je suis charlie | infidel
\”She stood behind them at the kerb. Hectoring. Bullish, in her taupe anorak.\” – ib
There was a crater where the news stand once dispensed, a doctor at large, Charlie. Analgesics. Twists of caffeine percolating through the tables, chairs, pavements loitering inches above the cobbles. Every time a vest went off it took the wind out one\’s sails. Just a little bit. The baby carriage detonated at the intersection between two avenues. Its canopy shredded like a purple flower where the blast ventured up. A wall pocked with holes. Pablo had nothing to say on the matter. Nothing of eloquence. The lunatics jeered through bullhorns. Mobile devices. Closer than one cared to think. It was a little piece of Vietnam, at least, carved and served with all the trimmings. Chickens smuggled home in knapsacks. Ugly orange feet bound and drumming. The Americans fought among themselves to ship back home their tired, huddled masses. The Turks grumbled. The British agonised and procrastinated in their peculiar Shakespearean way, like Hamlet sucking on a good cigar. The world is fucked, a monk complained, scarcely a heretic, and few consented to riot. Pablo walked Seul and Stein for the last time. Black muscle straining at the collar, hocks at heel. Together they paced the perimeter of the quarry, sniffing the air for intruders. Rumbling in their throats on the scent of fleece and hoof. Steaming vents. Football scarves of a less than rosy colour. Pagans, the three of them. Crusaders in the strictly catholic sense. Waging war not on dissenting hoards, but wards of the mentally diseased. A caliphate of midget tyrants. Seul uncovered something half buried in the dirt. What first appeared to be the handle on a broken vase or jug turns out to be something stripped of meat. Her tail wagged wickedly as her jaws worked at it. Yellow teeth scrabbling. \”Nya!\” Pablo admonished, but he did not have it in him to scold her. Stein regarded her enviously out the corner of one old eye, but knew better than to get too close. The shard of limb was not for sharing. December is a harsh month for unbelievers. Wise men mingle with fools. The firstborn is cruelly exposed, hair-lip turned against the fold. Pablo flirted in mirrors as he walked on down the hall. Stopped at the door to take a piss. In spite of the constant scribbling he had grown fat. Palsied. The century had grown old prematurely. Its children leery. Devoid of charm. There was no caution in his eyes. I am Charlie. Infidel. Paunch without a stick.