The Man Who Walks lives in a small town. When he tells people where he lives, they pause. This can go two ways he knows. They will either mention the bad thing or the good thing. Yin and Yang. Hes ready for this and agrees yes it was terrible or agrees that yes we are very proud of him. We’ve even got a golden postbox now, he adds.
The town is not in the Highlands nor is it in the Lowlands. When he walks up to the park near his house, he can see the hills to the north, beyond the Highland Boundary Fault. The first snow should be on the tops soon, he thinks. He’s climbed every hill the eye can see. When he turns round he can see the flatlands of the Carse to the south, the castle and the monument.
The Man Who Walks takes his dogs out whatever the weather. The big black lab trundles along behind him whilst the small white yappy dog shoots ahead. Yin and yang. He takes quick steps forward then stops to look back, cajoling the old dog. C’mon, ya old goat, he mutters.
At night, when he takes the dogs up the park for a final walk , he can see the orange glow of the city lights to the south and even a plane circling over the Campsies before landing in Glasgow. The stars can be amazing too , if only he could identify them. Sometimes a full moon gives him a shadow and once just once he saw the northern lights , the dancing men.
Looking across the glen, he can see the Hydro lit up and far below that, the cathedral. He stands still, trying to listen for the dogs who have disappeared in the dark. Depending on the wind, he can hear the cars on the bypass. When he was wee, before the bypass, he could sometimes hear the lions roaring in the safari park.
This morning, The Man Who Walks is in the kitchen, looking out the window. Once the rain stops I’ll get the dogs up the park he thinks. Then he remembers. The NHS Scotland text message was clear, he’s not to leave the house until next weekend.
Until then, he is The Man Who Self Isolates. He puts the kettle on.