GHOST LETTER 31

chris-r-1110752-2 Image by Christine Renney

The cars are predictable. They crawl through the narrow and crowded streets at a snail’s pace. Searching for parking spaces. As soon as one moves away from the kerb, another is readying to take its place. This battle is almost constant. It is an elaborate board game, play pausing just briefly in the early hours of the morning when a stalemate of sorts is achieved and all of the vehicles are locked in tight and there are no spaces on the grid, on the streets and for a brief spell, at least none of them will move.
I keep walking and I am reassured by the line of cars jammed along the pavements. Occasionally I come across a space and if it is big enough to take a car I feel anxious. I am even unnerved but of course it won’t be long before the players return and the game commences.
I observe the drivers as I walk. They are all so desperately focussed that they hardly notice me. They are usually alone but if there are passengers they are just as centred, just as determined and desperate to find a space.
I am passing alongside a pale blue estate car. In the wintry light it is the colour of cement. The windshield and windows are tinted and I can’t see in. I feel a little uneasy about this but I can see quite clearly that there is a place just up ahead. It will be tight but I am sure that this driver, like all the others, is skillful enough. That he will be able to manoeuvre his vehicle quite easily into position. But he doesn’t.
Perplexed, I step down from the kerb and out into the road. Standing in the middle of the parking space I look back and there are no cars coming. It isn’t too late, he can still back-up but he doesn’t.
At the crossroads he turns right toward the City Centre. I cross at the junction and I stop and I stand and I wait. I expect that here, where the road is wider and there are no cars parked on either side, that he will turn himself around and begin to make his way back. But he doesn’t and brake lights ablaze he carries on, albeit awkwardly, down the hill.
When I start to follow he speeds up a little. I am running now and at the end of the road he turns left, onto the ring road and he is gone, leaving me stranded here at the edge.

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9 comments

  1. chrisnelson61

    This is a wonderful piece, Mark: from the opening line, through the ‘cement’ simile, to the metaphor of ‘turning back’ from the openness of oportunity, this enthralled me. It continues the themes of isolation and solitude and, for any reader who has been following these episodes, the sense of empathy is palpable. Fine writing. My best to you (both).

  2. Phil Ryan

    A friend of mine once told me we all have OCD but it varies in it’s potency. I’m doing okay at the moment but could relate only too well with this magnificent piece of writing. And I liked the tinted screen/shields bit (which may be a first).

  3. chrisbkm

    Mark this had a really interesting pace. I found the initial visuals moving in slow motion… the game… in out in out on and off… and then you just barely touched the gas pedal, tinted windows in the wintry light… and in no time at all I was running beside mystery. Which turned… left… me on at the edge with you.

    • markrenney2

      An interesting comment Chris. Yes I think I’ve reached a point with this character and he has to slow down, he has to look up and see what’s happening around him. Thanks much appreciated.

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