The Professor

I’m too afraid to close my eyes, to dream; which imaginative conjecture will scare my nightly soul into believing it’s alive roaming the streets of sleep tonight? He is supposed to take me back. Return me to my temporary habitat. It is an unbelievably scorching heat, we are sitting in the car and he is driving, Eddie’s in the passenger but I couldn’t see his face, hidden in the half shadow of the sun. Odd.

We stopped at the one-way, well, it used to be a one-way, and parked in the opposite direction of the flowing traffic. The car battery is low, it needs topping up, he said, I can feel it in her bones. The car leans to the right, I pop my head through the window seeing the silver alloy nearly scrape against the grey tarmac.

So we drive back to our ends and I sit, waiting in the car with Eddie. The Professor is taking an age to return, casual chatter with Eddie isn’t cutting it. A battery and a bit of rubber, it’s not complicated. I get out of the car to see if I can jack it myself, no such luck. I phone him, he doesn’t pick up. This is ridiculous, catching rays through tints is not my idea of a tan. I have to get to work the next day, he always breaks promises – right before my eyes lately.

Blaming his absence on the music scene is no longer an excuse. Today, his occasional day off and he’s disappeared into some kind of time warp. I call and call, resorting to text messages, nothing, dissipating into invisibility, walking away from me as usual. I can’t return home as my parents think I’m already half-way there, they didn’t like him. Slight understatement. Too popular culture, mainstream is not the path to heaven. He speaks truth but his beats discolour their opinion, maybe if he wrote a book or a newspaper article it would be more appealing and they would take a bit more notice. It is no longer the days of The Prophets, words are not believed anymore as gospel.

My clothes suddenly constrict my breathing, hugging my ribcage and chest more acutely than they ought. My stripy sky blue boxers overtake my cream tapered jeans, my t-shirt turns into some sort of cropped top. I pull my fur coat around me, the buttons refuse to do, even in these temperatures I’m cold. I left Eddie in the car, I have to make some decisions. Walking isn’t really a done thing any more so to speak, but I don’t have a choice. I try to pretend I don’t notice the glances of dissatisfaction and disbelief from randoms, I delude them into thinking I’m oblivious to my ever shrinking garments.

All I keep hearing is the musicality of the ice-cream van, funny how so much changes but the melody stings back to my childhood. Intermittently on repeat, the faded yellow and pink van itself is nowhere to be seen but we’re all waiting for something in the end. Usually, to be told there’s no raspberry sauce or flakes whilst the plastic clown smiles his flaking red lips.

I enter the internet cafe, which used to be a halal butchers. The boys on the bank of desks look at me disapprovingly, maybe it’s a sign. The silence is overbearing. I call him again – miracle, I have an incoming from him but I can’t hang up the correct call so rejecting both, I start again. Hello? No answer. Hello? No answer. Hello? No answer. A track is playing down the line instead.

He plays his new material to me on the phone for first thoughts, before he even sends it over to his producer. I’m listening to the words, I fall in love with him all over again and everything is forgiven. I smile to myself though the boys are overtly irritated with the chinking music they’re unable to decipher. He’s playing me with poetry, I try to turn the volume down but to no avail, evil looks continue to be speared at my dreamy eyes.

I left the butchers, sorry, internet cafe. It was dark and cold now. I had left my laptop bag outside as a landmark, I decide to go for a short walk on Birchwood Crescent whilst at the same time my inner me is telling me, Don’t walk on crescents; I can be hijacked or mugged, trapped at both ends with nowhere to run. But I had to take this way to get to where it was I needed to go, and also so I wouldn’t be seen. It ran alongside the park, grass shines green even in the darkness.

I notice a male in grey Sadida tracksuit bottoms, a cap with an indistinguishable girl walking alongside him, they look harmless enough but I still have my doubts. I’m worried about who he is speaking to on the phone, I’ve a feeling he’s calling for backup. I look over my shoulder. Nothing. So I carry on walking.

About five minutes later deep into the first arch of the crescent, a gang of six girls convene around me like female demons in human form. I don’t have anything on me to give them, Don’t try to mess with me, this is my hometown, I say.

This is the roughest part don’t you know, taunt one of the girls, long blonde hair half in a bun and the rest straggling down her back. You’re not going to stop me from going where I need to go, I reply.

She went to grab my middle but I caught her head in a lock, the others were just about to pound into me when a group of officers in old-school buttoned blue uniforms and caps appear, apprehending all the girls. I’m free to go. I reach the other end after the second arch, he is still not picking up his phone.

Everything looks different, but I can’t quite place reasons as to why. I think I’ll fetch my bag by the silver birch, which was outside his place anyway. It’s high in the morning, early I mean, as I get to his flat which has open glazing. The metal shutter lifts and I see him through the window, lying face down on his white bed, half-wrapped in a free flowing duvet. He looks up at me, I could only see the top part of his face; hair, forehead, eyes and nose; like a half moon. I see white skin lying to his other side and tresses of chestnut hair.

I don’t scream blue murder. I grab the nearest item to smash the windows, I climb in and attempt to kill him with my bare hands but he’s too strong, tears streaming down my face thinking about the physical ordeal and emotional turmoil of the last twelve hours since leaving the car, he’d been satiating the entire time.

A few days pass, I’m standing under the lamp-post, he’s in my face singing me another song. I rage, I sing back. His limbs tear themselves apart as if I’m voicing poison. I stop when I realise he’s being ripped up, specks of blood and flesh splashing my face. I’m not sure how I’m going to put all his pieces back together now, scouring the scape to where each limb exploded. I’m the only one standing in an empty light. Waiting.

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