The sun was setting on a late June day in the North of England. I had gone upstairs to get ready for bed, and as I was closing my bedroom curtains, I paused and stared thoughtfully ahead. My bedroom looks out over the quiet street that is our cul-de-sac, bordered by a freight railway line. Across the road there is a row of semi detached bungalows. Behind them to my right I can see the roofs of the row of Victorian terraced houses on our neighbouring street. To my left I can see a new housing estate, consisting of several blocks of flats. This is where my attention was drawn that night.
I saw a man on the balcony of a top floor apartment. He was far enough away that I could not see his features clearly, only that he is white, of average build, with dark hair. He might be a similar age to me, early to mid-thirties. He was bathed in the orange glow of electric light from the room behind, and he was talking to someone on his mobile phone. Nothing special there, you might think. But for some reason, I stopped and watched him, partially concealed behind my black curtains with silver foil print gargoyles. This man fascinated me. I could make use of him… why was he on the phone? Who was he speaking to? Was there a specific reason for a phone call at this hour of the night, almost 10 o’clock, middle of the working week?
In my mind he became a creature of the night. Perhaps he is a were-animal, and this suburban apartment is his link to the human world. Maybe he was dealing with pack business, and when darkness fell, he disappeared into the night, intent on resolving the issues or patrolling his territory. Ah, yes, he could be a very convincing black leopard, perhaps. Or maybe he is a vampire, and he was making arrangements to meet friends or ambush a known vampire hunter in the area, thus protecting himself and his kind. Or, he could be a witch, planning a coven meeting, or preparing for the summer harvest celebrations… the possibilities are endless.
All this flashed through my mind in the space of about 3 minutes, as I watched my unsuspecting character going about his innocent (I hope!) human business. He never saw me. I am adept at concealing myself when I want to people watch. I think this is the trait of a writer. We are always working, whether that work translates onto paper or computer, or not. We observe, we gather stories, we embellish. We are always creating.