Saturday, 21 April 2012

When They Found Her

You want to have seen it, the place was crawling with busies, dozens of them, white coats, cameras, the lot. They didn't waste any time. They took me through the back, to where they found her. One of them had a grip of me, my left arm. 'Look,' he goes. She was...I said something, I don't know what, a noise just. The shock, I couldn't...she was...and this big bastard of a Sergeant's staring at me, his eyes boring into me, as if it was my fault, as if I'd done something wrong.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bar, Thessaloniki, 4.15am

I didn't come here for conversation. I came here for the noise, the smoke, the smell of perfume. I came here to think. Memories are the least of it. I came here to imagine I'm something I'm not. Clear?

Monday, 16 April 2012

Arthur's Seat

The ascent
to the summit
was steep.

Twice I offered you my hand
and twice you gripped my sleeve.

Falling
down those rocks
wasn't your only fear.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

from South Shore Road

Elbow room, the lack of it; crammed into the corner of this bar. The atmosphere was raucous, but not rowdy. Not yet. That would come later. He was on non-alcoholic beer. It had nothing to do with his health. He'd been plastered every night since he got back. The house had been doing his head in. Too much silence, not even a radio to switch on, never mind a television. But there was something he had to do, and he wanted to be sober.

It was his old man's local. They used to come here whenever John was back. He glanced over at the seat in the corner. It was empty. He tried not to read too much into it. The space would be getting filled soon enough. He twisted round and looked at his watch. It would take half an hour to get to where he was going. More than enough time for another bottle of fizz.

He ordered a double whisky.

The man standing next to him nodded. 'I've been trying to place you since you walked in,' he said. 'Do you live in the town?'

'No,' said John. 'I'm just passing through. I grew up here, though.'

'Aye?' said the man. 'Where about?'

'Round the back of the shops,' said John.

Oh,' said the man. 'Bandit country. This place has gone to the dogs. I mind when...'

John paid for the whisky. He let the man talk. It was like listening to his father. Except it wasn't his father. His father knew how to tell a story, even if it was a gripe about how the good old days had turned into nowadays. Mind you, the guy had a point. The town, this part of it, was a dump. Fifteen-year-olds hanging out of windows drinking Buckie while their wee sisters tried to batter a new doorway in Wong's with a shopping trolley. Feral - you couldn't say anything. If you looked at them the wrong way you'd get your windows panned in then the police would be chapping your door asking what the hell you were playing at. He'd told his dad to move out years ago, but he'd been there too long. He was there till the end.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

from Bang, You're Dead


I was almost finished packing. I laid my bag on the bed. The house was empty. The kids were at school, my wife was at work. So was Harry. Maria was in the kitchen, I could hear her footsteps through the ceiling.
She was standing at the sink, doing something with the syringes. The baby was in its cot, under the window, wrapped in a blanket. It was sleeping.
‘Maria,’ I said. ‘We need to talk.’
‘Oh?’ she said.
‘It’s about the baby,’ I said.
‘What about it?’ she said. She looked at the cot. The blanket didn’t move.
I took a deep breath and held it. The yard was silent. It was just the two of us. And the baby. The three of us. ‘Is it mine?’ I said.
Her eyes narrowed. She crossed the floor and clicked the door shut behind me. I don’t know why she did that. Then she resumed her position next to the drying board, leaning on it. There was a damp patch on her blouse, at the bottom of her left breast. She folded her arms. ‘Are you stupid?’ she said. ‘We agreed never to mention…’
‘I know,’ I said, ‘but…’
‘What do you mean, is it yours?’ she said.
‘You know…’ I said.
Something was playing around the corners of her eyes. The beginnings of a smile. ‘But you’re…you can’t…how could it be yours?’ she said.
‘Yes, okay,’ I said, ‘but the dates…’
She laughed in my face. ‘It’s not yours,’ she said. ‘I only let you do it because you’re…’
The baby screamed in its sleep.