The Hairless Meanderings of Edward Lock (20)



When I wake Kit is stood over me.

“I’m going to work. Stay here, okay? There’s Carbonara in the fridge. Here’s some water and some books to read. Stay here. I will be back as soon as I can. Stay here,” and she kisses me on the forehead and leaves.

The second time I wake it’s one thirty in the afternoon. I try to move from the bed but I hurt too much. My head spins like the sixth beer or a poorly thrown bowling ball or a drunk ballerina with ice skates in a melted, muddy pool of a rink. The birds are laughing at me through the ajar window, they flap their wings in mocking crescendos but my baby didn’t plummet fifteen feet. My baby. My baby just died.

I swing out of bed. I eat the pain. It tastes like toothpaste and blood. There’s a message on the answering machine from Kit. I listen to it whilst I tie my laces.

“Hey, don’t know if you’ll get this, your phone is off and besides I think I left it downstairs anyway, well you might not get this message because you’re probably in bed, Christian and Sally are having a little get together at their house tonight, I know you’re in a bad place right now but I really think this would be a good chance to have a breather, to relax a little bit, help us both…help us both forget. Let me know anyway. Hope you’re okay. I love you.”

A party. I can barely feel my legs and she invites me to a party. I need fresh air. It’s crisp outside and the sky is blue, shot with the white of fluffy clouds like that cheap excuse for wrapping paper. Something paper. The cars outside are vivid in the sun even though they’re silver or black or a dull red. Where is the colour? The colour of the letter-boxes. They are mostly gold or silver. The colour of the passing runners’ shoes is yellow. I follow them like a bee to a honey pot. Bee to a flower.

A power drill rattles in the distance, from a subterranean hole like a giant mole wielded blindly by a fanatic in a football jersey that has his dead son’s name on the back. Luke or Patrick or St. Rufus Jones. Robin. I haven’t seen a robin in years with the red crest, or is it a white crest, look there, the fish and chip shop, its lunch time and there’s a queue, a queue for fish and chips on a Wednesday afternoon. The air does smell like fish. Pungent trout. Sickly cod. Batter it up. Eat it. Forget where it came from. Piss in the streams. Drink the seawater.

The lady at the back of the queue wearing a long grey dress and a pair of smart business shoes for doing business in, I wonder what her business is, by the cut of her hair, greying and flaccid, to her dainty hands but stern eyes I’d say she sold fishing rods. I’d say she sold fishing tackle. The CEO of We Sell Fishing Tackle. Dot com. The man next to her, the more eager fish and chipper, he stands legs wide, hands by his sides, slightly wavering like a soldier on the front line. He knows he can buy a sandwich from next door. Save the time. Ten minutes of his day. He stands true. He never gives up, this man.

I can’t stand the fish and chippers. I keep staggering. A cane. I need a cane and a Tommy gun in a violin case and a bowler hat or a flat cap and a chimney sweep’s brush because that’d work as a cane too. I pass a couple talking, walking in the street hand in hand their arms are entwined and the gentleman has a smile on his face and he laughs eagerly and she loves it I can tell because even though it’s cold her cheeks are glowing, positively glowing, like a chicken carcass in the oven or even better, in the microwave. They are already gone so I keep walking.

All these milling people a hundred, a thousand faces with a hundred thousand, a million blinking intricate brains sending out a trillion messages every single second and I will never know one percent of it. Don’t forget me. Don’t forget me if you walk past me in the street, don’t forget me if I smile at you over the counter and you think that’s nice more people should smile, don’t forget me if you like the book I’m reading on the bus, don’t forget me if you think my trainers are cool, don’t forget me if you think I’m handsome and don’t forget me if you think I’m ugly, don’t forget me if I look like an old friend who needs remembering, don’t forget me if you’ve seen me before, don’t forget me, don’t forget me.

I watch Kit leave work. She doesn’t see me and I don’t wave or call for her. I watch. I follow her home on the next bus.


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