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My great friend and ally of the past twelve years Mr Tristam Alan Spencer is dead. Paramedics carried his body away to the cheers and joy of the New Year crowd. As they closed the back doors on a weird and beautiful life a Roman Rocket lit the night sky pink.

As I left, driven away by Ms Spencer, police were sealing off the house. Not one of The Neighbourhood Watch who'd been observing for months were anywhere to be seen. Though I'm sure there were a few shamed and gulity faces peeping out from behind some place.

And we all have a guilt. We were all watching and we all arrived too late... even me.

I was first on the scene, but he was already dead. I tried to help him down but I couldn't. The belt was too taut and the weight of his body too much. The belt had stretched but never gave out. Tristy was in the toilet bowl, almost on his knees, like he was waiting to be be-headed. On his face, looking down at an uncovered window box, was a pair of broken Elvis Costello type glasses. Over in the sink, not in pain or hurting any more, was a little orange fish. It was quite still and quite at peace. As dead as the blank at The End of a book.

(Posted by Verity Cooper. 1/1/11)
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