look, I ain’t got a problem with those Muslims, but well, I figured bringing over the Jews might be less damaging on property prices, you know?”
“Anyway,” Steve continued, barrelling through Keith’s objection. “I really can’t talk. I’ve got to finish this place by Christmas. Give everybody time to settle in.”
Taking that as his cue to leave, Keith wandered back to his house. While he liked Steve and all, he wasn’t going to try and restore his sanity alone.
((I’ve been busy with Masters study. Proper blogging will try and resume later. Until then, I may post a few old piece of flash fiction.))