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spugletspeaks

Kate Woodward is telling tales again

Month

April 2014

Death of an ordinary man

There, just across the square, sitting with two small boys and a bottle blonde wife – who’s washing down nachos with a jug of sangria – sits an ordinary looking man. He’s the normal age for a man with two boys, wearing the normal holiday shorts with the usual blue-checked, short-sleeved shirt. He’s clean shaven with a regular haircut; an unremarkable height and weight. There’s nothing, at all, to set him apart from the crowd. Unless, that is, you count the red dot of the laser sight that plays, sometimes on the left, breast pocket of that unremarkable shirt and sometimes, smack in the middle of that plain forehead.
Now you’ve seen it, nothing is normal. You toy for a while with the notion that one of the boys, in their long navy T-shirts, has borrowed, from Dad, the little gadget he uses when he’s making his PowerPoint presentations; but the boys are at some other game involving paper napkins, cruets and the lining up of knives and forks. You turn to the wife, but she’s somewhere, far away, enjoying her sangria fuelled fantasy. You start to look at the other diners, the black-shirted waiters and finally, you look around the shuttered windows that surround you at first and second floor height. All seems normal there too; until a moment of movement, west to your south. A first floor window opens – just enough inches for a nose and lips, and an index finger, held vertically against those lips. Now you’re silenced. The shutter closes, almost completely, leaving just enough space for the barrel of a weapon. Your ordinary man, in his ordinary shirt, slumps, only a little, in his seat, as his wife stares into her dreams and the boys continue their game.
A few seconds pass, maybe a minute, until returning from her brief sojourn, the wife spots the trickle of blood that runs from the hole in her husband’s skull and screams. The police are called, an ambulance. The boys are huddled away. A small crowd gathers, some peering over shoulders, some shaking heads before sneaking away. And just before the police seal off the square, with hastily called in officers and blue and white tape, you too slip away leaving a payment for your meal tucked under a half drunk bottle of Rioja.
You stroll back to your, efficiently small, hire car, making make a mental note to check the newspapers tomorrow: to blunder through the incomprehensible words of the Spanish press, until you find the couple of column inches that describe the unexplained shooting at 11.00 p.m. in the evening of the Day of the Festival of St James of tourist X, who was dining, at the time, with his beloved wife and twin sons at the Café Murada in the Placeta des Verdures. As you pull away from the kerb in the neat little car, that’s when you see, as your hands break the beam, the small red dot that plays across your chest.

Below

Below

I have fought my bed, this night, for sleep.
Elastic hours that stretched and yawned
have heckled, tossed and heaped on scorn.
And I, in forcing breath to slow, and eyes to close,
have battled bed-sheets, barking limbs
and longed to slip
below,
below.

I have fought my bed, this night, for sleep.
Against my will – a spring armed foe,
swathed softly, trading blow for blow.
And I, in lying, legs just so, must hold the line;
keep back those massing, legion fears
that day break drives
below,
below.

I have fought my bed, this night, for sleep,
and watched the clock count rest’s escape
from pillows pummelled hard as hate.
And I must bid all dreams goodbye; give up the fight,
for night’s sly troops, though fallen back,
are digging in –
below.

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