Wednesday, March 22, 2006



Down there in the big black beyond the turnstiles and the ticket machines and the spies, with the grinding pain and the emptiness and all the money gone, the grey and red trains stop and go, stop and go, all in an endless revolution.

Picking up and dropping off: they're just like the boys; making it and losing it, nothing singing, nothing seeing, aware only of the good and the sleep and some hidden sense of the possible in the dark; some soft sensibility of the existence of solace in the act of leaving.

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

The concourse: middle ground and no man's land. This is where you find her, networking, demanding money with promises, drinking, loving, seeking security or searching for pain; like a screamer out for sentiment and babies, as if all of those are one and the same thing.

See the boy by the coffee stand? That gesture that starts from within becomes a head movement and then a beckoning smile.

And now he is here at the subway mouth; the falling angel. He swims deperately in the smell of urine and tobacco before the panic costs him his breath and he starts to drown in a wonderful redolence of fear and power and expensive leather coats - now safe in the big black, half way to Knightsbridge or Earls Court, Fulham or Chelsea - and asphyxiate in the collective miasma of all the subways of the world.

She greets him like an old acquaintance and he invents a name for her from the air. A man to whom she has been talking shuffles his feet and coughs awkwardly in obvious discomfort. His hands attempt to shield his features from the beam of the overhead camera: he knows something's not quite right but he fails to walk away; the boy knows the girl's not quite right and he also fails.

She fascinates him; he is tranfixed by her presence, hypnotised by her strange accent: Greek or Italian, he thinks, but with east London vowel sounds.

And then she is offering him a drink from a bottle of cheap spirit mixed with something sweet and carbonated; but the neck hardly reaches his lips before she snatches it back with terrible laughter and hands too large to be female.... And a sensation of weird sex, existing alone, devoid of emotion and dangerous for its own sake, entraps him, and he sees the demon.

For a moment he is repulsed but it draws him back and holds him close and firm. He cannot break away but grabs the man's arm and drags him closer 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 as it growls, "Pay her, pay her, give her the money, give her some money now or I'll mess you up for good, I'll kill you, you bastard, pay her! Pay me. Pay us. Give us all your money, everything you have. Don't look at the camera! Don't look at that frigging camera...."

And his coat collar clenched tightly now in both fists as the boy head-butts him, then again, and again, and pulls him by his hair deeper into the subway out of the range of the camera and the passers-by, the hair tearing out from his scalp and the screaming and sobbing echoing in the boy's head, and then butts him again, and once more, and there is a sickening crack as the man's nose bursts and his head hits the wall, a swath of blood slashing across the white tiles as he slides to the ground with the girl's big demon claw ripping the wallet out of his coat and the boy finishing him off with a final, bloody kick in the head.

They exchange a glance and leave the subway by the stairs up to the street. As they reach the top she links her arm in his and, smiling, gently kisses his cheek.

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