Foxes by Stephen Connolly
I was sitting at my desk, thinking whose turn it was to make
coffee, when I saw the Fox. Seriously, a Fox. Trotting along the
pavement outside, tongue lolling out. Smiling. No signs of fear,
no sense of being pursued. It crossed the road at the lights and
disappeared round the corner. Nobody else noticed it, not even the
people on the pavement. Maybe they just didn’t care. Or even
recognise it for what it was.
I’d never thought about foxes, much. I’d see one now and again.
Late at night, sometimes. Heading to the 7/11 for milk, I’d see
these eyes reflecting car headlights. Dog I’d think. Until I saw
the bushy tail. Or during the day, walking to the station, a heap
of dirty orange fur lying on a road where they’d misjudged the
I started keeping track, almost as a joke. One behind the Kebab
shop down from the flat. Two in the park, eyeing kids on the
swings. Three tearing cardboard out of that skip in the station
car park. And once I’d started looking I saw them everywhere.
Behind the council offices, in that bus shelter opposite the
laundrette, down on the wasteland by the dual carriageway. Rolling
around in the supermarket carpark.
I admit, I did get a little obsessed. Did I really see one in
the library, staring out at me from non-fiction? Surely I dreamt
With the first one there was a jolt. Genetic maybe, a hunter-gatherer’s learned
response to a predator. In fairy tales foxes are not to be taken lightly. A kind of
But I’ve got used to them. When I see one sitting quietly near
the door, as the train rattles into the city centre, my only
thought is: do you get a special status? Like a guide dog?
There’s a lot more around than there used to be, have you
noticed? What do they do here? How long is it going to be before
they’re holding down jobs, paying taxes, running for mayor?!
And it makes me think: when did I last leave the city? I mean, really left it, got
in a car and drove until the city was far behind me. Out to that grey, wet place,
where fields live. What does it look like now? And what are they doing there
to drive all these intelligent creatures away to the city? There’s people queuing
at the 7/11. Maybe – just maybe, after all these weeks – they’ve finally got some