Sid’s eyes dart around the room searching for something to rest upon but he is grateful for her apology, at least for her self-awareness. His eyes land on a bug on her shoulder crawling towards her neck.
Everything is capable of being loved, he says.
The lady smiles.
Well I guess that’s true.
Her voice is barely a whisper.
Sid thinks about the Syrian boy a lot. Even now, even all these years later. Lying on his tummy, arms by his side, palms upturned to the sky. He looks asleep in his red top.
Although they stood only five yards away from George, the pair of them were quite oblivious to his presence.
She walks east. Tick tick tick tick, a woodpecker tapping at the side of her brain. Tick tick tick tick. Countless tiny brass squares of the city’s shame underfoot, unforgotten.
I was a camper. Everyone hated me.
OMG NOOB CAMPER QUIT CAMPING U FAG.
Finding a quiet corner of the map – or a dark spot in a busy corner of the map -and picking off passers-by was, apparently, not cool.
Anton has had a good month. His energy consumption is down and his reputation capital has doubled after volunteering at the Sunnyside Nursing Home. Content, he relaxes into his fabricated Eichholtz Goldoni armchair, swipes off his retina display and shuts his eyes.
Jake removes his Bose headphones and stashes them in his rucksack as he turns into the estate. He needs every sense down this end of town where, lit by a full moon, giant concrete Tetris shapes litter the landscape, vomited up out of the ’60s architectural nightmare.
A farcical opening has me down a rook, two pawns and in check with the game 10 moves old. Only one way back.
‘Esther was asking after you this morning.’
As casual as you like. Don’t look up, let him soak in the information.
Every morning the same: Ellis relearning how to get through Tiny Swing Door, pawing at it like Greg fumbling at the front door when he’s drunk and cuddles too hard.
Alfie Twitch rubs his wrists, sore from the plastic ties that had him strapped to the chair. He watches as Jess eyes the painting above his desk. With flick-knife still in hand, she approaches the scene of London at night and cuts a St Paul’s-shaped hole out of the canvas.
Grandad, slumped in his tatty armchair, turns slowly to face me as I walk in with Mum.
‘Is that my favourite Grandson?’ he says, his voice thin.
‘It’s your only Grandson.’
For once, the dog keeps quiet. The one time Percy is duty-bound to raise hell and he bottles it. Instead he sits, feet in perfect ballerina’s second position, next to the old woman’s cracked skull as it leaks blood onto the pavement.
The tube trundles woozily under the east end. Jonathan’s leg jiggles as he pours every thought into his phone screen, but the alcohol is making it difficult to focus.
Ignored by his father, Boyd plays truant and walks, for days upon days, until he can walk the streets of Cape Town blindfolded. He walks through the city, out to Green Point, Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay.
Sam stares up at the giant letters above him, lit in neon. XLR8. He looks at the scrote who took his money, leaning back with a girl on his lap as he chews gum and waits for a man of about 60, with mutton-chop sideburns and tired, mean eyes, to pull down the safety bar.
Tonight I sleep in shallow waves, like telephone wires alongside a motorway, never quite letting go. I briefly dream of Evie and then wake with a start as Norris starts hurling abuse at an arguing couple one aisle down.
‘Who the hell are you people?’
Laura suspects she blacked out, but cannot be sure, or at least cannot be sure she is awake again.
Brent Overton looks out of his window for two hours at the same time every day. The view is nothing special; a quiet residential street in north London, and if only the houses on the […]
Jess spins the globe on Alfie Twitch’s desk and stops it at random with her little finger.
‘Huh, Luxor,’ she says, peering at the tiny writing. ‘Ever been there Alfie?’
‘Where’s Luxor?’ he says, still staring at the painting of London At Night above his desk. He has found himself counting the stars.
‘Egypt, you twonk.’
Ed isn’t entirely sure quite how they arrived at Sainsbury’s Local. He assumes there was walking involved, and before that preparations will have been made, such as getting dressed and cleaning teeth, but exhausted, the world swirls ethereally in front of him
Laura doesn’t even need her nails doing. After yesterday’s encounter with the furious Chinese man, she took a bus into Morden and had them filed and polished by a young lady with a stud in her temple and the words ‘anti-fascist’ tattooed above her top lip.
There isn’t the terror in his eyes that I was expecting. It’s more pathetic than that, like he can’t decide whether to plead for my help or ask why I pushed him in the first place.
‘I don’t usually do this sort of thing,’ smiles Jess.
‘What, kill people?’
‘Oh no, I do that all the time. I just don’t usually tell them beforehand.’
Susan’s Nail Bar is sandwiched between a bridal shop and a defunct Blockbuster in a scruffy parade of shops set back from the A24. Walking past Abra Kebabra, Laura notices she is alone and now that she thinks about it, she was alone yesterday too.
It’s taken two stops on the 5.12pm from Waterloo, but Alfie Twitch finally catches the eye of the girl sitting opposite. He smiles and asks what she is reading.
‘The Girl On The Train,’ she says.
‘Oh, the irony.’
She smiles a wan smile and returns to her book.
Keith is smart, quits the 4am starts and high-stakes gambling with the nation’s mortgages for a country reboot before the breakdown. He buys a van, a ladder and a squeegee. Life will be simple.
You can tell when there’s real trouble because Morrisons goes quiet. People stop hollering and fighting and for a few blissful moments silence blankets the cold, metallic shell. Then, there is the unmistakeable click-clack of boot heels marching up the frozen foods aisle. Someone’s getting it today.
Jarrod calls me over to his desk. Jarrod writes Game of Thrones fan fiction and since seeing me read Vonnegut in the canteen, has me pegged as his literary friend.
Alfie Twitch is always switched on, never offline. Out-of-office makes him sick. Alfie Twitch is always moving, always manoeuvring, invades personal space, is handsy, your best friend, really wants to hear about your weekend.