“Hey, why don’t you just take the bus? It’s only a euro, like. And you won’t get wet.”
I had a city to cross and four hours to kill.
“No way man. I’m walking. I will call you later.”
Thy sky told me I had time. Blue skies ahead but black behind. I followed the sound of chirping birds and dogs barking, away from the blaring sirens of ambulances. Fifteen minutes, twenty maybe, was all I had. I could wrestle for more, but it would be no good. I had to go now. The city centre called me, lured me into her like a prostitute stroking my tip, soothing me with promises of sweet deals and savings, de-stressing me an oath of perpetual pleasure. I was about to ride this city for what it was worth: a smoke and a four-course meal of broken glass.
But sometimes lovers conspire, even out of love. I cherished her like no other, but she spat it back into my face. Full on. Unapologetic. She hurts herself to kill us, the city tears itself apart a little every day to murder its own citizens, like a dog that tears off it’s own flesh to eradicate fleas, the city will squat over your corpse and shit into your dry mouth cavity. But today I was but the entrée before the main course, the riding satisfaction to her fulfilling climax. She teases me but destroys another.
A woman, older than me in texture definitely, but possibly not in age. I had just stopped short of tripping over her spasming body, her deformed temple. Quaking, twisted, foetal. The city toyed. Three innocent girls shocked themselves, an unusual situation in unusual times, but they were quicker than me, who remained unmoved. Their mobiles were instant. Sweet, practiced teens, drawing their phones from their pockets like guns from holsters.
“Should I knock on this door?”
“Hey, is she going to be alright?”
“I have no credit”
“The ambulance is coming.”
I palmed the sick womans shoulder; afraid she might roll over and swallow her tongue, but she had stopped her fit and lay prostrate. Retarded. Asleep. Her three teenage angels stood above her, confused.
“What’s your name, darling?”
The rain tap-danced down the street, rattling and dangerous, looming over us like a particularly nasty uncle. We all carried umbrellas, though the light and portable kind, weak and prone to relenting to winds stronger than your average farts. But to give up protecting this fallen one, this prisoner of the city, would admit defeat. So we sheathed our meagre umbrellas around her, our own clothes suffering the torrent.
“No, hold it like this, closer to her. No, like this…”
Together we remained strong, defying the cities will to destroy another weak lamb. She forgave no one their sins, and punished those for their transgressions. And we had certainly done that, misbehaved, denying the city her want to feed, her need to be creator and destroyer. And I could feel her intense focus as the ambulance took our crippled sister away silently, to heel and mend for another days torture.
My journey had been eventful. New bonds built on unspoken currents, shared through unique rituals, unpractised but formal. We continued through the city, separate like before, the three girls chattering about their bravery. But I could sense the city, her anguish and pain. Around every corner lay evidence of her turmoil.
“Hey man, guess what I saw today?”
“A dead dog!”
“Yeah, at a bus stop waiting for the rain to stop. It was a short, fat thing lying on its side. And get this; its face was turned into the ground, like it was fucking eating it, and its tongue was lolling over the cement. It was fucking hanging out of its mouth like it was licking the dirt or something. Dude, it was rank.”
“And there was this old woman standing in the corner opposite the dog, all scared n’ shit. Man, it was that type of day, where you would stand beside a dead dog just to be out of the rain.”
"Yeah, it was goddamn miserable.