E V E N I N G

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
On his way to find food, Luke is trapped by a car on a narrow street.

Submitted: July 03, 2014

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Submitted: July 03, 2014

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E V E N I N G

 

Check the eyes. Superstition: small terror-instinct. Rationalise: clearly dead, not sleeping, not breathing. Check the eyes are dead. Black reflections, tunnels to the brain. Blind. Wormholes. Hold my face. Distorted back to me in waves, glancing off its cold mechanical gel. Dead. Did you ever see these two eyes alive? No, stupid question. Dead for sure. Do they move in the head when alive or stay fixed, like windows? Portholes. Cut through the neck, if you can call it that, glitter-thin slit between the skull and the back, down into the wrinkle-skin, wrinkle off the head and sever the horizontal cord, making sure to keep the stink-red water off your shoes, trousers and shirt. Or why not paint your shirt, with the blunt-broken spine? Keep the head, limp hinge. Why? Might be useful. Sad smile. Slice the stomach, spread open. Yes, that's how it's done. Must be a method or technique to lift out the bones and leave the meat intact. How would they do it?

 

Luke's thoughts silently shed their words and take on a worming form: a finger walking on further small fingers: a caterpillar finger with small finger-feet, thinking around the spine, between the ribs, and pushing, parting, separating meat fibres from bone surface. Lifting perfectly, flesh layered in an unbroken film.

 

Tearing. Dirty-breaking away, meat and watery hangings. Less than perfect. Not how they do it, another way, a secret trick, with the knife?

 

Luke is disappointed and receives no pleasure from the act, which he considers a minor failure. No joining thoughts to other bodies, no sensation-links to other meats, no dark-flesh undertones, subconscious venting, no release.

 

It would be so good to pull it out totally clean. Dry the bone. Sun? Oven? And display it. They'd say: he's an odd one. Don't revel in it. Arrogant. Presumptuous. They're not jealous. Concerned for a future psychosis. Obvious obsession. Exhibitionist. Wants attention. Deny the want. They're partly jealous, surely, bored with their moderate mental health. Intelligent tepidity. Fantasise about a breakdown. Like the films. She could be in a film, cut clean from a scene. Beautiful. Call her. No. Stop her. No. Reluctant-lazy-afraid. Child-fear. She'll mother-murder the calm, sex-slaughter the quiet. No. She'll bring good conversation: questions, remarks, ideas, judgements. Exposed. What you don't know. What you can't achieve. Telephone her before she comes and tell her not to bother. Stomach ache. Bowel tumour. Her father. Why think? Shit blood. He must have shit blood. Meat in a bowl. Marinade. Overnight. Too late. One hour. Call her.

 

 

'Hello?'

'Hi, is that Martha?'

'Hello? Luke?

'Yes, I was just–'

'Hi Luke, I was going to call, I can't come tonight, really sorry; another time maybe? Er, are you free next week?'

'Next week; sure, what day?'

'Thursday? Same time?'

'Yeah, okay. Thursday. See you then.'

'See you.'

 

 

Luke drops his phone against the kitchen surface and stares into blank relief. Problem solved. She doesn't want to come. Eat alone? Dull and pathetic. Eat out, go out, walk, before it gets dark. Walk to the pub? Chips? Japanese? Jamaican? Polish? Iranian? Walk and decide.

 

Stepping down a steep-angled street Luke picks up speed as he passes over the uneven cobbles on his smooth-soled shoes, and he judders suddenly to a stop at the narrow junction, where a car has recently passed, sounding its diminished passing out from a further passing point, as previously kicked-up fallen leaves and dust now fall around Luke's bare ankles, possibly landing just as further fallen leaves and dust are being remotely kicked-up at further unseen passing points across the city.

 

Left or right? Shit. Left the head in the sink. Go back? Flies, rotting. Up hill. Not worth it. Rotting head. Not so useful. Sad smile. Left. Empty street. Perfectly empty. Good that she cancelled. Simple evening. Chips. Sushi. Chips. Jerk chicken. Chips. Car.

 

Car tires, engine, suspension, exhaust and horn cause Luke to step lightly up onto the narrow pavement, where he is forced to flatten his chest against a house front, and enter his face into a hanging basket planted with mixed Petunias.

 

Sneeze and fall back and get hit by the car. Man killed by flowers. Deadly nightshade. Embarrassing death. Darwin awards. Why isn't it passing?

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust have stopped, maintaining their signature stationary noises, directly behind Luke, close enough at his back to warm his bare ankles, which are tensed and locked, keeping him pressed close to the house-front, facing the direction he was previously taking, away from the car tires, suspension, engine, exhaust and the hanging basket planted with mixed Petunias.

 

Come on. You can pass. More than enough room. What're you doing? Checking out my arse, or what? Can't get round the door-arch. Beam. Stupid plants. Wing-mirror. This is absurd. Trapped. Turn.

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust pass quickly on, pulling their passing sounds along behind them, kicking-up fallen leaves and dust, which now fall around Luke's bare ankles.

 

Okay. Move on. Chips, definitely chips. More? Just chips? Fish? Sausage? Just chips. Cheap. Cheap as chips. Salt and vinegar. Drowning, swimming. Seaside chips, riverside chips. Walk the river and eat chips, warm and crisp-soaking in salt and vinegar. Filled with warm thoughts, full thoughts, newspaper printed in grease-font. Small or large? Small. Or large? Save for later? Small, cheaper. Cheap as chips.

 

Car tires, engine, suspension, exhaust and horn cause Luke to jump quickly up onto the narrow pavement, where he is forced to press his hands and chest into a concrete-cracked wall.

 

Piss. Pissing stink. Dog? Man? Mix? What's the deal with these cars? Pass already!

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust have stopped their passing and remain stuck in their signature stationary noises, directly behind Luke, close enough at his back to warm his bare ankles, which are tensed and locked, keeping him pressed close to the concrete-cracked wall.

 

Piss. Urea. Urine. Disgusting. Who pisses this high up a wall? Had to be intended, knowing some poor bastard was going to be pressed up into it when a car passes. Pass! Driver must be the sadistic pisser. Really enjoying himself. Fucker. Pass!

 

Luke's flat-soled shoes slip on the rounded pavement edge, a slip which almost slams his face into the concrete-cracked wall; catching himself, he tenses further, and arches his back out and away from the concrete-cracked wall, pressing in his stomach, turning and attempting to look at the car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust.

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust pass quickly on, leaving Luke to relax back off the narrow pavement and step out onto the street, where he stands and watches the recently passed car moving on to further passing points across the city, kicked-up fallen leaves and dust now falling around his bare ankles.

 

Ridiculous, absurd. People have serious problems. How many cars can stop on this narrow street in five minutes? Any more and I'll start to ask questions. What's their reason for stopping? Slowing to pass is fine. Sensible. But stopping, holding me against plant pots and walls drenched in piss. Ridiculous. Perfectly dull and absurd. Irritating.

 

Increasing his pace in an attempt to leave the narrow street, Luke is impatient, waiting for the car tires, suspension, engine, exhaust and horn that will cause him to jump up onto the narrow pavement, where he will be forced to press his hands and chest into a further wall or city surface, which he watches, anticipating the further plants and climbing piss stains that his face will touch or come close to slamming up against.

 

No further cars come to pass.

 

No more? No third car? Nothing? Bitter-sick. Let down. Fickle bastard wanted a third, to finish the fable. Couldn't be less satisfied. Crestfallen, yes. Crestfallen. Lost the heart and spirit for chips. Stolen by the absent third. Three cars should have passed. Three. Three not two. Two is weak, a coincidence. Three is a rare occurrence, a strange event. Three cars is a story: last night three cars passed and trapped me on a narrow street. Three mystery cars. Two cars is pathetic. Who cares for two? No chips. Don't deserve them. Three would mean victory chips. Eaten on a high. Consummating the memory. Chips now would have a sad and forgetful flavour. Fucking cars ruined my night! No. Go back. Walk back and wait. The third car will come, circle round and walk the street again.

 

Increasing his pace further, almost to a jogging pace, Luke walks a circular route back around to his steep-angled street, where his smooth-soled heels really pick up speed across the uneven cobbles, and judder slightly to a stop when he reaches the narrow junction at the bottom.

 

No cars have recently passed, and the fallen leaves and dust cover the cobble-stones undisturbed.

 

Come on fucker, I know you're coming. Walk slowly. Third car, maybe four. Too many? No, three is preferable, but more doesn't lessen the story's value. Is four more believable? Three is cliché, perhaps? Five too many, five is unlikely, stretching reality. Excessive. Three is fine. Recognise the cliché in the telling: counteract the cliché. Four is perfection. Five is grotesque. Indulgent. Two cars. Come on, two came before. Two again. And they have to stop. If they don't stop? Bend the truth? Say they stopped. Then why not bend the truth to four cars? Layer the truth. Two lies thick. Multiplied. Ha. Why not? Walk the street first, they might come, might stop.

 

Barely moving, Luke shuffles down the narrow street, gently kicking the pavement, he passes the hanging basket planted with mixed Petunias.

 

Flowers: pink, purple, blue. Murder. No cars. Won't come. Can't bend the truth as far as four cars. Bent too far and the truth turns transparent. Snap. Lies open-wide. Broken content. Malcontent. No worth in it. No fun hanging a shattered plastic diamond off a loose-ended thread.

 

Luke stops at the concrete-cracked wall. Staring violently back at the carless street, he turns and sniffs the cracked concrete surface.

 

Piss. Stink-trace: human. Like this night. Already a mind-stain. Reeking impurities. Two cars. Concentrated waste.

 

Car tires, suspension, engine, exhaust and horn cause Luke to tense up against the concrete-cracked wall, hands and chest pressed against the surface.

 

Yes! Three! Cliché three! Better than two. Stop! Stop!

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust stop their passing and remain stuck in their signature stationary noises, directly behind Luke, close enough at his back to warm his bare ankles, which are tensed and locked, keeping him pressed close to the concrete-cracked wall.

 

Yes Yes Yes! It stopped! Three cars! Recognised in the telling: counteracts the cliché. A complete set! Now pass. You can pass. Breathing piss. Pass!

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust pass quickly on, leaving Luke to relax back off the narrow pavement and step out into the street, where he stands and watches the recently passed car moving on to further passing points across the city, kicked-up fallen leaves and dust now falling around his bare ankles.

 

Sweet Victory Chips! Deep-soaked in salt and sour-water! Hallelujah! A miracle! Three times a car came to pass and trapped me on a narrow street. One time flowers, two times piss. Not ideal. Miss out the double piss. First flowers, second piss, third. Third? What? Graffiti? Church steps? Forget it. Stupid cliché. Should have been hit by the third car. A real story. Hit by the forth? Too good. Perfect. End the cliché. Walking paranoid, unnerved, all these mystery cars keep stopping, think you're hearing cars that don't exist, confused, turn around too late and get hit. Not fatal, a clip, just a wing-mirror. Reality strikes sense into the fable. A moral ending. Okay, fourth car.

 

Luke turns around and starts to jog back the way he came, passing the hanging basket planted with mixed Petunias, he judders and almost slips to a stop at the narrow junction that turns left up his steep-angled street. Panting slightly, he turns around and restrains his excited walk to a limited shuffle.

 

Come on, four, four, let's finish the job. Four for the chips. The victory chips. Four cars. Two is weak, three's a cliché. Four strikes down the twice-told and suspends disbelief by its fat ankle-doubts. Four cars, or a van, or a truck, horse, donkey, ambulance. Too ironic. Just a car. One more car.

 

Car tires, suspension, engine, exhaust and horn cause Luke to jump up onto the narrow pavement, and as they come to pass, or possibly slow to stop, and become stuck in their stationary noises, Luke steps back and extends an elbow out to be struck by the moving wing-mirror, letting it clip him harder than he had expected, knocking him back, which causes him to slip on his smooth-soled shoes, and lands him flat on his back before the car tires, suspension, engine, exhaust and horn, which sound out and stop their passing, stuck in their signature stationary noises: resounding rubber and iron off stone cobbles and concrete.

 

It hit me. Really hit. Smash. Shatter. Elbow broken? Funny. Can't feel it. Get up. Cause a pileup. Hospital. Police. Jumped out onto moving traffic. Embarrassing. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up.

 

Using his uninjured arm, Luke pushes himself up from the ground, and limps, to step further up onto the narrow pavement, where he chooses to press his hand and chest into the wall's unremarkable surface.

 

Car tires, suspension, engine and exhaust pass quickly on, scattering their passing sounds, including a drifting horn, into the evening air, echoing off further passing points and unremarkable walls across the city.

 

Not so bad. Pain returning. Definite elbow, moving joint, painful-moving. Idiot. Need chips to recuperate. Consider the events. Four cars. Three stopped without reason, trapped in confusion, and so, the fourth struck some sense into the night? The fourth car stopped for a definite reason. Doesn't lend the first three any sense. Chips. This ends in chips. Too far. Exhausted. Drained. Excitement over. What did I gain? A bruised elbow, possibly fractured, a banal city fable. Four cars passed and stopped in the night. Three without reason. One with given reason. Gave it reason. What? Sense irrationally forced upon the tale-end to what might otherwise have appeared to be an exercises in senseless repetition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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