The taxi jerked to a stop so as not to hit the two beardy blokes who had bounced out of the Cereal Killer Cafe into the road.
“Nice smoking jacket, ya cunt!” the taxi driver yelled.
“That’s no smoking jacket,” I said. “He’s wearing a bleedin’ bathrobe out as a coat.” I fumbled with my phone to get a photo, but missed my chance. “Hasn’t Boris made it legal for you guys to just mow down the hipsters?”
“Ha! If he had, it’d have been the only good thing he’s done, innit?” The driver rolled up his window and looked back towards me with a sly grin. “Sounds like you could use some R&R.”
“Nah, I’m plenty rested. Just back from a weekend meditation retreat.” Three days of silence had left me chatty, but London had already put me back on edge.
“No, mate. R&R, a new intervention service that some friends of a friend have started.” He handed me a card.
Rohypnol ’n’ Razors.
De-bearding trendy twats,
one shave at a time.
“Hmm. So, your … ‘friends’ … they get rid of the beard or the hipster?”
“Well, depends how much you pay.”
I asked for the number. Just in case.
Sally inserted her earbuds, clicked “play” on her “Mindful Walking” app, and set out for a Shoreditch stroll. She’d arrived in London from Houston a few days earlier, and already the constant grey was taking its toll.
“Be active, be present!” her shrink had urged, scribbling a prescription. “One before bed. Remember Buddha’s words: ‘feelings pass, like clouds hiding a clear blue sky’.”
Buddha’d never been to Blighty.
Still groggy from the Paxil, she followed the recording’s instructions. Breathe. Pay attention to the weight of each foot touching the pavement. What can you hear? What do you see? Passersby speaking Spanish. Hipsters on bikes. An Amy Winehousian trainweck shouting “innit!” into her cell. A funky “coffeeteria” across the street.
A latte might perk her up.
She looked up the road. With no cars coming, she sauntered off of the sidewalk.
Winehouse wailed. Horns honked. Brakes brayed. Thud! The pain of the pavement. People rushing towards her, spinning into blackness.
“You’re lucky,” said the doctor. “Only a fractured wrist.” Pulling a marker from his pocket, he gently lifted her cast. “Let me be the first.”
He left her a new mindfulness trigger, where her watch should have been.
“Look both ways.”