One of a series of short short stories written about London’s sweaty Underground system, this story is on the darker side of the imagination and is especially poignant in these times….what would you have done?
Straphanging on the Piccadilly line, near the door. Sitting on the nearest seat to me and the exit, this blokie. He has style without styling. That casual perfection in the rolled up jeans and streaky blond slicked hair which, greased and jabbed at with a comb, curves up and back as confident as a ski run. He has a beard but it looks more like a fashion statement than a political or religious one. He reclines like a drunk, legs wide apart in the close fitting grey jeans. Sparky clean, straight from the machine.
He is not drunk.
His watch is two tone, half silver, half pink, cost thousands. A chunk of complications including timer, date, dual time, each relentlessly, impertinently accurate.
His Louis Vuitton bag sprawls between his open legs just slightly ajar, enough for me to see the bomb nestling inside. I know it’s a bomb, because that wire and that tape could be nothing else and it’s my job. Or rather, it was when I worked in Security at Heathrow. Until yesterday. when I was fired for being drunk. In the five years I was there I never saw a bomb. Until now.
The woman standing next to me stinks. Sunken deep into her iPhone, ringed fingers zooming about, her face writes her despair. She’s young enough to be desperate.
No signal. I can’t dial 999. I could pull the emergency chord but that could make him panic into detonating…
The couple snogging next to the urbane bomber are ingesting each other orally. I hate them. They are oblivious to my wound, they are so sunken into themselves they believe they have a right to dig into my pain and turn and pull and wrench. Selfish shits.
He’s looking around, really alert. Is he aware of me?
The fat bloke standing next to me is in a striped shirt which gapes incontrovertibly open at belt level so that shreds of belly hair and blobs of pale flesh can get a good look at the women in the carriage. Head down into his mobile, playing a game.
Who else deserves to be blown up? Well I do.
When I left Marie both she and the baby were screaming accusingly. When he grows up he will never forgive me. I think I hit her but perhaps I didn’t.
Love was never meant to be in me. It was just something I did, to get sex. Or is it the other way round? I really don’t care. Now there’s a baby, with me in him. Poor little shit. Better daddy is blown up than he has to say daddy left when he was a baby, because father was drunk and couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.
He’s scratching his head and looking about him. With similar thoughts?
Similar thoughts. He doesn’t look like a terrorist, not the type we were trained to spot. So Slick. So casual.
Leicester Square. My destination.