Sunday, 5 January 2014

some strangled sort of dance




Outside everything is grey, inside not so much.  I’m sitting wet hair and woolly socks on my made bed, the curtain is open, the window is closed.  I can see my breath.  I’m holding a cup of coffee, I can see his breath too, we’re pals.  Good music struggles out of shitty computer speakers.  It’s Sunday morning and that means it’s Sunday afternoon.  Last night was Saturday night.  Yesterday afternoon was Saturday afternoon, yesterday afternoon I skated on ice, on skates, at the foot of a castle.
***
The Tower of London is a grim and stirring place, old and huge and brimming with bones - sort of.  Inches above it, the sky sags low and heavy, barely able to hold itself upright.  It’s the weight, the chill, the wait, the rain; it leans on the tower for balance the way a drunk does a bouncer’s shoulder.  It’s bleak and it’s weary and reminds me where I’m headed; it clashes with the fairy-lit skating rink at its feet like bourbon in apple juice. 

The hour kicks off happily enough, couples hold hands and kids hold the railing and for every seasoned skater there’s five or six first-timers.  People laugh and wobble, cameras flash, rain dribbles, elevator music fills in the spaces and the herd ambles along.  Everyone wears blue skates, everyone is constantly close to calamity, and it builds a subtle sense of togetherness.  Strangers grinning at strangers, everyone is in on the joke.  Our little patch of ice has effectively thawed some of that famous London spirit.

A blonde little boy is falling over again and again, and what at first appeared as an innocent case of clumsy bad luck slowly recasts itself as some sort of an offering.  A sacrifice; the ice takes this boy scrape by scrape so that the rest of us might be spared.  It’s ok; our lamb continually finds his feet and laughs it off.

The herd slopes along, and time is difficult to mark; neither light or music seem to change at all.  The scenery (the castle, then cafe, then steps, then bridge, then castle, then cafe, then steps, then bridge, then castle...) begins to pin you down.  Couples continue to hold hands, slow lap after slow lap.  A father and son are awkwardly walking the perimeter, desperately clinging to the railing like the mast of a sinking ship.  They sweat and stagger and walk past the exit and around the rink again and again.  A soaking wet blonde boy falls for the thousandth time, he’s not laughing anymore, he hides his face in his mittens and lets it cry.  The herd rattles around him.  This jolly circuit has become a war of attrition.  Lap after lap, fall after fall.

Skating, for me, turns out to be a rickety game of gravity, of probability and of providence; played out with the lumbering grace of some dazed dog clipped by a car.  I stop for a breather by the railing.  I’ve got very cheap scotch in my hipflask - It’s delicious.  My friends find me and I point out a guy who doesn’t look like Dawson Leary, but certainly has his aura.  It is, aparantly, an indisputable truth.  We make plans that hinge on the promise of mulled wine, then disperse.  I sketch out another speculative lap, it’s really fun.  I grin at a wobbly stranger, he looks away.  I think maybe there’s something in all of this.  I don’t know what.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Badly Town - part 2

*Badly Town is an unflinchingly gritty crime drama I'm working on.  It's sexy and it's tough and it's more than likely going to make me a very rich man.  This part is called Part 2.  I like it, it's real.  For Part 1 click here.  Be warned, Part 1 is so real it's not even called Part 1.  It's just called Badly Town.  

“I don’t know what to tell you, Chief.  It’s like he knew something, knew something we needed to know; some fact maybe? And he knew it, you know?  Some piece of information relating to a crime or something.  Something we probably needed to know.  He knew it alright.  He knew it so bad it was burning him up like a forest fire, some raging, wild, wicked forest fire.  Only this forest, it weren’t no forest, Chief, this forest was Malone – he was the forest, see?”  Jorganson nodded a quiet acquiescence, marvelling at Stinkily’s ability to italicise the spoken word.   

“And that fire?  That fire was guilt.  Or maybe dread, most likely a guilt/dread combo, and that’s one flammable mix, combustible like.  You put those sorts of elements together with a dry windy day like me and Jorganson here, you put that all together in one interview room, well what do you expect, Chief?  You think there’s not gonna be a forest fire?  You think there’s just gonna be some nice little scout troupe campfire where we can all sit around and roast marsh mellows and braid each other’s hair?  This ain’t some jamboree, Chief, we’re cops, we smash photocopiers over crook’s head’s, it’s what we do.”

Stinkily was right, the Chief knew it, and damn now he was kicking himself for not noticing the new braids he was wearing.  Stinkily was visibly hurt, and fair enough, they looked like hours of sweaty work.  But the Chief wasn’t to blame for that, it’s not like he was ignoring Stinkily’s braids, he was simply too captivated by his eyes to notice.  Tiny glowing rat blue eyes that leave you wondering what day it is.  With those peepers front and centre, following the shifting styles of that thick brown mane was more than an old man could handle. 

The Chief slammed a balled fist down onto his desk, scattering 500 pieces of particularly tricky Batman puzzle.  “Damn it, Stinkily, that’s the third photocopier this week. What am I supposed to tell the Commissioner?”  Jorgensen inserted a fresh toothpick.  “I don’t know, Chief, maybe tell him crime doesn’t take a holiday.”  Jorgenson deftly ducked the Lego fire engine hurled by the Chief, and winced as it struck the Chief’s secretary square in the face.  “I told him that last time, he asked me what it meant.  I told him to go home and look it up, he said he would.  I don’t think he likes me anymore.  I mean the deaths in custody thing he can deal with, there are forms for that, but what is it with you two and photocopiers?  Can’t you just use a phonebook?  Or at least take the ink cartridge out first?  Please, I’m asking you a favour here, just try and curb the Good Cop Good Cop Bit.  And what did I tell you about tell you about Darth Vader?”  Stinkily blushed and gingerly placed the 1987 originally packaged Darth Goes to Hollywood figurine back on the shelf.  “You said ‘you can look with your eyes’.  Sorry, Chief.”

With an audible hiss the Chief let his lungs empty slowly.  He wasn’t mad, not really.  He loved these boys, they were the best damn cops on the beat, and if getting results meant smashing a few copiers then to hell with it.  To hell with it all.  He leant back, kicked his well worn shoes up on top of his desk and lit a cigar.  “I’m not mad, not really.  I love you boys, you’re the best damn cops on the beat, and if getting results means smashing a few copiers then to hell with it.”  Stinkily and Jorgenson blushed, looked at their shoes, at each other and then finally at the Chief.  Jorgenson broke the silence.  “You said that twice, once in a sort of omnipotent way, sort of like your voice was coming out of the sky or something, and then you said it with your mouth.  It was weird, I didn’t really like it, and I don’t think Stinkily liked it either.”  

The Chief crinkled his brow and shrank visibly in his chair, he was about to apologise when Stinkily’s phone rang.  It was a snitch down by the docks with news, fresh tasty crime news.  Jorgenson read Stinkily's body language like a recipe for a romantic dinner, he smiled.  “When the going gets tough, the tough gets sexy.”  Stinkily flinched, instinctively fingering the scar behind his left ear.  The only fight in all their years of partnering was centred on the ownership of that catchphrase.  Jorgenson had never apologised for smashing the photocopier over his head, and Stinkily never expected him to.  It’s just how it was.  They left the Chief without another word.  He watched them go, took a long draw of his cigar, and then went to help pluck pieces of his Lego fire engine from the bleeding eyeballs of his secretary.