SHORT STORIES: Beverley Road

Between A and B were many things. Some charming, some dangerous, some confusing. All dark. He could have taken the bus, but had little cash and wanted the fresh air. it was a risk to walk the mile north to the suburbs, but he was not perturbed.

This was not down to confidence or any supreme feeling, but simply the fact he didn’t care if catastrophe did befall him. He wanted to feel his pulse quicken as he faced the shadows and their inhabitants along the dual carriageway. He longed to feel something, even it was fear.

And so he wandered through the ghost town centre, gazing idly forward as he walked past the shuttered shops. The silence was uncomfortable so he put his iPod on shuffle, and found a propulsive rhythm in his strides.

Soon he was into the darkest and most violent area of the journey. Unsurprisingly he had been picked up, and he knocked a headphone from his ear to increase his alertness. Whispers and footsteps were quickening behind him. He was being preyed upon. His pulse raced, and so did he, almost at a run as he spotted sanctuary: The bright doorway of an off-licence.

“Evening.” said the owner as he entered.

“Hey”, he whispered, sighing deeply as he perused the fridges. He hadn’t a lot of money with him, but he needed to make a purchase now, and glass would only be an ally in the forthcoming stretch. He pulled a Corona from the cabinet, and handed over his change.

“What was the score?” He asked of the proprietor, noticing he was watching Match Of The Day.

“Five one Arsenal.”

“Ouch!”

“You a West Ham fan?”

“Yeah”

“Eesh”

He nodded knowingly, before venturing back out into the night. He walked on up the road, seeing in the shadows of an adjacent avenue a woman crouched between cars flicking the end of a needle.

Just another addict. He got enough of them using his lane as a hiding place, it being only a few metres of the main road, but sufficiently shadowy. While passing the bright light of a kebab takeaway he noted raised voices, and turned to see punches being thrown. He could only walk on. It wasn’t his concern.

Now half way up the road, his nerves eased a little. He had passed the decidedly dodgy area, and was now near home territory. He spotted a brave father, and his even braver children waiting for a bus. They wittered innocently about childhood banalities as he kept an eager eye on the shadows.

All of a sudden, at  a crossroads, the road filled with revellers. Bacchants headed towards the dancehalls and nightspots of the town centre, finding safety in obnoxious numbers, cheered embarrassingly at trivial chatter. A drunken cheer erupted on seeing that the man was carrying a beer, but he walked silently on.

Nearly home now, he was surprised to see a small group of young men wearing ties and shirts. Perhaps they were on their way back from some sort of business event, but their presence there seemed odd.

He turned the mortician’s corner, strode past the halfway house, darted into his garden and slid the key into the door. The heat hit him as he entered, and soon he was engaged in lulling small talk with a housemate. He was safe, but felt better for his brace of danger.

 

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