Arthur looked nervously back at Barry's round, battering ram face, and then around the small lockup. Dave and Arthur, two huge men who bulged muscles under their suits, were sat smoking on a small sofa. Behind him was Gregor dressed in nothing but a kilt, with Braveheart Tats all over his body. In the corner was a bucket on a plinth and beside the bucket was Charlie, the Cunt, Windsor, a weasel of man, with a mean pointed face.
Do you know what it's like to live parts of your life in darkness? continued Barry softly.
The next Friday, having arrived early, Carlo sat on the same bench in that same park, his right hand in his pocket holding tight the money he had brought for her. It was chilly. Unwell clouds had been coughed into the sky, smokers splats to block out the sun. Behind him a line of terraces that were blue, into orange, into red, into white, two tall rooms high with skylights scattered into the roofs. Ahead of him young kids with their mums on the slide and swings. A little monkey on the climbing frame.
The last moult of a caterpillar is quite an event. The new skin of the organism is not the skin of before but a new form, the pupa. The dermal cells of a butterfly are trimorphic: caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly are all the same. The pupa is a metamorphic transmorphification machine. The larva is dismantled chemically and the embryonic cells divide. Within hours of pupation the adult comes into being, its characteristics are formed, wings, mouth parts, thoracic muscles and legs. When the butterfly breaks free of the pupa haemoglobin is pumped into the wings and they expand and the hormone buriscon makes them hard. In the wind the wings twitch until they take command of the air and in a multi-coloured moment of self-expression the creature lifts, floats and flies.
The first time he saw her a shudder passed through him like the word of God through a virgin. He was sixteen years old and on his way home from school, lost in thought thinking about Christ and pain and torment, scourges, blood, demons and eternal damnation; all the subjects that dominated his life as he had grown up. Walking with his head down, not noticing the empty street. The rise of the black tarmac in the road. The foundation brush of dirt. Or the crisp packet in a crinkle twist on the wind.
Will was alone, his ear to the door, the pain beyond it near splitting the wood. He heard the doctor issue orders and pushed himself away from the door as the Nurse, whose face and hands were covered in blood, dashed out of the bedroom to call for hot water. The sight of the blood made him shudder. Through the door he could see his wife lying pale and exhausted on the bed. The doctor was by her side talking, though she was barely able to listen. The whites of her eyes showed, her face contorted and then her whole body buckled in agony. Her scream wrenched the nurse back.
My eleven year old daughter has asked me to write her a story. She wants something dark. So here goes.
When it happened Sal knew. It was late. Her parents were standing at the end of the bed looking at her. They came and sat beside her, put their hands through her hair. They kissed her. They hugged her. They told her that they would always be with her. That they loved her like the universe that was ever expanding. They said that it was up to her now to look after her brother and sister. That they were not going to be there in person, but their spirits would never leave them. Her mother then exclaimed, oh god, and held her as tight as she could and her father gasped, no not now, then quick, between a blink, they were gone.
Today an old woman from the other end of the village knocked on the window. It was cold outside and raining. She wasn’t wearing a coat, just a thin jumper, trousers, summer shoes and no socks. I have no idea how long she had been wandering around the village. Her wrists were angrily purple with bruises. She seemed quite disturbed and told me that someone had dragged her out of their car. I need to be upfront here, I do know the woman and she has quite a reputation in the village, so it would be fair to say that she has burnt a number of bridges. The last time I saw her she stormed into my house demanding to know where my next door neighbors were. As it happened they were hiding from her. Back then I would have described her as a dragon. But not today.
Today she was cold and alone and extremely muddled. She kept forgetting her age, couldn’t remember the phone numbers of her daughter or son-in-law.
I managed to get in touch with her niece who lives a couple of doors down from me and she in turn managed to get hold of her son-in-law.
The son-in-law finally phoned and this where it gets strange. He didn’t want to talk to me he wanted to talk to her. It was clear that he was angry with her and he eventually hung up on her.
I have to be honest I was unhappy with him. If I had made a similar call I would have felt it courteous to talk to the person who was trying to help. So I hit call back. Left a message saying that actually I was a bit worried. Dave called back.
I can imagine how difficult it is for them, but I didn’t need a long lecture. On the other hand I know she is a right royal pain. I stopped him in his tracks and told him that I understood but this time there might be something wrong, that she needed help, real help. Professional help. That she needs to be put away – I guess that’s what I meant. Because she is difficult, always was, and the senility is not helping. And no-one wants to help, because they dislike her so.
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