Sirens blared nearby, but as James sat, they sounded distant. Distorted. Like a baby’s cry from a monitor. People rushed by, screaming, sobbing, but the world was silent and still. His heart slowed as emotion slipped from his body. All that remained where he sat were functioning organs under worthless skin.
When he was a young boy, he had pictures of cartoon superheroes taped to the walls of his room.
When he was in high school, his walls were covered with pictures of great athletes.
In college, he had posters of movie stars on the walls of his dorm room.
When he got his first job, framed pictures of fancy sports cars were on the walls to motivate him.
As he moved up the corporate ladder, his walls became almost completely covered with personally autographed pictures of celebrities he had met over the years.
On the day he retired from his position as the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, he packed up his belongings all by himself. He went back to the office one last time to take down the only remaining painting left on the walls.
I was woken by weak fragments of sunlight seeping through the cracks of the plastic tube slide, at the center of the park where I had spent the night. I lay for a while, listening to mute sounds of dripping water and distant traffic. I thought about squirrels, what they do when it rains, if the trees provided enough cover. Then, I pushed myself down and out of the slide, my jeans wetted by the small puddle that had accumulated at its base, and headed towards the distant sound of cars. I kept walking until I reached an intersection. I stood there for a while, watching the cars go by. The sounds of tires ripping across asphalt like wet Velcro. I thought about what it would sound like if someone got hit. I thought about a wet sponge being thrown at a brick wall. Then I turned and continued down the sidewalk.
A guy I know had the telly on one evening, wasn’t taking much notice of it, and then one of those telly chefs came on. That made this guy get out of his chair and kick fuck out of the thing. He’s a happier man now, so everybody says. In fact, I don’t know him, but I think I believe it because telly chefs, they have to be a sort of conspiracy to piss people off, isn’t it, a sort of programmers’ revenge on the people who put them where they are. Think about it this way: you dream of a life in television, want to make your mark on the spirit of the age, and they make you set up a programme featuring a telly chef?
There was always a queue to get in, too many drinks in an easy pub before hand and you were in trouble. You had twenty stairs to practise your date of birth. Even at the bottom of them you could hear ‘You Spin Me Right Round.’
The whole thing about bum cracks and manual workers is derided only by people who don’t work hard, physically, and by younger people, thinner people. Alec didn’t care what people thought, what stuff looked like, what was falling apart or falling down as long as it did the job. It’s as much as he could do to pick himself up after bending down to fiddle with something. He picked up, pulled up what he could, when he could. He was at the stage where he had to prioritise physical effort in a very task specific way. After hours, years of hard labour, his time was spent just getting done, anything else was superfluous. It wasn’t giving up, it was getting by. Continue reading
There is a familiar quiet across the gardens, the usual character of a Sunday afternoon in autumn. Visitors are thinly scattered across the grounds, the tea room and the house. There is no guided tour of the house at this time of year; people wander round in twos and threes. They speak in low voices to each other so that they are nearly muffled by the sounds of their own footfalls. Their shoes knock slowly on the floorboards and receive creaking replies.