Thursday, December 3, 2015

Death, in black and white

He was dressed in black, and rode a white horse on a street of smooth asphalt, with traffic lights as clean and shiny as Lego props. The traffic island was the flawless green of astro-turf, and his helicopter had hovered above it for a second before it vaporised.

He was equally at home on the horse, his gun slung low, and ready.

I edged our group away from street-view, into the shadow of the walls above. We loped along the terrace. Then it ended in a high wall.

Minutes ago, we had left the crowded lecture hall. Against the flat blue sky, the gleaming white airplane, with its bright yellow tail, looked like an 8-year old boy’s conception of a summer sky. How did the plane grow so fast, swoop so low? Noiseless, effortless. A black figure filled the doorway, his black assault rifle slung low across his chest.

Now it was a helicopter sweeping the skies of our town. I urged my little group into the fire escape, and up onto the landing of the floors above.

An array of windows looked on to the terrace, grey, drawn and unblinking. Didn’t they know? We hurried past. Now the wall. I hesitated.

Behind us, a door opened, noiseless. He had been working at a laboratory bench, his room grey, bare and purposeful. He hadn’t known, but now he understood.

It would be better to come in.

We diffused into his space. An inner room had the light of color.

A curtain parted. Then another.

Here was a chamber draped in yellow folds, a large poster bed with plump red quilts. It would be better to sleep.

I awoke before my phone alarm. Plugged into his oxygen machine, my father snored lightly. The rest of the house was silent. In the winter darkness, I savoured my coffee. Plenty of time before I needed to get on my cycle to ride with Vasant. My Whatsapp buzzed. “Can we push it to 6:45?” Sure. Now I could cycle through my Twitter feed.

“14 killed in San Bernadino mass shooting”


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