We were dancing in the café by the beach – like boy soldiers creeping through the drains, when the police arrived. We knew it was illegal, but we figured that we were safe with the blinds down. We weren’t.
Then, when I stroked your arm on the way to the police car; just to tell you that it was gonna be okay, that nice police officer shoulder-charged me into the wall, sucker-punched me to the ground and began to break in his boots on my body.
Someone told me later about PDAs; Public Displays of Affection and about how they’d just gotten illegal. My bruises, the colour of ripe banana, wished that someone had told me earlier.
That morning had started like any other in that desert wasteland – with a sunrise. The dust in the air muted it down to the colour of shaved cats and cut the heat in half, but still – we had to have the A/C in the van on. The A/C was always on, along with the water filter, the sun-filters (yeah, I know that they call ’em sunglasses) and the mind-filters.
You can’t drink what comes out of the pipes, no matter how much they try to tell you it’s clean. Not really because you can’t, but because you just don’t want to. I mean, all the shit’s been taken out, and it doesn’t smell at all like piss, but, well – you know.
And you can’t take the sun without some kind of protection. I mean, clothes – obviously, but then there’s stuff to cool you down too – like, who wants to fry like an egg? No-one, right? So there’s A/C and a big, fat, hairy wrap-around vehicle. A car, or a van, or one of those mother-in-law-massive four-by-fours – just in case you get stuck in the sand. And yeah – that can happen.
But minds? Who would have thought that your own private thoughts would need protecting! But that must have been how the police tracked us down so quick – my tinfoil hat had gotten torn on the way to the beach.
It was one of those mindless, random accidents – something that you just couldn’t have imagined if it hadn’t happened to you. All the trees are gone – obviously. But there are plenty of mobile-phone masts about – the ones they made to look like trees, thinking that they would blend in with the landscape. Ha – that’s a laugh!
I grew up in a time when you could walk under a tree and all that would happen is that spiders would get into your hair and lay eggs under your skin so that, when you scratched at the itchy red bumps, all the little spider children would come running out and set up a colony in your ears, and then you would go deaf apart from hearing their little spidery footfalls inside your head.
At least that’s what I imagined when I was a kid.
So I tended to duck when I saw a tree branch. But if I didn’t I knew that I could just bat my hands frantically against my head to get rid of all the spiders before they had a chance to settle.
But I got distracted by your candy-floss smile on the short walk from the van to the beach that evening. Your sweet face made me think of the swoosh of surf, the sea like a sauna, nice’n’spicy food, walking lazily under the stars; and that’s when the low-hanging fruit of the mast tagged me. Ripped a hole straight through the tinfoil. My thoughts and dreams fell out and swayed through the sky – like the northern lights used to do. Before … you know.
Must have lit up on the police equipment like a frickin’ neon arrow in the sky – with me at the sharp end. But I thought that it was okay if I just pushed the edges of the foil together – idiot that I was.
You’d think they’d have better things to do than sling people in the pokey for dancing, right? But since England came under Sharia law, things have gotten a bit twisted. Like the whole country turned into a pot of spaghetti. Barbed-wire spaghetti.
If”n I ever get out of Scarborough prison, I’m going to Scotland – if I can find a way to get over the fence. It’ll be worth it. At least you can still dance there!