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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.

The Alleyway

‘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

so much.

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

me much.

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

still there.

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

don’t bother.

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.