“Sort it out!”
His voice was Essex. I now knew there would be no crossing this ‘gentleman’ ... well, not crossing him twice, as, evidently, I had already crossed him to elicit such a response: a response with no possible further response.
I turned to see whether this man’s companion, a woman of equal presence to his, would give any clue, by look or word, as to the options open to me. There was an unspoken glance of recognition between her and me, a glance that neither of us read properly.
There was no comfort there and, in the end, no memory, as if by their closing off of any options, the man and woman had me cornered.
But even in those few short instants, it dawned on me that even a cornered rat has one option. By allowing me no get-out clause, they had allowed me the best get-out clause of them all. An Act of Despair.
And that’s the way I sorted it out. Doing nothing. All of us frozen in time, waiting for my next move. Nobody willing to escape the final unspoken clause of all.
The County of Essex has wide open skies. Straightforward bent diamonds embedded in the salt of the earth.
The woman eventually wandered off mumbling to herself. She’d forgotten if she’d forgotten who she was. Leaving behind two dead bodies: not dead from a sudden duel, but from the pure onset of old age, with both men waiting too long for each to grow old faster than the other.
They say reaction in a gunfight is deadlier than if drawing first.
The woman smiled mindlessly. She’d not really liked either of the men. Her get-out clause was not only unspoken but taken as unread. I was no longer alive to sort it out. The ending, that is. The writing or the reading of it. Yet I somehow knew that despair always acted in due course...
The woman boarded a bus for home. Luckily buses in Essex were always late. And often lost.
(written today and first published above)