throng

…everyone, everything and everything else

 

 

 

 

 

The gap left in the world, a hole, a hole so big it was gaping, a gaping hole, a hole just stood there gaping at Smith, like it was asking something of him, demanding something, this hole, like all holes do, because that’s all they are, things missing, gaps, nothing, you’re being gaped at by this nothing, this swelling black nothing staring at you, goading you. It was a glaring omission which could only have lasted for a few moments. Maybe a week. Depends on the weather. The season. What’s on telly. A quiet news week. Turn to page nineteen.

 

But gaps get filled in, invariably. Some gaps, really big gaps, those which gape, which are holes, which are glaring, they get filled in all the quicker. Because that’s gravity. That’s how it works. It fills holes. That’s why there are so few holes. Apart from the grand canyon. And it’s only a matter of time before that gets filled in. Erosion. Because by the end of the world the world will be flat, completely flat. A sphere. A flat sphere. Smooth. There’ll be no river valleys, glacial valleys, undulating hills, mole hills or mountains. There won’t even be any rivers. All the rivers will be dried up. Everything will be a river. All the water and the earth would be mixed together in a perfect mix. Which won’t be a river. More like mud. Everything will be mud. Everything will be the same. So that’s why there would be no more gaps. That’s the way the world’s headed. Anyone could see that. But so much for the obvious. So much for mud.

 

It’s like the untimely death of Tommy Kilpatrick. It was untimely. It was a gap. It had to be filled. It’s like a law of physics, chemistry and biology. All three. And mathematics too. Pure mathematics. Not one plus two plus three, and taking away, and multiplication, nothing you can do on your fingers, but the mathematics of infinity and zeros, empty planes and clean lines, geometry, trigonometry, the number of numbers, primes numbers and negative numbers. Logic demands it too. As did Smith. You can’t have such glaring omissions walking around the place like they were people or things or something like that. It just wouldn’t do. Tommy Kilpatrick wasn’t all he was cracked up to be anyway. Not like he was the middle of the x- and y- axis. Bang in the middle. Alpha and omega. Just a mirage. Like ice-cream in the desert. Just because he’s dead in the boot of Smith’s car doesn’t mean that everything has come to some kind of end, like the world’s ended, or everything’s falling apart, or the wheels have come off. Because things never come to an end. Not until all the rivers and soil get mixed together in a perfect mixture. And that’s millennia away. It’ll take a couple of millennia just to fill up the grand canyon alone. Never minds all those other mountains. Rocks.

 

But at the same time Smith had to acknowledge that now he was struggling with his demons. And his car was out of petrol. And the boot wouldn’t lock. Never did. For as long as he knew. And maybe longer. That boot wouldn’t lock. Just wouldn’t. So he couldn’t hide anything away. Nothing. Not even the corpse of Mr T Kilpatrick which would be revealed to the world with the morning sun and by the faintest of breezes. Or a falling acorn would just be enough. And there you are. The dead man in his boot. A dead man. In a car boot. Which was just one of his many demons. But really it was just a dead man in his boot.

 

And there’s that schoolgirl standing at the corner of the road, half hidden by the overgrown hedging. The concrete manifestation of his demons. Standing there like it’s the middle of the day. But it’s the middle of the night. Well, it’s dark. The day’s over. Sun’s gone. Light’s gone. Darkness is everywhere. Like darkness was something that had location and extension and mass. A piece of darkness. And that other girl, also in a school uniform, though a very disorganised uniform, like it wasn’t a uniform at all. Her white shirt stark in the darkness. Like it was a light. And then another schoolgirl. And another. Like school was over. Or about to begin. Like it wasn’t night time at all. Like it wasn’t dark. Like they weren’t demons but school girls. Like being haunted by tins of sardines, jars of mayonnaise, tables and chairs.

 

And some of them walked down the hill to the white light of the supermarket. And Smith followed them. Because this was something. Because darkness was nothing and this was something. Of course, darkness only hides things. But now they were being revealed. Three cars sped past down the hill. The girls were shrieking like it was the middle of the day. Laughing. What were they all laughing at? And pushing each other into the bushes. Disappearing. And then out they’d come again. Like they had returned from a long journey in the darkness and they hugged their friends like they hadn’t seen them for days. Hadn’t seen them for months. Years. It had taken them years to traverse the darkness of the bushes and trees. And such things they saw. Things that only darkness can hide. Things you wouldn’t believe. Couldn’t put it into words. Isn’t the words. Couldn’t even begin.

 

The girls were swallowed up by the brightness of the supermarket. The colour of everything. That’s what supermarkets are. The colour of everything. Because this is a tale of exile and belonging. Smith was exiled. And this was where he belonged. The supermarket opened its arms and welcomed him down its aisles. Spaghetti. Long grain rice. Corn flakes. Magazines. Toilet paper. Bread. Biscuits. Milk. Birthday cards. It’s like everything means something if you look at it long enough. But it wasn’t his birthday for another two months. And the longer he looked at the chocolate sauce the more it means. It means everything. But he didn’t like chocolate sauce. Too sweet. Hurts the teeth. Like those little metal sugar balls. Put them on cakes. Decorations. Candles. Whole cubic feet of sponge cake. Could fill a whole room if the bubbles were large enough. Because that’s all sponge cake was. The air between the mixture. Ninety percent gaps. And ten percent mixture. Like bread. Complete rip off. Buying air most of the time. Like you can sell the air you breathe. Theoretically you can sell anything. People will buy anything. In theory. And people love air. Can’t get enough of it. As long as they don’t feel they’re getting a raw deal. Wouldn’t give a brass razoo for a raw deal. Impossibility of a socialist utopia. Uncooked bread has fewer bubbles in it. Less gaps. Then put it in the oven and there you go. Which is the location of the soul. Fresh air inside you. In between the gaps in your muscles. In between cells. And every atom is a hundred percent nothing anyway. Practically empty space. Electrons are more or less nothing. And protons are like mice in a corn field. Get killed by crows. Magpies. Owls at night. A cup of red bush tea would recharge your metaphysical batteries. Should open the box with the kettle in it. Tea’s on aisle seventeen. Never seen anyone sit down and have something to eat here. Like it’s a church. Or a railway line. With everyone’s eyes strafing the shelves. Wouldn’t look at you. Just bump into you. Knock you down. Trolleys pushing through the corn. Barley. Rye. No one would look you in the eye. Everyone has something to hide.

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