Page 10

  “Goddamn,” says I, hands on hips.
   The trudge back has been long and the day has grown darker with it. What the fuck was I thinking. Standing atop a tangled and tiny flyover, I wince at the memory of me standing atop a rise. There I’d been rolling my hands around a ball of nothing because I had been attempting to invoke… powers. I should have invoked a car or a taxi. I start the trudge down.

   The ugly roadway is joined by two on either side that rise up from under the flyover, and they all squeeze into a lesser roadway between stolid, three-story apartment buildings and, paradoxically, collections of palm trees. Coming off that long walk through the open, sliding down here between this urban outskirts blight is both disheartening and welcoming. I’ll at least be able to lie down once I get back.
   Meanwhile, I am damn thirsty.
   So I’m watching about and thinking even the grubby snow looks tempting and then there it is. At street level on the right, half hidden behind the hump of a steeply rising driveway between the buildings, huddles a darkened convenience store.
   And like any other invitation, the front doors, poster-emblazoned glass doors on rails, have been left slid all the way open.
   That better not have been like that when I came past the first time.


Page 8

   I finally find a place. Outside the school, down a deserted street, up some stairs. What they have back here is a tent town. Should be the unnecessarily expansive grounds of the admin building for defunct factory behind. Closed then, abandoned now, although who knows for sure in all these makeshift alleys. Grey noon acts like a cover for the whole place.
   How do, I say.
   The man inside this tiny place on a corner looks out at me.
   That hurt? He says.
   What hurt? I say.
   I have a gash up the inside of my left forearm. I bound it when it happened but it needs attention. I keep both fists on the table. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Never trust a man with a moustache, that’s all I know. He has a bushy black handlebar under a round nose and small eyes with pretty lashes.
   How about..? I gesture at his wall, a grimy tarpaulin and a set of shelves with plastic containers holding sad collections of various vegetables.
   He shakes his head, though he stands in his shadows before a black stove. I don’t want to step in too far. I’d be cornering him in that little place he has made for himself in there – everything darkened by grime and cooking oil.
   I do smell meat cooking though.