Last Ride of the Day

Rise, when it is impossible to do so.

When you must walk, run to the horizon.

And always towards the light.

Bunny wakes, deep within a framework of silence and darkness, sheets familiar with smell and age. His flat on the edge of the City, towers open fire, endlessly changing, a horizon that has chanted constantly as the city fathers tear down and rebuild over and over again. It is a Monday morning in The City and that means not much more to him, nor less.

At his favourite coffee place he has words with Gabriella behind the counter, she who came from Puglia many years ago. They have some kind of odd kinship, not quite fitting in, but in The City, who does? There are portraits of motorcycle racers and boxers behind the bar and a shiny silver Gaggia machine that dispense coffee to the passing punters who go on and upwards into The City.

Magnolia paint and he remembers as with the taste of a lemon cake on his tongue with the coffee a long-ago touch in the woodlands to the west .... 

because it is there, the west, the Marches, that the weird stuff happens. He has seen the dogs already, the strange pink creatures flooding Broad Street in the early hours when even the last drunken revellers have gone; and the Sroon standing maliciously and smoking by the dull canals. 

Years ago. An old man, Ian Taylor Gray, who lived on top of an old control tower alongside the Worcester canal, in a tent. He looked down on Taylor Gray from a tower block that no longer stood. Later (after demolition) he and his mates worked in the BT Tower in the Jewellery Quarter. No viewing platform because after all who would want to look at The City? 

Or was there another reason? Bunny often wondered. Long after Taylor Gray was snarkeled out of his fastness, and who knows where he went, wandering Water Street and the alleyways up to Snow Hill there to find a room at the YMCA there ... one night Gray staggered round to Bunny's lodging and told him,

They aren't the end game, you know. Owners change. Companies shift and what is favoured one day is not the next. 

Gray and Bunny wandered up Constitution Hill towards Hampton Street and the Church and the Lord Clifden and that. A dead cat lay in a fork of the road. Gray could determine whether a particular sign had been shifted and saw the loss of a neon light on the sandwich shop on the Gun Quarter side as a source of mourning to be expunged by a pint in the nearest hostelry. Two days later the dead cat was gone, but forever that stretch of street was known as Dead Cat Hill.

The sky was turning crimson with the dawn when Bunny returned home. There had been such times and he could not speak of them. A band called the Allah Bunnies, from Hull (or had it been Hull? exactly), their tiny firecat of a vocalist taking the world down with her and letting it burn ... pints of Brew XI and the girls and the boys and the rest of it. A man from the Congo speaking righteously of the war in his country and the shame that brought on the world. 

Pacing the streets with Ian Taylor Gray gave Bunny a new insight into their reality. Here you could find food. Here there might be drink. By the dull canal at the foot of Constitution Hill where it became Old Snow Hill, the street drinkers. The Salvation Army only don't mess with them. Round the back of St Chad's, and the free medical service. But as is the nature of these friendships, he vanished into the night and who knew where he might be, even in a tight knit community like this?

The End

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