The following tale, ‘A Skulk’, was first published in Lightship Anthology 2 (as a work of fiction, written by me, though I made no attempt to deceive the compilers…).
In 2002, a friend of mine, Jan Potocki, a musician and film maker, called me to arrange meeting. He said he’d happened across something he thought would interest me.
We met in a small pub in Bethnal Green, selected for its wide range of Continental beers on tap, a rarer thing then, than now. We had a long discussion about Béla Tarr’s staggering Werckmeister Harmonies, about its weird, oneiric imagery; we’d both been compelled, but bemused, by the film. Then, Jan took, from his bag, a sheaf of mouldering A4 sheets, gave it to me. It was a short typewritten document, in, what I took to be, Polish. I looked quizzically at him.
‘I found it,’ he explained, ‘under a bush, on Tooting Bec Common, while out running. Seeing my native tongue, I was intrigued, took it home.’
‘What is it?’
‘It’s…’ he said, then broke off to light a cigarette.
‘Well, you can see for yourself,’ he continued, after the pause. ‘I’ve translated it for you.’
He took out several sheets of feint-ruled paper covered in his neat hand, passed them to me.
‘Read it, let me know what you think.’
I did. It is one of the most disturbing tales in my possession.
Soundtrack: K’an, ‘Arsons Beneath Eclipsed Waters’
In the glare of the streetlights, the drizzle looked like sparks from a weld. Waclaw, on his way home from a late night working at the site (the project – a block of flats, in a grating contemporary idiom, bordering Tooting Bec Common – was behind schedule, over-budget), was walking along the edge of the parkland. Passing a tunnel through a railway embankment, he heard wild laughter, dull crackling, and, beneath, growling. He peered over, saw that several youths, baggy jeans and hooded sweatshirts, had penned an old vixen against the mouldering brickwork under the arch and were fleering at her, lobbing squibs. She was grizzled about the maw, scrawny, fur mangy; her ribs were in frantic spasm. Cowering back from the fireworks, she turned her head this way and that, snarling, tattered ears pricked.
Read the rest of this entry »