The Hairless Meanderings of Edward Lock (23)



My feet don’t hit the right path, my ankles slip on the curb and the pavement moves like it shouldn’t. Kit’s blunt anger has spread across my body like lichen. The whiskey’s gone. I won’t go home. I won’t go home again. My eyes burn like rubbed-in chilli, I can barely keep them open. I itch their fleshy backs against my skull, rolling them backwards and upwards so that I cannot see and if anyone were to see me they’d say Hey. Hey. A madman. A dead man. The morning fog morphs into the kid I dropped on his head when I was eight and he was four or the dog I shot when I was fourteen or the giant earthworm that changed my life when I was two, it’s juicy squirming body writhing in my little closed fist, feeling like nothing else I’d ever felt. Complete fear. I threw the worm away because I couldn’t take it. It felt fat and horrid. I couldn’t take the change. The earthworm is change and the earthworm is death.

The streets are empty and as I stagger uncontrollably this way and that, out of the path of cars that aren’t there, I realise I do not know where I am. I do not know where I am going. I am tired. I do not want to be alone. And you know. Listen. I loved you Kit like a man with no tongue loves the quiet. I loved you Kit like a baby loves multi-coloured blocks. I loved you Kit like a. I loved you Kit like the numbing touch of whiskey on the gums. I loved you Kit like the first custard donut. I loved you Kit like the scent of a slightly damp towel left hanging next to a burning candle that smells like Christmas. I loved you Kit even when our child died. I loved you even when you woke up and you saw my tears. Tears are delicious. Sweet. Sweet sadness. Sweet emotion. I embrace it. It feels good to cry and it feels good to feel good crying. The tears are my pain. The doctor will see you now.

Think. Think like this. Passing someone on the street, sitting next to them on the bus, holding their hand accidentally when the fireworks burst because there’s no one to kiss; make their day, ruin their day, move closer and closer on the bench in the park because you like their copy of the book you’ve always wanted to read. It’s best to just say. To just say hello. In a world where everyone’s talking to everyone sometimes you just have to talk. I’m scared of talking even if talking could save my life. All of the books I’ve never read. All of those voices. Your voice. Our voices together. This chaos of voices. Voices of people I’ve never met.

When my grandfather said he’d once seen his life and everybody else’s flash in front of his eyes, this is what he had meant, the regrets and the dreams and the wants and wishes of not just me but of everyone I’ve ever known, not even known, just looked at, smiled at, winked at, wanted, lost, found, needed, hated and now I’m here and the kaleidoscope of faces spirals out across some damned cinema screen that I can’t change, I can’t change the reel, it’s eternal, ever-lasting, my life in reverse, my life fast-forwarded, my life cut short or my life extended and extended until I don’t have just one unborn child but… but… but.

Kit. I. There’s not much else to say. I never wanted to tell you because you mean more to me than I mean to myself and now I’ve damned us both even though I had explanations once, I really did have an explanation, there was one, one long ago, but it’s gone, it’s lost, I can’t think of anything more to justify what I’ve done. I am lost. Find me, find me, and don’t forget. Listen to me talk now because I could not speak before. I didn’t want to speak. I didn’t want to spoil it. I wanted this to be mine and mine alone. It is mine. It will always be. It will always be. The bearded, faceless man watches me from the other side of the street. His arm uncurls. I know what’s coming. His finger stretches and stretches and I can feel its prickly medicinal stench devour my body. It eats me. Don’t forget…don’t forget… with a last stabbing pain in my chest and legs and arms and heart and eyes and brain I fall into the frosty bosom of the grass.

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