CHEMICAL EQUATOR

(OTHER WORKING TITLE IS 52%, OR, GOODBYE NOUGHTIES?)

copyright 2009

ianjamesmcadam

 noinvisiblehand

 Ian James McAdam

 

 

 

CHEMICAL EQUATOR THE POEM OR, PREAMBLE

 Saturation of substance

 Reaching higher,

Sub-spacial now,

 Condensing our hopes and dreams

 Into toxicity

 

Force for equilibrium

A cycle within a cycle

(A multiverse experiment)

The progression of nature

 (For we are nature)

Water, earth, air and fire.

And us.

 

 

 CHAPTER ONE (first section)

spring rose spirituality, crimson to green...

(i)

 Blossom petals litter the road as hyacinth smells assault his nostrils in a rush of instant sweetness. The sun is strong now that it’s managed to fight off the dirty cloying mist, heating his pvc jacket to instant discomfort. He’s just picked up a message from Westminster and is coming past Trafalgar square (where there is another march, this one with placards today shouting for “PRICE DETERMINATION BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE”, and “ECONOMICS IS SCIENCE NOT SOCIOLOGY” {they’re all creeping out of the woodwork}), and the police are still hoi-toying.

 By his count, this is the third march this week, the fifty-fifth this year, he’s lost count of how discontented this, the English capital, is, placarding up with with more focus on the chaos, emphasizing the chaos…why he came back…but he knows it was money.

And money is making him impatiently honk his wincing Vespa hooter. He has to get through the gridlock for his Bloomsbury delivery and decides the only way is to cut through Soho. He getting used to mindmapping his way through the gridlock that is the standard 2010 Trafalgar Square, always in protest, way.

He has a moment at a red light contemplating other people insularly contemplating him. They’re all jiving to their various forms of music-radio technologies, apart from one girl on a bicycle — with the most ridiculous shade of red hair, who stops him in his thought tracks and every other bit of sensory perception he has — because she is blowing him kisses. Beautiful wholehearted twinkle by the eye kisses…

There is the sound of twenty hooters and bicycle bells behind him. Damn, he has to rev up and move on. Ah well, he thinks, another perfect moment, lost in the endless album of perfect moments, fading already to uselessness.

He notices that he is now surrounded by a whole bunch of bicycles. Old bicycles, new bicycles, bicycles which are cutting edge and lightweight (hardly heavier than a starving budgie) and bicycles which are solid, heavy, reliable and have baskets with fruit, flowers and dogs. Aerodynamic cycling helmets in the eighties resprise dayglo coulours, making those wearing them (along with their earpieces) look like clones of the basic human animal. They look, he thinks, as if they’re auditioning for the cover of a Pet Shop Boy’s album cover, which he hopes in a wayward wish way, will be like the old fullsize album covers. Fat chance, he chides himself.

His Utopian dream is bankrupt…his moped motor chugs up the barely perceptible gradient of Regent Street, stuck behind an infinite row of taxi cabs, the one next to him saying, with a dreamy picture of the sun, that 300 days of the year are like this in South Africa. He chuckles under his breath. Not in Kwa Zulu! In Kwa Zulu it weeps like a premenstrual woman, and the humidity is like an invisible blanket. Things are moving so slowly so he lights up a cigarette, thinking in his random way of Catholic blue hot war Bushism. The pollution magnifies, as a lens intensifies, accentuates, and clarifies the loud, pulsing traffic flow.

He suddenly sees a gap opening up ahead of him and whizzes through, making his gambit for a quick, efficient delivery.

Someone shouts after him: “You fucking idiot!”

The defeaning noise in his ears (louder than anything he has ever heard in his life) is secondary to the feeling of being a rocket flying through the air, the sky, hemmed in by the buildings, a perfect flat plane of blue. The fast falling feeling as gravity returns him, head crashing through the glass of a estate agent’s speed racer painted, Mini Cooper windscreen.

“Sorry,” he says to the shocked estate agent.

 He looks behind him, and there is a jackknifed articulated shiny red lorry, and glazed red bricks everywhere, and the post accident silence he’s always been told about. Amazingly, there are no crushed vehicles, or any injured people he can see. Already the pigeons are pecking at the Doritos spilling out of the red lorry’s cab which is lying on its side and separated from its load. Chris can only smile at the ‘Eat my shorts’ slogan and picture of Bart Simpson on the back of it. The driver crawls out with a bloody nose, which makes his pale terrified complexion look even whiter. Chris looks back for only one more second before he rushes ahead to his dented moped to make his escape.

There’s no way he is taking responsibility for this mess. He just hopes that he hasn’t been captured on the ubiquitous camera culture mill. Down one of the sidestreets, and he realises, Damn, that he’s lost the package he was delivering. He’s never lost a package before. How is he going to explain this?

He’s pleased at the effect of the crash, though. He has never seen Oxford Street so quiet, except perhaps on Christmas day, and chugs his damaged moped down the street, which he has all to himself, apart from the people staring and gaping and taking photos and video of the fine mess he’s created.

 (ii)

The housing benefits office is busy, as is usual in these economic down times. Sally is wishing she hadn’t had such a heady Thursday night, especially with Rochelle bitching consistently. The reception desk is still dented from the heavy kicks it got from that abusive poor confused man this morning (he had to be dragged away by five security guards, he must have been on crack). Outside, the crow is singing the old Nokia ring tone — it really is behind the times.

“I’m goin to sue the bloody council for this,” Rochelle moans, “I’m not paid for this, and if they don’t put up barriers to protect us from the public, they’ll rue the day the didn’t when one of us gets stabbed.”

“Don’t be stupid, Rochelle,” Sally says, “We’ve already got a security guard watching over us all day.”

She books another customer in to see a benefits officer, and when the phone has rung for the sixth time, she glares at Rochelle. Rochelle knows the look, and answers the phone quickly.

Ah, Sally smiles to herself … the weekend, after the drama of the day, drinks with her old friends at Pearly Dewdrop’s and who knows what London will throw up this weekend? That was a wonderful moment this morning, blowing kisses…

“Sally,” Rochelle is whining again, “You do realise your hair dye is running down your blouse, don’t you?’

“That’s the intention.”

“You coming to that march on Sunday”

“Which March?”

“The March march. Better conditions for working mothers.”

“I’m not a mother, Rochelle…”

The conversation meanders along this strand as customer after customer is pointed in the right direction. She always knows that the ones with the old worn shoes are the ones who need the benefit most.

(iii)

‘Damn,’ he thinks as he walks through the door of Angel Wings Couriers, his place of employment, trying to sort out the lies… I should have called Alpin — my little brother can lie his way out of anything! ‘

I’m in trouble, Roxy. I’ve lost the package I was supposed to deliverl to the TA. Is Danny in his office?’

‘Yes, he is, and it sounds like they’re already on his case. Good luck, Chris.’

He smiles at her, andf she smiles back, as he makes his way into the boss’s office.

‘So, Danny, there I was cycling down Lamb’s Conduit, trying to avoid the protests on around Whitehall and Westminster, when all of a sudden a group of young hooded teenagers appear like from nowhere, block my path, knock me off my bike and steal the contents from my backback. How they knew…’

 ‘I don’t care how they knew, Chris! Do you know what was in that envelope, don’t you, Chris!’ 

 know it was something for the territroial army headquarters…’

‘Chris, use your fucking brain! You picked it up in Westminster to go to Bloomsbury. They were bloody military instructions!’

‘But wouldn’t they go with an armed escourt?’

 ‘Moron! With half the army beoing used to contain the civil unrest and guard the streets of the country? Chris, you’re a fucking moron. Do you know how much trouble I’m going to be in?’

‘Don’t worry, Danny.’

‘I am worried, Chris. Get yourself to Holborn Police Station and report the theft.’

He takes a bus to avoid having to find a place to park (and to avoid having his dented Vespa inspected by the law). He decides he needs some giudance, so he quickly dials his brother, Alpin, hoping the little bugger isn’t boozing away his lunch hour.

Alpin answers on the first ring, and after the cordial hello’s, Chris asks: ‘Alex, how do I get myself out of this one?’

‘Well, I kinda caused a lorry to jacknife accross Oxford Circus, and lost a very important document.’

‘That was you? It’s all over the news. You’re lucky no-one was killed. Still, sounds like something you’d do.’

‘Anyway, listen, Alpin, how do you always manage to lie so convincingly? With such…panache?’

‘I’ve put that behind me, Chris. You know that.’

 ‘I know. But how did you manage to convince people?’

‘Easy, Chris. You have to believe what you say. Anyway, I have to get back to the pub for evening service.Good luck. Ciao, big bro. Good luck.’

 ‘I’ll need it.’

Chris walks as confidently as he can to the reception desk, involuntary repeating his childhood prayers.

(iv)

Evening rushing on,lies told, and believed by the impressionable constable, and apologies accepted by Danny, and now it’s reunion drinks with his old pals at Pearly Dewdrops. He used to hang around there on his last stint in London. Now it has been relocated, and as he motors over in the Friday evening traffic (mellowly congested – the only time of the week where gridlock is treated as hardly a problem, which makes it seem even more jammed than is usual), he wonders if they still have mice playing together behind the bar. That used to amuse him and his old mates no end. He’s very curious to see what the new place is like. His phone rings, and he’s lucky to be at another red light so he can answer.

 He sees on the display that it’s his business partner, Arno, calling from South Africa.

‘Arno! Howzit goin, bro! Hows the consignment looking?’

‘It’s on the way from Malawi as we speak, just wanted to update you.’

‘Schweet, got that, speak soon,’

Chris puts the phone back in his pocket.

West facades are basking now in a strengthening, post equinox, sun. The light, mellowed through the haze — red super strength, brown brick lifted, momentarily, from its dirty dullness, windows twinkling — the closest thing this city sees to twilight. He feels the cold eating into the eastern terraced basements. Winter is lingering and does not want, nor is ready, to say goodbye. Seasons move by degrees, with the minutes and seconds marked by flower phases, moon phases, insects and birds on the wing. He listens for a moment to the sounds from the pavement, and hears at least ten different languages all overlaid each other — and, passing by, a group of continental student types all speak in various degrees of English to each other. He knows that his own accent is half London, becoming more so the more time he spends in this godforsaken city.

 He arrives at Pearly Dewdrops, and is horrified to see its new exterior, all concrete with over exposed curtain windows. The building can only have been built in the eighties, and Chris is horrified that Sebastian had even thought to ask to meet here. The old Pearly Dewdrops was dodgy as anything, but at least it was a suitable, poorly ventilated, poorly lit Victorian, aged,becoming dilapidated,building.

He parks his Vespa as close by as he can (which ends up being more than 300 yards from the pub), the sun lingering forever. Everything seems to wait for this moment — especially on a Friday in the spring time, even the contrails forming at maximum altitude take on a spirtual illuminance. Infinity moments, Chris calls them, because they are forever remembered.

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