Friday 26 July 2013

Below is a short story inspired by Bristol Open Doors & BLDGBLOG piece Berthier's door.

‘wherever you install a door, in any city, if you simply wait long enough, the invisible network of tunnels burrowing away in the background of urban awareness will eventually come to find it.’

Opening Berthier’s door

Yes I’m night folk, don’t be afraid. Yes my teeth are sharp and I am a little hairier than you but don’t worry, I’m not going to bite. You’ve gotten lost haven’t you? Been exploring have you? Door Open day is it? Been invited into the vast catacombs of labyrinthine networks lying under the city? Don’t mind me, I only live here. Bet you want me to show you the way out don’t you? Every year it’s the same, always one of you day folk wanders off the path; gets lost down here and we have to show them the way out. Let me tell you about last year. She was a right royal pain. Yeah I’ll take you out of here, just listen and follow me.

I’m no good at day folk ages but I’d say she was too young to vote but old enough to know better than wander off by herself. I found her sobbing away whilst I was looking for track rabbits. What do you mean what are track rabbits? Look you can’t stop me every time you don’t understand something, it’ll put me off. I’ll have to start again. You have the internet, look it up when you get back if you’re that interested. I’ll start again.

So there I was, out hunting, when I heard this sniffling and sobbing, a right wailing and caterwauling, proper full on tears of despair.  I approached all cautious like on my tiptoes, I can be quiet even though I’m a big feller. You didn’t hear me coming up behind you did you? Anyway so there I was all sneaky like and she stops crying just like turning off a tap. She gave a great sniff and then said “Who’s there?” Well I tell you I was surprised. Been out hunting in the parks and subways and in the deep dark places and I ain’t never been spotted by one of you folk before.

“Don’t be frightened” I said, just like when I approached you. Didn’t do no good then either. She jumped to her feet, her bosom heaving, eyes wide open but I know you day folk can’t see well down here.

“I ain’t going to hurt ya” I says. Well no, I didn’t know that’s what they always say on films. Not a great amount of cinemas down here is there. Anyway hush now, no more interrupting.

“I’m not afraid” she says, bold as brass. “Who are you?”

Well now, we didn’t discuss names did we? Anyhow us night folk had names once but have traded them in for monikers. Labels if you like. The other folk know me as Two-Coats. Yeah, I may tell you about that later.

“You can call me Two Coats” I says “And what can I call you?”

“I am Monica Llewellyn” She says and I guess it’s important to have two names, as above so below, they say. Who? They, They, haven’t you heard of Them?

“Lost are ya” I says, already knowing the answer

“I’m not lost, I’ve just misplaced the exit” she says

“Well let me show you the way” I says, yeah I do do it for charitable reasons, also because we don’t want the boys in blue in numbers down here do we?

“Thankyou ever so much” she said and that should have been my second warning, no-one says that do they? ‘ever so much’.  That’s gone through polite and out the other side that has.

“This way then miss” I says and start off but oh no she’s not ready to go is she, she wants to make sure her shoes are OK and other stuff. Wants to make sure that she’s in control. Wants to preach to me.

The she says “Let me tell you about how I came to be here” and boy was that a tale I had no interest in. I was just hoping to show her the door you know. But it got worse. “Jesus showed me the way” she said later, that shows you. Showed me too, try to be a good Samaritan and end up with a sermon. Wonder if the good Samaritan was at the sermon. Not sure of my Bible to be honest.

“Do you live here” She asked me and “Don’t you have anywhere to go in the city, where they’ll look after you?” (see it’s Them) and “Jesus can show you the way” and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t be bothered to repeat.

Anyway she was so sanctimonious, so sure that I needed saving that I decided that I’d take her the long route. It’s a maze of stairs and corridors and slopes and steps and twists and turns. Eventually we came out in the 3rd arrondissement and as she stepped out into the city I quickly waved her goodbye and closed the door. Well no, I won’t do that to you, apart from interrupting me you’ve been OK. Yes the 3rd arrondissement is in Paris. Yes I know as the crow flies that’s quite a long way from Bristol but we ain’t crows, we weren’t flyin and us night folk know a bit about how to get from one place to another using short cuts. Yes it’s possible, don’t diss me. Yes I suppose it could be seen as a cautionary tale but you know I didn’t kill and eat her, although I am powerful hungry, so that’s OK isn’t it?

Anyhow this is your stop, the Clifton Rocks Railway. What’s that? You came in here in Redcliffe caves? You never heard that the caves stretch all the way up Whiteladies road? Like I said we know short cuts. Just be glad you don’t have to practise your French. Out you go and be careful, some of the night folk ain’t as nice as old Two Coats. Hope I won’t be seeing ya. Farewell.






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