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.