You know who I am don’t you? It was many years ago but you know who I am. I can see it in your eyes. You know I’m not just a regular house breaker with a gun and pliers and duct tape. Now you’re remembering the little boy hiding in the street as you drove away. And just now you’re wondering whether to move but you know it would do more bad than good. It would be slower. Yes, that was me hiding there all those years ago. Those years you have had but we didn’t. They were long years. Did you enjoy them? Did you savour each moment like a ice cube to a man in the desert? I hope you did.
Hope. Yes, I always had that. For all those years. I could not have survived without it. How does it feel not to have hope? How does it feel to feel like you do now?
Stu burnt the letters. He should never have kept them, he should never have tied them up and kept them hidden. Nor the letters.
I was wearing a chalkstripe suit and a Santa hat, climbing boots and a fluorescent orange bib that read “Yes baby, baby”. I wasn’t comfortable, especially with that comma in the wrong place. I had the feeling that everyone on the tram was looking at me.
I got off at Haymarket, which was the story of my life, and walked up the hill, past the toilets and the conference centre. By now I was sure that people were looking at me. I was sweating. It was hot for Edinburgh in April.
I crossed the road by the Malaysian takeaway just as the lights turned green. The bus driver revved the motor with what sounded like impatience but gave me a little wave, I think of apology, when I jumped a step and almost tripped over my feet. I walked on. He lived.
Can I have a glass of water, please? Half still half sparkling?
Ring, ring. Stevie wasn’t thinking about the money any more; he’d even stopped fretting how such a good idea could have gone so bad. He was meant to be away somewhere, just him and Marcie. Ring, ring.
Not hung up on a meat hook wanting it all to stop.
Ring, ring. He was dying to hear that old-school tone on his phone again but there was silence. Five minutes until the man came back. And then nothing. Ring, ring.
http://www.paragraphplanet.com 06 November 2013
In the old days, before the trouble, the calming, the fake peace, the taking up again, in the old days, in Franki’s shaven head and tanned days, he’d stood outside a bar, near his friends but not with them or of them.
A slight young man, dark skinned and bearded, walked up to him and spoke to him in a whisper. Franki didn’t understand the young man’s language so continued to look down the road, arms folded, clicking his tongue once. The slight young man nodded, walked away and didn’t look back.
It was night; the bar was the only light that showed in the town.
One of Franki’s friends walked quickly up to him now.
– Did you understand what he said?
– He said he recognised you. He asked if you wanted to go with them to steal sheep. He said he would fetch a gun.
Franki fell from the clouds with surprise but kept silence.
– We need to go before he comes back. With the gun.
If the slight young man came back with the gun, there was no one to meet him.
The next day, Franki left the island, still in the old days, before the trouble, the calming, the fake peace, the taking up again, the old days.
John woke up, got up, had a large cup of tea. As he stepped outside he felt the air warm and damp and dropped his key. “What an idiot”, he said to himself as he picked it up.
Just around the corner, two hooded males took his phone and wallet and kicked him to the ground. He should have seen it coming.