You didn’t wipe your feet.
The dirt you left on that sterile floor was a gift, the spectre of fertility.
A blob of mayo fell from his sandwich, and nested in his thick grey beard.
It was already hard enough to stay engaged with the famous artist's endless words.
The blob remained there quivering, gelatinous, throughout the rest of The Lunch.
THE STORY OF WHY IT WAS LATE
It was late to meet a friend on Friday evening.
It was late because it was hit by a car.
It was hit by a car as it stepped into the street without looking.
It stepped into the street without looking because it wasn’t able to look.
It wasn’t able to look as it was blind with rage.
It was blind with rage.
It was blind with rage because men had been making comments about it, at it, as it passed them in the street. Again. And again. And again.
Every time a man made a comment at it, it was distracted from its thoughts. Every time a new thought formed, it was distracted by comments from a man.
It was blind with rage because men had been denying it the ability to think. Again.
So it was hit by a car.
After it was hit by the car, it climbed off the bonnet and apologised to the driver for the dent it had left.
It was not hurt.
But it was shocked.
While it was in shock it apologised to the driver for denting his car. The driver apologised to it, and asked if it was hurt. It was not hurt. Satisfied that it was not hurt, he drove away.
The man who had been stood next to it on the pavement beforehand came to check that it was not hurt. It was not hurt. He accompanied it across the street. Satisfied that it was not hurt, he continued on his way. He was a gentle man.
A man who had seen the incident from the other side of the street then came to check that it was not hurt. It was not hurt. Satisfied that it was not hurt he asked, “Where are you from?” “Are you alone here?”
He didn not want to help it.
He wanted to fuck it.
He was a creep.
It wanted him to die.
It ran from him to the waters edge. It sat and it calmed itself down. It began to cry.
It realised it was sat at the spot where, a few weeks earlier, it had had a conversation with a-girl-who-had-also-been-sleeping-on-the-sofa-of-the-person-whose-other-sofa-it-had-been-sleeping-on. She told it that she was a migrant, who should have been legally recognised as a refugee but the law was not there for her. She had fled her country of birth during civil war. Still she maintained that if the majority of the people of a country wanted it to be White-Christian it should be up to them to decide that. And to enforce it.
She had found the sofa online.
It sat there a while, water before it. It wanted to contemplate, if any, the relationship between street harassment and fascist politics. It thought perhaps that the former is a symptom of the latency of the latter. Certainly both relied on the same basic principle of the creation of the Other. And then a desire to dominate these other bodies, bodies seen as vacant, fungible, somehow less human, less lived in than...
Again, its thoughts were interrupted.
A group of teenage boys approached it, sniggering, except for the eldest. He came and sat next to it, while the youngers lurked behind him. He looked teenage but his eyes suggested otherwise. It trusted him instantly. The youngers were annoying. It wanted them to leave.
He asked if it smoked weed. It said no. He asked if it took cocaine. It said no. He asked what it was up to alone by that water on a Friday Night, and if it knew anyone here. It said it was about to meet a friend.
He asked when.
It said in 5 minutes.
The youngers continued to snigger.
Satisfied that it was not lost and alone he said goodbye and continued his evening. The entourage followed. He had a sweet heart.
It left too.
It started walking towards its friend’s place, then stopped at a doorway on a quiet street. It sat on the doorstep, crying in peace.
I was crying because it was never able to complete its thoughts before interruption from men. It was crying because fascism. It was crying because the war on drugs. It was crying because it had been hit by a car.
As its tears subsided, it felt a vibration in its pocket. Its friend had texted to ask if it was okay.
It said that it was okay and that it was two minutes away.
Two minutes later it was not able to pretend that it was okay.
It told its friend the story of why it was late.
The warden zipped round the park on his moped.
It was his job to ensure nobody was disturbing the peace in this calm urban sanctuary.
“What brand is your dog?”
“What brand is your dog?”
“Breed. What breed is your dog?”
Some wore beards.
The men were surrounded by men. Some wore beards.
They drank their beer and thought about what to eat.
There was almost too much choice.
One of the men let out an abrupt little laugh. His mate turned to him, wanting in on the joke. The man who had laughed explained that he had just seen the guy on the Ramen Burger stand drop a plate of food. Really he had noticed that of all the artisanal snack options none were anything but a novel take on Bread + Meat. He might have fallen silent for a moment, wondering why these weren’t the words that had left his lips, but his mate’s laughter stifled the infant thought.
The man grabbed its arm.
Food spilled from his drunken mouth.
It wanted to smash the rest of the burger into those gaping lips. It wanted him to choke. To choke like it choked every day.
It yearned to explode, to abject all of itself that that gaze had touched. But it only choked.
The man grabbed your arm.
Food spilled from his drunken mouth.
You span toward him. Perfectly precise, you flicked two fingers at the burger still hung between his gapping lips.
Your arm was free and the man was choking hard.
He couldn’t breath. He couldn’t speak.
He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t breath.
His mate slapped his back and the part-masticated meat flew out across the street.
Jowls quivering with rage, he looked around.
You were nowhere to be seen.
Bored by his own banality he decided to begin again. “This time,” he said to himself, “this time.”
The novel was published a year and a day after his death, and enjoyed great commercial success. The characters never crossed paths, but each was faintly aware that they were not the protagonist.
Critics liked this idea, they referred to it as ‘meta’. Privately, each doubted their decision to do use this term in favour of a less sexy but more accurate phrase.
Had he not been cremated a year prior, the author might have rolled his eyes.