The International Writers Magazine - FIRST
By Greg Thompson
hated them now, their jauntiness and utter disregard for His misery'.
© Edward Hopper - Nighthawks
He could tell
they were in love from the way they walked: the harmonious sway of their
bodies and the synchronised rhythm of their footsteps beating a tattoo
past his stool in the window of an identikit coffee shop. He marvelled
at the rain cascading from an emblazoned umbrella, the type dispensed
at corporate events, held chivalrously by her suitor. Rivulets, falling
and splashing around them as they walked, made visible the protective
bubble afforded them by a burgeoning love. A bubble so strong as to
keep from them all the ills of mans will, yet so weak as to protect
them from none of the ills of the world. He watched them through blue-tinged
cigarette smoke with a contradictory sense of both pleasure and pain:
the pleasure a residue from the memory of His own love once known, the
pain a perpetual ache from the loss of that love. Those rosy months
seemed like yesterday but were, in reality, a long time hence and Reality
was a game He had tried not to play since. Yet His best efforts could
not prevent the world from imposing its cruel rules upon him with a
relentlessness matched only by the march of time.
His mood changed abruptly. A rising sense of morose dissatisfaction
permeated his pensive melancholia as He wondered how life could grant
these two lovers such bliss on this dreary day. Envy followed quickly.
The green bile seethed from the wound left when His bliss had been wrenched
away, its potency amplified by the void that now held no hope of again
finding His love lost, or any other. He glowered as the couple paused
in front of the shop opposite His perch. They joked as they perused
the wares on display in the window: probably some syrupy love joke about
their hope-filled future. He hated them now, their jauntiness and utter
disregard for His misery. He wished them no good fortune and vowed never
to enjoy again the sight of blossoming love.
With a frame of mind resembling His double espresso, His thoughts turned
to the day ahead as He closed His eyes and inhaled the aroma rising
from the thick, bitter liquid in the oversized cup. He tried to focus
His mind on the tasks awaiting Him in the office and the daily drudgery
of office banter. He raised the cup to His lips and tilted the dark
liquid towards His mouth. He concentrated on His internal world after
such disappointment with the external, on the liquid warming the path
to His belly. He drew strength from the newfound heat and the rush of
the caffeine. He raised His other hand to His mouth and drew deeply
on the cancerous stick that governed His life more than any other factor.
The smoke bit at His throat and lungs as it permeated His airways. He
felt the satisfaction of the nicotine affecting His brain. He felt ready
for the world again.
As He prepared to open His eyes, brakes screeching in the wet interrupted
His rumination. The dull crunch of metal colliding with metal followed.
A cacophony of screeches assaulted His ears as other cars braked and
swerved to avoid the two vehicles locked in a potentially fatal kiss.
As He looked up, a motorcycle with locked brakes careered into view
and lost grip on the road, bouncing on to the pavement and into the
shop where the couple had been standing only a moment before. Resisting
to some extent the universal urge to investigate the bizarre and morbid
in the lives of others, He tried to ascertain, through gathering crowds,
the fate of the couple that had turned His already delicate mood sour.
There was no sign of them. But on the pavement where they had been the
rain was diluting blood and washing it towards the gutter. The motorcyclist
had separated from his ride in the slide from the road to the shop.
So the blood must have once belonged to one, or both, of the lovers.
With active and morbid curiosity coursing His neural pathways He lit
another cigarette, defying His recent vow to smoke only one before work,
and settled back into His seat. As the carnage smouldered in the street,
people rushed from all directions to provide what little help they could
until the emergency services arrived: with comparative speed given the
daily morning gridlock exacerbated by the coming together of tonnes
of metal, plastic and glass.
His phone sounded an alarm informing Him of the need to relinquish His
seat in the warm and brave the rain and the tube. He donned his coat
and gathered His bag from the floor before heading into the mayhem of
scurrying people in a mixture of civvies and uniforms; bright orange,
yellow and green visibility jackets increasing the surrealism of the
carnage strewn across the road. As He strained His neck to see everything
He could above the spellbound crowd, bodies were being removed from
the wreckage in the shop window. Several were being lifted and hurled
by fire fighters and paramedics, revealed as they bounced to be lightly
clad mannequins. Two, however, were cautiously lifted onto stretchers
and carried with haste and concern towards the waiting ambulances leaving
another pool of blood to mingle with the rain and the dirt and the glass.
He paused a moment to ascertain the state of the bodies but the crowd
blocked His view so He turned instead toward His daily descent. As He
walked, the rain slowly seeped through His clothing. The cold clammy
effect matched the sense of shock He felt at the unusual events. His
concern though was tempered by a sprinkle of satisfaction that the world
had punished not only Him for finding bliss in this urbane, urban mess.
© Greg Thompson Feb 2004
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