A light comes on outside the cell and the room is illuminated.
Beresford shuffles away from the others into the corner of the cell. He is younger than the other two. He has eyes that constantly dart about nervously. He has terrible acne.
The others watching him, anticipating his words. They can see he is desperate to speak, to explain himself.
P – Get on with it then.
G – Lie away.
P – Cry away.
G – Pray away.
B – I only found it. Came across it. Should have left it. It was the smell of oil. Of rust. And the way the sun tore at cloud to glint off those hands. Gloves of steel. Stole me. I scraped the world away to get at it. I’d scrape the world away to get rid of it.
Teeth. A city of teeth. Avenues without bite. Clamped jaws. The rows of terraced teeth and all of them empty. Past them. Away from what was. Wading birds tread trident marks in salt wet mud and the river chases their memory away. Unsettled. Unseen. Only glimpsed. Incoming tide. Rumours of tides. Ruinous. I’d watch it. Walk through the pulled down town, through weed claimed streets. At night the lampposts still flickered. Feeble memory. Tried to light. Tired of light. Then faded. And the river pulled at the promenade wall. Overcame it. Unstoppable.
The warmth of shadows. I’d stay there every night just to get away from the camp. The constant shift of tarpaulin. Yellowed. Those leftover losers squabbling for space. Restless sleep. And the wind claiming what’s left. Blow away home. Blow away but there’s no home. Homes. Tents. I’d sleep where tires once rolled. Where golden lines still poked between blade and root. Forgotten.
First light. I saw something glinting. Caught sun. Caught and shoved in a net. And hardly awake, I moved towards it, my feet cut at by the scraping remains of time; mangled railings, rusted pipes, shattered and scattered glass of windows. I didn’t care. Even then, the scraping was there. I pulled the lot down and this body fell towards me. Falling man fall again. Make pandemonium in the ruins. Nothing to catch you. Threw itself down. But it wasn’t real. Imagined form. Not a man. A suit. A head of tin, hollow and with empty spaces for eyes to peer, waiting for eyes to peer, to fill it up. The body a jumpsuit. Ancient leather. Tanned hide. Stiff. Torn. The arms hanging, waiting for motion to be poured in. And the gloves. The long nails. Razors. Fingers to cut with.
Lose yourself in me.
Lose the world in me.
Fitted like a glove. Gave motion to those arms. Gave the hollow head hollow eyes and felt them redden, waken, enliven. The skin of another. Skin within skin. The heat in there, like a furnace. Making. Churning. Fuelling. Furnaces burn and flames leap. My hands in the gloves. Tipped by possibility. What might be. What could be got.
It wasn’t me who lay down then. Wasn’t my dreams. My rest. And when I woke the river was doing its job. Reclaiming the land. And the world was in night’s blackness. I leapt. I hurdled the ruins. I vaulted the remnants, I made my way home. Back. How easily do razors cut cloth? Cut homes? Cut. Saw the world all obscured. Clear. A line of life. The slit of my eyes. His eyes. The stink of sulphur watering the eyes. Each step a leap. Each leap a step closer. Closer.
Here they are.
And cloth can be cut as well as men. As women. As faces I knew. I was opening the world with my hands. God through clouds did peer. Tearing at tents. Tearing at sleep. Waking them to send them back. Back to sleep. Long sleep. Long needed. Definite. And sound was nothing. Listen. It was gone. Muffled. Lost. I saw only the cut. The slice. The drop of my hands. Glove fall. My razor.
I’ve had enough.
I could hear breathing. Knew it wasn’t mine. Another’s. A distant breath. Satisfied.
Once, when I was a child, I found a sack filled with fresh loaves of bread. Unfound. Took it. Found a place. Hid. Ate every loaf and even as I got full I still ate. Then I couldn’t eat. Lay there. Wallowed in it. Broke the bread up and threw it into the river. Sodden. Knew my wrongs. Felt them in my belly.
This was the same.
I was feeding something but I wasn’t full. Not even close. I could cut and cut. Leap and leap. I didn’t feel the tin head fall. The hollow skull drop. Didn’t feel the suit tear, drop away in rags. Naked. Just glove and steel. I let them see my red eyes. They saw something else. A weary satisfaction. Closer.
Let me go.
I never said it. Not once. Then I was flailing. A child. Just hands. Naked fingers. Naked palms. Naked arms as red as my eyes. Sounds returned. Flooding. The river reclaiming the land. The transit of spheres stopped. The pull of gravity lessened. The hollow found itself full. The music set on repeat. And jumps. And struggles to find its chorus. Repetitive verses. Like arms moving. Touching nothing.
Bring him down.
Down. Every leap pulled me down. I was drowning. An eroded shore. An altered coast. Cut of bay, cut away. Harbour scooped, harboured scrapes. The madness of hidden rocks. Dive in. Jump from a bridge and when the bridge is taken down jump from the remaining space. The chasm. The gap. Writhing. Held down without feeling a single touch.
I could hear that and knew its voice. Its mocking.
The river poured itself over me. Damned baptism. Washed me away. Downstream. Washed the fog away. Slapped me hard. Tore out my dreaming like a splinter.
Look at them.
Look at them.
That was all that was left. Reversed memory. Play back. I saw nothing else then but the clawed at faces. The torn lives. The vivid ends.
Heard nothing else.
Look at them.
Slept with them. Cradled. Held. Woke with them. Blinked them away only for focus to tighten. Choking focus. Zoom in. The minute details. Protestations. Begging. Moaning. A ship sails down the river until the sandbanks hold her. Wash sand against sail. And topple masts.
Listen. I can hear it still.
Look at them. See them. Watch them.
See what I’ve done. Know what you did.
You must hear.
It persists. Not yet sunk.
Resists begging. Moaning. Pleading. I’ve said it all.
The sound of crane calling. 3rd call.