Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Fruits of the Rebellious Mind - 03/03/2013


          And still more boxes, boxes, endless boxes. The end of another day, dear Kitty, and a day filled with pointless "putting away". But I suppose it has been ultimately satisfying.
          As I look out of the window this evening I am horrified to see a huge may bug on the window sill - one of the only insects I cannot, and have never been able to abide. It took me right back to the last thing I said to Anthony before we left the clearing.
         "You have a may bug on your back," I had said to him so many years ago.
         From the moment he fell into my life through the patio doors that day, I had no option but to listen for an hour or more, slack-jawed, to the condensed version of Anthony Esposito's unfortunate life. He talked non-stop, giving me no opportunity to interrupt. He talked about the sad demise of his parents, he talked about a domineering uncle at whose hand he had suffered many beatings and even more threats. His uncle, a violent and unpredictable man. His uncle, who had supplemented his irregular and ill-gotten income by touring care homes for the elderly and making despicable, secretive threats. His uncle, with a powerful right hand and powerfully weak sense of morality.
          Anthony went on to explain how he had approached the police in a bid to end some of the suffering that his uncle was inflicting on his latest frail victim. His uncle had been arrested but in a cruel twist of fate, the elderly victim had passed away while he was in police custody. The charges were dropped and he was released just a few hours ago.
          The young man before me told me that his uncle was looking for him with a knife - that he had spotted him jumping over the back fence of the house and would knock on every door in the lane if it meant finding him. I believed him. I looked into his eyes and I believed every word he told me without so much as a passing doubt.
         There was a loud knock at the door which made us both jump.
          I looked at Anthony sitting on the floorboards in exactly the same spot he had fallen in on. His eyes were wide enough to see a good section of white between iris and eyelid.
          "Shhh," he said shaking his head and screwing up his nose, "Hide me."
          My heart started to pound as my body slipped into automatic and took over, acting independently of the frantic brain. I bundled Anthony into the pantry, closed the door on him and straightened my pony tail in the hall mirror. Opening the front door revealed a stocky, tanned, 40-odd-year-old in shiny tracksuit bottoms and a white vest. He had dark, wiry hair and a thick, handlebar moustache. Half way down his neck the line of where he shaved suddenly stopped and a forest of horrid chest hair imposed, thick and tangled, creating this ridiculous boundary in 3-D.
          "Have you seen Tony?" he barked gruffly, making me feel icredibly uncomfortable with a top-to-toe stare.
          "Good morning to you, too, Mr Esposito," I replied indigninantly, "I wasn't aware that we were dispensing of the common civilities of everyday greetings or that a calling gentleman should no longer state their business politely to the householder while extending them the courtesy of a smile. However, enough of that, it shall do no good. My father is busy with Sergeant O'Rourke in the sitting room at the moment, but I shall certainly drag him away from that to answer any questions you might have for him."
          I played a cool bluff and decided to stick to it no matter what.
          "Never mind," he grumbled, turning on the top step, "if you see him, tell him I am coming for him."
          "Certainly Mr Esposito, it was nice to see you, too," I said smiling disingenuously and nodding my head.
         I closed the front door and marched back to the pantry, opening the door quickly to find Anthony, as casual as you like, eating a pancake.
          "How can you eat when all this is happening?" I yelled. "What have you got me into? Look at the position you have put me in. You have to phone the police."
          "I don't have a very good relationship with the police," he said, "It might do more harm than good. I'm very sorry to have got you involved in all this though, I didn't intend it."
          "I'm going to have to ask you to leave, please."
          "I understand and I'm sorry to have troubled you."
           As I put my hand to the key in the back door to unlock it, Mr Esposito's face suddenly appeared looming  in the glass behind it. The shaft of light which had been raining through the door was suddenly blocked out by the broad shoulders of the intruder and shocked both Anthony and myself into jumping back.
          "Go away," I shouted as his eyes found Anthony and his hand began to rattle the handle of the door.
          Anthony grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me through the hall towards the front door. As he did, I heard a brick smash through the glass of the back door accompanied by the sound of boot and wood.
          I was terrified - I had suddenly been plunged into a violent nightmare, with some hairy psychotic foreigner smashing through the back of my house towards me. I took one last look at Anthony's face as we barrelled out of the front door together and started bounding as fast as we could up the lane.
          All my school years I have run and I kept pace with the older boy easily, though we ran faster than most people could, spurred by adrenalin, shock and fear. We must have ran for about 4 miles and found ourselves at The Ponds and away from the eyes of houses and cars, we stopped to catch our breath. The Ponds seemed like a natural sanctuary, but moreso for Anthony. As we walked on a little-used path, he suddenly veered off to the right into the bushes pulling me through the thick undergrowth where the parkland meets the woods and there opened a little clearing, completely enclosed, canopied and surrounded. Two threadbare, green deckchairs sat on a tarpaulin sheet and an upturned wooden box sat on an old palette.
          "I'm sorry," he said once more as he sat on one of the chairs, "I'm so sorry to have got you involved."
           "I'm not involved in anything," I said. "I shall simply catch my breath here for a moment and then seek out the nearest officer of the law. Your uncle shall be arrested and my home shall be made secure."
          "If there's anything I can do. I'm sorry about your back door."
          "You should have been placed with social services years ago. You shall have a brighter future without this millstone of an uncle round your neck."
          "He'll always come back."
          "Then you should get far enough away from him so as to make that impossible."
           "That's easier said than done."
          "You have to speak to the police with me, you're no rebel. Don't pretend to be."
          "No, I'm just a walking misdemeanor, but you'd know, wouldn't you?" he laughed derisively.
           I suddenly felt my cheeks go red with a burst of rage for his stupidity and lack of awareness of the gravity of the situation.
          "You wouldn't know what to rebel against," I told him curtly.
          "No, of course not, he said. Not the authority of the assumed few who impose upon our personal freedom, not the obscenely rich who prosper at the expense of others, not the pressing inanity of modern life and its pointless trappings. Not my uncle's belt? But what about you? You would know what to rebel against? What would that be? The tendency to be some sort of rich, obnoxious, sociophobe?"
          "I believe that only two of those words accurately describe me."
          "Oh, but it must simply be the classic then - the parents - you would have us all rebel against Mummy and Daddy and the fact that they don't recognise your true brilliance as a human being and are positively distracted to the point of neglecting you."
          "I don't like you, Anthony Esposito," I lied quietly as we made our way back through the undergrowth and to the path.
          "I don't like you either," was his reply.
          "You have a may bug on your back," I said to him - and he ignored me.
           I remember it like yesterday, him ignoring me, but the lines on my face must be ruled by a harsher concept of time.
          And now I refuse to ignore that ghastly may bug on the window sill any longer, so I sign off, Kitty, to arm myself with copious amounts of tissues, and say goodnight.



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