Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blood Apples

I buy apples from a man whose hands are covered in blood. An Algerian butcher down on the high street.
Knock-down Friday night specials, I get them cheap with some carrots thrown in for free. It’s getting dark.
This is how the story begins.
The blood on his apron and on his hands is bright red, so red it is almost unreal. Startlingly so. Hammer horror blood. It is under his finger nails like a forensic scientist’s wet dream. His wife must really love him to accept all that blood each night.
There are no shower facilities down here.
I look for a wedding ring but his hands have disappeared out of sight.
Outside, the high street is at a noisy and cantankerous standstill, rows and rows of dirty hunks of metal untidily angled bumper to bumper.
“What’s happening along here, boss?” he says, quite excitedly. “The buses aint moving.”
“I don’t know,” I reply. “I just saw a police helicopter circulating with the searchlight.”
“Fucking London! Something every day, man.”
I buy apples from a man whose hands are covered in blood…
The intended story – his story, which begins here with dried blood under the fingernails - doesn’t go much further than this, for the helicopter suddenly roars into sight, its imposing light sweeping the high street, illuminating the grime and dazzling everyone. We both stop what we’re doing (apples, blood, thoughts etc) and gaze up at it as if were a great Phoenix rising from the hot pits where the urban neglected live.
Its light it straight and true. It knows where it is going. And what it is looking for.
Then, suddenly it dips behind a building and it is gone, chasing its target through the warren of streets.
Armed robbery probably. Maybe a murder. Some shit.
These apples look good though. Colourful and crunchy.
The man with the blood on his hands gives an exaggerated tut of Algerian exasperation and takes his carving knife to a shoulder of pork, hacking at it with deft precision. More blood flecks decorate his once-white coat. I think of Pollock while somewhere in a darkened room his wife thinks of Russell Crowe and sighs like a winter sunset over a munitions factory.
“Be safe, boss,” he says. “Don’t take the bus.”
I buy apples from a man whose hands are covered in blood…
Each bite defies God; another day surviving in the Garden of Eden.
That’s it.

Ben Myers

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