There was some dense swell down by the seawall, angry grey crash, and the walkers on its ridge hurried along with something akin to worry. It was almost seven o’ clock in the evening, and now the wind started to pulse and batter with malevolence, sending gaudy loose plastic sand buckets tearing and scrabbling across the rockpools, flashing bright green, and yellow, and blue. Swinging and neglected signs on the seafront were swung aggressively, so that their rusting frames squeaked with indignence.
THE CROW’S NEST
It was difficult to discern the rest because of the pedantry and rapidly diminishing light. And as for the light: the soft shine of the mellow, honey wax sodium streetlights bathed all equally and ineffectively, and with wonderful artistic grace. This was all. A full moon’s potential was negated by the heavy, spiteful density of storm laden clouds, deep in the heavens.
Across the dead, wet sand of the shoreline, Malt sat on the pier, his legs dangling down towards the raging froth. All around him was noise, terrible and all encompassing, and most out that evening were frightened, but Malt did not even give so much as a slight damn. Right at that moment, he noted a glimmer of swaying light far out to sea, and he wondered how many helpless and agitated fish swirled and charged under the rippling film of darkness beneath his soles.
(No doubt that light was some trawler, what were it’s crew thinking right now? Did the flaking rivets of the generally trusty walls drip with the salt of the ominous and once friendly sea? Was there a stowaway? Loose cargo tumbling and crashing?)
Malt pondered on…
There was a slight commotion at the street edge, where some of the angrier and less satisfied drones congregated in festering and spiteful hordes, spitting malice from their cosmetic smeared and cocktail spiced lips. The odd one would carry a look of despairing hatred, and the unjustified fury which they shouldered would manifest itself in:
-Get out of my way, bud
We were inside the off-licence, and safe for the moment. The security of sober humans and constant electrical lighting, coupled with the incongruous assurance of a clay-fashioned, gloss-finished black dog on the counter anchored us temporarily to the daylight world of broadsheet newspapers, and the necessity for milk, and umbrellas in the rain. A good morning, rather than a **** off. And seeing as I was not yet drunk, this situation was what I craved, for as long as possible. But it could not last.
-That’ll be thirty five, please.
Joe slowly extracted the notes, wrinkled and withered and perhaps hard-earned, and placed them down beside the bourbon. It was mysterious and twinkled black, and was ridicoulously over-sized for just three people.
-D’ya want a paper bag there
We did. The glimmer was sheathed and thrust, and there we were, three young lads all unhappy, all weird, all not having the singularest, foggiest notion as to which direction the cascading vessel of life should take us next, and none of us wanting to admit any of it. I said:
-We’d better go some side, like
And we were simultaneously reluctant to pierce the frail shell of comfort, and ensconce ourselves in what we were supposed to enjoy. As we were leaving, everything moved slower, and I noticed that there was a small bell which heralded our departure, and the tile mosaic proclaiming the proprietors surname in the doorway front. And then:
We were back into the great, broiling and swirling mass of human chaos, and drones were on the move, all around us. The street was narrow, and the patchwork buildings were high and unwieldy and a suffocating sense of claustrophobia surrounded us.
-What the **** do we do now
We stood looking at the wall for a few seconds after Sam had disappeared over the top of it. There was nothing particularly interesting about it.
- He’s gone now, said Malt
- Yeah, I said.
We turned away from the wall and started walking slowly off into the unseeable sunset. We didn’t even have to consult as to what way we’d go. We were that close. And across the street, I suppose it was the opposite path; there was a heap of fallen leaves. Only they weren’t beautiful and rustic and amber and crunchily-crinckly. They were city fallen leaves, all angry and beat-up and torn. Soft when they only wanted to be barbed with ferocious barbs of foot-shredding hatred, to ward off the kicking oafs.
Malt dredged canals and rivers and things for a living. He’d been doing that for fifteen years, never leaving the country or anything, no friends, partner, interests, no life. All he ever saw was the glistening up-turn of daylight basked riverbed, again and again. Then, it was a morning in March; he dredged up a black and cold corpse. It was bloated and unpleasant, and had a neat hole on one side of its head, and then an ugly mass of missing on the other. The foreman and Malt and the early passers-by and the site manager thought it was a clear cut case of murder. However, the post-mortem begged to differ
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