The Body of the Bourne

26 May, 2011

Hej. Jag postade en text jag jobbade med för några månader sen. Här är resultatet. Det är de 2500 inledande orden av en roman. Vi fick även skriva en synopsis och planera hela romanen. Min synopsis var inte helt genomarbetad men detta har jag skrivit om så många gånger att jag kan vartenda lilla ord och kommatecken i texten. Hoppas den uppskattas.

It was a sad day when Nico and “Bernard
the Bear” had their baby. The Bears were a couple that had lived in the theatre
as long as anyone of us could remember. There were arguments about how old they
actually were. Some claimed that Nico’s real name was something like Boudocco
or Boudicca. When I asked her about her name she only smirked with her round
little face and tapped me on the head. She always had a fierce hatred towards
Italians for some unknown reason. Everyone was warned about getting into fights
with her. Bernard on the other hand had singlehandedly killed a bear by
drowning it in a barrel. His accent was of some eastern origin and his eyes
were as old as Nico’s. They were a brutal couple which made even the ghosts take
extra precaution around the Bears. But their love was as steady as their

Then their baby was born. People said it was a normal child. I doubted
it. They said it was all-limbs, a real cracker, a sweet smelling, and toothy
smiling creature. OK, the fully developed crooked teeth might not be normal for
an infant. You couldn’t ask for everything in those days. The birth was a very
big happening in our little community. It was so special that All-Eating Andrew
managed to figure out exactly which date it was. Dates weren’t important to the
most of us. The Police had made it strictly forbidden to know one’s birthday.
Andrew wrote it down in the big theatre book like it was the birth of a prince.
He wrote 03-02-3510 with gold ink that glimmered. They even called the baby “an
Edith”. The last remark was a slap in the face. I wanted to see for myself.

There was a cracked staircase that went through the house like an old
man’s artery. I was climbing up it but it wasn’t easy for a cripple like me. Each
step was a fight against the laws of physics. I had to throw up my wheel board
before me and then use all my arm muscles to heave up my heavy body over the
step. When I dragged my sweaty face in the dust it got covered in a glue-like
substance of exercise and filth. If someone had heard me breathe they might had
confused me with a heavily pregnant woman. Pinups, prostitutes, pimps and
peacocks came running up beside me. They pushed me away. They were trying to
cover up the odour of sweat
but it didn’t work. The stench of their perfumes blending with the salt of
their skin just made me nauseous. I sank down to sit on the planks. The last gang that had galloped past
me had made the staircase smoother by grinding it down with their hooves. One
last step and then I had reached my goal. Why did people always have to live on
the top floor?

I arrived but the dark corridor leading up to my destination was as
packed as a Saturday market. The crowd had made their way on carts, buses, cats and whatever they could scrape together. They
came through the doors, by the windows and down the chimney. Our little theatre
was London’s pilgrimage of the week. Through the floorboards I could see
twisted fingers of people desperate to get through. Even ravens, half frogs and
crack foxes tried to push their way into the small room. If the police hadn’t
made it illegal a few years earlier I could bet that they even would have
pressed their flesh through the stone. I missed the good old days when one
could just leave the room without having to think about door handles. In the
first couple of weeks with the new laws the whole of Finsbury Park went around with bruised foreheads.

I swore and tried to make people move out of the way. Me and my little
wheel board needed floor space and we needed it that minute. I couldn’t
breathe. As I was pressing my way through the forest of legs I heard Dave the Accordion.
He was pressing his knees together and in pure excitement he played a little waltz
for the boy. Dave was the man that could make the whole of Red Lion Square
dance so violently that the ground itself rocked from side to side. When Dave
saw me he stopped and grinned.

‘Alfred!’ he shouted.
‘This must be the first time a wonder like this has happened in our quarters
since blessed Edith was born!’

‘Yep,’ I answered

the dishwater!’ he proclaimed. ‘How long ago is it since that precious day?’

‘We were born
twenty-eight years, four months and nine days ago.’ I said as I squeezed myself
past some kind of mutated horse.

‘Isn’t he perfect and
pure and fine and all that?’

‘I don’t know. I
haven’t met the little bugger yet, trying to get through so I can see what all
the fuss is about’ I said.

‘Oh it’s like the sun
shines out of his arse,’ Dave said. ‘You must see him. Let me help you little
man.’ Dave lifted me up and carried me through the crowd as he commanded
everyone to get the hell out of our way.

I felt like a child
being carried by a parent after a long day in town. My weight pressed against
Dave’s barrel shaped body and every muscle he moved was registered by my skin. He
smelled of shellfish and mud. I always loved the way you could tell his mood by
just listening to whatever melody his legs produced as he walked. That day it
was a waltz but other weeks when the clouds looked like a thick wet rag over
the sky you would hear sad ballads washing over the house.

We reached the room where the Bears were surrounded by the all the
people who called this theatre a home. Everyone had been polite and had brought
their best root vegetables as a gift for the child. It was the custom in those
days. We didn’t know better. I was as usual the last one to get to the center
of the action. They all cheered when Dave the accordion dumped me on a wooden
sofa. We had all gathered in the attic. It had been used as a storage room for hundreds
of years. The room was still used as such even though the Bears had moved in
when they realized that the little one was on his way.

When my eyes finally got used to the dim light I could see all the things
the room was filled with. It was crammed with sofas, guns, paintings, piles of
wigs, stools and dried paint. As I turned my head around I saw a stack of beds which
looked like a giant wooden wedding cake. They were all white with golden
patterns and velvet details. A stack of stuffed animals dressed in show girl
costumes were behind it. The famous Swizz mummy was looking longingly at an old
harp which was placed next to a pile of fiddles. The mummy was rumored to have
been a composer during his lifetime so that was quite understandable. The place
had a peculiar scent. It smelled of still water mixed with theatre makeup and seaweed.
Not all that pleasant if you ask me.

What Nico and Bernard had done was to shuffle a bit of the objects around
to make room for their collection of furniture; a bed, a desk and a chest. Our
whole little circus was spread out on whatever we could sit on. Even Penelope’s
hen-circus attended in their best Sunday suits. The hens jumped around without even
a syllable of a protest. Penelope and her hen circus was what kept our little
theatre going in those days. Londoners couldn’t get enough of the little birds.
Their most popular act involved fire, a rubber duck and a Chinese shoestring.

Everyone laughed and admired the baby who smiled back to us like he was the
saviour himself. His farts were received as symphonies. His burps were
classified as operas.

at him Alfred,’ Bernard bellowed. ‘He’s a perfect one, looks just like Edith?’

‘Yes, just like Edith,’ I answered while
nodding slowly looking at the boy who sucked his thumb.

I became shiny eyed. I didn’t want to talk about Edith. Dave the accordion
seemed to understand and tried to lead the conversation away from her. He
agreed with All-Eating Andrew’s claims that the baby didn’t smell like a normal
newborn. To All-Eating Andrew the baby smelled of cabbage, soap and sadness. Everyone
just laughed at Dave and Andrew and plucked their arguments apart like insects
on a summer’s day.

All-Eating Andrew could not tell the difference between food and other things.
His brain was too important. He was the one that kept track of matters as dates,
streets and the ever-changing history of London. He could tell us each detail
about the mishap or as he called it, the big 03-30-3010. He had a one man show
when he acted out tragedies from the catastrophe on stage. Every Easter it
became immensely popular. The blood was made out of beetroots and garden gnomes
were the extras. When I asked him about Napoleon he said that I had to hold my
horses before that chap came along. Food and human relationships in present day
were however as alien to him as pipes was to penguins. His absentmindedness made
us giggle. Once he managed to eat the whole set Penelope had made for her new
staging of Hamlet. Penelope was furious for weeks. She saw it as a poetic
justice that Andrew’s stomach was haunted by a ghost of its own after that
incident. The group listened to neither Andrew nor Dave when it came to the
smell of the baby bear.

   I didn’t want this baby in the theatre. I didn’t
want anyone to take Edith’s place. I wanted my sister back. The others were not
allowed to see my tears though. I felt embarrassed and excused myself. I
stuttered something about my self-exploding forget-me-not’s need for a new pot
and left the room behind me. The last steps in the house were climbed and I opened
up the door to the roof. I put my bum down on a chimney, scratched my stumps
and sighed.

As I was sitting there I got sentimental. The minute I see further than the
closest fish and chip joint tears well up in my eyes. It was getting late. The
landscape had swallowed up the light in one big gulp. Or was it a landscape?
Something unidentifiable and gray was spreading over my field of vision. I
gazed across that vast city we call London. Back in the olden days they
apparently managed to fit the whole city into one map. A friend of mine, a
litter bin, told me. That thought made me giggle in all my misery. London couldn’t
be fitted into anything. The minute you tried to jam it into a jar or a suitcase
it would just leap right up. It fought back. If it could it wasn’t even allowed
to. Me and Edith tried to draw it up once when we were children. We had found a
book on maps in our father’s collection. It was hidden behind the big book on
beards. We took his nicest amber pencils and told him what we were up to,
standing like two proud soldiers going on parade. He just laughed at us and
went cutting up more words. At first it went fine. We drew what we knew of
London. After a few boroughs the paper started to wiggle as it was sensing what
we were up to. Edith sat herself upon it and demanded me to continue drawing.
She would never lose a fight. It was nonetheless a lost cause. When I had just
finished Pimlico the half-done map flew up in the air, smacked us in the face
and flapped away.  The edges of a map was
just seen as a challenge for the city that ate itself as quick as it gave birth
to all lost souls in Shoreditch. How can I remember all this? I can’t. But I
do. I remember everything as clearly as I can still hear my father’s voice as
he was dragged away.

Was London a feminine or a masculine? I thought about it but I couldn’t
reach my brain. I felt jaded. My senses were still there though. I smelt the
rotten fish from the market nearby. The wind against my cheeks was cold and the
crystal clear winter air dried my lips. I think I heard voices coming from the
streets below. It was languages from all over the world. A young girl was laughing
at her mother in Lebanese and an elderly man whispered to himself in Hindu.

From my coat pocket I retrieved the one photograph I’ve got of Edith. Nothing
had been heard from her for months. She had sent no money, no letters and no other
proof of her existence. I prayed that she wasn’t gone forever. I had heard
about people losing their family, what it felt like. It was like forgetting a
fag between your fingers. It slowly burnt while your head was in the clouds.
You forget about it. It’s nothing. No pain no gain. That final bit when it gets
right to your skin hurts like hell though. It leaves burns and nicotine stains
that can never been washed away.

I put back the photograph in my pocket as I could hear the door to the
roof being opened and closed behind me. It was All-Eating Andrew. One can never
mistake his steps.

‘You should come inside Alfred. You don’t want to catch one of those
rigid north side colds.’

‘Just let me breathe a bit.’

I wanted him to leave. He didn’t. Andrew
wobbled up beside me and sat down in frostbitten plant next to me. He handed me
a bottle of gin I gratefully accepted.

‘She won’t be quiet for ever you know’
he said while he scratched his chin. ‘She’s out there; I can feel it in my left
butt cheek.’

‘What are you on about?’ I asked while
taking a swig. I knew exactly what he was on about.

‘Just because you don’t talk to me it
doesn’t mean that I don’t know what’s going on inside that head of yours. I
have known you since you were as small as a milk carton. It also helps that I
saw that photograph sticking out of your pocket.’

‘I can’t take her silence,’ I said, turning
my face towards him.

     All-Eating Andrew gazed back and patted me
on the back while London roared on. Edith wasn’t there. She was as quiet as a
forgotten packet of crisps. She was an old man’s slippers left behind in a
lonely front room. She was a drunken sailor’s coat thrown in a corner of a pub.


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