Number 79 – GJ Hart

“Why must we go?”

“Because we must.”

“How… must we?” 

“We must never forget.”

“I need to forget. There’s nothing more beautiful.”

“Surely?”

“The choosing to contemplate – even briefly – a leaving behind forever.”

“A timetable?”

“Yes, I suppose, a timetable.”

At the bus stop, at the corner of Burnt Street, Chester and Mouse, standing shoulder to shoulder, boxing the lugs of the shadows loitering beneath lamps, till Chester turns, bears gums, but Mouse ain’t listening, knows the drill, ninety-fives his neck and starts a conversation with Jake circa 1988.

“No kind of home.”

“A skittish constitution and no artist.”

“A fucking con-artist!” 

“That suit, hired so often who else would ever wear it!”

“Adored the Red Mary.”

“Liver the size of a throw cushion.”

“Never said a word.”

“Can you smell that stink. The morning?”

“Rotten fox. A smell to light our way home…”

“Snot and wind.”

“Like a failing mind, it soils everything.”

“A map is needed perhaps.”

“For life, in general?”

“Thought I’d found it years ago: an intersection – two roads: one towards love, the other hate. Fucking fool I was.”

“This town or that, what does it matter.”

“An idiom is required, an adage, something neat.”

“Only give to those who ask for nothing?”

“How he gave.”

“Down to the atoms.” 

“Lies!”

“Fat as a barrister’s watch.”

“Try: never bite the hand that feeds?”

“Predictable.”

“Predictable? I’ll rip it from the wrist, bake it, baste it, throw the remains to the mange!”

“How can it be – twenty years now – you remember the debris – bedroom, bathroom – and vanishing night after night, searching for the love they’d locked away.”

“Try not to – filthy, everything sinking into shit – twenty years ago you say – I’ll admit it, blood was scrubbed that night.”

“But was symmetry achieved?”

“Never perfect, but later, blind with opiates, the same blindness I searched for years later, in a different place.”

“Gasping for the same air?”

“It matters not.”

“Matters not?”

“Rubbish, what we hang upon our walls – a mirror, a clock, in whatever style this season’s jab-nosed notion dictates.”

“No doubt then.”

“You remember the Jag, big as a barge.”

“Redder than eczema.”

“I was driving and ahead, a sky so incredible and inscrutable, I’m not ashamed to say I cried.”

“Like a child?”

“A drain, jimmied by roots.”

“No shame here.”

“It spoke, clear as news: you must lose me to love me, ignore me to to know me.”

“A crime, to turn realities into dreams.”

“Of course and others could see it, but at that moment,  it felt intimate – all mine. By the time I’d arrived, it was too late.”

“Feels late now.”

“We must go.”

“But why?” 

“In fucking memory.” 

“Or wait perhaps, for the Number 80, 81, the 82. Any will take us far enough.”

“Understand: ignorance may be consolation, but at a particular point, the past is lost forever.”

“So let us hope the driver delivers us some distance past it.”

“A fool always falls twice.”

“Life is such a terribly sad business.”

“Told you!”

“Promise you’ll never leave me?”

“Where would I go?”

“Where will I go?”

“But we must.”

“In memory?”

“Yes, in memory.”

 

GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, the Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.

 

Image via Pixabay

 

cabinet of heed contents issue 16

 

 

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