I saw a man today. He was lying in the alleyway and he
was crying and he had no trousers but I didn’t help him,
because Momma says I shouldn’t talk to no one round here
and if I do, bad things will happen, like what happened to
Jonny and Rachel and Sara. I don’t want bad things to
happen. So I don’t help the man in the alleyway who is
crying and has no trousers.
He’s nearly finished. I can tell from his eyes, because
they look old and the man is young. I can tell from his
mouth, and the voice that cracks like poor tarmac after
a downpour. I can tell from his touch, the way his hands
softly caress his face and the ground as if discovering
new features he never found in a wasted life, a wasted
life I know is his because I have seen this man lying in the
alleyway before. He’s nearly finished.
The one lying in the alleyway, crying and with no trousers,
who is nearly finished, which I could tell from his eyes, his
mouth and his touch, and I have seen before, is gesturing
at me. He points towards his trousers. I run away.
Momma was in the house when I went in.
I told her of the man lying in the alleyway, crying and
with no trousers, and I told her of who he was. He is the
storyteller, the one who has no purpose, he who kills to
survive. Momma shouts at me, and calls the man names,
like ‘drifter’, and ‘murderer’, and ‘coward’, but never ‘hurt’
or ‘finished’ or ‘broken’. When she turns I run back out,
because I don’t think the man is a ‘drifter’ or a ‘murderer’ or
a ‘coward’. He is nearly finished and is lying in the alleyway.
A while ago, the man got up. He has not stopped crying.
I don’t like the crying because it reminds me of the night
and the sounds of the night and the men who bring the
sounds to the night. The man is not lying in the alleyway but
walking down, away from me and Momma and home. And
I am glad, for the man is nearly finished.
I can’t feel my body, but I know it hurts. It moans and
weeps and cries and shouts and dies and lives, and still
I’m not sorry. Should I heed its warning? It knows. My body
knows, my body feels, my body hurts. Really hurts.
And still I’m not sorry.
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive
us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’. 1
John 1:9. I can’t remember when I learnt that. All I know is
that, at the time, I thought it was wrong. In this alleyway,
however, my perception seems to have changed slightly.
God’s now the judge and I’m the defendant, and all those
nameless faces are the prosecution. And the jury have
reached a unanimous decision.
There’s another line in that chapter. 1 John 1:10. ‘If we
claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and
his word is not in us.’ That’s probably why my body hurts
Except I admit to it. My sins. My crimes. Other lives. But, I
suppose that’s not the same as a confession. Some God,
this fella. He’ll let you off the hook for one confession. Some
people don’t deserve forgiveness. Can’t imagine he’ll like
A boy’s appeared. I recognise him. I bet he recognises me.
They all do round here. Jesus, I hurt. I can’t see him clearly.
Drifting in and out of consciousness is relaxing. You always
hear ‘I can’t tell how long it’s been’ and ‘I don’t where I am’,
but in truth, it doesn’t matter. It’s pain relief. And the boy’s
He reminds me of the first. The following, down the road,
and then the conversation. I used to tell them stories. And
then… I’m sick, you know. I didn’t want to do it. It’s just, I
like a challenge. No one stops me round here. Apart from
today. And once you start, it’s so hard to stop that you
I know I’m not the only one. If I’m addicted, someone else
must be as well. There are too many screams and wails
and bad things in the night for it to be just me. Or maybe
I’m wrong. My body’s pain feels too direct, too fraught with
emotion, too intensified by hate. The people who did it,
they were probably related to one of them, one of mine. I
wonder how it feels to lose someone like that. I suppose
I’ve already lost myself.