If I could just…
Why were they looking so anxious? What were they trying to protect? Alaric knew. He knew! He tried again:
If I could just…
I think we need to look elsewhere, said one of the bosses.
Yes, yes, said one of the acolytes. We need to show some ingenuity, be more convincing.
They weren’t even listening to Alaric.
If I could…
We need to look at bringing more people in.
The meeting table looked like a battleground: legions of coffee cups, glasses, crisp packets.
And Alaric was a petty vandal caught up in their petty fucking empire.
He was the sort of guy that, for some reason, even though he had at one time been immensely popular, and even though his sheer enthusiasm to do things differently and better had won him all kinds of support and a deep well of trust, could suddenly, spectacularly, lose his appeal. Certain actions (and perhaps some of the relationships he had formed) were deemed, not only by his enemies but by those previously well disposed to him, as having been unforgivable, and the more he protested his innocence, and even proffered gifts, the more everyone’s hatred of him would deepen.
He was looking over the treetops, across the plains. The view from the roof was incredible. It was evening and everywhere was bathed with a brownish hue. He wanted to stay up there for ever. Let it rain; he didn’t care. The kids were asleep in the corner, covered by a blanket of plastic sheeting. Somewhere down in the brown was the rest of his family. When he last saw his uncle a week ago, the old man was clinging to a post as the torrents tried to drag him under. Now the birds were singing again. God was everywhere.
When I was seventeen, the word ‘red’ meant only one thing: the colour of my girlfriend’s hair. I lie; now it comes to me – her red lipstick lips too. The thoughts we had and things we did. But of course it didn’t last and, well, things change. I changed. I was angry in my early twenties. Red mist descending and all that. Life was a struggle for a while. We drank lots and had Sunday lunches in the pub. I liked a Bloody Mary as a hangover cure. A colour for hope, anger, fear and regret. Which wins out?