YOU’RE AT THE BOTTOM OF CASTLE LANE

Orange lamplights snaking uphill to the bend. Rose Cottage 1910 gate open. Nip in, tip bottle up, two fifties and a ten. Soft-down steady don’t chink. Put note back in neck saying No milk today. Stop, look and listen. Under a black belly of laburnum tree. Number thirty-three, four blue tokens, useless. Thirty-one, ten bob and a dog barking. Go on, quick up the road soft-shoe close to the wall. Slow down, look normal, headlights on treetops so tie shoelace. Let Big D’s taxi go down slow... Gone. Thinking how close tonight, Rache Bradwell’s tits over bra behind disco... Twenty-five, twenty-three, nothing... And next week you’re going under and she’ll let you you know. Dun Roamin, six bottles, which one? And there, right at the back, two quid ten, Get in, and CHINK, Stupid! Soft-shoe over gravel back out past stupid pot cherubs and run. Up past the bend to the lamp-lit bench and stop, and look, and listen, motorway hum from beyond the estate and coal-black fields as a bat skit-flickers this arc of orange-lit trees, remembering last Mischief when you dangled that suicide body of tights and scrunched-up news from the crook of that streetlamp, letting it swing out from the trees to shit the passing traffic, then later, when you lifted that window in the blackened-brick church, did a pint-pot Ouija board below the feet of a dirty Jesus, Is there anybody there? Like fuck. So you lobbed big books of God, crack-snapped half-burnt candles, gargle sang Strongbow then pissed in the font... And from the castle gates now, the town as quiet as corn, remembering when you jimmied that lock to the keep, ghost-hunting the Grey Lady up spiral steps to that murder room with no window, slow closing the coal-dark door, sitting quiet as corn in the coal-dark cold, your breath unbraiding back from unseen walls, and nothing... and in all your life you’ve never seen a ghost, except, when sometimes you talk about it, you might say you have.

 
 
 
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