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The Grafters


2 minutes

I've followed you for hours.

On and off.

Across windswept beaches and deserted construction sites.
Through grimy alleyways and smoky late-night cabaret bars.
Over highways where cars honk and swerve and across arcades burdened with people and noise.

I will have my man.

I check the time. Seven thirty. It’s always seven thirty.

I catch my breath and see you sniff the air under a railway arch, look around and then pick up the pace.

Any self-taught stealth is rendered futile as I have long since become aware that we are being studied by a hundred thousand eyes.

I see you shake hands and scurry into a club lousy with neon lights and impatient revellers.

Still, I am ready for justice. I am ready to claim my prize.

From the shadows I make my move, pushing through the static, flicking away a cigarette which sparks and sizzles as it hits the glistening tarmac.

A hand is raised, almost a fist, and the suited, booted heavy standing in the club doorway squints at me; my hat, my coat flapping in the arctic breeze and then down at my trainers and jeans. He shakes his head and, without budging an inch, he points to the laminated sign behind him.

“Not tonight, Sunshine,” he says before adding, “I don't make the rules up.”

He pulls the slack red rope taut across the pavement, dividing the walkway into the chosen few and the begging mass.

I catch sight of you; the highlights in your hair picked out by the throbbing strobes of the dancefloor.

You shrug and then laugh so hard that the thick glass wall between us almost cracks.

I turn away into the void. Ready to piece the clues together again. At the same scheduled time next week.

I gather my thoughts. It’s not despair this time but a reluctant sense of hope.

For the price of your attention, I will have my man.

Chris Boyd lives in London and is currently listening to the new album by WODE.

Published on June 20, 2016.