A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 9

Jenkins saw the flashing light in the bedroom from way down the hall. Mostly it was bright yellow to dull but there were also some flashes of white light too. On top of that there were voices, or at least 'a' voice. It was Ransack screaming: “On/Off! On/Off! On/Off! On/Off!” while furiously flicking the lightswitch up and down. “Enough light now, Mackintosh, or d'you still insist on using that fucking flash of yours? Maybe destroying fragile evidence with it's harshness? Oh go on, get me again, I'll say 'cheese' this time! But I know your kind. The camera's just something to obscure your face while you perv in on death and rape and sexual violence. It's your own sneaky way to get a close up of a cunt.... get your nose right in there and then curse the job while your cocks standing at full mast! I'm fucking onto you Mackintosh!”

Jenkins entered the room and  froze, slack-jawed. Not at the bloody mess laying in the corner, but at the bloody mess standing opposite it: his chief, Ransack, rattling the lightswitch.

“The man's crazy!” screamed Mackintosh. “Absolutely fucking crazy! You need to stop him and get him out of here! He's bleeding all over the fucking crime scene!”

 At that moment Ransack flicked the light on and stopped. Although the room was now evenly lit for some weird reason Ransack seemed especially illuminated. It was as if the forces that be were shinning a light on him. He looked like some insane character you'd find staring back at you from a shop window display at Christmas time. Ransack composed himself. He adjusted his shirt, pulled his jacket to a straight fit, and drew his tie up. It was more out of habit than any serious idea that he could make himself look respectable. For that he'd need a bed bath, a whole new change of clothes, a case of make-up, at least one good doctor and a psychiatrist. All his meager attempt at composing himself managed to do was make him look even more crazier than before. In the weird light that lit him up Ransack grinned and clasped his hands before him. Blood ran from his temple and left nostril.

“Boys, boys, boys,” he said, in a kind of humorous way, “let's not try to rise above our ranks. I'm the senior officer here and you'd do well not to forget it.. The only real problem I see is the incessant flashing of that fucking camera. It's having an awful strange effect on me, making me feel unwell... dizzy. I can't support it, hence the light! So put your mutiny back in your pants and let's get on. Everything's to be noted down... that I insist on!
OK, Jenkins, quit gawping at me like that and pull your face back together – gravity's not that strong. Get your notes out and write this down: Victim: female. Height: 5'4 – 5'8. Age: early thirties. Hair: brown (medium length). Eyes: hazel. Married: unlikely. Children: none. Occupation: whore – and a cheap one at that. Mackintosh, listen up and listen carefully. This is an order and not an insult: take your camera and FUCK OFF! We won't be needing you anymore. Get back with your own sorry lot in the kitchen or garden, sugar dusting dog turds for prints. Go on, Fuck off outta my sight! And watch your step as you go... there's evidence everywhere.”

 When Ransack had finished he stepped out of the spotlight and casually headed over towards the bed and body. Jenkins and Mackintosh stood staring at each other as if a ghost had just passed between them. It was Jenkins who moved first. As independent minded as he was he was still a policeman and rank and position were as much branded into him as the uniform he no longer had to wear. He had no choice but to obey the orders of a superior officer and so he followed Ransack over towards the massacre. Mackintosh, however,  quite outside of Ransack's control, ignored his order and remained in the room. For a moment he just stood there looking like he was thinking (or taking a shit). Once done with that he turned around, raised his camera to his eye and observed Ransack through it – his finger on the button ready to catch anything that wasn't words...

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 8b

The first strange thing was Ransack himself. Even now, fully conscious of himself and his work, he still continued to break protocol by smoking and flicking ash around the crime scene. If anything, he seemed worse than ever, as if deliberately laying down a challenge to the photographer Mackintosh and anyone else who may be against such things. “Here, get a personal of this!” boomed Ransack, flicking his latest half-smoked cigarette over towards the body. It landed a foot away from the mountain of flesh and sizzled out slowly in a pool of jellied blood. Mackintosh snapped the cigarette and then turned his camera onto Ransack, the flash lighting up an evil leer that had now corrupted the Detective Inspectors face. As the shot of intense brightness from the flash faded Ransack once again clutched his head and scrunched his face up in agony. He reeled back a little and seemed unsteady on his feet. Then, for the first time in this whole affair, he said, “My God , I've come over all queer... I'm really not feeling at all well!” Barely had the Detective Inspector finished than he stumbled back and only remained on his feet thanks to the open door and making a quick grab for the handle.  Flash. Zmmmmm

 Detective Davies, who up until then had remained pinned in horror to the back wall, now unstuck himself and rushed to the aid of his chief. He caught him around the back and under the armpits, dragged him a foot and then lifted him back into a respectable standing position.
“God, are you alright Sir?” he asked, righting him. “Shall I go get some help? There's a doctor in the kitchen.”
Ransack blinked the room back into focus and steadied himself with a hand on Davies shoulder. Mustering up the stubborn resolve of an invalid he pushed himself on, around his support and made his way over towards a distressed wooden dresser which sat in the opposing corner to the body. Ransack leant against it for support. “I'm not sure, Davies,” he said, “I've been feeling ill all afternoon but was trying to keep it under control, you know, hoping it was maybe just something I had eaten. But there, well, you saw it, I just nearly went arse over bollocks on that one... God! YOU SAW ME, didn't you? You both saw it!”
“Saw it, Sir?” said Davies, astonished, “Hells Bloody Bells I did! It was me who caught you, Sir... you'd definitely have gone for a burton if not. But you've been acting mighty weird all afternoon ... Jenkin's noticed too. He even noted it down. We thought it may have just been the case, the scene... especially as it seemed to happen just after you viewing it. But yes, I saw it.... you took a fair old wobble, Sir!”
“And you, Mackintosh... did you see what happened?” Ransack asked, now looking nothing but a little cunning. Mackintosh didn't reply. Not with words anyway. Instead he once again pointed his camera at Ransack and ever so deliberately took another full shot of him. It not only meant that he had seen it, but that he'd captured it on film too – the revered and celebrated Detective Inspector Ransack caught going bandy-legged because of something that a butcher's apprentice see's every day. Ransack gave Mackintosh a glare. It was full of hatred... and something else. Mackintosh smiled and turned away. Ransack lit another cigarette. He sucked and puffed it into good existence, so just for a moment his face was completely obscured in a mist of thick mysterious smoke.

It was Davies who broke the silence. He didn't really think it relevant anymore but he asked anyway. “Sir, will you be wanting the doctor? He's just next door and I need some fresh air myself.”
“No, no doctors,” replied Ransack, “we've only 25 minutes left, I'm sure I can make it through... Though I do feel awful strange, God... and these cigarettes are going straight to my head . But doctor, NO! The only thing I need right now is an ashtray! But look, if you need fresh air go and give Jenkins a call. Get him in here with me and you save your soul and take over the secondary scene. Now go on.”
As Ransack finished he eyed the dresser clumsily, like a drunk, and seeing a half used ashtray leaned across to use it. Just as Ransack tapped the head of ash from his cigarette he lost his footing and crashed right along the dresser knocking everything everywhere. This time not even Davies could save him. Ransack crashed right along and then slid off the side, down past the drawers, whacked his temple on one of the handles and landed, to a flash, flush level with the carpet. For a moment Ransack looked along the soft dirty beige pile he had landed on. His eyes came to rest on a pair of scuffed and beaten shoes, something like you'd find on a dosser. They belonged to Mackintosh. Ransack spat out a huge gob of blood and then rose to his knees. He swiped the back of his right hand under his nose taking a smear of bright red blood. Davies rushed in to help him but Ransack warned him away. “GET JENKINS,” he barked, “Get Jenkins in here now!”

The Sunday Limerick

The Scented Tweets of a Twit Twitter

There once was a twit fond of Twitter
Who tweeted his life from the shitter
He typed 'pfff' for a fart
and LOL when he laughed
And twice once a day a 'Heil Hitler!'

--- - ---

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 8a

Something had changed inside Ransack. The calm he had first shown immediately after his little turn was now upon him proper and he felt like a different man. All nerves about fucking up the investigation left him, and as to what any of his colleagues thought, well, it was 'fuck them' too! This was the biggest case of his career and one he could not afford to lose. And maybe he wouldn't. Just as quickly as half his mind had flushed blank a little while ago, now it was back; his head a cistern full of clean and clever police forensic knowledge. Once again he was able to look at the crime scene and see all the little clues and traces and tell-tale signs left behind by the killer. It had all returned. In an instant he knew who his colleagues were, his position, his character. He remembered his book, and the lectures he often gave on forensic policing and the importance of the secondary scene. Even small things like where to get extra evidence bags and spare gloves, or what to do with uniformed officers who lay traumatized and humming to the Gods in public, had returned. Ransack straightened himself to full authoritative height and fixed his tie. He was back! Though that's when things got really weird....

The Sunday Limerick #2

There once was a writer named Shane
Who frequently lied when he came
"I'll get hard again soon
We'll fuck all afternoon
But for now my cocks floppy and lame!"

(by S. Levene)
--- - ---

There once was a homo called Tristram
Who murdered his boyfriend then missed him
He missed him so much
With sense he lost touch
But at least he escaped from The System!

(My first and last limerick!)*
by Joe M
 --- - ---

*Liar, he'll give us another winning entry next week!

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - part 7

Ransack is smoking another cigarette. Mackinstosh's face is partly obscured by his camera. Davies legs have buckled and have somehow walked him backwards and stuck hid stiff straight up against the far wall. In the corner, directly behind the open door, and down off the left bottom edge of the bed, is the body. For Ransack it doesn't look as atrocious as the first time he saw it, and now looking closely, within the mess he can make out what would have been a flimsy nightgown and at least one average sized tit. The centre of the body is a big gaping hole. It looks like it has been stabbed through hundreds of times with a cooks knife. From this wound internal organs and intestines have been ripped out by the handful and are spilled down upon the floor. What was once the top end of a woman is now just a back piece of neck and maybe some windpipe. Who knows??? The entire face and head have been bashed in with such furious violence that there is nothing left except a lump of blood clotted hair. Pooled out a foot, around the entire length of the body, is thick black blood  picked through with slithers of skin, teeth, bone and flesh. On the wall, about knee height, there is a round blood splattered imprint where a head has been brutally slapped against stone. Off to the right of the body the bed is trashed. The wooden headboard has been freshly split and has come away at the left side. The mattress is bare and grimy; stained by years of body fluids and spilt drinks. The sheets and covers have been pulled free and hang off the left bottom corner of the mattress and trail over towards the body. It looks like the victim was dragged off the bed by her ankles as she tried desperately to grip a hold of something. It was Crimescene Photographer Mackintosh who broke the silence:

“Inspector, please don't ask for any 'upskirt' shots... I'm suffering from gout and am worried if I go to ground I may not be able to get back up. The last thing we need right now is another player out the game.”

Ransack didn't respond. He just took the words in and thought Mackintosh an even viler specimen of human maggot than he had done so before. From another angle, however, it was interesting what Mackintosh had said. Ransack understood from it that it was down to him to direct the photographer. That all he had to do was show a few discerning looks and order Mackintosh to capture whatever it was he wanted. Ransack tapped an inch of ash onto the carpet and thought. .

“Davies, get yourself over here... you need to start getting this room noted”
“I can't, Sir.... Really... I need a moment....” replied Davies, still pinned to the far wall, his words sounding as though he was chattering with the cold.
“Well, a moment is just what we haven't got!” replied Ransack. “I need you now, Davies.. Right this instant, please!”
“I'm sorry, Sir.. I.. am... but I can't.... I really can't!... I'm sorry, Sir...”

Ransack felt worn, exhausted. It seemed that even when he honestly tried to get on with his job that everything conspired against him. He lowered his head and with the thumb and middle finger of his left hand began to slowly massage his temples, working the stress around in a circular motion .Even with his eyes closed he could still see the blood.

Suddenly, as if someone had connected live electrodes to the sides of skull, there was a flash, and with the flash a sharp pain went right through Ransack's head and deep into his brain. Then it happened again, and again. And each time it happened, not only was there the paralyzing pain, but now the body in the corner seemed to light up electrified and become visible even through the skin of the Detective Inspector's eyelids. Ransack let his cigarette drop to the floor and now clenched his head in both hands and scrunched his face up like he was experiencing a torturous migraine

Click. Flash. ZMMMmmmm.
Click. Flash. ZMMMmmmm.
Click. Flash. ZMMMmmmm.

It was Mackintosh, shooting frame after frame after frame... a perverted leer visible just under his camera.


Mackintosh rifled of a couple more frames, sending Ransack into spasms of pain, and then quit. “Sorry, Sir, just a few personals for a rainy day... You never know when the internet may go down!” he said, aiming his camera down towards Ransack's smoldering cigarette on the carpet and taking a snap of it. “Don't worry Sir, that's for personal too,” he finished, “probably!”

Ransack grinned and stared hard at Mackintosh. Mackintosh gave a squirmy puzzled look back and then gripped a little tighter to his camera as if it could somehow save him. Ransack, once again, produced his pack of John Player Blacks, and still staring intensely at Mackintosh ever so carefully drew a cigarette loose, placed it between his lips and lit it “Don't worry Mac,” he said, in a frighteningly calm tone, “this time I'll use the ashtray.”

(To be Cont'd....)

The Sunday Limerick

King David Copperfield

A biblical king of the Now
Turned magician to empty his bowels
an illusion of sorts
his shit travelled north
and turds became words in his mouth

(by Shane)
--- - ---

An Anorexic's Limerick?

There was a young lady named Maud,
Who was the most terribly fraud.
She never was able
to eat at the table
but when in the larder, Oh gawd

(by Joe M)
--- - ---

A friend and occasional commenter said something to me today which reminded me of a long lost passion, and one which was passed on to me by my step-father who recently passed away:  the limerick form of poetry... especially the dirty Limerick. As these are fun and quick little rhymes to invent I thought I'd make it a weekend feature of Bubblegum. From today forth every Sunday will be Limerick Sunday, and if anyone would like to take part and get one ready over the week, please do so. You can mail me entries ad I'll post them along with mine, or send your limericks as a comment on the day and I'll paste them into the post. They don't have to be dirty, or humorous... whatever you like... 

Hope you enjoy, Shane. X

(A Bad Case of Forgetfulness will continue tomorrow... )

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 6

If great photographers can make the camera lie, then the primitive, heavy-footed beast who sloped onto the scene next, with his knuckles nearer to the ground than his knees, would have been one of the best. In the past, when occasion had called for it, this man-thing had made swollen black eyes look like shotgun wounds, and brutal police beatings look nothing more serious than restraining marks. Though not a corrupt man in himself, he was corruptible. His historical fault was doing what he was told, just because he was told to do it. Mackintosh, the Crime Scene Photographer, was going to hell on someone else's command.

Davies waved the photographer over towards Ransack who was sucking the entrails out of his cigarette. He introduced the two men, and failing dismally to keep his smile an internal one,  said “Well, you did ask for a smoker, Sir.”

Now at a stop, standing there slouching in his white elasticated forensic suit, Photographer Mackintosh cut out an even sorrier sight than what he appeared at a distance. Here was a man who lived vicariously through his camera... pointed it towards any number of perverse scenes and felt innocent because he was looking at it indirectly. His instrument of work was his access to forbidden and secret pleasures; the lens and viewer his own personal little glory holes.

Ransack may not have known quite what to do with a photographer but he somehow knew that men who get to forty-five and have greasy, livery skin, a nose full of blackheads, and who are hunched over through years of mischievous wanking are often not the most sterile of souls. And even if others could support them, Ransack couldn't, and for some reason he detested such squalid, living low-life with a passion.

Ransack looked at Mackintosh like he was a cockroach. “I hope your abdominal muscles are stronger than they look,” he sneered, “beause if not, what lays to the left of this door... what you're about to get down and dirty with, will make you shit and vomit at the same time. Now don't say you've not been warned!”

Mackintosh's eyes crunched into a squint and a sick leer rode upon his lips. He brought his wrist towards his mouth and spat a dollop of foamy gob onto its underside. With it he began cleaning and buffing up the lens of his camera. “Well I hope that's not all boast, Inspector,” he said, never once raising his eyes to his subject, “the last time I saw anything worthy of a few personal frames was over five years ago during my time with the traffic police. That was some gig! Though after you've done road kill there's nothing left. Anyway, if we're all set shall we get on? With a bit of luck maybe I can still make use of the little light that's left.”

Ransack gave the faintest of nods, and together the three men entered the room...

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 5

Davies is looking at Jenkins and Jenkins is looking at Davies. They are both wearing 'What the Fuck?' expressions across their faces. Ransack is a way back down the hall, hanging behind to see if he can figure out what he ought to do next. He knows his colleagues are finding his behaviour somewhat bizarre, and not just his working practices, but the way in which he keeps losing concentration and drifting off into distant realms of utter blankness. After filling his chest with a good helping of air, Ransack straightened himself an inch and concentrated on looking authoritative. He knew he had to somehow do something normal, something that would take the eyes off him and allow for a few moments of serious thinking time. And so, he took out a pack of John Player Blacks, and shuffling a cigarette free he stuck it between his lips.

The clicking of the Detective Inspector's lighter carried through the house like it was the timing device on a bomb. Just about everyone jumped to a stop and looked his way. Some of the white suited forensics who were still shuffling about taking measurements in the kitchen even lowered their masks and stared at him in disbelief. Jenkins went into some kind of a panic that sounded like flapping bird's wings. He ended by shoving Detective Davies into a run and hissing, “Geddit'offa 'im... fer' fuck's'ache!”

In front of Ransack, Davies used his larger frame to shield the Inspector and in a second manoeuvre tried to coax him around and walk him off in the opposite direction. It's a technique that the Metropolitan Police refer to as 'cloaking' and one which Davies had excelled at during his early days of training at Hendon. It was probably the reason why his first ever active port of call was escorting the mentally ill out of public buildings. Well, Davies hadn't lost his knack for 'cloaking', although he felt quite uncomfortable pulling it on his superior.

“Sir, sir.. what are you doing?” he whispered, “You can't smoke in here! Good God... You'll have to go outside.... really, Sir you can't...”

“Can't?” said Ransack, stopping and straightening. “Well it seems I can! I'm Detective Inspector Ransack and I'm running this operation. I can do whatever I think fit and act in whatever way I think will best help me crack this pot of worms! And if there's a man here who'll stop me I'd like to see him try! No? Ha! Didn't think so! So look here, Davies, and listen because this is how it's going down: I'm smoking this here cigarette, and as I smoke I'm going to think, and as I smoke and think and bring some general calm to this investigation you''ll be off looking for the photographer. And when you've found him, or if we're unlucky 'her', we're gonna walk the primary scene and record it: You with words, the photographer with pictures, and me using guile, experience and logic. If that breaks protocol, well, FUCK IT!... it's never stopped me before. Jesus, I've smoked, drank, lunched, pissed, farted and shit in previous scenes and I believe I cracked the lot! This is how I work Davies, and it's usually why I work alone. Now go and find a photographer, make sure he's a smoker, and be quick about it!" And with that Ransack pushed Davies aside and wandered down towards the Jenkins, down towards the bedroom, smoking and dropping ash on the way...

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 4

The securing officer of a murder scene is the unfortunate git who stumbles across the mess, often into it, without any kind of warning. The initial call out can be anything, from young kids smoking cigarettes around the back of a building to a neighbourly dispute, only for the despatched officers to arrive and find ears and teeth all over the place. The securing officer who called this crime scene was unfortunately meeker than most. He hadn't joined the police fantasizing of drug busts and gangland shootouts but rather yearning to do the paperwork and wear the tit-shaped hat. Ransack, Davies and Jenkins found him sitting out in the front yard, his arms clasped tightly around his knees, and rocking to and fro on the heel of his buttocks... humming.

“Mmmm mmmm mmm mmmm MMMMMMM Mmmmm mmm mmMMMMM...” and he went on, just like that, his brain even more lost than the Detective Inspector Ransacks.

As it was Jenkins who was still leading the party of three it was his form that moved in and towered over the securing officer. With the little light there was blocked out, the distraught officer withdrew even further inside of himself, and with his eyes shot through with an unspeakable horror his hums then turned to whimpers. Jenkins squatted down besides him.

“Constable... Constable,” he said softly, “now we understand this is a difficult time for you, that you've seen things which you weren't prepared for, but we need to take a quick statement from you... just a few questions, nothing more, and then we'll get you seen to properly and hopefully off home. Ok? Do You Hear Me? CONSTABLE!!?”


With the above as a response Jenkins suddenly gripped the officer by either side of his shoulders, steadied him and twisted him around so as they were both in each others faces. “Now Constable, you're gonna have to get a fucking grip of yerself... this is serious business! You can crack up afterwards, but right now we've got the fucking world ticking down on us and we need to take your statement before we can get on! Now what's your fucking name?”

The traumatised PC let out a series of noises like he was crying the wrong way. He was obviously trying to say something but no matter how hard he tried only incomprehensible drivvel came out. It also happened that the more he panicked the harder and faster his rocking became, until Jenkins was shaking too, vibrating away like he was holding onto a jack hammer. If it was not for the following words, from a new voice on the scene, Jenkins would very likely have tried to slap him into reality.

“His name's Jameson, PC Alan Jameson,” it said. “I'm PC Sanderson and was with him when he came across the scene. It was actually me who called it... not that I've seen it... but I did call it! He's been like that since it happened... well, it took just over three minutes of silence first and then he lost it.”

As the PC Sanderson spoke Inspector Ransack slyly eyed Jenkins and Davies to see what they were doing. Both had whipped out their notepads and were scribbling things down – though it didn't look much like writing. Ransack patted around his pockets, found his own notepad and a pen attached, and started scribbling down nonsense too. Just to make sure he could still write if he wanted to, that he hadn't forgotten that art, he wrote the word 'bumrub' and then crossed it out. And then he did something that even surprised him: he flipped over to a new page, and the moment he put pen to paper his mouth opened and he instinctively asked:

“And why was you here, Constable? What were the details of your initial call out?”

PC Sanderson now turned to Ransack. He began by pulling a face like there was not much to tell and then proceeded to tell it in the most drawn out manner possible...

“It was an anonymous caller, a woman, and for some reason she thought her friend may have been hurt or assaulted in her property. The call was traced to the phone box just around the corner on Perkins Avenue. The only other info we received along with the address was that the caller sounded 'toothless drunk' and so we thought we was gonna arrive and end up in the middle of one of these alcoholic domestics with both parties accusing each other of every kind of perverted crime under the sun.... You know the kind, Sir, her screaming and bawling rape and sodomy and when asked if she wants to bring official charges against her significant other she looks through you all blurry and you know the previous accusation is already forgotten. The next thing you're warning the man that if he tugs at your uniform once more he'll be spending the night in the cells and he answers by telling you that she sucked so and so's cock and that's why he walloped her. Then she's laughing and bouncing off him, saying “But I walloped ya back... good an proper, ya lousy maggot! I gave jist as good as I got! I ain't scared of no two bit shitheap like you... I've 'ad worse... you ain't nothing, Jack!” And then he's gone and smacked himself square in the nose and through a mouthful of black blood he's screaming: “No bitch has ever hurt me! I can take much more than any whore can ever give!!! 'Ere, ya see these fists? Ya see this one, it's knocked seventeen people sober... the best fucking rehab there is! The other... I save that one for me enemies!” And then she's showing you what she thinks is a secret, sexy smile, but actually it's a mouthful of missing teeth and those that are left are stained shit-brown and each one points to a different hour of the day and you hope she doesn't cough or they'll end up all over you. Then her smile has gone and her whole posture has sunken a foot and she's scowling through the demons of drink, and suddenly she's on her man again. And all the while it's a miracle he's still standing because since he stopped showing you his bloated grazed and cut fists he's been swaying around like one of those 'wibbly-wobbly toys' with his eyes nine tenths closed, and if he can see anything it's the faintest blur of light through singed eyelashes. And then the wind from her missed punch brings him around like it it was full of smelling salts, and he's wild drunk again and it starts all over... back to how she hasn't washed her cunt in years and if ever she did manage to prise her knickers off the stench would kill all the wildlife within a ten mile radius. And then her skirts hitched up and the filthiest pair of knickers bar none are whipped down and she's saying “You'll never get none of it, so dream on ya old fucka!!” And though it smells something rank nothing actually dies. And then they both need a drink, so suddenly they're working in cahoots, acting all piss-drunk lovey-dovey... waving us away, saying they've overdone it with the drink, and they're sorry for wasting our time but they'll just get on to bed and suffer the hell of it in the morning... You know, Sir, a drunken dispute where the most you'll ever get is a 'drunk and disorderly' charge and a car full of stink. Well, that's what we imagined we'd be arriving to. And when we got here, the door was open and sure as hell it smelt like we'd imagined, but it wasn't messy at all – as you know. Then as as I looked around in the front room PC Jameson went down the hall, and not even 30 seconds later he was back, staggering so wildly I thought he'd been shot or stabbed. I steadied him and led him outside and when I tried to re-enter, to see what was inside, he gripped a hold of me so tightly and with such fear shot through his eyes that I never did dare return and look at what he'd seen... and I couldn't really, not even if I'd have wanted to, because it was just then that he lowered himself to the ground and started up with his incessant shaking and humming. And That's when I called it, Sir... nothing much to it.”

By the finale of the Uniform's incredibly detailed monologue all eyes were on Ransack, waiting for his next question... Only it never came. Instead, as one member of the Metropilatn Police rocked to and fro on his haunches... humming, another had ceased up completely, stood there in freeze-frame, his pen on paper and a huge blue ink splodge breaking out across the page...

(to be cont'd....)

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 3

There are times in life when we know we are alone. It's a feeling, and can happen anywhere. And no matter how many others are around it changes nothing, because this absolute loneliness always arrives at the height of our most personal inner moments; be it death, or serving for match in a tie-breaker for the US open. When Inspector Ransack dropped anchor and stopped in forward motion, he knew he was alone. He had been having one of his inner moments since he'd puffed up and decided on taking the lead. With a slight wince across his face he held still and concentrated, hoping to sense the company of his colleague behind him, but it was useless – Detective Davies was just not following. Ransack turned slowly around.

“Well come on Davies, move it along... you're with me on this one!” he said, though lacking any real authority. Even so, Davies squirmed in his shoes, desperately struggling not to surrender and obey the command. He looked up at the taller Jenkins for help. Jenkins gave him a subtle nod and then stepped forward. He had a weird, almost embarrassed smirk on his face. He started off hesitantly. “Sir, erhm, shouldn't we speak to the securing officer first? Maybe take his statement? Find out how he came to be upon the scene? Enquire about witnesses, etc? I mean, really, at the moment we don't know Jack Shit, Sir... for all we know the murderer could be sitting cuffed in the kitchen after having called the law on himself! We need to know such things... they change the way we even look at the scene, nevermind process it. Even by your standard this is strange, Sir... more than strange!”

From the looks on both his colleagues faces Ransack knew he had fucked up, overlooked a huge lump of basic protocol which it seemed wasn't for the missing. He had been preoccupied about making such a balls-up from the very start, and now it had happened and barely four footsteps into the investigation. Fortunately for Ransack there just wasn't the time to panic, he could only react.

“Are you seriously telling me that neither one of you two cones had the initiative to take care of that? Jesus Christ!! These are the basics, Boys... the absolute fucking basics!”

At that Jenkins let out an astonished sound. Whether it came from his mouth, nose or ears wasn't quite sure. “Sir, have you lost your mind?” he gasped, “If we worked like that it'd be a complete mess before we've even began. We'd not be able to cross reference... back up each others statements... nothing! And have you forgotten our roles? We take notes because you do... that's how it works. You're the lead... it's your case.. we back it up. What was you imagining, that afterwards we'd all huddle together round back and confer???”

“Well, I wouldn't have called it 'confering',” Ransack shot back, “more a case of a friendly exchange of notes. But, no, you're quite right Jenkins... that's not the way of things. Surely the crime, the time, it's all got to me. Forty five minutes isn't long in such circumstances, and maybe it'd be smarter to use them correctly rather than wisely? Won't give us a headstart in solving the crime but at least the stars will all be nicely fucking aligned! Now where is this “securing' officer” Jenkins? … You've permission to lead the way!”

Jenkins felt baffled. It was as if a very simple joke had gone straight over his head. He had forced the issue, was absolutely correct in all he'd said, yet still, had somehow been completely outwitted. And Ransack knew it too – lingering behind, smarting at his own cleverness, and thinking that Jenkins may just think twice before opening his mouth again.

As Jenkins led the small group back down the hallway and out to find the securing officer, Davies dragged his feet until he was alongside Ransack. Ransack shot him a suspicious glare. “What d'you want, Davies?” he asked. “Why are you loitering alongside me at ear height?” Davies gave a smile that would have had him found guilty in any court outside of Nigeria, “It's nothing fantastic, Sir... only, am I really with you on this one? And walking the primary scene?”

Ransack didn't quite know what to make of such a question. All he could conclude from it for sure was that Davies, for whatever reason, wasn't his usual choice of partner. In that light Ransack gave a strategical response, one that even if wrong would serve firstly as a compliment, and secondly to encourage some loose talk from Davies mouth.
“Yes, you heard correctly... you're with me on this one,” said Ransack, “so I hope you've got your full wits about you, coz you'll be needing them. Anyway, what's so surprising about it? You're a great detective, Davies, why shouldn't you be going over the primary scene with me?”

“It's not about me in the primary scene, Sir... The surprise is that you'll be in there! You always take the secondary scenes... and alone. Well, you and a photographer. You put your success down to it, lecture on the under-investigated side of the secondary scene.... how it's the first trail leading to the 'physical criminal' and not to chasing or hunting down a 'psychological ghost'. We've all read your book, and it's really about that, how conventional police investigating focusses too much on “the drama of the reason” rather than trying to apprehend the suspect... that nowadays detectives can climb the ranks through 'brilliant profiling' regardless as to whether they actually catch that 'profile' or not. This'll be the first primary scene you've covered in nine years, Sir.... So it's a little surprising to hear... that's all.”

Inspector Ransack took in Davies' words with intent. Although he hadn't the slightest idea of what 'book' he had written, 'lectures' he had spoken, or 'theories' he held, it all seemed quite genius and left him salivating over his own brilliance. From what was said of him he also deduced he was quite a maverick, and as he was also in an obvious position of authority he also concluded that his unorthodox techniques must have yielded great results. Still, it was hard enough to figure out what the logical steps through a crime scene would be, let alone some oddball mavericks weird manoeuvrings and theories. He may just have a chance of busking and wriggling his way through normal, boring procedure but there was no way he'd be able to pull himself off (certainly not in public) and he knew it. Ransack lowered his eyes and looked off knowingly somewhere just left of Davies' right bollock.

“Well, maybe in all my years I've never seen anything quite like this,” he said sombrely, “.... maybe my thoughts/theories were based on more conventional crimes, things that become predictable and finally circumstantial. But what lays in that room, Davies... that mountain of flesh and shit and whatever else, well, that's not normal... to treat it as such would be a serious breach of duty. For all my fancy ideas I'm no different from any man in this house: I've never seen nor contemplated such a despicable mess before. So I think with this one, especially as the media will be involved, it'll be in all our interests to proceed along recommended codes of practice... it's back to basics. We're gonna play this one straight down the line, following the book to the letter.”

Jenkins must have been earwigging in, as it was his mouth which opened next, and once again one too many words fell out. “If we're following the book should we even be here, Sir?” he called back. “Making deals with the fucking collectors... ready to sidestep even the most basic aspects of protocol... ha, the book, don't make me laugh!”

On receiving his words Inspector Ransack boiled up. He had a feeling that even outside of amnesia he and Jenkins weren't the greatest of toilet buddies. He eyed the back of Jenkins' head, wondering what the hell he must do when someone undermines his charge? The answer was: he just didn't know. And so he called Jenkins, and when Jenkins turned around, Ransack shot him a stare like he was trying to melt meat.

(to be cont'd....)

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness - Part 2

With his tall, slightly stooped back to his colleagues Ransack tried desperately to think. His head was filling up with a building pressure. He could feel it everywhere, a pounding of confusion which let him know that time was moving on and he was expected to do something about it. Even from behind he looked bemused. .

"...SIR... sir... SIR... Sir...” The words floated in and around his consciousness like dreamsmoke, finally registering in some far recess and leading him out into reality.

“Er... Yes.... What is it...What?... Who called me?” asked Ransack, turning around looking physically disorientated. He steadied himself on the bedroom dresser. His legs seemed quite unsure of their function.

“Sir, it's just Davies has spoken with forensics and they're waiting on us.... we need to get cracking.”

"Yes... Cracking... ? … W'eve got to crack on with it!" said Ransack to The Man Who Wasn't Davies. "God! It's just sometimes these things cease you up, makes you forget such banalities  for a moment - no matter who you are! It's a sick world and it's getting sicker... What in the hell kind of monster would do something like this?!"

For a moment all three men slid their eyes back across to the atrocity laying in the far corner of the room. Ransack was right, it was a sick world, though not that he cared  for any of that right now. All that interested him was seconds worth of wriggling space, and he would make a play for them using whatever means it took.

Cutting short his meditation on the despicable scum of modern life Ransack quietly slipped out the room, his head lowered but his eyes struck forward looking at hands and feet and badges; his ears open to catch names or other snippets of information which would maybe help him piece together just what his next move should be. As he drifted about the crime scene he felt dizzy and non-existent, like he wasn't really there – rather trapped in some nightmarish drunken state, where things not only looked unfamiliar but  bizarre too. Seeing nothing but scary looking forensic collectors, pottering about measuring things or sealing off  passages, ransack returned to the safety of power, making his way back over towards his team  who were now waiting for him outside the bedroom. Ransack's head started pounding again. It felt like his airways were  being constricted. He clawed two fingers down over his tie and tugged it loose a couple of drops.

"Er, Davies,” asked ransack, “ you say those men, the foreign six, are waiting on me? Us?"
"You mean the 'forensics', Sir. Yes,” said a young fair haired detective with a pigbutton nose, “we've haggled forty five minutes outta them and then must give the place over. Because of the mess they don't want anymore than two of us and a flasher entering either of the primary scenes. The secondary scene, which encompasses the rest of the house, the back yard, and of course the main exit and front yard, same story: 45 minutes."

Ransack let out a long puff of air and tried to make it look like he was thinking. He was, kinda, but not on the crime rather on what were primary and secondary scenes, was 45 minutes long or short for such things, where does he get a photographer from? Is one of his team the photographer? Who will record anything else? How and where should it be recorded? Can he take things? Move things? Bag things? Where are bags? In short: what the fuck was he supposed to do? One thing he did know is that he was not a seemingly successful detective for no reason. Already he could feel his mind  processing his current predicament in a detective-kinda way, taking in and analysing all that was going on... calculating sly ways to extract information, and using a system of logical subtraction to conclude the unknown. That gave him a reassuring self-confidence. He at least felt he was a man of ability, and  not one who had sucked, fisted or stabbed his way to the top.

As such thoughts went through Ransack's mind he started to believe that this was far from a hopeless situation, that he was smart enough to get through it. Already, just through words and acts, he had sussed out so much.  He even knew the name of one of his subordinates and was pretty sure he'd soon discover who the other  was. And even if he didn't, so what!? There was no doubting that he had enough authority to get away with forgetting a name. And it was that authority, that privilege of power, which would  maybe save his bacon.

With a sudden loud clap of the hands Inspector Ransack got everyones attention: “Ok boys, forty five minutes... let's be 'aving yous then! Davies you grab a photographer and follow me, and you , er... er....”
“Jenkins, sir?”
“Yes, exactly! Jenkins, you'll work through the secondary scene alone until the photographer can join you. If you've any questions, save them for over coffee and biscuits... now's not the time! We need to get moving, get prooving, get what we Got and Get the fuck out!”

Ransack was impassioned. It was a great speech. Only not a speech that should ever come from the mouth of a renowned Detective Inspector heading up a murder investigation. It was b-movie talk, or even worse, dialogue like you'll only ever read in fifth rate internet fiction. Luckily for Ransack he remained blissfully unaware, moving off at a pace that he hoped would drag Davies into action with him...

A Bad Case of Forgetfulness

It was a grisly murder, maybe the worst there has ever been. Outside No.34 the cordons were up and the sky was depressed above it. There was no rain, just dark metallic clouds and off in the distance a weird pewter light that spoke of storm and said the world is a wild and dangerous place. Down along the street the trees were dressed for autumn, and amongst rustic yellows and faded greens there were leaves the colour of fire and leaves the colour of blood. From the north a wind blew in which whipped up dust and made dogs whine. And with the wind there came three men, and one was dressed in black.

It was a tall, slightly stooped figure who ducked in under the police tape first and made his way over towards the small crowd of uniformed officers and forensics who were gathered outside the house. A cigarette end hit the pavement and sparked, then a shiny patent leather shoe closed in over it and scrunched it into the ground. “Detective Inspector Mike Ransack, South Thames Police,” he said, shaking a hand here and there. "Where's the body?”
A man in a white forensic suit pulled his hood back and dropped his mask, "What's left of it's in the bedroom 'round back, “he said. “Though be warned, it's not a pretty sight."
“It never is,” replied Ransack, “but I'm not here for a hard-on!”

Ransack didn't hang about. He continued up to the house, tensed his face into a serious shape, and entered waving his small team in behind him. As they followed the general buzz of activity along the unlit hallway Ransack poked his head into various rooms trying to pick up a general feel of who may be shot or battered to pieces in the end room. Over the years crime scenes had become second nature to him and he had acquired a bored, almost cynical regard towards them. He knew only too well that even if the locations are different, or the murder executed in some ever more stupendous way, his job (and everyone's around him) was intrinsically the same each time: they would come, do their thing and then leave. It is slow, formulated work, a matter of capturing every single detail as it was left, and bagging the trail of clues which lead to and away from the body. As a little indicator of his experience in such matters, Ransack would often be seen showing a nonchalant disregard for certain objects of evidence -  handling photographs...  using ashtrays... lifting up pots, etc, classing them as “pieces of shit!” and knowing that they were not evidence at all and would more than likely finish up in  police auction rooms up and down the country. Today however there was nothing to touch, not yet anyway. The hallway was completely bare of any furnishings, the only thing vaguely ornamental being a young uniformed officer who stood guard outside a dark room at the bottom.

Ransack approached the uniformed constable. “Was it you who called the scene?” he asked. 
The young officer pulled his mask down, “No sir, it was PC Barnes. He's in the kitchen still quite shook up. I arrived as backup to his initial alert.”
“And have you entered the room?” asked Ransack.
“No Sir.. not really. I put a foot in and peered around the door, but I never entered. God, seeing it was enough... more than enough!”
Ransack nodded like he understood, but really he didn't. He only understood cold indifference to such sights and viewed any other emotion as being potentially damaging to the investigative procedure. “Has anyone entered the room?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir. Three forensic collectors and a doctor.  But they didn't stay... had a brief look and then left almost immediately.”
“OK, that's fine,” concluded the inspector. “At least this time those arseholes haven't fucked up my investigation before its even got off the ground!”

Ransack then stood silent, kinda looking off into nowhere. He had fussed around enough, asking quite useless questions as a way to build the tension and savour the suspense of the moment. As a final little delaying tactic he moved his eyes over to the bedroom. The door was pushed wide open and a dull depressing light sat low inside. Even from where he stood blood was visible, splatterred up the far wall and also huge smears across the visible stretch of carpet to the right. Ransack moved forward and stopped at the doorway. He looked intently at the uniformed officer who averted his gaze and started up with a slow shaking of his head. Ransack cast a puzzled look back towards his two colleagues then entered the room and froze.

A body. God! More a mash of flesh. Is that even human? Jesus! Blood! An arm. Maybe? Stabbed and torn and stamped and ripped open. Bare bone. Oh no! Jesus, no! Shouldn't a head be there? Is that a head?! Fuck! What the hell smashed that in? And who did the smashing? Oh, Mother of Christ! Slithers of 'stuff'. WTF! A huge grey damaged sack leading from what was maybe once the belly. Intestines? Whale blubber? Haggis? God, no! Skin turned inside out. Yellow fish eggs. Exposed and  ripped flesh. Red fish eggs. No, no, NO! A large room with atrocious carnage slumped in the left corner, where a million things could or could not have happened! Jesus H Christ! What the fuck !

“Oh My...!!!”
“what in the hell???”
“...holy mother of fuck!!!”
“Sir... sir.. sir........”

Ransack was rooted to the spot. He felt that weird feeling he had felt once before on the night he had entered the bridal suite and seen his angelic wife splayed and ready on the bed wearing the crooked smile of a street whore. That weird feeling that had made him panic, feel nauseous and desperate to escape. Which had left him incapable of flapping even a semi hard-on into his disobedient  penis . Indeed, he was suddenly so confused that he was quite unsure as to whether it was he who had even gotten married, and if not, wondering what the hell he was doing in a bridal suite in such a predicament?
“Wedding night nerves!” his doctor friend explained,  after Ransack had closed himself in the bathroom and made a frantic call to the sound of running water. But Ransack knew better. It was more than nerves or panic he was suffering from. There was nothing of him there, just an empty feeling down below and an even emptier feeling in his head, which had froze him to the spot and made all actions seem alien and tricky. Well, now it had happened again... only worse: for the second time in his life, Detective Inspector Mike Ransack had not quite forgotten who he was, but how to do the things he was charged to do. And so, as he did on his wedding night, trying to insert a scrunched up, limp and useless penis into his wife (going as far as pushing his balls in to give more of a pack ) so now it was time for him to improvise again – to rely on skills that go further back than anyone can ever remember...

(to be cont'd....)

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #6 - An Ode to France

It is gone! Was it you Button? Did you take it? Have your beautiful and tragic and deep eyes read my words? Seen a part of my soul I so stupidly hid during our two months together in London? If it was you then you've not replied, but it's only the second day and my hopes are alive and the world is buzzing again. Thinking sensibly I know it surely can't have been you... I mean, what kind of freak chance would that be? There's just something in the air which tells me there's magic blowing about and that maybe life is not quite ready to hang, draw and quarter me just yet. I hope you reply soon... It'd be awful if you didn't.

OH La France, Je t'aime!!! And I especially love this city. And I will tell you, Button,  I must, the things I observed this morning while taking a coffee at the Cactus Café in the Old City - the café you used to visit most days when you first arrived  and where the server remembers you and refers to you as 'the charming anglaise'. Well, sitting outside there this morning, three espressos down and a fourth balancing out the final effects of last nights whiskey, I suddenly realised I am in France... I mean real France. I am here and the streets look french, and the smells are french and the air is french. I sat there and watched as tables were laid out, as waiters dressed in classic black & white and sporting long pointed shoes arrived for work on rickety old bikes of strange colours, as the doors of an apartment building opened and a bucket of dirty mop water was slung out across the road, as the young street performers turned up and tuned up with pillow marks still across their faces and french sleep in their eyes. I understood that romance can really blossom here, that obsession can come by on the tail-end of a perfume and lead a man right from his table, down the road and off a bridge... just like that. And that same idiotic gesture of love can then turn a beautiful girl crazy, who chops here hair off and splits her top lip so she never has another life wasted over her again. And that's true Button, when a woman shaves her head it's usually because of some abuse she has suffered through love. Oh, this is the place alright... there's nowhere more perfect to be broken-hearted.

And in the people, Button, as I watched, I saw the tragedy that the french have, that longing for something which is ages old and sits on the face like a forgotten memory. You can be depressed and healthy in France... this is the great thing! You can be love-sick and suicidal and still be regarded as normal. Jean-Marc, one of the drunks who sings and pisses outside my hotel, he told me that even the doctors here take at least one day 'suicidal tendency' leave a year. He told me of his doctor who crawled out his surgery window and balanced on the ledge four storeys up, scribbling love notes across his prescription pad before ripping them to pieces and floating them down into the street below. Finally the police turned up with some decrepit looking transsexual prostitute who lured him back inside with the promise of taking him back. Everyone here is depressed by the complications of love: either what they've got and are terrified to lose, or what they had and couldn't keep, or what they need and cannot find. That's what I realized.  My sadness is healthy. I am chasing something because it means so goddamn much. And that's how I left the Cactus Café... feeling high on hope. Then I arrive here and my letter is gone! And I know, I knew, that today my life is going to change...

And so My Elusive Button, I leave you yet another letter, and I know I should be more patient and wait more days for a reply but I cannot help it. I am too excited and I want your eyes to read more of my words because thinking of that I feel like I am in your gaze.

Je t'embrasse,

An ode to the French...

     Enola Gray. XxxxX

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #5 - L'hôtel Dieu

Dear Button,

if this is the hotel of God then I pray I never have to book in. All I've seen here are people with busted or missing body parts; or those wired to machines; or emaciated, bristled old men shuffling around with saline drips; or bodies parked up in wheelchairs with their brains on pause, and their only vaguely communicable thought coming by way of a long string of spittle hanging out their gobs... and they're the healthy ones. Even now, someone with the complexion of a litre of piss has just stumbled out the hepto-gastro unit and is giving off more light than the moon. It's scary. Death and disease are scary. 

Well already that's another romantic letter fucked! Instead of showing you some wonderful hidden part of me which you missed I've gone and highlighted a selfish, cynical part of me that you saw and didn't like. And I know there were many things in me like that. I even started noticing them myself... hating the parts of me I understood were pushing you away. Things which I'd maybe 
once even prided myself on then became a drowning weight that I wanted rid off. So sure, I could change these letters, rip this one up and start again, edit myself good, but what's the point? The truth will always come out eventually. I could spend every waking minute of every day regulating my actions and giving you what I think you want, but I can do nothing about scratching my arse and sniffing my fingers in my sleep. Human nature cannot be hidden, so why even try? Do that and you'll only end up living in fear of yourself – I know it. Still, if I seriously thought it'd change the course of water I'd probably do it. I'm as selfish as most when it comes to my own happiness. These letters probably prove that, that I want something even if it doesn't want me... Even if it gives itself to me out of pity.  Fuck, Button, did I really come all the way here to tell you this? If so I must be seriously out my mind, or intent on pushing you off towards Australia! Instead of leaving you expensive pieces of lace and words which should only be whispered into ears, I write about the sick and dying, piss and arseholes... What a fucked-up way to try and woo the dove.

Note to Strangers #1: The wind can change. Never be afraid to start again.

My Dearest Button, something incredible has happened: the wind has changed and I'm starting again. Oh I miss you! I miss you so fucking 'insanelyonly'!!!


I don't know if you ever visited this place (God's hotel) or not, though you may have as it is on the tourist trail and a hospital unlike anything you'd ever find in London. But just incase you've never passed through I will tell you that certain parts of this place are over 500 years old, that the main facade of the building runs along the west bank of the river Rhone, and at night (when all lit up) it kinda resembles something between Harrods, Buckingham Palace, and the Houses of Parliament. Where I am now, in the dark of the cloisters which surround the huge inner court, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of silence. What only twenty minutes ago had looked and smelled like some unhealthy place of the damned now smells of cool marble stairs and chiseled and engraved stone. It smells of history and solitude and peace. It smells of old forest and woodlice. It smells of a place your heels may clip along any day soon. It smells of tomorrow. Button, in this monastic recluse, alone in the low hours of the night, I can smell the future – and it doesn't smell too bad. I don't know what that future will hold, or if you will be a part of it, but I hope you are and I hope we can share the beauty in my eyes together. Those are the things I can give you, the invisible things,  the things that perfect 20/20 vision is blind to. Ican give you that, and in exchange you can give me all the things which you have that I am missing - and I'm missing a lot. I'm missing a person like You.

Button, I think that life is about being complete, that we start off as nothing much and must somehow fill our void with enough understanding and wholeness so as to make death acceptable and welcome. I think we lose our fear of unknown things when we are completely satisfied with the known... that we must only hang on desperately to life when we have not fulfilled all there is to fulfill. But if we manage to do that, have it all and find some kind of inner peace, then death becomes welcoming, a place to rest eternal with everything we have. It's not without reason why death from a broken heart is a real phenomenon. It's because these great things in life complete us as people. They allow us the greatest spoil of all: peace in our time. Button, you gave me that peace. Your arms made me scared of death but not fear it. So I hope this smell of tomorrow is You... That you're finally coming to get me back.

My Darling. I had a universe of words to tell you – a million great things in a thousand different ways – but with just a few I think I've said what I wanted to say and so will leave it at that. It is strange though, not even an hour ago I was so sure that you'd never read these words, and now here I am, writing away with a furious passion, convinced that you'll find them... that somehow you just must.

The night is down and my soul is laid bare again. Button, when you find this note please please PLEASE leave me a reply in the cloisters. You should write it on yellow paper, neatly fold it, and place it in the angle of one of the low arches. I will not try to catch you at the game but will return as ever each day in the hope of finding that you've been and gone. If you're gone and want me to follow leave details for a rendez-vous, but if you're gone, never to return again, leave me nothing but a kiss.

X marks the spot...

Yours until forever may,


       Enola Gray. X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #4 - Rue de L'espoir

Dear Button,

I think I am depressed. France in the summer seems duller than London in the winter and time has began to pass by at reduced speeds making me suffer every torturous second of it. My hotel room, a traditional piece, is almost bare but for a bed, a side table, a somewhat battered telephone, and a slow useless fan that turns on the ceiling. For my part of the emptiness there is one brown suitcase and the bits and pieces I make use of each day: a toothbrush, a pen, a notebook and a glass that perfumes the room with whiskey but never has a drop in it. I call it pain wash. Sometimes I'll turn a good measure into my mouth, hold it until the fumes curl up and vaporize my sinuses, and then swallow. It kinda acts like smelling salts and I stand looking out over the city through a watery haze. Maybe after six glasses like that I can lose most the pain and pass the evening in a stupor of misery. But at least misery doesn't hurt... it just makes the world look shit.

I spoke to Scott again yesterday and he offered to come and collect me but I told him there was nothing to collect. I tried to explain that the Enola he knew (everyone knew) had slipped into a reality void, was lost somewhere in the very recent past, and all that was left of me now was the hurt and it isn't a pretty sight. I told him that just the fibres from the seat on the plane would make me scream; I'm that raw. I don't think he understood. It still surprises him to hear me talking like that. I think it even embarrasses him to see it... to watch a man he thought was an emotional rock crumble to dust in front of him. I don't think I'll ever recover myself fully in his eyes. He'll always remember the me of today, the Enola who smashed an ashtray into his head because his lover left him... the Enola whose pillow muffled sobs depressed the dark... the Enola who cried the night to sleep. He's now even treating me like a baby: coming to collect me!

I'm not going to go on forever Button - I've not got much left in me. A sober reality has descended upon my hope and now when I throw one of these letters down it's changing into something else, like: “fucking take it then!” as if the streets are pulling something from me which I begrudgingly give so as not to be completely without hope. And so, as this french evening falls and shadows stretch so far they consume everything, I let this letter fall and land where it may. It will not get very far, so it's you who will have to come to it. The city smells of musk and dusk and dead flowers. From the south blows a light breeze and far over in the west is the faintest trace of bubblegum pink in the sky. As long as it's gone by morning that's supposed to be a good sign: “shepherds delight” as they say...

My Darling, the Hospital of God ('L'hôtel Dieu') is where I'm headed next...

Find me well or find me dead...

Yours regardless,

       Enola Gray. X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #3 - Rue Lafontaine

My Dear Lost Button,

I'm becoming impatient. I've been here loitering up and down Rue Lafontaine since before first light. I woke at just gone 3am with the terrifying thought of you leaving a reply and the street cleaners hosing it down the drain before I ever had chance of seeing it. That's how fragile this world is that I cling to. I've crawlen so near to the edge that the slightest thing may finally serve to put my balance on the wrong side. It's frightening. It reminds me of the time I stood watching a father and his two children having a picnic on the steps leading down to the river. The river was at full tide and slapped up to the step one below them. The youngest child, just a baby, was looking at the water when a polystyrene cup floated by. It stretched out to grab the cup and just rolled over, headfirst like babies do, into the deep murky water. The father saw it at the same moment I did, but could do nothing. There wasn't even anything for him to reach out and try to grab a hold of – his baby was gone, sucked down and rushed away by dark, dangerous currents which never give much back. Can you imagine that? Well, I'm that baby reaching out!

God, now I'm just writing any old crap, probably trying to impress you in some way with my sensibilities towards the suffering of others... tell you in one letter what I couldn't show you in two months. Though the real truth is more likely that I only care about others suffering now that it's happening to me. Finally I can understand and cry the same selfish tears as my close evolutionary cousin 'homo-fucked-up-sapien'! Shit, maybe I shouldn't have written that??? Maybe I shouldn't have written any of this!

Oh well. Damage done. No quick select and cut when you're writing by hand. No spellcheck either. It's either balling up paper all day long, scratching out words and scribbling away until your handwriting looks like a drunk's stagger or you have to hand yourself in: faults an' all. I've gone for the truth... or as near as I can get to the truth without it looking too bad.

Anyway, back to the street cleaners. They didn't hose your letter away. Firstly because there was no letter to hose away, and secondly because each street is only cleaned twice weekly and today wasn't Rue Lafontaine's turn. Still, I reckon I'd be doing well to find out more about this rota, just to ensure I set my broken heart down around their disinfectant spray and not in it.

Oh Button, Button, Button, Button, Button... won't you give me a sign? Even if it's just to tell me to “fuck off!” I could handle that. I could somehow lay it at the feet of the french and go home never to return to these cursed shores again. It's the not knowing which is the killer. Not knowing if you are fleeing me or seriously having some alone time to figure if US is what you want. Of course I know it's not the latter, I know. Not one thing points to that. By the time you had even considered booking a ticket to this place I was already a dead duck, the bullet just hadn't hit yet. Was I really such an impossible lover that you couldn't tell me? Were my tears really so intimidating? I know they were torrential and came out as a bit of a flash flood, but there were 28 years worth, and they had to be cried at sometime... to someone. If I'd have known they'd have flushed you out to sea I would have held back and cried them through the night.


I've just gotten through reading back what there is of this letter and it's a sorry-ass-piece of self-centered trash! No wonder you wanted water between us. Jesus, there's so many things I want to ask you, simple things, like: “how are you?” “Will you return to study at the end of summer?” “Did you think any more about your plans to travel Europe?”(stupid fucking question that is seeing's how you're already here!) So it's not I don't have things to ask, I do... lots, it's just that anything I ask even a mite above general chit chat you'll interpret as being too pressing or asked with ulterior motives in mind. So I don't ask questions. I just leave letters around - stupid, fucking, hopeless letters...

Button, the day is up proper and so I guess it's time to leave. But it's so hard. I feel I could write away to you all day, tell you magical things of skies and breezes and insects and skin and lazing around with nothing but love to waste our time on. I could tell you how sometimes I get caught up in thoughts of you and forget to blink and then I'm crying. I could tell you how if I close my eyes I can see orange and feel you besides me and how at such times I could just fall backwards and float away to another heaven. I could remind you of the first week we spent together and how you told me not to trust you, that you was a bad one, and when I said I didn't care and that I do trust you and we'd be like no others, how you broke down and the night fell with us in a frenzy of tears and ecstasy and wide saucer eyes full of orgasm and madness. I could tell you how when you left so hastily the city lost her stomach and beautiful memories then hurt my head and I saw ghosts of us running for buses, holding hands and jumping over garbage bags... your red summer dress in a twirl and london dirty upon bare feet. Oh, and how desperately I needed to contact you!!! But how??? How I staggered around with my palms upturned, showing the world the thin skin on my wrists which protected vital arteries, and how I wanted just one person to see my pain and somehow help. I could tell you all these things and more, but they'd surely only push you further away. It was that smothering which made you crave room in the first place. My uncontrollable need to be around you, to constantly need proof of your feelings... to give you proof of mine. God, no wonder you left! And now I'm saying I'm a changed man, then realize I'm writing you this letter sitting in the street, in a foreign country, ready to drop it in the gutter and insanely think you may somehow find it and reply! Hahaha... even I can see the craziness in that.

It won't stop me though... logic can go fuck itself. This is love and there's nothing logical about that. And so with everything from The Laws of Possibility to the City's street cleaners against me, I drop this letter and make a wish: Rue de l'Espoir... I wish to meet you there.... X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #2 - Café Bellecour

My Dearest Button,

I have passed and I have waited and I have even one day been moved along by the police, but all that I ever find under the 'lions left paw' is shadow. I think that will never change.

The police here are strange, and there's many different kinds. I don't understand much of that but I know that the one's who wear the black boots and carry guns mean business. I could tell that just by the way one of them snatched my passport from my hand as if it was a bad forgery and I was the only thing holding it together. To give an idea of the French police is to tell you this: they passed my passport around amongst themselves, pointing and laughing at my picture, always addressing me  as "Sir", wishing me a "Good day" and then telling me to "fuck off!" (in French of course). But maybe you know all this better than me?  These things may sound humorous, and maybe they would be if I had someone to laugh at them with, but I don't and I don't feel much like laughing anyway.

Button, it's now just gone 1 pm and I'm inside the cool of the Café Bellecour escaping the high sun. I'm not sure if you've ever visited this place, but if not you must... we must. It's like stepping back in time. The floor is tiled out white and heavy marble tables are set around in not much order. On the walls there are sketches and letters and line drawings on napkins, all from the local artists who have visited here over the years. At the far end of the bistro is a full length polished wooden bar, and up above that, past the rows of blue and turquoise Pernod bottles, are hung old street plaques, tins of rationed food, and signs telling people what not to do when they get drunk (especially to animals!) The smell of the place is another heaven entirely: dill, poached salmon and sweated shallots, drifting across the room at nose height and mingling with fresh filter coffee. It kinda allows you to suck in the years. The clientèle, well, they're still mostly artists, I think, sketching or writing away, all intent on capturing each others shit in their own medium! Oh, I'm sorry... I know such things annoy you, but some parts of me remain. I don't see art; I see through it. Uh oh, here she comes...

A young waitress with dark hair held in a French tail and with the most perfect slender frame has just given me a coffee and a smile. I'd pay for that. The waitresses here, at least in the traditional French bars, are all elegant and vulnerable looking things. When they leave they somehow make you want to follow. Though don't be fooled, they could snap most men in half just by holding out on a kiss. Sometimes they'll stand looking at you from over near the coffee machine while gently biting their lower lip. Some wear their pencils in their hair. It's not watery-piss tea and blowjobs under the table here, but intense and sensual longing, nipples and breasts, before waking in lonely sheets with nothing but the French air to cure you of your pain. When you're already lovesick, the last thing you need is to be served coffee by one of these temptresses... reminding you of every heartache you've ever had. Ok, so now you'll be shaking your head in knowing disappointment at "people changing", remarking that I've not changed at all and am doing it again: waiting for you while thinking of others. But that's not true. Sometimes my mind just wanders, and often I'm not here even when it looks like I am.

Ah, Button, I've got it! I will leave my letter here! Right here in the café... up on the wall like it's a part of the decor. If you do ever come I am hopeful that you'll see it as I know your eyes search out such things. It is Sunday the 19th of June and I am alone. If you find these words within the next few days leave me sign in the gutter of Rue Lafontaine.

With Love until I love no more,

The ever hopeful carrier of disaster that I am,

       Enola Gray. X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #1 - L'hôtel Montesquieu

Dear Button,

It is now four weeks since I arrived in Lyon and despite my best efforts I have found very little trace of you. I've tried everything, from following the trail of bureaucracy you left behind, to passing hours sitting outside a certain café I was told you enjoyed, to climbing the eight hundred steps to the top of Fourviere and screaming your name out over the city. I am ashamed to say I even entered the basilica, offered up a candle to the Virgin Mary, and for the first time in my life I prayed. All I got for my troubles was a speck of hot wax in my eye, and  a waddle of worried looking Chinese tourists wondering if after I had finished screaming out your name would I throw myself a thousand feet down on top of my words. Maybe I wish I had... I do.  But there I go again! Saying the things which probably drove you away in the first place. God, is France really preferable to me? I must be a rotten soul.

I heard from Scott yesterday and he says that you are not lost but gone. Of course that hurt and I tried all morning to hate him for it but couldn't. I suppose that really I know he's right, but I so wanted him to tell me something else... even if it was just an outright lie - I wouldn't have minded. Why is the truth always so depressing? I think also that Scott is relieved I'm all the way over here. No more smokey drunken nights, him staying up babysitting me and desperately trying not to fall asleep to my pitiful sobbing and sudden fits of desperation. The night before leaving I actually smashed a glass ashtray right into the side of my head. I wanted to somehow show him the hurt that was on the other side of my skin. But rather than get his sympathy I think it gave him a secret thrill, seeing the 'man who doesn't believe in love' swallowed up in her jaws and crushed just below the point of death. That's the worst thing about it... living on in excruciating pain. Fuck, I don't know! I am confused. I've lost my bearings and all the stabilizing factors that were in my life now seem all wibbly wobbly. I'm no longer sure if the next footstep will tramp me on to better days or send me crashing through the floorboards??? I'm lost, Button... I'm so completely fucking lost. My days now have more tears than anything else.

And so, in a final desperate bid to reach you, I send out this SOS and hope that by some miracle of wind it finds its way to your feet. I lay it here, outside L'Hôtel Montesquieu, your last known place of stay. If ever you do return... and if ever you find this letter and would like to tell me something in return, leave me a reply under the lion's left paw at the base of the King Louis XIV statue at Place Bellecour. I will visit often and I will come with hope. And when all hope is gone, I'll cover my eyes and pray. Hail Mary.

The carrier of disaster that I am,

       Enola Gray. X

Homeward Bound

Although I hadn't been working there long it was my last day. Not that I had done anything terribly wrong like on the other jobs I had been laid off from, it was just the end of the contract.

'One month no chance of renewal' That's what it read.

Of course, being honest, I harboured secret hopes that they'd make me an exception to the rule and keep me on, say something like: "Mr Mills, your work here with us has been of an exemplary standard and your addition to the team, just your presence amongst it, has made it a pleasure for each man and woman to come in to work each morning. So, in an unprecedented step, we've decided to run slipshod over the rules, shit in the urinal, and offer you a permanent contract here with the City's Green Spaces. What d'ya say?"

As is obvious that didn't happen, and what's more, as I filled in my last work form, ticking off eight hours of watering flowers and picking dog-ends, beer cans and underwear out of rose bushes, not one of my colleagues even acknowledged it was my final shift and said goodbye or wished me luck. So on my last day, having knocked the mud from off my work boots before placing them dramatically outside my locker, I left the building in sad reflective thought, marking the experience down as another lesson learned in my crash course guide to surviving unskilled employment. With that passed, and less than five metres from stepping off the premises for good, you can imagine what a shock it was when Julian - the fat retard in charge of the City's sprinkler systems - pulled up besides me in his car and offered me a lift home. Well, almost home... at least as near to mine as he was going without going out his way, which wasn't very near at all. Looking into his fat, imbecilic face, his huge grinning mouth still showing traces of his lunch, I said "Oh, that'd be very kind... thank you Julian!"

Julian's hands are three times the size of mine. I noticed that as he beat away on the outside of his steering wheel to some shit awful compilation CD he had put together himself. All very modern commercial stuff, designed to show the world that underneath his 20cm of subcutaneous fat he is not a reclusive, babyish retard, but an outgoing man of the times. As I watched Julian beat and tap away I noticed he had this annoying habit of every few minutes running his hand backwards over his shaved head and then down over his face as if pulling off the dirt and exhaustion from a hard days work. Each time he did this I would hear the rub of skin on skin and the rough sound his palm made as it went down and over the prickly stubble which squatted around his mouth.

"So it's your last day, hey?" Julian said, tapping and moving away with ever greater rhythm, "more luck you mate, you won't miss working your death in that place!"

I made a small amused noise and then said, "I quite enjoyed working there actually, even had hopes of bein... "

That's when Julian's phone rang and without a second thought or any consideration for what I was saying he pressed a button and started chatting away into his hands-free headset, twice as loud as anyone would ever need to speak. I stared at him in disbelief, wondering if he was extremely ignorant or really just plain baked stupid.

"You're in the shower?!!" boomed Julian, thumping a powerful fist on his steering wheel and repeating word for word everything the incoming caller said: "Fixing it... there's a a big hole in the wall... the missus'll slice ya balls off... before killin' ya!" At that point he looked at me, pulling a weird face like it was something crazy and he was part of some insane afterwork shower smashing club. "Noooo!!! don't touch that mate, the whole fuckin' lot'll come down on ya! Just get out the shower and crack open a tin. I'll be there in twenty, just dropping a colleague off... ... ... no, not that far, the Jubilee Road.... nah, the top end, but won't be long.... yeah, yeah.. I'll bring the girls!

Crazy bastard!" Julian said turning to me, "knocked the fucking shower unit through he has! And that's only the ex-brother inlaw... not even inbred blood!"

I tried to laugh, once again couldn't, so instead smiled and then looked out the window at the latest set of lights we'd come to a stop at.

Julian is pretending to be driving with full concentration but looks very shifty with it. His eyes keep flitting down just under the dash onto his thumb which is pressing buttons on his phone. Every now and again Julian turns his cell my way and shows me either an obviously made-up name in his contact list or a common girls name alongside a picture of her half naked. After a moment he stops and looks like he's trying to listen to the sound of wind rushing through his own head. Then he lights up and without even bothering to introduce himself begins shooting it off. "You won't believe what he's done... The silly bastards only gone and put the fucking shower through, ha, can you believe that? Says there's a big hole in the wall an' it's not getting any smaller! Jesus!... .... What?... ... No, not Barry, Tez... ... yeah, Terry.... .... " Thankfully at that point my mind tailed off and Julian's idiotic loud booming words, saying nothing that ever needed saying, drifted off into some far away space that I couldn't pick up.

The CD player has been turned off and the names of pop songs have now been replaced by big green digits of time. It is 16:47:42 and ticking on. Julian's hand is tapping away again but no longer to happy rhythms. Tap... tap.... tap... tap..., a dull monotonous sound reminding me of the passing time. I look at Julian's knuckles. They are inverted, more like dimples than protruding bone. Julian pulls a slow hand down his face and lets a headful of air out his nostrils. He seems pissed off or bored. The latest light goes amber to green. I hear a clicking noise and the car turns right onto Jubilee Road. I straighten in my chair and loosen my seat belt.

"Don't think of making your escape just yet," says Julian, giving a slight nod up ahead, "it's a long road and we've got company." I follow Julian's directive, my eyes settling on the tailend of a huge line of mid-afternoon traffic. "And put it back on," Julian adds, giving a little tug to his seatbelt, "I don't want a £50 fine for doing someone a favour." I pull some length from the safety belt, clip myself back in, and sit looking at the huge trail of cars and lights and smoke and noise in front of us. I think how much I hate cars, and leg-room, and enclosed spaces that smell of dairy products and make you yawn. I unwind the window an inch and the world floats in. There is a beep from behind. Julian's fat calf makes a small movement. The car moves on a foot and then stops again.

In an attempt to stop thinking about time I close my eyes. Every few minuites I hear the rough sound of Julian's hand passing through his stubble. Thankfully he has stopped tapping, though only as a way to show me that he's ever more pissed off and angry. I sense him staring daggers at me. I don't think he likes the thought that I may be sleeping through his boredom.
"You'd have been better walking and taking the fucking underground," he suddenly says, his thick index finger prodding me in the arm, "it's taken four times longer, and will be ten times for me by the time I make it out and back home! I don't know what this shitting traffic is... it's not normally here. I'd apologize, but as it's me doing you a favour that'd be just stupid." I don't reply.

Through the sunroof the afternoon sky looks like night, only with the sun. I wonder how far it would open and if I could squeeze out. I imagine what Julian would think on seeing me raise up and slowly disappear out through the roof, jumping down and running off without looking back. I laugh, but am interrupted by the sudden thump of Julian smashing a fist into the centre of the steering wheel. My mind is back on traffic and it doesn't move.

Julian is rolling his head around as if doing neck exercises. Every now and then he lets out a huff of air. "Fucking traffic... you shoulda walked..." he says, "you shoulda refused my offer and just have fucking walked!" He then adjusts his hands free headset and presses a couple of buttons on his phone, shaking his head as if the ringing on the other end is just another thing in this world that is keeping him waiting. "Yeah it's me," he finally says with as little enthusiasm as he can get away with without seeming suicidal, "I'll be a big forty five minutes... yep, forty five! There's traffic something rotten on the Jubilee road... I can't fathom it."  Whoever he was speaking to must have asked what he was doing out this way as Julian then made a tiny effort to sound friendlier, "Oh, just dropping a work colleague off home, you know what I'm like for taxiing people around... doing kind turns, but this fucking traffic is unbelieveable, fuck! Yeah, well, I don't want to blame him but he coulda refused and walked, yeah... my own fault I suppose for being so generous. Ok, you make a start and I'll be there when I can. I'm gonna turn off this fucking hell-of-shit road at the first opportunity... fuck anyone else!" I was almost feeling sorry for him until those obvious allusions to me, even maybe insinuating that this was somehow my fault.

"Look, Julian, I'll jump here. It's kind you giving me a lift but you've things to do and I don't mind walking... I'd prefer it."

"No, stay," he says, a fat arm starting to move out to make sure I do not open the door and slip out, "we're almost there now and if you leave it'll really be for nothing, me sitting in fucking traffic, miles off route without even a reason for being here! No, stay, and I'll drop you at the top of the highstreet as agreed... it was your last day and I want to give you a nice final memory, and not be left sitting all alone in this shit-hole-traffic all afternoon. We're in this together."

I relax back into my seat and now it's my turn to huff. I stare out the window at the back of a bus. It makes me think of Julian's arse and I want to stick a knife or something into it. I take out my phone and go through old texts, deleting memory to pass the time.

Julian is looking at me in the car mirror. He doesn't know I realize but I do. He's doing a very friendly thing dropping me off, but he doesn't look very friendly. This time as he pulls his hand down his face I see his jaw muscles at work, tensing away as if there is something alive under his skin. The phone barely rings before Julian has pressed a button and is screaming, flecks of saliva spraying out his mouth. "No, I'm still fucking here!!!! Still sat shat splat in a trail of fucking traffic that ain't moving. Fuck, he'd have been better walking! Yes, he's still here... doing something on his fucking phone and the vibratinjg of the thing is driving me nuts. I Don't know... I offered him a fucking lift trying to save him time and money... you know what I'm like... not that I should've given a shit about him, no one else did and he was only a month temp. Why am I so fucking unselfish, why? If I'd have just listened to my instinct and drove on past him I wouldn't fucking be here, staring at the back traffic which could go on forever the little I can fucking see!"

Julian's head is down. He looks like he's sulking and his eyes are scrunched up with a cruel regard staring angrily out at a car that has just squeezed in between us and the bus. By the look on his face I think he is thinking about bombs and blowing things up.

"You know what that means?" he suddenly asks seeming lost for breath and pointing.
"Know what what means?" I ask back.
"That car, that fucking car there!!! It means that in real terms we are even further back in this fucking shitline of traffic than we was a moment ago! We are actually going the wrong fucking way! Jesus!!! What can you see from your side? Can you see ahead.?.. what's happening?"

I shake my head.

"What, you can't see anything? Not how many fucking cars there are, how long this may take? Nothing... you can't see a fucking thing?!?! Aaarghhh, FUCK!!! Useless!"

I was going to pull him up for that. He was now directly putting his frustrations over on me. Though just as I was about to say something beginning with "Now look here Julian..." I suddenly had a crisis of doubt and became completely unsure as to whether he was an obese lardarse or extremely well packed out. "Nah, it's fat!" I kept thinking to myself "blubber", but finally I didn't say anything, just stared ahead with him and prepared myself to leave if he insulted me one more time.

Julian is speaking into his headset again, only this time I don't think there is anyone on the other end. He's not directly insulting me but keeps alluding to the fact that if it wasn't for me he'd already be home and not sitting in traffic having his wages guzzled up in petrol and losing precious hours from his free time. Each time he speaks it is to let me know the full extent of the loss he has incurred on this brief journey. I listen waiting for the insult which will allow me to up and leave, slam the door and walk. But it doesn't come.

"What the fuck!!!!!!" Julian suddenly screams, both hands clenched and raised and rattling away in anger either side of his head. I stare quickly around at him, but we are just sitting in the same old traffic with nothing more happening. Julian looks at me. He pulls his hand through his face and stubble, but this time when he has finished it looks like he has changed his head. His face is now as red as boiled lobster and his eyes are circled with white stress-rings. "What the fuck is this traffic!!!" he screams, letting out a frenzy of beeps by smashing the bottoms of his clenched fists down on the steering wheel. "What the fuck is happening???"

We have not moved an inch in over fifteen minutes. The man in charge of the city's sprinkler system is now having what can only be described as a full blown stress-come-panic-attack. The car is shaking and bouncing around to his rage and he is fighting invisible forces in his seat, blowing hard from his overburdened lungs and now thumping and bashing his head off the steering wheel.

"Nah, not fucking moving... dunno what's happening on the fucking Jubilee road!!!" he is screaming, "well it won't be half an hour now, obviously! Fuck knows how long, just fuck fuck fuck knows!!!"

It was around that point when his hands free headset fell down and dangled somewhere near his groin. Not that Julian realized. He was in a frenzy, screaming away,  his anger and obscenities getting ever more furious each time he mentioned me and the favour he was doing. At that point it wasn't that I couldn't have left but that I decided to stay as I figured this guy needed help, that someone should be there to try and calm him, stop him doing damage to himself and even stop him driving. Though when he started calling me all the cunts under the sun, and directly blaming me for his being there, and criticizing everything from my workrate to the underpants I wore, and repeating things the others had said about me, and shouting off about how I was basically the worst worker the City had ever taken on, that even Gungi - the unpaid mentally ill weeder, employed on some government scheme - was better than me, and that if it wasn't for the fear of being found out he would've beaten the living crap outta me weeks ago, well, at that point, ill or not, Julian could go to hell... I didn't give a fuck. If the traffic was mine, he could fucking well have it! That's when the window went up and the door clicked locked.

I didn't feel feel Julian's first punch, and the second didn't seem real. The third, fourth and fifth came in a tremendous flurry knocking my head this way and that and rattling my brain about until I no longer knew which way was up. The last thing I remember before the onslaught was Julian looking the opposite way and the car feeling like some surreal pressure cooker. I don't know how Julian managed to get out his seat, but he did, as my next clear moment was of his bulk upon me, pummeling my nose flat by smashing the full sides of his forearms into my face. Held down by his massive bodyweight not only was I being beaten unconscious in my chair but was being crushed to boot. I tried struggling free but it was useless and with my head being knocked around my thoughts were no more than vague flashes of various parts of the cars interior.

It was a flat thump to my right ear which took my hearing and let a flash of blood shoot out my mouth and wash across the window. Thats also when things slowed down and I saw the full extent and fury of human rage and all the tiny adjustments that go on in a face beset by hate and anger. Soon after that the light went too, and the only colours I could see were black and red. I was just a plaything being smashed and flopped around by a 250lb wrecking ball.

I don't know how I finally got free, or whether Julian took pity on me or just punched out his rage and released me??? But suddenly I tasted air, tumbling out the passeger side door half naked and onto the Jubilee Road and having the weird sensation of rolling backwards. For some reason my mind was only thinking of my bag, which was still in Julian's car, and of trying to keep an eye on the coins which were spilling out my pockets and rolling around the pavement and road. In my daze I made a pitiful struggle to reach out for Julian's back bumper, to somehow cling on, pull myself up and retrieve my bag from inside. But as I crashed down in failure on the floor I realised that I'd never rolled backwards at all, but that it was in fact Julian's car moving forward, that the traffic had cleared and there was straight road ahead. With my head on the floor I followed Julian's car as it went off and turned left, getting one final glimpse through the blood strewn passenger window of his huge wide shoulders and fat head, staring forwards, homeward bound.

For a moment I remained where I was. I could feel my face pulsating and throbbing, and my upper body, which had somehow lost its shirt, was cut and scraped and red and burnt from the friction of the seats. I made an attempt at gathering a few coins together but finally gave up and struggled to my feet. I didn't want to look down but couldn't help it - my head was too heavy to look forward. And like that, my face smashed to pulp, my top half bare, dirty and bloody, and with only one shoe, I hobbled off down the Jubilee road, the world looking at me like I was giving it a whole lot of trouble.

(First post dedicated to Jim (Grouchy) without whom this project would never have existed.)