THE VISITOR

I decide to go back with my camera. Not because I need to re-evoke anything in particular and I am unsure exactly what it is I want to capture.

It is a place where for two years I worked. From nine to five, I pounded the pavements and my connection with it was tied to the task. I had been a visitor, but one with a job to do.

Nevertheless, after investing all of that energy, after all the to-ing and fro-ing and so much time the place has marked me.

I drive on the once familiar streets and revisit old haunts. The estate has been spruced up, a lick of paint and some fresh cladding here and there. But it is surface only and I need to scratch at it just a little and the faces will emerge.

I park in front of the tattoo parlour but remain rooted behind the wheel. I glance down at my camera on the passenger seat but still do not move. An old woman spits her gum and I watch her walk slowly across the road and enter a block of flats. I am not able to follow her, I have no legitimate reason for being here, no agenda however mundane. I can’t make my way along the balconies and knock on the doors. I can’t get inside.

An old but well preserved Ford Granada pulls up alongside me. The driver is a woman with a beehive hairdo. She is staring grimly ahead waiting for the car in front of me to move so that she can park. I am able to study her in profile. She has the face of someone who has drawn on far too many cigarettes. More cigarettes that I can even begin to contemplate. I glance down again at my camera but know of course that I won’t.

Instead, I turn the key and let the engine idle until the woman realises I want to move and she reverses, readying to take my place.

As I pull away, someone drops a bottle. I hear it smash and spot a kid on the corner standing over it and I watch as, with the full weight of his sole coming down, he crushes glass to the pavement and kicks.

Image

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7 comments

  1. j.h. white

    …. I had to read it a couple of times, which is a good thing. I tentatively pictured something else in the first few paragraphs but was carried along as the story developed and new pictures emerged. Your writing is a visceral experience for me and very enjoyable. I like the economy of words, each one adding to the visual …this one was like watching a foreign movie and reading the sub titles.

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