Pig of a day, thought Marty Sinclair as he made his way down the back stairs of the precinct and out into the blazing heat of the lot. He turned it over in his memory. The woman, crying cold tears. The lost man, eyes scoured blind. Brushing off the warning tape at the scene like a wasp through a cobweb. Blood, heat, flies, a haze of stink. Kneeling in the dust, saturated in sweat and red at the knees.
How had it even begun? Out here, by his car. He was almost out, on his way home, when he heard the sobs. Delicate, tidy, unfelt; a crocodile weeping for the gazelle. The kind of tears that meant there was something someone didn’t feel too bad about, but they wanted you to know that they should.
Twelve hours later, here he was. Suit dusty, and gnarled around his limbs like old bark. Face a mess of stubble and bruises. Nowhere closer to where he thought he might be when he followed her out to the field behind the old cable factory. She wanted him somewhere else, his fate growing towards it as surely as if she’d planted his destiny in that cracked dirt, watered by the blood of the body he’d found there.
Fine. He didn’t have anywhere else to be, may as well see where this would take him. He half-fell into his car and slept, right in the heat of the morning.
They were just diving. Jumping from the edge of the boat, they giggled and gurgled, collapsed, foaming, into the cooling sea. One of them essayed a clumsy somersault, another simply fell as if pushed. His arms pinwheeled for balance then he dropped like a cartoon character with whom gravity had caught up.
Continue reading Divinity
“There’s a journey we must go on!” I declare; finger aloft, coat billowing about me, eyes alight with possibility. “And no delay!”
“Can’t. Busy.” Comes the mouth-stuffed reply. I deflate. My coat sags, grips my body like a dying swan.
Continue reading Heritage
He’d been out across the Thames a couple of times, at night in his bare feet. Padding near-silently over the erratic wavelets, just to see if he could still do it. It came to him the second time that it might just be a dream; it was probably a dream, it was a dream when he was a child and he played out there, running under the bridges to hide, and wandering past the moored ships, touching their massive sides with his fingertips, wondering how they stayed afloat.
Continue reading A Night Walk
It had been cold for as long as any of us could remember, but memory is short when you’re a child. Four months of bitter winter felt like four years; imprisoned in duffle coats and bobble hats, playgrounds icy, gloomy battlegrounds where we fought with the very concept of fun.
It was 1986 and we were ten. Well, Martin and I were ten – Peter and his twin sister Dawn were both nine, and the distinction was powerful. They would be ten in the summer, but the summer was a lifetime away. Dawn was, as these things go, taller than all of us already so we grudgingly let her play in our gang. That, and Peter’s Mum said we had to.
Continue reading Cold War Diplomacy