Thursday, September 09, 2010


Rowan Close is so dark and definitively shut up for the night it can’t possibly be real. It feels like one of those cute miniature streets in a petting zoo, one mouse per house; if I reached out through the ambulance window I could gently lift a roof and see a ball of fur curled up in a nest of grass. But instead we pass noisily down to the end of the Close and park outside the only bungalow here that could be expecting us: number thirty-seven, Clara’s house.

We can see her crashing around inside, the curtainless windows thrown open, the stark box of her front room cruelly lit by a unshaded bulb. A ginger cat is cleaning itself on the window ledge. It stops with its paw half to its face as we come to the garden gate, thinks for a moment, then drops away into the bushes.

‘Garfield!’ she shouts from inside. ‘Oh don’t let Garfield go!’ But before she can reach the window she topples head first onto the sofa.

The front door is half open. We knock once and go inside.

‘What do you want?’ she pants, struggling to right herself as we follow the only clear trail through all the boxes of books, kitchen equipment, bedding, bags of trash, piles of magazines and other heaps of anonymous and unsorted detritus that clutter up her home.

‘I don’t know, Clara. You called us.’

She rights herself on the sofa and studies us for a moment. Her face is as boozily pink as her blancmange coloured top, its plunging neckline open to the waist, barely covering a pair of breasts so vast she looks like some great fertility totem from the stone age: the Venus of Willendorf pissed on pear cider, her great bare feet resting on a pile of spilled copper coins.

‘Yes. I do feel strange.’

‘In what way, strange, Clara?’

‘I fell over. Outside.’ She delicately picks aside some greasy strands of hair that are sticking to her cheek, then gives her head a demur shake. ‘I don’t know why.’

Suddenly she deflates a little, sags into herself and seems to fall asleep for a second or two. But just as suddenly she jerks awake again.

‘Please excuse the mess,’ she says. ‘I’m doing a spot of decorating.’

In a neat line by the sofa are four, one and a half litre bottles of Perry. Two of them are empty.

‘Oh I know what you’re thinking,’ she says, putting her hands down either side of her and bobbing her head forwards and back in an effort to build sufficient momentum to escape from the sofa – then settling back down again in defeat. ‘I know exactly what you’re thinking. The old bag’s drunk again. But I know what I can and can’t drink. I know what’s normal for me. And this…’ she sighs, gesturing to the room about her with a strange, spidery flip-flop motion of her hands. ‘..this falling over in the street business … this, is definitely, not normal.’


Jean said...

Falling over in the street? Yet she is in her house?
Poor thing seems a mess in many ways.

Spence Kennedy said...

Yep. She said she fell over in the street, picked herself up and went back inside. Who knows. No sign of injury, everything fine, just Clara saying she feels strange and wants to go to hospital. We took her, needless to say. She's been up loads of time for the same thing. We're just not in a position to refuse her transport (for some reason - still not sure, even in the context of lawyers4u it seems overly cautious) :0/ x

Mr London Street said...

Check my blog out. You've won something.

Jennifer said...

This was great.
I got here by way of Mr. London Street, and it was well worth it!

William said...

Came here by way of MLS. Very interesting blog you have hear, and i look forward to following your stories.

Ellie said...

not normal at all.

Spence Kennedy said...

Hey - thanks MLS! I owe you!

And thanks for visiting, Jennifer, William & Ellie. :0) x

Holly Jahangiri said...

Came by way of Mr. London Street, to whom I came by way of Jan Geronimo, to whom - oh, hell, that's too far back. I don't remember.

Your writing is every bit as good as Mr. L said it was. I'm so happy to have discovered a new blog to read, even if I can't possibly keep up with all the wonderful writing I'm trying to follow already. :)

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much Holly! :) I sympathise about the prob of keeping up with all the good stuff out there...

Jeannie said...

I came by via MLS to congratulate you on your post.

It reminds me of a book I read once called "Emergency" about tales from the Emergency room--they were true but patient confidentiality was protected. You could probably do the same type of compilation with your "greatest hits" ... just a suggestion.

Once you start reading these things, you just can't put them down. The human condition is endlessly fascinating and there is something to be said for watching train wrecks and having your heart wrenched out in empathy.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much, Jeannie

That 'what next' aspect of the job is one of the most addictive things about it. I've been thinking of changing jobs for a while now, but haven't done much about it because I know I'd miss that unpredictability. Hate working nights, though...

Anonymous said...

I love your clara character and how you threw out the image of her breast popping out of a totem pole. I hated totem poles when I was little. I thought they were evil. They always had a blood thirsty badger for some reason.

I've read once of a Clara from the book, The Shadow of The Wind. The girl, a blind, somewhat purely white, angel like, delicate body, is the main character's love interests. The main character at a young age of 10, finds her bare white legs wrapped around the hips of her music teacher.

It's a really great read. Very unique and beautifully written. Kind of like your own writing.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much for your kind comment and encouragement, TTP!

I'll look out for The Shadow of the Wind - thanks for the recommendation.