I’d spent the evening drinking wine and sketching, writing and dancing around my house with all the lights off and all the windows open, as a keen but cool summer breeze blasted through and I danced with my curtains, against my curtains and around my curtains. Barefooted, in pin stripes and a black vest, I hear the laughter outside and watched as the light sank away and the darkness filled the spaces until there was no more space, just black lit dimly with faded neon yellow, like the final performance of an old and desperate actor.
I left the house, withdrew some money and looked for drink and eyes. Walking the narrow streets in the dark, I could only focus on a specific point in front of me and suddenly all the past melted away into nothing and I walked alone inside a dark tunnel that is rumoured to be haunted. As I left, emerging into streetlight, I threw up a sign and pumped the air under the watchful eye of rattling scaffolding.
Crossing the river I saw men in shirts and their best shoes, with women in their dresses that tried to escape from their bodies and find another owner or perhaps just return to their hangers. Pubs and clubs staggering with the drunk and disorderly; I walked in an exaggerated zig-zag just to fit in, and suddenly people stopped staring at the clip-clop boy with his bag and his beard, no longer a red ant in a black ant nest. People clinched and pressed. Lots of action will be had tonight. A couple entwined, don’t ask me why, and their friends muttered loudly about how both of them already have partners. Which would beg the question, where are the partners? Someone could probably get a few paragraphs out of that… if they cared.
I decided against drink and took a quiet path along a cobbled, deserted road and stared out across to the pier, the lights like crucified fireflies on the road to Rome, reflecting in the rippling harbour. Above me, a bowl of stars and wispy cloud, and the bones of dead sailors poking out from the eroding cliffs – shins, wrists and crowns. Nothing to be heard except the gentle murmur of Good Times and Fine Wines across the far side of the harbour and the languid, rhythmic shuffle of the sea against the sand, always grabbing and clawing and retreating again.
I took the path down to the shore and walked along the beach towards a yellow flame. As I walked past, dressed all in black and probably a darker shadow flickering the lights of the town, they called to me. I walked over and they offered me a stone seat around their bonfire. Two men and a young lady, spliffed up with cans in hand, wanting to know what I was doing out here? When I told them the truth – I was just out for a walk – they didn’t believe me. If I’d told them I was out to cut throats, they might’ve laughed. They might’ve accepted it.
The warmth of the fire they’d expertedly assembled felt nice against the colder blanket of the night. I told them my name about six times, and they tried to link me to every Jimmi in the entire area. It didn’t even dissuade them when I told them I wasn’t from around here. They asked me questions, I’d start to answer, and then they’d cut me off mid-sentence to ask another. Above us, I could see the silhouette of a man on the balcony of his expensive holiday cottage. One of the three shouted up to him, asking him for his…. wifi password? Whatever. It’s not like that man would ever know what it is like to light a bonfire on the beach, smoke weed and drink beer, watching the stars turn…. not anymore than the guy sitting next to me would know about a world without wifi.
Eventually I made my excuses and left. I liked all of them, for the brief moment that I knew them, especially the chap directly in front of me who – coincidentally – was also not from here, was also a stranger in a strange town. I got up, brushed the sand from my arse. They bade me a farewell, and asked for my Facebook. I shouted goodbye back to them, shouted that I didn’t have a Facebook and walked back into the darkness and the sea from whence I had come.