I am summertime red. That is, blazoned. In the middle of the park, in the middle of a thousand people, I stand out. The advantage, I suppose, of red. In the winter I am the blood in the snow. At the scene of an accident I am both arrival and departure. I am a red cross, a catch of light, a solitary telephone box. No wonder I am gloomy.
But adorning the High Street I made my way through the throngs. I threaded – weaved even – through the passers-by, the shoppers and the urgent walkers. Or, rather, I stood there, crimson and whatnot, as they blurred around and through me. I was a film, stop frame, powder and flash. A red streak.
I had a spot of red on my leg on the blanket. I was creased in the leg as I was creased in the blanket. Ignoring the grey of the shadow, I was pink and the colour of fine, fine hairs. Downy. There was the press evidence, the fold and the impressions of what I had just been up to. My heel was testament to careful steps and various shimmies. I was also, let us not forget, that red spot, somewhere around the middle of my leg. Its centre, blazing hot white. Its oriole blushing, shameful. Areola, that is. A Fordyce spot.
I strayed from the path and, as punishment, was ravished, if that is the word, by a man with a rubbish beard and what he imagined were cold, steely eyes. He drew me in and threw me out. He said to me, are there any more where you come from? I said no, not of this colour. He passed me, later, through the woods, reaching my destination long before I reached mine. He took me for a fool. A silly little thing. He gazed at me with those pathetic eyes. Before he could ask his questions I skewered him with a fireside poker. It burns! he cried while his skin burned through to red. Blazing his tiny scrap of heart.
My TV is visible through the mirror and I watch it when my room is red glow. Next to the mirror, a chair and, past the roll of kitchen towels, an open door. Through the open door a patch of light clinging to the wall. A red bit, wavering, at its edge. Is that light from white, or is it light from red? Have a look. Out there, through the door.
I wish I still smoked, sometimes. I wish I still had that brief pitch of red, that pull of light. I wish I had, sometimes, the rise of smoke, past the lampshade and delicate around the bare lightbulb. Grey? No, not grey. Red. Like the red of glory and the red of incontestable strength. The red of smoke and the cause of smoke. The red of endless cardboard boxes.
I was not at the TV this time when I noticed, as I headed towards the TV, how much more interesting the hang of the curtain was than the hang of whatever the shadows were fighting for with the reflections. Dark grey and finger prints, the curve of the TV screen, as it threw out the light it drew in and then threw it back out again. A window seen in the screen, the slats of four equal squares of white, the dream of a window despite the reality of the widow in two crooked slats. Anyway, the hang of the curtain was, by far, the most interesting visual aspect of this grim little vista. And I suppose that that was on account of the curtain there being red. A nice deep kink of mysterious, spread on red. As they sometimes say: a lick of colour adds new life to every room.
I had a habit of setting fire to things. When I disagreed with you I set fire to things. If you upset me, I set fire to things. Remember? Well, the other day I threw what little caution I had left to the wind and set fire to all kinds of things I didn’t like: chairs, books, newspapers, strips of film, policemen, women, tuffies, comics, cats, music, fireflies, coastline maps, crooked trails, rat bags, biscuits, alcohol, noise, pedestrians, bullseyes, noxious gases, education, idolatry, politicians, music, women, words, songs, dry humps, cheese, bicycle paths, water pumps, green lanes, cigarettes, public houses, toilets, traffic cones, women. These things, I’ll have you know, burnt all through the day. The red they cast was the red of grey. I turned to my companion, as we toasted our spoils, and smiled as he smiled back. It was one of those days.