Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Was it gunpowder?

The man cast him a suspicious glance. No matter, he was used to that. It meant nothing, just that he wasn't welcome not with his hair in that state and eyes like his; the movement of each independent of the other. His mother had been told that the infant Petro could be fixed, and there followed two years of optical conditioning. But the only apparent outcome of the treatment was a resentment, grown seemingly of nothing, within the formerly kind hearted woman. Petro had tried, he really had, but he just couldn't progress. He pitied her even come the day when she lifted a rucksack onto his back and, in tears, pushed him onto a train. In his had: A ticket and a scribbled address.

He had followed the man from Bow to Knightsbridge and only been spotted when the man turned around suddenly after leaving his money in a cash machine. Petro had let himself get too close. He looked the man square on with his left eye, and down at the pavement with the right, as he walked past, then he ducked into a cornershop and pretended to browse computer magazines. Petro had never used a computer as far as he knew.

The address to which his mother had sent him all those years ago didn't exist. It had once, judging by the mismatched brickwork which echoed a doorway. The whole building had now been knocked through to form a sparse, desolate library within which slept an ancient librarian. Evidence of life came in the form of a sneeze and a billowing cloud of powder from her doughy cheeks. As his face emerged through the mist she looked from eye to eye and nodded in approval. Without a word she handed him a list and waved him away.

Through the window of the cornershop he watched the man pass. There was a tinge to his skin which suggested that in his hairier days he had been ginger. This made sense. Yes, this figured. He was quite tall though. Petro pocketed a magazine and set off once again. The man's back was slightly hunched and one arm swung free while the other locked a newspaper to his side. He mounted the steps of a palacious terrace and passed inside. Petro approached the door and put his ear to it. A radio was already on, bouncing the news off gleaming walls and high ceilings. Through a window to the side Petro could make out a large kitchen, the walls of which were lined with from which hung hardware of all shapes and sizes, a culinary armoury. Petro's tummy rumbled and he sat back against a railing. From his pocket he produced the computing magazine, which he cast aside, and the list, faded and fingered. He opened it up delicately so as not to tear it at the folds and raised the names to the sunlight which reflected off the sparkling kitchen wall behind him.

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