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.