15.8.06 | "Would You Like Death With Your Latte?"
I'm late. I'm always late. I explode from the bus into the city street in a swirling mass of black. My tatty trench-coat flowing behind me, my matching black stomp-boots furiously gripping the pavement and propelling me towards my desination like they really mean it. I compare my watch to the one on the high street in the oft-anticipated hope that i might have been transported back through time this once and thus arrive exactly on time for my coffee with da Pumpkin. Bit time remains stoically keen to pursue its own goals.
"You got any spare change, sir?"
I stop dead.
His face is vaguely recognizable, but then so is any homeless vagrants on Manchesters city streets. You get so used to seeing them that their scruffy anxious faces blend into each others after a while. Some people find it easy to ignore them and the begging. Some berate them angrily for not having a job, for not being clean, for not being normal. Some people give them a few coppers, or a bit o' silver that they have weighing down their trouser pockets. That's what i do.
"Sure. How are yer doin'? It's a bit nippy today, innit? Here ye go".
I stare him into his desperate eyes as i drop my coinage into his cup. I've seen conmen doing their begging rounds on these streets before. He looks for real. Today... i don't care. If he needs the money for "whatever", then it's his.
I give him everything i have. It's one of those days. I want to hug him, too. But let that pass. He looks incredibly grateful. I move on to my appointment, feeling the wind blowing through me like i was a ghost.
I meet Pumpy in the book-store and we get our respective coffees. Latte for her and a yummy moccha for me. I torment her a little with a loud curmudgeonly Devonshire accent as we move towards a table by the window. She rolls her eyes and gives me a pained expression. No-one else pays any attention whatsoever.
She tells me about how she hates her boss. I listen, but my mind has never turned away from you all day. She knows what i'm thinking about, and takes my hand in hers and for a little while we sit in silence.
You had been drinking coffee too, before you were engulfed in a horror of white noise and orange flame, then drowned in the darkness of dust and broken glass, and then the more impenetrable blackness of death.
When they found your body, you were still wreathed in grey dust, like a cerement shroud. Your new-born son held tightly in your hand. Your wedding ring glinting through the murk. You were 28. This is your story. Just one amongst the hundreds and hundreds... just one who had to die to suit the purposes of macho politicians and radicals who are more concerned about their popularity rather than doing what is right.
I did not know you. But i miss you. Your absence is an ache in my soul. Coffee and witty repartee... seem so much harder without you.