Written in response to an image posted by Mark Welker here.

He fingers the silk for a heartbeat, the alien sensation blasphemous to his muscle memory which thinks only in terms of tough gravel paths, fraying cane brooms, and slime-wet mud brick homes. The man tightens the noose and looks into the mirror. The immaculately ironed white shirt lies across him like a projector screen, his brown hands sticking out like tufts of straw in a scarecrow.

His face, as brown as his hands, escapes his scrutiny.

The scanner accepts his ID card and the boom gate raises, allowing his polished BMW roadster into the car park. He finds his bay, his name stenciled in still-fresh paint, and parks. He hears the rushing of angry water as soon as he turns off the ignition of his car and the stereo dies. He pushes headphones into his ears and flicks his iPod on. Crowded House pours into his ears and the sound of rampant water dies down.

Drowned out.

He sits at his desk and leaves his iPod in his ears until his phone lights up for the first time. He pulls the head phones out viciously, simultaneously picking the phone up. Lights flick on, calls pile up and he feels peace, the peace of a ship captain enveloped in a battle with a raging storm. Money moves between piles, stock whisks from buyer to seller but the man sees only a brush made of cane, water splashes up a wall. He feels it soaking up his leg, lapping his new black socks.

Pooling in his patent leather shoes.

He pulls into his driveway, noting the car parked on the verge. He waits for the garage to open then slides his car in. He leaves the engine running until the door shuts behind him. When he kills it, everything goes black. He hears torrential rain falling in sheets on the soft top of his car. He steps out. Opens the door and walks through his kitchen into the living room and then down the hall to the entrance. He can make out his mother’s shape, distorted through the frosted glass of the door. He loosens his tie, tosses it aside, undoes his top button. He opens the door. His mother stretches up, locking him into a desperate hug. She’s missed him, she is saying. He doesn’t come over often enough. He replies that work is busy. She looks in his eyes and smiles knowingly. She takes his large brown hand in her delicate pink one. He remembers still the first time she did that, when he was six, the rain, coming down like blades.

You look tired, she says. Have you seen your eyes?

No, he replies. Not lately.


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