A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings

Dirt in the Ground

Dirt in the Ground

June 10, 1899. From where Jamie stood it just looked like any other quite space near a park. A lone tree provided shade from the sun, although it was nearing dusk as he stopped to look at the place. From the corner of his eye he saw a movement and then, another quicker movement off to his left. He focussed again on the space and it seemed different to the rest of the area around him. He checked back again and saw the young woman coming toward the tree as if it offered her some protection. Then he saw that it was not protection she was after but, rather, a place to lean and be available. From her clothing and garish makeup he surmised that she was one of the oldest profession and she was probably looking for business. He drew back into the shadows and, then, saw the flicker in his vision off to the left again. Suddenly he knew what he was looking at and his eyes automatically went down to the things side. An object flashed and even at this distance, Jamie could see that the dark shadow was a man; a man in his thirties; a man who was wielding a knife; a man who was rapidly closing in on the young woman. Jamie watched aghast as the man walked up to the woman and plunged his knife into the white flesh at the top of her dress. She looked stunned; as though she couldn’t work out what this sudden intrusion was. She seemed unconcerned as he withdrew the knife and plunged it in again, lower. It suddenly dawned on her that she was being stabbed and she staggered backward and put up a hand – a pathetic attempt to stop a further attack. The man struck again and again until she slipped hideously to the ground. Jamie was transfixed. He wanted to rush forward; he wanted to say something at the top of his voice; he waited to help; but he was paralysed. He slipped back into the shadows as the man, task completed, looked around and then slipped off into the shadows.

exhibition

January 1956. The place was now near the centre of the city. Where there had once been trees and open ground there was now asphalt and shop fronts. Street markers and signage adorned the footpath and cars rumbled by emitting clouds of smoke and much noise. The two men stood toe-to-toe, arms extended, yelling loudly at each other. Passer-by’s looked curiously from a distance but crossed the road to avoid being involved in the confrontation. One brave man did walk past them and was rewarded with abuse from the taller of the two. They started shoving each other and then one threw the first punch. Afterwards, the two witnesses’ couldn’t agree on what had happened. One said that the taller of the two had been the aggressor and the other slighter man, an innocent victim. The other witness told the opposite story. The sad fact of the matter was that both men were dead and it was purely hypothetical who had started what and who had ended it. The place had two white chalked body lines around it for several days and people walked delicately around the two body shapes until someone scuffed at the area and the shapes gradually lost some of their form. By the end of a couple of days, the shapes had gone and people were walking through the area again, oblivious to the deaths and the history of the place.

November 2001. It was benefit day. Benefit day and perhaps the day might also be spiced up with something else. He had Sue drive him to the place and he was squirming with anticipation as she parked. It was early in the day, past the nine o’clock rush and too early for the daytime shoppers. The place was virtually deserted apart form the odd solitary figure glancing in shop windows. As he alighted from the car, he looked back at Sue and at his young son in his car seat in the back of the vehicle. Even though he had his problems, he knew that his life was back on track again. He felt the oppressiveness of the place and how it had seemed so cold in the car and at his house that morning but it was hot and close here. He smelt a mix of car fumes, garbage, and cigarette smoke but something was mixed in with it that made him think of meatworks and tanneries. He heard a slight sound behind him and then he was falling forward. He smashed his nose on the street sign that stood by the gutter, and he landed heavily on his shoulder. He lay there and thought what might have happened. He was suddenly kicked hard in his side and he involuntarily rolled into a foetal position. Another blow landed and then he heard that voice.

“Give us the drugs smartass. I know you’ve got them on you. Give us the drugs or we’ll blow your fucking head off.”

He looked up and saw his nemesis, the man who had done this to him before. Since straightening out, he had been on the methadone program and he went to the chemist every day and got his supply. Twice before this man had tried to get him to give him the small amounts of methadone he had on his person. He had assaulted Sue once and he had threatened him with some additional muscle if he didn’t come through with the methadone. He saw that he was a little more serious this time. He held a sawn off shotgun which hung loosely from his left hand. He thought it strange that he was remembering details like this as he lay, bleeding in the gutter, not a few metres from his infant son and wife. He raised his hand, gave the man the fingers, and saw the shotgun level out. He felt, rather than heard the blast and that was the last thing that Shaun Armitage heard on this earth.

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