I walked past a man with a face that didn’t belong. This was the conclusion I drew after three cups of coffee and a morning thinking about it. It was a sunny Monmouth morning, and I was walking down Monnow Street when I moved to one side, allowing a couple of indeterminate age pass by.
The woman passed in a blur. Not the man. Both, though, were tourists; we have plenty of them in Monmouth. Coaches deposit them at one end of town and they’re given an hour to walk up our one main street, check out our charity shops and numerous coffee bars, a pub perhaps and then back to the coach.
These looked like tourists. They walked primly as though wound by the same key, eyes fixed on something invisible ahead, and mouths fixed in a small, willing-to-be-amused smile.
But there was something about the man: his face. It was airbrushed to perfection, tanned to a perfect, pale honey colour, and so incredibly smooth. This may give the impression that I stood in front of him, staring and making copious notes. The fact that it was merely a glimpse reflects perhaps the power of the experience. If a minor deity took on human form he too might have skin as smooth as silk or porcelain with an unearthly honey-coloured tan.
On my second cup of coffee, I started working on his nationality. Had I glimpsed white teeth, the kind that glowed in the dark, I might have guessed American, but with no such clue, I settled on German . . . until I remembered their manner of walking, and that old film, ‘The Bodysnatchers’ came into mind. I had just walked past two aliens, and survived. Either that or the coffee was good.