GHOST LETTER 41

Chris R-1110409 Image by Christine Renney

To say I have completed the circle and made my way around again would be going too far, and yet these city streets that I frequent and where I linger they form a block and it has become somewhere. A place I can’t help feeling isn’t so unlike the one from where I began, the one from which I fled.
Each morning when I begin walking this block, I pass a man who works for the city along the same stretch of pavement. He is a street cleaner and glancing back I watch him at his work. If and when he isn’t there I am thrown. It seems, fleetingly, that the structure of my day has been tilted a little.
But I keep moving, pushing toward the familiar until I hear the City, or at least this small part of it, coming around and waking again.

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THE ERASER #11

Chris R-1119 Image by Christine Renney

For Tanner, each name as it appeared on his list was merely a statistic, albeit one it was his job to render obsolete. He was all too aware that there were levels and some of them had sunk deeper into the quagmire than others. But he had always believed it was important not to make a distinction and that the guilty were guilty.
But was Tanner still so sure it was as simple as that?

When disappearing a life Tanner was often struck by how bizarre it was, this occupation of his. He always began at the very end of the trail and worked his way back toward the beginning. As he did so he discovered just how far each individual had fallen and for how long they had gotten away with it. Opposing the System and spreading the lies and helping to keep the rumours alive. Because that is all it was – the subversive’s idea that there was another way and it could be different. It was just a rumour.

Trawling down the years Tanner often wondered at which point they started listening to those lies and believing in that idea, in the rumour. But there was of course no record of this, no hard evidence that Tanner could take in his hands and rip into shreds. Or if there were it was too well hidden amidst the minutiae, too deeply entrenched within the mundane facts that help to make all of us tick.

GHOST LETTER 40

Chris R-0332 Image by Christine Renney

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not quite there yet but this place has begun to grate a little, to nag and gnaw at me. Feels as if I have conjured it up from out of nowhere and I’m not sure why or how.
A tiny square in a sprawling city, a city that can’t be contained. It is spreading and thriving despite the degradation, all the empty and dilapidated buildings.
I have settled here and I stay until I have the cash, enough for what I need. And in order to get it, I walk elsewhere, a little farther each time. And yet still I keep making my way back.

THE ERASER #10

Chris R-0314 Image by Christine Renney

Tanner had often been responsible for the erasure of people he had known. This was against the rules. He was all too aware that cases where the person was known to the Eraser should be passed across to another worker and yet Tanner had ignored this time and again.
Over the years he had worked hard at convincing himself it didn’t matter, that it was a small rebellion, just a little thing, but of course he had left a trail.
There had been colleagues from his schooldays, boys and girls he had sat alongside in various classrooms. Occasionally one of his teachers had appeared on the list. Tanner recognised their names immediately and had been able to conjure up the particular individual with his minds eye. The pictures had always been and remained vivid and detailed whilst Tanner’s recollections of his so called class ‘mates’ were hazy.
Tanner had often found himself brooding on this, on the fact that he could remember his former educators but had forgotten his contemporaries. He wondered if this meant that he regretted the removal of certain lapsed citizens, more so than others.
Ultimately though it didn’t matter. It wasn’t Tanner’s job to make sense of it, to understand the how and the why. No, it was his job to wipe all of them from the records and from the system.

THE ERASER #9

Chris R-0114 Image by Christine Renney

Tanner was a loner. Even prior to the System, during his childhood and throughout adolescence, he hadn’t managed to form any long term relationships. He had kept his head down, listened intently, and worked hard and he had been an above average student and yet none of his teachers had seemed impressed nor even to notice. When the System came a-calling he had known instantly just what he could do for them, what he could become.
He hadn’t ever felt resentful or blamed his choice of occupation for the solitary life he had led. In fact, he believed they were complementary, that he had been more efficient because of it. In the past, whenever an Eraser was around, people had been worried, close mouthed and reluctant to share or shoot the breeze. Tanner was unsure if this was still the case but he suspected it wasn’t. He still had the same effect and, when those who didn’t work for the System realised he was about, in the proximity as it were, their conversations would stutter to a halt.
Tanner’s colleagues, on the other hand, talked almost constantly and they didn’t care if he was around and could hear or that he was excluded. Their lives seemed to consist of an endless cycle of family feuds, of birthday parties or barbecues and excursions.
As Tanner listened to them, to the other Erasers, he was often struck by just how similar their lives were to those of his suspects. The ones he had unearthed and exposed, the lives he had cut and wrenched from their moorings that he, and they, had erased.

GHOST LETTER 38

Chris R-0098-2 Image by Christine Renney

After walking for so long and so far, the roads have merged in my mind. Just one route and, alongside the relentless traffic, I forged my way straight ahead and I didn’t stop and I didn’t turn. I do recall an abandoned stretch. It had been raining and in the bright sunlight the road had appeared fractured, its surface cracked and split, the countryside, left and right, lush and green but I am unsure now if these fissures were real or simply shadows from the overhanging trees. I pushed my way on through and moved beyond it, whatever it was – an apparition perhaps or an oasis?
At last the traffic began again to chime at my side and I forgot. But here in the City I remember and I find myself brooding on it over a mug of weak tea, or clutching a cold can or swigging from a bottle of cheap wine.