Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am
1st Nov 2009

How To Die In Public.

We begin with the set-up, the fix, the sting.

The cross-hairs fall on you and you won’t see it coming. It’ll happen in a crowd and it’ll be swift as the wind like it was for Kennedy, like Lennon, like MLK. Your enemy camouflaged in plain sight by your unseeing eyes. Bold as brass they’ll walk straight up to you in the high street. Right to your face. Big flashy smile oscillating into a joyfully intentional ‘Wow’ shape. “Haven’t seen you for ages” they’ll insinuate with the confident beaming swagger of a well fed dog. “Haven’t seen you ever” You’ll think. Who is this person? Not a clue. Yet they’ve so expertly inspired that thin uncertain smile you’ve adopted to mask the puzzlement your eyes betray. Their grin refuses to falter and it hits you then. This person genuinely knows who you are – Whereas you’ve completely erased THEM from your hand picked history. An embarrassingly transparent attempt to not appear rude suddenly the unsteady crutch of your brittle social automaton. Oh God. Worse still, they’re staying for a conversation. Maybe a few more seconds and it’ll… No, it won’t. At a loss and preying for a re-boot of clarity, you’ll fail to mention your inability to recall name, face, anything. Mustn’t drop the charade. Mustn’t expose one’s fraudulent nature. Mustn’t look like an idiot. Just hang on to that vacuous expression of forced glee. Hide your weakness. Survive.

Finger on the trigger now.

Seizing the initiative they’ll bring up the match and they’ll know you’re a Red. They’ll ask about your Job. They’ll ask about your Dad. Things gets more awful every second. A visible discomfort has you in its clammy grasp. You’re nodding and laughing and exchanging knowing looks with a complete stranger and you go on and on and on like some sort of marionette. Like being polite and accommodating got somehow more important than honest integrity. The façade now the only solidity you have left. You don’t ask them about their team or their job or any people they know. You can’t. The conversation is so one sided you idly wonder when it will tip up and release you from this awkward misery. There is absolutely no way now you can admit to not knowing this person without looking like a self-centred twat that has nothing for old acquaintances but amnesia. Undone and uncovered you fake an appointment and you say your goodbyes. You’ll look them in the eye and wish them well and hope they hadn’t noticed that you never once addressed them by their name, all the while shaking their hand. They’re nobody. And you promise to call this nobody who you can never call and who seems not to have noticed your vacuity. You haven’t lied so much in so short a space of time since you were a child and it leaves a taste in your mouth like worn leather.

Which brings us to the kill.

You’re not ten feet away when your road to Damascus moment happens and you realise they were X. X who you were best mates with for all those years while working at Y. X who mended your bike. X whose sister you got with at the Christmas do. X who could squirt milk out of the corner of their eye. X who made you laugh most days. X who you’ve so easily forgotten. X who you no longer know. X who bares the brunt of deleted memory. Where did that go? All those good times crushed under the weight of your experience and you somehow never noticed. X disappears back into the crowd and back into a part of your life where you haven’t lived for a long, long time. Both of you victims of the same theft. One of many tiny deaths that took you softly as a mothers kiss. Your life like all lives tearing through memory and tearing through time like a bullet. The bullet you use to assassinate yourself. You won’t see it coming.

by Chris
Posted in Words

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