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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Death Trousers of Poole

The feet are pounding down the midnight pavement with desperate urgency.  We know just  how desperate and how urgent because they are running in super slow motion.  The grey trainers rising from the flagstones, gliding through the thickened air and slapping down with agonising slowness.  And just to underline how urgent this really is we sometimes see clips of the runner in real time with the trainers smacking down like gunshots which echo from the cruel walls of the seedy  hotels on the promenade.  Now we see the runners face, contorted with fear and desperation.  His mouth opens in super slow motion and we hear the long drawn out exclamation: ”Noooooooooooooooo” dragging on through the night air.

We know that the runner, a defrocked clergyman, has realised the truth.  He has just worked out what the common factor is behind all the unexplained deaths, 15 perhaps, even 20 that have plagued the run down estates and dingy back streets  that Poole seems to be entirely made of.  What was it that linked the young mother from Canford Heath, the teenager from Oakdale, the crippled middle aged dancer from Sandbanks?  In a flash of inspiration as vivid as a visitation from God – the very God that our runner has disavowed from the pulpit of St James’  Church only last week to a congregation as shocked at his revelation as he is now– he knows;  and only he can stop further mayhem and slaughter.

His size ten feet crash through the panels at the bottom of the street door.  They are pounding up the stained and faded stair carpet of the cabbage stinking boarding house and our man is shoulder charging through the room door, the lock splintering away from the woodwork.  A young woman jerks her head up in sudden terror at the ghastly intrusion.  She is just dressing to go out to the club, sitting on the edge of the bed just about to pull on the red and black stripey trousers.  “Noooooooooo” his voice continues and now in real time:  “Leave the trousers where they are!!!!!!”  his finger jabbing out like the finger of Jehova on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But her hands are frozen in terror, her fingers locked on to the waistband.  Her eyes are stretched wide.  Slow as treacle pouring our man snatches from his pocket the heavily embroidered stole, the symbol of his once held position as upholder of the faith.  He wraps the scarf round his hands and stretches for the hornet-coloured garment.  It is though he is imploring, begging, praying for the miracle of time. 
Now, the girl has found her voice.  She is screaming, her voice joining his shouted instructions echoing round the room.  Now his trainers come into play again.  Thrusting up and back, slow motion again, Ninja like, an overhead bicycle kick crashing through the dirty glass of the rotten sash window.  And continuing the same movement, with a deep yell as if of religious ecstasy he throws the trousers up and out the window far out into the bay.

Now he is telling the girl, explaining, reassuring.  It was the trousers.  The same pair moving from the rails of Age Concern to Sue Ryder to The British Heart Foundation worming their way through the female underclasses of Poole society.  But now they are gone.  He speaks gently, breathlessly.  The girl sobs and rests her head on his muscled  shoulder.  And as dawn breaks we see them standing there, the faded, ragged curtains flapping in the cold early morning breeze.  He strokes her hair abstractedly as he contemplates eternity.  And his faith flooding back through his manly frame.  

Post script

Across the harbour a yacht is under motor power heading for the open sea and the world beyond.  A woman, lithe and bikini clad shivers in the morning chill.  She wishes she had packed more clothes, but there is no going back now. That rat who until twenty minutes ago was her husband will be standing sullen at the quayside. She suddenly sees something that makes her pause at the wheel, a dawning smile lighting her face.  Draped over the rail, just out of reach for the moment, a pair of red and black stripey trousers.

(With thanks to Elinor Rose Cooper whose idea provided the inspiration)

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