Down there in the big black beyond the turnstiles and the ticket machines and the spies, the grey trains stop and go and stop and go.

Always in endless revolution, they pick up and drop off and pick up or don’t, just like the boys, the endless boys, making it and losing it, with the grime and the pain and the  emptiness and all the money gone, lost or wasted or cheated away.

Picking up and dropping off, picking up and dropping off.  The natural rhythm of the trains. They don’t care, they don’t sing, they don’t see, they are just used by bodies to get from A to B.

Some soft hidden knowledge, some weird sense of a hidden possibility in the dark, a soft sensibility, a possibility of the existence of solace in the act of leaving, someone to kiss you goodbye with the promise of their return, a new beginning in the face of a new arrival. It all seems to exist here but you can’t tell why.

On the street there is no promise. You hit back and you lash out, at a thought or a face or a lie, to humour the beast, all the while knowing that nothing that hits or slashes or harms you in any way will avoid you. For avoidance is not the will of demons.

The concourse is middle ground. The concourse is no man’s land. The concourse is purgatory. Here the stationary expiate their sins while they wait for movement.

Here he finds her.

She’s networking, begging for pills, demanding money with promises, drinking, loving, seeking security, searching for pain like a screamer out for sentiment and babies, as if all those are one and the same.

The gesture that starts from within becomes a look and then a beckoning smile and a head movement that cannot be ignored and then he is there, like a falling angel at the mouth of the subway, swimming in the smell of urine and tobacco.

Panic costs him his breath and he begins to drown in that wonderful redolence of fear and power and expensive leather coats, now safe in the big black half way to Knightsbridge, Earls Court, Fulham, Chelsea…

He asphyxiates in the stink of the sweat and the breath and the alcohol that is the miasma of all the subways of the world, in the fog of which the same events are occurring or are about to occur and will endlessly repeat.

She greets him as if he is an old acquaintance and he invents a name for her out of the air while a man to whom she has been talking shuffles his feet and coughs.

His hands obscure his features from the beam of the overhead cameras and passers by.  He knows the situation isn’t right and he senses his own fear but fails to walk away, just as the boy knows that she isn’t quite right and he also fails, because she fascinates and transfixes him with her swaying rhythmic motion and strange accent, which he thinks may be Greek or Italian but with East London vowel sounds.

And then she’s offering a drink from a bottle of cheap brandy mixed with something sweet and slightly carbonated, but the neck hardly reaches his lips before she snatches it back with terrible laughter and hands too large to be feminine, then it’s in her mouth and a sense of weird sex, devoid of tenderness and existing alone and dangerous for its own sake entrances him and he sees the demon.

For a moment he is repulsed but it draws him back and holds him close and firm and he cannot break away. He grabs the man’s arm and pulls him close, too close, so that their faces almost touch and he can smell the fear on the guy’s breath and the power in his own and in the demon’s voice he’s screaming:

PAY HER, PAY HER, GIVE HER THE F**KING MONEY, GIVE HER
SOME F**KING MONEY NOW, F**KING PAY HER OR I’LL F**KING KILL
YOU, I’LL MESS YOU UP FOR GOOD, I’LL F**KING KILL YOU F**KING
C**T, PAY HER, PAY ME, PAY US, PAY HER, GIVE US ALL YOUR
F**KING MONEY, DON’T LOOK AT THE CAMERA, DON’T YA LOOK AT
THAT F**KING CAMERA YOU F**KING SICK TWISTED RICH BASTARD…

And the man’s coat collar clenched tightly now in both the boy’s hands as he head-butts him once then twice then once again and pulls him by the hair deeper into the subway out of range of the camera with the hair ripping from his scalp and the sound of his own screaming and the man sobbing and choking in panic echoing in his head and the boy head-butts him again and again until there is a sickening crack as the man’s nose bursts and the back of his head hits the wall and a ragged swathe of blood explodes across the white tiles before he slides to the ground with the girl’s big hand and horrible nails tearing the wallet from his coat pocket and the boy finishing him off with a final, fatal kick in the head.

They exchange a glance and leave the subway by the stairs up to the street. At the top of the stairs she links her arm into his and smiles.

He flicks a blur from his eye with his middle finger and a bloody tear dissipates in the night air.

Advertisements