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Economically Liable: Chapter 3.

Updated on October 2, 2014

Chapter 3.

… One more set of turnstiles cleared, final hurdle in the athletics track, and I was in London. The vast, inexorable complexity of London. Ancient winding streets, the ledger of more stories than even it's worn “gold” paving could attempt to name. The seat of power was here, the rawest destitution was here, both fleeting in the face of the city's permanence, of death's permanence. Can't the wealthy see this irony? I thought as the priapic grandeur of The Gherkin soared above my head, still making no quarter with the impassive and voyeuristic grey sky. Don't they understand that their monuments to their own wealth are their mausoleums to it too?

Clearly not! Let them have their temples to avarice! I wished to immerse myself in the entire gamut of the Human condition, it was all to be had in London, the only monument that mattered, a pulsing, thriving talisman of diversity since the Romans claimed it as their own 2 millennia ago. I felt like a spy infiltrating another land, I had to make my first move. Where did I go? What did I do? The world was my oyster, but I couldn't prise open the shell! I wandered over to the river, taking my time to observe the ants in the colony, a slightly unfair analogy, ant's work has purpose. Headless chickens was a more apt description, propelled by an urgency, more fey than their fear of failure, more machine than the cars and buses stampeding down the roads. Poison had clogged the veins of London, capitalism meant more than community.

On the South Bank was a clutch of vibrancy to remind the servile that they were still human. Knots of folk gathered around an intrepid troubadour, one who was determined to forge a life of independent from the slab of conformity that made a financial metropolis such as this one. Street performers still gave this place a pulse, they were like tiny blood clots disturbing a capitalist organism, much like the Gothic beauty of Westminster belied the cold-hearted monsters that dwelt therein. I faced the palace of piety that was the Houses of Parliament, once known as The Mother of Parliaments... what a mother! Cruel, unforgiving and relentless in undermining those assigned to it's care. Even the harshest of Victorian governesses would be shocked. My hatred festered and swelled the more I glared at the place, it was enough to spark the Thames into a torrent of spiteful lava... that's how my blood feels. It boiled over the righteousness that those people had, squatting on the muted green leather that had been wrenched off of a dead cow, in order to fritter their lives away by lauding power over others.

I turned away, fingering the letter in my pocket. It had gone frayed through constant reading and the march of age. The plethora of performers drew my eye. One was a juggler, another aped being a statue, a third was an expert at mime... all were misfits. Each had fell out of the machine, rusted cogs to those dinosaurs in the palace up there... something had been waiting for me here. A gift from a ghost, bound in a letter. Up until now, mental malaise had led me by the nose, away from the city and into hinterlands of lethargy. Any attention, any shred of desire, ambition or particle of self-worth, had been wrapped in a choking smog of faux-slavery, attaching chains around my neck, wrists and ankles that permitted unhindered motion, but never set me free. When heavy, sightless nothingness of confusion hemmed you in and decided fate for you, freezing evolution in one spot... surely the best thing was to continue forward regardless... ?

... I sat in the office. Oak panels and red leather furniture fell away as I remained transfixed on the glowing white lump of fruit denoting the laptop was on. The middle-aged woman behind it was an upscale version of the woman who regularly signed my life away on the Dole, her hair was neater, her blouse and jacket was of a finer cut and higher quality fabric. She never looked at me though, she was too preoccupied in the administration of the correct processes of the law and unloading another case. Tapping out a melody of bureaucracy, she was done... "the object bequeathed to you, is downstairs, in the car park... " She said...

... My uncle Jeb was a maniac, always had been. A man devoting his life to traveling the world and fishing, living out of the back of an old VW camper van... he had left me that very van! Granted, it was in good condition, vibrantly painted blue, which began to beat a melody upon my soul. The very implication of it, muted twinkle in it's head lights, whimsically communicating discord with me, extending a hand to join it again in freedom, the freedom it had once bestowed on my uncle. "It has a full tank too... one of the conditions of his will was that it was fully maintained and kept full of petrol," the warden of the car park said. His voice echoed uselessly across the concrete tomb, the camper van begged us both to be free of it... inflammable will ignited through me. Ten minutes later, me and my camper van roared together in freedom through the streets paved with gold!

© Brad James, 2014.

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