On a business trip and just out of the shower, a dark haired man stopped drying himself. A newsreader squinted into the autocue and stumbled over some words. At a music festival, a hungover girl sat up quickly and poked her head out of her tent. In his bedroom, a teenage boy doing homework at his computer altered what he was searching for on the internet. A man turned to the screen on the back wall of the pub and took another sip. On a five-a-side pitch, one of the lads pulled out of a tackle.
It was for the country, not any individual. He was a friend not an enemy. He was on holiday not business. She did not want money she wanted help for a personal project. He was a political ally not a friend. It was not a closed enquiry, it was open and transparent. It was not uproar it was debate. They were escort girls not prostitutes. She was 18 not 17.
He could feel the other man’s eyes on him. He felt so tired.
You know what has to be done, said the other man: Hey, you can trust in me.
It was hot in the sun and there was no shade. Seven years passed while unspeakable horrors continued to occur. The men were interrogated, brutalised and brainwashed, caged half way round the world from their families whom they would never be able to see again. They had become a problem for the authorities. No country would take them in. Eventually, the government of a small island humanely offered them the right of residence. The decision sparked a diplomatic row that crossed continents. How were these people to live? They were innocent. They had done no wrong. Weren’t they now free?
The radio said the missile tests were a direct threat. There was rhetoric too: the nations of the free world would not stand idly by. In the street, a man shouted to neighbours that the sunshine was set to last. A couple were watering the pot plants in their garden. They’d now been married for 34 years. It was hot on their wedding day too – and on the day they met. Her blue dress with the pink flowers, her hair up like she used to have it and her eyes bright and dazzling: the most beautiful girl in the world.
The hangover was killing. He couldn’t imagine it would ever be over. He needed to join a gym, eat more healthily and never get too drunk again. These were the consequences: his actions, his fault. What he needed now though was a packet of crisps and a can of coke. The checkout girl was yawning and it made him yawn too. He needed to get out of the shop, there was no air in there. The woman in front was taking an age. He put his hand in his jeans pocket and felt for the last tenner. It wasn’t there.
The street lights had just come on and the breeze had turned cool but he didn’t know what time it was. He looked up. Some of the trees along the road had leaves while some were bare. It was March, April or May. Pete was at the bar getting a round in; probably a stout and an ale of some sort. He wondered how late they’d stay out and how he’d be feeling tomorrow morning. The results of the second autopsy had contradicted the first. Now there were calls for a third. Some things were uncertain; others were being obscured.