THE ERASER #13

Chris R-2-5 Image by Mark Renney

They are part of the System, all of their names are still somewhere in the records. Only once and it is always something insignificant – a job application perhaps or a club membership.
If one of them has been mentioned in a newspaper report or a magazine article and it isn’t in any way connected to their wrongdoing, to their fall from grace, then Tanner may choose to leave it, to let it slide.
He is unsure now why he had done this, even more perplexed as to why he continues to do so. Tanner supposes that in the beginning he had been testing the System and had expected someone would notice. That someone from up above in the higher echelons would come calling and he would be reprimanded, hauled over the coals as it were.
But this had not happened and Tanner is all too aware that he is way past the point where he can hang his head and apologise for his ineptitude and promise to try harder, to do better.
Tanner is the best of the Erasers, the most vigilant and dedicated and yet he has played Them, whoever ‘They’ are.
His rule-breaking over the years has been so subtle that it has not yet registered.
But the names remain and this is undeniable, it is a fact.

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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.

THE ERASER #8

Chris R-1021.jpg Image by Christine Renney

When tracking a suspect Tanner was always diligent; recording everything, scrawling it in a little notebook, all he observed and managed to over hear, no matter how mundane or insignificant it might seem. He believed the details mattered, that they were important, a part of it.

Alone in his apartment, Tanner transcribed from his notebooks, painstakingly filling journal after journal with these details. Over the years he had come to realise that a radical’s routine wasn’t so very different from his own yet he still persevered, determined not to miss out anything, however trivial.
He always included the date and the time. Time, he felt, was crucial. The time in between, the time spent at a place of employment for instance, or visiting a friend. Or simply sitting and reading a newspaper, whether it be on a park bench or in a busy cafeteria. He even made a note of what his suspects ate and, of course, where and when.

Tanner hadn’t ever witnessed one of them stepping guiltily out into the light. Caught anyone in the act, as it were, but all had been found guilty. They had been enemies of the system but Tanner hadn’t yet destroyed their journals and the minutia listed and labelled within was all that remained.

THE ERASER #7

Chris R-0825-2 Image by Christine Renney

Tanner had always managed to navigate his way through life unnoticed. He became acutely aware of this when he first began his work as an Eraser. Ordinary looking and extremely reserved, even as a young man Tanner realised that this did not fully account for the uncanny ability he had for melting into the background, for making himself all but invisible.
There was something inside of him, an innate skill, a gift even, albeit one he hadn’t asked for and wasn’t sure that he wanted. He realised also that, given the line of work he had chosen, if he were to hone his skill and nurture this gift it could be very useful.

It seemed apt to Tanner that he, whose job was the disappearing of others, could move around unnoticed, was an invisible man as it were. But whenever Tanner glanced in a mirror nowadays he was shocked by what he saw. He was a little man, short and hunched, the pallor of his skin matching the grey clothes he always wore. His thinning hair was white and his face was deeply creased and lined. He was a ghoul, his was a face that featured in nightmares, that appeared toward the end, just before dawn.

THE ERASER #6

Chris R-0098 Image by Christine Renney

Tanner had often considered creating a pamphlet of his own, writing and distributing it anonymously. It would be a manual of sorts, offering advice on how to recognise the troublemakers, those challenging the system, but more importantly those who haven’t yet but who might.
Whenever he began putting it together in his head it always seemed absurd. The notion that people should be suspicious of others based on their haircut or the kind of clothes they wore, or which newspaper they took, the music they listened to, the books they read.
Just because someone visited the library and checked out a novel by a long ago formerly banned writer it didn’t necessarily mean that particular someone would become a conspirator. A pamphlet might help, yes, but really it would be little more than a list of traits and affectations, of mannerisms and possible signs and it wasn’t enough.

THE ERASER #5

Chris R-0140 Image by Christine Renney

Over the years Tanner had become highly attuned to his work and was able to spot the conspirators from afar. He could pick them out on a busy street, in a crowded bar or restaurant. This wasn’t ever based on anything concrete but he just knew. Perhaps it was because he had been obliterating these people for so long. Rubbing them out, the ones who conspired against and opposed the system, once they had been exposed after the fact.
Tanner had reported his suspicions hundreds upon hundreds of times and he had never been wrong. Each and everyone of those individuals had been found guilty and eventually their names appeared on The Eraser list. Occasionally Tanner will be appointed the case of one of his suspects and he always finds this deeply satisfying. He had been the first to recognise that this particular person was a potential agitator, someone who could easily stray and be pulled from the centre. Someone who would believe the lies and help to perpetuate the myth and now Tanner was able to wipe him or her from the face of the earth or at least from the system. To remove all evidence and any legitimacy that might still remain.

THE ERASER #2

Chris R-0325 Image by Christine Renney

The rhetoric hasn’t changed over the years and Tanner is perplexed by this. Whilst the system has evolved, is constantly evolving, those who oppose it are forever locked in a relentless fight and it is futile. They are able to make themselves heard, yes, but only fleetingly and it seems to him that they are shouting into the void.
Tanner often finds himself thinking about the monolith in that old science fiction film. The film has been banned, of course, and so he hasn’t seen it in years. And it isn’t actually the monolith that preoccupies his thoughts but its surface, gleaming and unmarked.
Protesters and rebels , this is how they are referred to beyond the system. Those who have survived and are still out there, they are dissidents or exiles. Tanner has always been uncomfortable with these labels although he hasn’t managed to come up with any that he feels are better suited. ‘Those who oppose the system’ is too clumsy but that is what they are. And they are still as virulent as they ever were, perhaps even more so and for that brief spell, until they are uncovered, just as vocal.
Tanner remembers the names and also their former occupations. He remembers the carpenter and the school teacher and the plumber and the doctor. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. He remembers what they once were, what they should have been.