The three sit with knees drawn up to chins. They are tired. They are very tired.
P- Spew it then…come on…we’ve no time enough for waiting on words…
Gasser stands. He is tall and thin with long greasy hair. He stretches stiff arms and legs. He hesitates. He might not speak. And then he sighs and begins.
G – Mine was an old coat. The long black leather kind. Sewn together. A sheath for a sword. A shell. A bucket. Tap it. How dull the sound is. How dull all sound is. Dented and stained. Easy to change. To alter. Poke holes in it. Fix it to the collar. How many knives? More knives than fingers. Wrapped masking tape around the arms. Fixed the knives into place. I the sword. I the within shell. I the eye looking at a wall and seeing no clock on that wall wonders why time matters if it’s never seen. Or heard. No ticking. No moving. No return. Just nameless moments.
Other walls stretch.
The long wall along the docks.
We Wall Leaners. That’s what we were, what we called ourselves. Wall Leaners.
We would stand against the wall for hours and hear the sea. See not the sea. Hear the waves. Wonder at their falling. And see life trudging by. Like so many clocks. Ticking life. Moving to an end. Non-reversible physics. Like shattered plates can never make themselves whole again. Like dropped cups smash and hold liquid no more. Vessels without purpose. Like the scorpions in the wall. Crawling between gaps. Not one of them able to sting. Without sting. Without the means to be a scorpion. So we lean against them. Unthinking. Not a worry for their lashing out. Care without care. Less of less. Lost and last.
I came to the wall that day. Wearing it. Being it. The leather coat sewn. The bucket upturned over my head. Hidden. Disguised. Not discarded. Bleach stench filling my nose, eyes watering. I stood there. Unrecognised. Listened to the familiar waves and heard a tap dripping into an empty sink. One man’s sink is another man’s ocean.
I cleared the wall of leaners. My leaners. So the scorpions could bask in the gaps. Feel their lack of sting justified by the scarpered. The fled. The ones who saw a mad man scraping blunt knives along stone. His sting. The tip of a bread knife. The butter smeared cheese knife. The peeler. The fish gutter. The scale scraper. The meat slicer. The scorer. Their tapping against stone. Made my own time. Without rhythm. Disharmonic. Watched the frightened pass. Move on. Gave them the fear they needed. Just walked along my wall and let the blades scrape. Then night came and the world emptied. The sink was unplugged. The bath emptied. The lake drained and dammed.
No coaxing words. No voice to blame. No poems of promise.
Even the waves were still.
I imagined the ocean had dried up. That beyond the wall was a naked virgin land. The fish floundering in a new desert. A bed not for sleeping. Gulls gorging on sliver scraps.
Heard nothing. No voice to blame for this.
Windows began shutting in the city. The what’s left of a city. One after another. Night for night for sleeping tight.
Did not leap.
But strolled and saw one window open.
One woman sleeping.
Her covers thrown back. The heat that night. Stifling slumber. Her tossing there so restless. Her eyes closed. Her night dress covering what I wanted uncovered. Climbed towards her. What words did I whisper then? Platitudes of love? Compared her to a flower? Spew it you say. Spew it I say.
I said and heard nothing. Take that as my confession and I’ll repeat it. I said and heard nothing.
No coaxing word, no voice to blame, no poems of promise.
But climbed. To her. To end her.
And turning away from what I’d done, my eyes red, lit by moonlight, I saw over the wall. My wall from her window. The sea with its calm water rolling in. Slowly. Gentle. Breathing of the contented. Not her breathing. Sleep of the weary. Not her sleep. Waiting for morning to raise its angry peaks.
To raise something.
To touch with steel. Feel their touch is cold and nothing rises.
I was a stingless scorpion and stung all the same. I was a calm sea and covered her with angry waves. Drowned her. I was a wall above her. I was a pendulum swinging. A time. A moment. Moved that moment forward so it could never go back. Was done. Could never be reclaimed or altered. I was a made-up fable. I was a dreamed of devil. I mimicked her noise and let the whole world hear it. And heard it myself. Called it from her window so they’d come for me.
Call of crane – 4th call.