Old Fashioned

He passed ghosts in the street. Some leered at him whilst others glanced briefly, then grinned at themselves at some inside joke. The day was in full swing but he felt as though there were an enormous veil across the sky, blanketing the universe from influencing the comings and goings of misery, substance abuse and commerce. He saw spectres, like him, with shocked expressions, as though they knew what they were but would not, or could not, acknowledge it. There were abandoned prams outside pubs.
Someone had painted frowning eyes on the back window of their car. He thought, ‘everything wears an angry expression, unless it’s defeated, dead, or dying.’
It had been months since he’d, disbelieving, seen the further degradation of the animal he once loved. Now collapsed, its legs atrophied beyond recognition, wheezing its final breaths, it was on the threashold of devastating the world at the same time that it left it.
‘She’s been like that since you left,’ said his friend. ‘I thought you’d want to see her before…’ and his friend looked away. And he knew that his friend was crying.
As he shut the car door he heard the shot. For a second he imagined it was the car door. In the pit of his stomach, though, he knew that it wasn’t the car door.

*    *    *

The town reached up to the sky like a forest of dying hands. The stubbornness inspired him, in a sick way.


He laced on the gloves and examined his opponent. And he realised, had realised all along, like a bad ending (a bad ending) that the opponent was his unborn child. And that it, he, was in for a good, old-fashioned arse-kicking.


The Pinch Test

He smelt of washing powder and sick. He drank from a crystal glass and talked about nothing but himself. It was as though the world owed him something.

I don’t know. The way he was…a kind of rat…in formaldehyde.

He dressed for cold weather.

‘Cause he expected it?