• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 11
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What we do, and what we don’t, in the shadows

In any case, I saw a headline only this week which preached the supposed benefits to be reaped from walking after dinner. So I did just that: I walked after dinner. There was a man and his dog, and I was drawn to the dog, as it was innocent and eager to explore the same grid it no doubt explores every evening. The man, less so. He was angular and broad, and his features were clattered and strobed by shadows. His skin looked sandpapered. I’ll be totally honest: something about him alarmed me, at whatever level, so I walked back past the old picture house and its intermittent red blue white flash red blue white flash. Nightwalking, it was hoped, would clear the mind and let the day’s noise percolate. And this happened. I mulled over the same faces which skulk around these grids. I looked up at the waves of tenements, and the dank, and the glimmer in the distance, and the horizon’s wire rising and falling behind it. 

Just a year ago, by this very picture house, a man and his dog were once again out nightwalking. Only this man did not make me uneasy. He was very friendly—the dog, it transpired, was scared of men. It shivered and whimpered and looked up at me with snout to the ground and eyes damp and fearful. For a few moments we spoke to the man; one hand nestled in pockets, the other holding a can of beer. I was excited and uneasy and unsure exactly what to choose: to shuffle home, up the stairs and the grime, and be alone together? Or continue to stall, and sip and walk and chat, and be alone together? The moon was—is—wide and white. In the end, despite what I wanted, something in me at whatever level was alarmed. The intercom squealed at the touch of the fob. Three men, tall and dressed in black, watched in silence. We sat in the courtyard and spoke and, ultimately, I went to sleep alone. This was not so bad. This is not something to be feared. 


What we do, and what we don’t, in the shadows

Earlier the same evening we sat on the grass and ate leftover takeaway. The others spoke of regret and longing and emptiness, and of the illusions that others lead you to believe are lived. I told them this was a crock of shit, or something to that effect, and that it’s all there to be enjoyed out of stubbornness if nothing else. This “it” includes dogs, friendly or otherwise; lounging on grass, at dusk or otherwise; glimmers, distant or otherwise; nights spent alone, or otherwise. And that, if you’ll again excuse my language, is the lamppost that I will be pissing on. 

And how lucky are we?, a friend said to me recently, That we get to go to bed every night? I know he was joking, but you know I really can’t stop thinking about it.