part 11: the odds on evens, the juice
Overtaken by a weakness to bludgeon the house senseless with a royal flush of dubs, the stairwell echoes with the whisper of melodica.
A scale of notes. Piping.
From 10PM through 5, the disinfected steps slump wetly. A stomach emptied. Hosed down cobalt blue, tubercular rails faintly trembling. A distempered cough nudging metallic wrappers. A polystyrene cup impaled on a straw.
Your cat is a long time dead. Unrecognizable under sod. Its litter, lost or stolen.
Door to door.
The knuckles trailing go unanswered. The neighbours are evicted.
By 1AM the sirens falter. Subside. The hammers to the south bed down to a pulse. Pablo never sleeps. Not soundly. The quiet he inhabits is the space between sinew and socket. The dials twitch. The tape rolls. Spooling behind eyelids, the fluttering of moths. East of the Nile. A mile upstream. The engineering nowhere so critical as the end result: chin to midriff, thickening to a river. What started out as an anonymous pouring, a splash from a carafe, a water bearer.
Hello ? Jesus fuck, it\’s cold out here.
The wheedling bleeds and grates like he\’ll never be done. Give in. Come. Die. Inside the canvas blind comes undone and flutters like a bat until you get off the sofa to rescue it. You tie it down because you can\’t abide the way the wind plucks at it with the windows already drawn.
It takes two or three attempts to do it right. The cigarette knocked across your face, sorely tempted you are to set it ablaze.
And the trains. Always the trains. Harassing late into the night. The bastard son of Ernest Borgnine.
Motherfucker. Cunt. Turn on the heat.
And, slow at first, hesitant, there comes a fitful pissing. On wheelbarrow. Tin roof. Crumbling sandstone lintel.
Under it a skin of gales.
We tumble as ash, smoke, past vast Georgian houses hugging avenue, circus, a puzzle of lanes.
Among those nursing homes and divided lets, an odour of squandered wealth persists: blackmail, jaundiced slants; under quarried flagstone and vans deploying fibre optic to the curb. Out of rookery and reclaimed wind.
Tunneling not with crooked sovereigns, but dog-eared subway tokens.