Hands deep in pockets I sidestep the chewing gum and the endings, the smashed cups and food wrappers, taking care to step on the ballast rather than the slimy wood of the old railway. Ahead I can see the multiple spines of concrete that run here and there over the convergence of roads, bridges over the lost circulating and standing still. Climbing over the barbed wire and through the nettles, I leave the pain behind and aim for banality.
The overpass hovers above the mess like a dead spider – straight arms spreading out as the multiple roads weave and wind to the whirlpool below. I look over a rusted railing, in between two large groups of flowers, and see nice cars with distressed men and distressed cars with nice women inside. As I lean over the side, admiring the many shades of black and grey someone spits on the back of my shoe. This isn’t an accident; we are both alone on this dusty tributary, but I have been chosen to be defiled. I swing around to face his back and call him terrible things. He swings around on his heel and marches towards me, as the shiny bugs below all nuzzle and beep at each other.
We exchange words and I grab his lapels. I have a blade in my pocket but I’m reluctant to use it unless I feel my life is in danger. He’s twice my size and height, but he just spat on my ankle… I know that I am likely to face a trip to hospital and nothing more. I swing for his temple and aim a foot towards his kneecap and miss both. His first blow knocks my jaw out of its socket and I sink to my knees. I know that I won’t die today, but I need to be as dead as possible for the next five minutes or so.
Lying on the damp floor, I can feel old chewing gum sticking to my jeans. I can look through the metal railings of the overpass and I can see commuters and rude boys, hairdressers and priests, all doing their best not to look up as this guy kicks the shit out of me. My nose is already broken. The next blow costs me a couple of ribs. I keep the blade in my pocket though. He’ll be tired soon. He’ll realise it is time to go.