Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Opener

Arthur Straw strolled quietly down the pedestrian street. He was not exactly tall, not exactly broad, but there was about him the air of potential violence, a frame that moved fluidly and not in any way identifiable with any of the usual traits.
In fact it was this that led to trouble – as it always did – whether or not Arthur gave a damn. Which he usually didn’t.
His face was violent only in its calmness, and his eyes roved sardonically from incident to incident with barely a flicker of interest.
He had a scar above his left eye, a small scar that told little of the fury that had caused it.
As he walked down the street, he saw the local neighbourhood kids standing outside one of the doors.
He liked them. They’d asked him his name and made friends with him. On the way back from the Chinese take-away the other night they’d showered him with their water pistol while screeching with delight. He smiled at the memory, a gentle, true smile.
There was an adult with them.
The adult saw, and hated, and coughed.
“Ey up, mate. Corrupting your kids are you?”
No reply. Just a dirty stare.
“You’re not a nonce or something are you?” Arthur grinned after he made this remark. The other guy was bigger than him. The other guy left the kids alone and stood up straight.
“Cos I like these kids, and I’d hate to see anything happen to them.”
Arthur’s voice had hardened. It sounded flat and deadly.
“Fuck off mate. I’m their uncle.”
“Lucky for you.”
Arthur glowered as he strolled past. The other man stood straight and shrank at the same time. ‘Not in front of the kids’, thought Arthur.

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