The winter air was cold and when I sucked it in it burned like menthol on the back of my throat. The sky was overcast with pale grey cloud but over in the distance there were bright shards of breaking light. I pulled John's scarf to my nose, breathed it in, and made off in that direction.

I may have been walking for five minutes or five hours, it was impossible to tell. My mind had drifted off from the nightmare of the present and was floating around on memories somewhere back in a not too distant past. Now and again a certain scent would waft by and I'd latch onto it and it would drag me even further out into yesterday. When I next looked up the city was not a metallic wintry colour with a bleak horizon, but a light silver place that tingled my sensations and made me want to live and bathe in the wonder of it all. And although John isn't here, in a way he. He is in the wind, he's in the trees, and in the fragrances that will perfume and seduce the rest of my days. John's footprints are trod deep into the grain of this town.

As I passed the tennis courts leading down to the park I heard the stamping of feet and the triumphant cries of the world getting healthy. I remembered the time when John and I had sat here one summer evening, with the light on the turn, and watched as two men chased the ball about and cast long shadows over the court. It was just that time where the heat had died down and the city was cooling off for the night. Every scent, of every plant and shrub was floating out the park and London was a pot pourri of the most fantastic scents. In the air was the sound of insects and the occasional ringtone of a bird; natures last call so no-one got left behind. And I wasn't left behind. I was with my man, the person in this life who I knew would take me forward and open me raw to all the sensations that since forever I thought I could never feel.

When the hard grey beneath my feet became softer and greener I knew I was in the park. I don't remember wandering off from the courts, just a vague recollection of following something. From the way the few couples I passed peered in at me I understood I was crying. Though these were not sad tears but joyous ones... tears of a new hope. Maybe Verity was right? With circumstances taken into account, and the right lawyer, I could get a short sentence and pass that in a hospital. That wouldn't be so bad, it just seemed so when unadulterated freedom was the flip side of the coin. But now, that's all changed. It's no longer a toss up between getting caught or not – I've been caught. In a matter of days Little Dick Tracy will return and I'll be taken away again, and this time not released. My freedom is gone... this is the last of it. But it doesn't have to be hopeless, all this beauty will still be here waiting for me when I get released. The world can only rob us of future things but not those in the past. John is still here and I can still wait for him. Maybe I am not a fated man after all?

It was its wings I heard first. They flapped overhead and caused me to look up. There above me, dark grey against a light sky, was the most beautiful pigeon I have ever seen. It was slender and well groomed with bright pink feet and viridian and purple hues washed through its breast and neck. And I saw it coming from a long way off, and have seen it coming for months: dark grey, green and white, in beautiful free-fall, heading straight for me. Splat! A huge blobby dollop of pigeon shit right on the top front of my head. For a second it was warm and then it was cold and then it rolled and ran right down the centre of my face. And for a second I just stood and watched as my beautiful world drained away, and like that, without even bothering to wipe it off, I walked my way back home.

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1 comment:

  1. "The world can only rob us of future things but not those in the past."

    Much as historians and journalists try: we just have to keep a grip on our own realities.

    A nice observation =]


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