|Apr/May 2012 Fiction|
I'm not sure when, but at some moment in this age of absurdity—yesterday, about 11 PM—a part of me left. The other parts of me had started out earlier with a cheap red wine and gone on to cheap whisky. My phone was off or I was out of range, and I was walking too far in the dark, down by a polluted, rotten-planked landfill that for some twisted reason is known as "The Trout Lake."
I closed the bank account a week ago, cut up the credit cards, emptied the savings account of precisely £997:56p, my worldly goods, spent £25 on a hardback copy of a book called "The Origins of Morality," and started reading it in a stale Starbucks.
Last night I was in between that shitty lake and Heaven's Door (knock, knock). It was pitch-black save for some vague silvery light above the trees, and all I could think of was that scene at the start of Great Expectations. I was Pip, but older than Magwitch.
It was wet—real foot-sapping, soggy wet—slippery, an accident waiting to happen—mine—and a short dive into that rancid water. Of course, I failed to fail, and at some point I went back to the house.
They had been phoning, the kids had, but as I said, phone off, out of range... Two kids, and two other kids once upon a time, arguably a grandson, too, somewhere a little way south of here, but there's been no card from a Southampton daughter, so that bit is under advisement.
Where I am, where this is, is a very strange place. The frost is gone, the birds are back, the pressure—one pressure—has lifted. Being really broke is a relief of a kind, but there's a deep weight in the gut, a whispered stigma, something lacking on the manliness front. Sex is a distant memory.
I Keep Calm and Carry On. Logic tells me they can do very little to me. In a year they will give me a pension. I will learn to wear lots of clothes and to eat careful food. There is a possibility—it might be—that I will be visited, those awkward visits with one shoulder on the doorjamb, one eye on the clock. Perhaps a son or daughter will take me out for lunch. One of them might talk about my grandson. They will imagine we are out together, but I will be a long way away, thinking how different it has all become. I will know how the world looks from out here, but I will keep it to myself. They wouldn't be interested.