hole in one
The sky is a deep blue bleeding into black like a bruise in full bloom, but if you look straight into it you can see the faint yellow corona of light pollution from all those little sprawling towns and – further out still – the hub. A web of twinkling Christmas tree lamps. A daisy chain of faltering blips and wish you were here lies.
There are stars up there too but the vinyl interior gets in the way.
A hoarfrost is collecting on the fences and trees but inside the car it is warm. They rolled out onto the greens forty minutes ago and sit idling now on the 9th hole.
\”Fuck sake, you silly cunt,\” Peter says from the back seat. \”There\’s already three on the go. Wind down the windows a bit.\”
Paterson sniffs and continues rolling the joint. The glove compartment lid is down on his knees, and the glow from the dashboard, and he flicks the wheel on his Zippo. When they rolled in off the back-road he slipped the tab from inside the lighter case, and thinking twice, ripped only half off before swallowing it. He has to work in the morning and he would be better off at home in bed right now. He feels more drunk than stoned and the alcohol fuels the current mood of defiance. He knows he will regret it.
Donald pulls on a joint and hits the button which makes the windows slide down smoothly. It\’s his car. He can do what the fuck he likes in the final analysis.
The cold air rushes in and sobers them all a little. There is not enough of a breeze to disturb the Rizla papers.
\”Ha!\” Peter laughs,\”That\’s fuckin\’ better!\” He and Mikey punch each other back there in the dark and fidget like schoolgirls. Mikey drains a bottle and hurls it out the passenger window.
There is a lot of inconsequential bickering and Paterson is unsure how much time has passed. Peter is trying hard to ride his case, but he is limber and relaxed and shrugs it off. Donald switches the headlights back on again and the halogen glare reaches deep into the hedgerow bordering the drop. Putting those big lights on is reckless. If the police pass by on the road they will be seen.
\”Are you up on it, yet, you daft cunt ?\” Peter asks. \”It\’s three o\’ fuckin\’ clock in the morning, you stupid fuck!\”
Paterson turns to say something but at the same moment catches something out the corner of his eye. A naked figure sprints out of the darkness directly in front of their car, stick thin and white and trailing a mane of lank hair. It lunges past, its scissoring limbs picked clean as bones in the headlights, and turns to them with its mouth hanging open. There is something awful in its eyes; a baleful germ of recognition which makes Paterson\’s hair stand on end.
They are all peering through the windscreen, the dog breath on it, then it is gone.
Just moths and crane flies.
\”What the fuck was that ?\” Paterson gasps. Nobody says anything for a moment. Peter and Mikey start giggling.
\”What ?\” he says. \”What the fuck are you talking about, you crazy cunt ?\”
illustration: \”ludifero\” by franz von stuck, 1891.