Wednesday, January 23

State of Things

Night shift, and Purple's advice rings in my head all day.

Her tip leads me to a warehouse in an industrial estate, way out of town. I park the car around the corner. The stars are my only witness as I approach the warehouse, climb the fire escape to the second floor, and sneak in the office window.

There are things in this world I trust. I trust The Twins, cool and collected at my side. I trust the rain to fall from angry skies. I trust in the colour Purple. But I don't trust dark buildings with no sign of life, I don't trust littered alleyways, and I don't trust insurance companies.

Providence settles in my hand, the weight of the pistol keeping one foot in reality. But even the Twins can't prepare me for the sight of Charlie leafing through a pile of paperwork in the back office.

She turns at the sound my approach, eyes lit with wildfire, and a wildcat smile flickers across her face. For a time, silence does all the talking we need. Her eyes light every corner of my soul, and I'd swear then that she knew everything about me.

"Take off your shackles," she purred, tucking a pile of papers into a bag. "You won't need them where we're going. You see what happens, happens, and there ain't no straight lines in the state of things."

I take every word and put it somewhere safe inside me. I wrestle every moment to the ground and leave it inside myself, with Future Boy, to come to terms with later. I want to ask her a thousand questions. I want to take her by the hand and forget the world keeps on turning round. I want to make myself worthy.

She takes her bag and moves for the door with a shimmy that makes cats look graceless. I step across her path, seize her arm. I feel her tense up, feel the breath she draws in, and wait for her to let it out. She doesn't: I take the moment. My heart takes control, and all the wrong things come out.

"Listen to me, but don't die laughing."

The wildcat smile pounces back. Her eyes meet mine and I feel alive like I've never felt alive before. Then she shrugs away from me and heads out of the door, a dozen unfulfilled promises floating in the gloom behind her.

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