MY LIFE ON THE RUN
I'm under investigation in that town I wrote. An arrest, announce the latest bulletins, is imminent. No surprise that the streets tonight are silence stretched next to silence, like strings no-one dares touch for fear of the wrong music. My people have slipped inside themselves, barred the door, taken a light to a shuttered room. There's not a word to be heard about me, which to the trained ear says it all.
A car slows, engine cut, lights extinguished; the top agent, best man for the job, deft, implacable, torch and weapon in capacious pockets, is out and about in my street plan. He has the scent all right, though I've had long enough for my precautions: safe suburb, safe flat, safe beard, safe decade.
This end of town is promising, I imagine him thinking. I sense the scrutiny of a man who's seen it all before. Who senses me. The notebook's out. Statue, pointing, loaf in hand – the father? Floral clock, name distinct in alpines – the mother? Plaque outside the Road To Ruin Inn - the brother? Even a children's playground, deserted at this hour...
He's purposeful now, the direction unerring, getting close. Torchlight and footsteps cross the courtyard, pause by the puddle that reflects half-remembered constellations, botched architecture. A deep breath. Closer still. A knock at the door. Bang to rights. I open it. It's me out there, as expected, but older, harder. Worn. We've got each other covered. We're not impressed.
You could have done better, we both say.
Copyright © Alasdair Paterson 2016
Having published The Floating World (Pig Press) and Brief Lives (Oasis Books) in the 1980s, Alasdair Paterson returned to writing with on the governing of empires (Shearsman, 2010), Brumaire and Later (Flarestack Poets), in arcadia (Oystercatcher) in 2011, and Elsewhere or Thereabouts, (Shearsman 2014). His latest pamphlet, My Life As A Mad King, was published this year by Oystercatcher. His work has previously appeared in issues 2 and 8 of Molly Bloom.