A Hammer Will Fall
Well known Location.
The words screamed at Harry Sinclair from beneath the wholemeal egg and lettuce sandwich he ate, alone, in the lunchroom of the office where he’d worked for the past 15 years.
He looked at the property guide image of the unassuming rectangular building beneath him, knee high grass caught reaching skyward from the empty carpark and began reading the dark tubes of neon on the building’s exterior, making them glow pink again;
The grey disappeared.
He tore out the picture and placed it into his pocket.
Hello?Is your mother there?
Mum, its dad.
Hello. Where are you?
We’ve been worried sick.
I need you to come and get me.
I’m at Dapto police station.
The police station? Oh my god!
I’ll explain when you get here.
Since the “For Sale” sign was erected a few weeks earlier Harry had driven by whenever he could. No one ever knew exactly where he was, especially not his wife, he was always working back, buying milk, refuelling the car, hiding in the everyday.
Before long, most nights found him retracing the journey he had taken all those years before, a lonely arc circling toward the empty skating rink.
Harry leant in, his body following the teetering, unbalanced angle of his head, everything focused on the dark constellation of her mouth. Their lips pushed together, the unpractised haste trapping an awkward bubble of air within them. An alien tongue thrust inside, the punching appendage painting his mouth with stale cigarettes and post-mixed Cola, every taste bud exploding beneath the coarse, human sandpaper.
New cavities in time began to open. One, two,
When should I stop?
How long is a kiss anyway?
Then he was gone. No longer connected to his body. A resonating, spectral particle, floating in space. Astronaut, observer. A possibility. A memory.
The capillaries in his ears tingled with the squeak of urethane on the polished surface of the rink and he re-entered the awareness of her mouth leaving. Gasping for air, his eyes opened, she‘d already turned away. No lingering, no savouring of the moment. It was done.
They found their way out of the darkness and back toward the rink, holding hands briefly before releasing each other to return to different places.
He couldn’t say exactly when he’d had the idea of breaking in, but somewhere he’d been told that spark plugs could break a window without making a sound. Something about the ceramic casing producing only a hollow breath as it pierced the glass, like the sound of a candle being extinguished.
Anyway - who would question a middle aged man buying a spark plug?
He tapped the spark plug against the window, on the third attempt a waterfall of crystals shattered onto the carpet below, a thousand sparklers echoed in the empty cavern of the skating rink.
He hoisted himself through the window and down onto the crackling floor.
There it stood - the rink with its carpeted walls, raised DJ booth, burnt out and covered with graffiti, the ticket window, canteen, popcorn, hotdogs, soggy chips, air hockey, video games, girls, dares. The concealed, dark corner near the toilets.
He stepped onto the rink and instantly felt an urge to move. Walking dusty circles around the litter strewn floor, the silence came alive, synthesised with boxy snare drums, a liquid radio voice over the speakers;
the harmonic dive of Kickstart my heart,
the unmistakable sound of childhood ending.
Then he heard the security car pull up.
The torch light splits into strobes through the barred window, finds a mirrorball of broken glass across the floor. The beams dance in the empty space above him. Harry watches as the light begins to catch the dust, illuminating every suspended particle - an entire universe collapsing into one small place and time around him.
The plans were made in secret two days prior, the hours made thin with longing and anticipation. Not a romantic longing, there was nothing Parisian about it, no loins yearning, just desperate, adolescent desire; spent imaginations, semen drying on socks and the choking fear of being left behind, stranded and alone.
They rode in silence for most of the journey home, every bump and tonal shift of the engine projected onto the invisible wall between them.
I’ve never been so embarrassed! Picking my 40 year-old husband up from the police station.I’m sorry.
What were you even thinking? My god! Break and enter?!Easy on the melodrama.
Easy? Easy!Dismay stole the words. They returned to silence.
The truth was he simply couldn’t explain it to her. It wasn’t that he didn’t know exactly why he’d felt such a compulsion to return, it was more that he felt he could never make another living soul truly understand this. It would be like explaining gravity with only the words “things fall”.
After all, it was just a kiss.
How many kisses were happening right at this very moment, he wondered? How many gentle pecks in time, goodnight, hello, how many hurried kisses stolen out of wedlock, public kisses sealing vows, parent/child “it’s ok” kisses. A first kiss is never truly a first kiss, but the world is changed therewith and a new sun rises at dawn soon after.
He stood in the darkness, lights whirring around him, time leaning, still. Whatever music there was had become a broken wave in his ears, his nerves pulsating, a chemical sweat beading on his forehead urgently offering itself to the world.
I can’t believe this is happening, this is really happening.
He waited, desperate for what came next.
About the author
Maris Depers is a Psychologist from Wollongong NSW, his poetry and short fiction have appeared in One Page Literary Magazine, Mascara Literary Review, Cordite Poetry Review and the Kindling III Anthology.
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