Friday, July 14, 2006

Noisy Streets

“I don’t fucking care anymore.” he shouted to noone in particular, dazed in a smart business suit in the midday sun. His zig-zag walk down the pavement of Gloucester Road in Bristol was slow and hampered by his substance intake. His head was pushed out in front of the rest of his body, so he had to stop himself from tipping over every ten seconds by stopping. “You don’t care about me, and I don’t care about you.” he continued.

Everyone carried on walking, lifting their heads up the minimum amount so they could observe him but not gain his attention. An old man with a bright orange coat and scruffy blue trousers walked past and offered “Just calm it down eh mate?”

“I am calm” he replied with massively exaggerated arm movements; movements of someone who wasn’t calm. Movements of someone who didn’t fucking care anymore, but might of just hours ago. Who might have cared more than anyone about something or someone, but was drowning under the glare of those that lived around him. People who he usually ignored, who usually ignored him, his neighbours. They watched him now, and he courted their attention.

An empty can of Carlsberg rested in the middle of the pavement. He quickened his approach and swung his right leg towards it. He stopped, everyone stopped; they watched the squashed green can, they watched it move through the air and bounce off the leg of a ten year old girl. The girl started crying, the mother comforted her, then walked towards the man with fire and long nails. The man pushed his hand into his face. “I’m sorry!” he shouted, but she continued her approach. He rested against the wall, the mother reached him.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she shouted. He didn’t answer. She didn’t stop asking. He shook the more she shouted, scraping his head along the wall so it drew the sight of blood. She moved back, pulling her daughter who slipped to the pavement tears spilling, her hand covered her open mouth. The blood covered man pushed his hands hard against the wall, projecting himself backwards towards the road. The taxi was coming at pace as the man reached the curb. The taxi’s brakes were on full, the man continued backwards, his body convulsing as his panic took hold. The taxi skidded through and the man disappeared.

“I’m sorry." He sat on a traffic island, bouncing the back of his head against the blue circle with its white arrow.

The police came and slowly and somewhat ceremoniously walked the man to their car. As they did so a lowered Corsa drove by with its windows open, with two tiny, badly bearded 17 year olds sat in it and a song that looped the single word “Fuck” to a fast Garage drum-beat booming proudly from the stereo. The two police-man smiled, the bloodied taxi-dodger smiled, everyone smiled. A community finally, laughing at wankers in a purple car.

The police car drove off slowly, and as it moved from sight, the sound of busses and car-horns and motorbikes. Silence again.