People

Two sun dogs hung over the flat line of the horizon, over sheets of glass, panes of dust that hung soft over hands raised and palm down, dull at the edges. Direct light all winced, buildings crumbled and burnt through at the tops into the glaze of the low white of the sky that absorbed most. The buildings like faces, like nations without borders. Three thousand people gathered, saw the light strike jagged, maybe twisted, toward the earth, tasted salt rocks, saw the redeemer, saw mum, felt the dirt fall loose from their clothes, felt the sky come loose from itself, painted on for ease. Smoke was blown and rushed into the shade. The dust that parted and curved back onto itself in the light. A hand raised, palm down, curved through the light and smoke rising and falling like waves.

—There was this guy, I met him, who said he was a god of light, a sun god. It was a bit back. Kerin’s voice was strained, he spoke from the roof of his mouth. The cone of smoke broke over his hand and curved back into itself in the light. —He was saying a lot, that the only person he worships is the sun, he trusts it. Anything can happen and there it is, this thing, the only thing that gives him life. So he said he was a sun god. He was really drunk and he got to that point, pretty easily actually I think, I don’t know. He was just sort of saying it. I think I believed him a bit. He laughed, the other boy half asleep, awkward and foetal on a wooden beam, on a pile of beams and bricks and girders. —He got really fucking drunk off these big bottles of thick, like syrupy, alcohol he made. He was shouting, I can’t remember about what, and then he started throwing these knives around, smashed a window. We sneaked out and ended up walking down the motorway. Just nothing. I couldn’t see around the corners, no sound. But it was loud. I could see the stars there though, we were pretty out of the way. Kerin inhaled in short quick successions, dropped his hand onto his lap, held his breath for a few moments longer then exhaled. —I lost a ten that night. I think about it all the time.

He sat with his knees apart, his feet resting on a thin piece of wood. Sam laid out beside him, settled into the amassed piles of wood and scrap and some wires. The land was flat. An expanse of gravel, dirt and old brick floor, pieces of buildings that used to stand around. Some still stood. Hollow red warehouses, doors still in place but no walls or floors once the I was passed. A courtyard, the space from Kerin and Sam to the street completely open, a beat up mesh gate separating them from the movement of the road that had been still for a while.
—Are you asleep? Kerin pushed Sam.
—No. The parting and slow movement of his lips audible. The whole structure shook. Deep rattles that slapped and popped and made some core part of him shiver, still. He heard sound as burden, feeling heavy as though being pulled through the floor. The thud repeated.
A boy in a dark blue down jacket was kicking a football against the wall. Kicking then running. Chipping it at like a forty-five degree angle then running parallel to the wall and meeting it on its rebound. Bouncing in shorter arcs, the kid rolled it around his feet, almost tripped over. The slap and ring and the quick light footsteps that rang through the light that broke the orange peel over Sam’s closed eyes. The sun still fairly low in the sky, everything saturated in the heavy air of the morning giving each object a dull brilliance. The boy sweated from his brow, from his temples. The slick noise of his jacket playing over everything. The ball bouncing in shorter arcs, the kid rolling it around his feet.

—Get up. You’re asleep. Kerin shook Sam.
—Don’t touch me.
—It’s like eight thirty and if we stay here someone’s going to come by. So I’m leaving. Enjoy dick.
—Don’t touch me.
Kerin shook Sam’s feet but got no response. He removed both of Sam’s shoes and threw them in the direction of the football boy.
—Fucking scrat. Football boy shouted.
—You’re a fucking dick. Sam said.
Kerin kicked Sam’s ankles and Sam exhaled slowly and dramatically.
—You sound like you’re deflating.
—I’m not smoking any more.
—Get up. Get up. Get the fuck up. Kerin kicked Sam in bursts.
Sam turned onto his back, his wrists limp over his chest. —Don’t touch me.

A single chemical trail evaporated in the clear blue sky that faded to white at the horizon.
Kerin stepped down from the pile of scrap and walked towards the opening in the fence. Sam rushed himself up and followed a few feet behind. Kerin chased the ball and attempted to kick it over the fence.
—Shoes. The ball bounced jagged off the top of the wall.
—Yeah. Sam picked up his shoes.
—You little prick Joe. Football boy said.
—Fuck off. Sam didn’t turn to face him. The boy didn’t move, watched the two boys exit the courtyard then went for the ball.
—You know what happened to James’ dad right? Sam asked. —He sort of went all mental.
He’d been training to do trees for years and years and he finally got it. He’d been living with that other woman from the city after he left his mum. I don’t know where the job was but James stayed at school so it must have been somewhere about.
—What is it?
—So he’s working there for a bit and they move up to that new estate around the back of town, near the border, the one with the road that sort of winds up to it, the big open bit at the centre.
—Yeah, I went up there when he was there.
—I didn’t know you were mates.
—I don’t know, I went up there once.
—What was it like?
—Yeah, it was alright.
—Yeah. But yeah, so they’re all living there for a while because his dad’s getting paid and he gets dropped off to school every morning before his dad goes to work. His dad was becoming successful, a little. He was with that new woman from the city, and I think, yeah, they were living there already, because they’re here now. Anyway his mum is mental, was always calling the house and spending every bit of her money travelling in to not even get up to the house proper. So I guess she was getting the money from this woman she was living with. The woman that this whole time she’d been plotting with until one day she turns up at the house, the woman in some fucking charity costume, and they let her in and the pair stab her forty times. Her horse riding career was over obviously. And I guess little James was sad because that was his. Back home now. That’s why they had to move out, couldn’t afford it anymore. I don’t know if he talks about it. His dad told my mum.
—Fucking hell. Kerin turned back toward the courtyard and put his hands against the mesh fence, his face pressed towards James, shouting. —Hey James, how’s your dad?
—Fuck off Joe.
Kerin laughed. —What’s he do now?
—I don’t know, not much apparently. I think he’s back at home.
Kerin rubbed his body against the mesh fence. —Enjoy partying with the living?
—Fuck off.
They laughed

People herded outside a building composed of beige panels. The windows uniform across the face of the wall that continued down the road for a hundred metres or so. There was no clear entry to the building from this side. The group stood and waved signs and shouted and talked amongst themselves. Some were eating from bags, most congregated around a shopping trolley containing materials for signs and bricks and fireworks. Several were wearing balaclavas and handmade masks despite the informality of most of the crowd. All blinds down, all drawn in at the windows.

An access path curved around the remains of a large sign, knocked to the ground, most materials taken. It rested on a small patch of grass that pushed out into the road and sat with the half buildings that smoked in the wind, broke light with contorted edges. No cars parked here. Kerin and Sam passed the group on the other side of the road, only in their presence briefly, after jumping a small wall and jogging by the building toward the open spaces of the quay. Parts of buildings remaining in the background, the sound of bricks being hit, the sound of nothing happening.

Droplets tapped along Sam’s trouser leg with the compressed sound of something artificial collapsing, with the sound of a can being kicked. Sam looked but nothing showed on the sheen of his school trousers, looked across at Kerin who was bent over wiping his leg with the palm of his hand.
—What?
They walked separate, Kerin jogging ahead, falling behind, Sam walking off to the side, steady. Kerin weaved in and out of Sam, kicking a can that came off the outside of his foot to a patch of overgrowth by an iron gate. The wind whipped at Sam’s left side, pushing by the river. On the other side of the black water the ground was completely flat. Orange silt and sand covered the earth for distances, some portacabins, doors and windows gone, some white brick. In the far distance a fence.
—Look at this.
Kerin flicked through the grass, a tennis ball up out of the grass at him. Sam didn’t move to meet it, staring at Kerin.
—Jesus. Kerin jogged passed Sam and picked up the ball. —Go in there. Kerin nodded to the wall.
—No. I’m alright.
—Go on, go in there.
—I’m alright thanks.
—I’ll throw it over and you see if you can catch it.
—Seriously.
—Go on.
—I’m alright.
—Go on.
Sam jogged, turning about twenty feet on where the wall stopped or turned, appearing later, mid-distance, in the empty space between the factories.
—You ready? Kerin asked. Sam looked around. —You ready?
—Yeah.
Kerin dropped and kicked the ball high, the arc small, dropping short of Sam who ran hands outstretched but fumbled, the ball rolling back towards Kerin, out of sight of the road.
—No commitment.
—Shut the fuck up.
—Go get it then.
Sam approached Kerin then out of the site the gate afforded, behind the wall. Kerin tried to wipe the liquid into his trousers, the blood rushing in his ears.
—Fuck. Sam’s voice came from behind the wall.
—What’s up?
—No, come and look at this.
—What is it?
—Just come and look.
—Just tell me what it is first.
Sam appeared again. —Just come round and look. I went for the ball.
—Why don’t you just tell me what it is?
—Why don’t you just come round?
Kerin jogged to a potholed concrete vehicle path that led onto the site. His shoes slipped into the cracks, he felt the hard stone against the fleshy muscle that built around the side of his foot. His silhouette dipped against the early morning sky that let no light into the alleys. The walls stopped, two buildings, almost complete, stood in the distance. Huge and boxlike, holes pocketing them where windows used to be, the space between himself and them great, light pouring in to the huge grey open space that lies calm in front of him. What clouds could have been hanging like cigarette smoke hang in the air like glass. No wind.
—What is it?
Sam lifted his arm, pointing, waving towards the wall.
—What?
—There’s something like a pile of bags moving or something. Or a dog.
Kerin walked over to Sam, the bags moved with no wind, bulged out, swell, the colour grew like ink in water. Kerin stood beside Sam. A young man on its side, breathing slow but regular. Its head rested, frozen looking up.
—Do you think he’s alright? Kerin said.
—I don’t know.
The man sucked in, a conscious breath, for moisture. The sun rising overhead pushed the light passed scattered objects on the floor, creating long shadows that clawed behind the boys feet. Soon the man in light.
—Maybe we should do something?
—What?

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