Nine, eleven, thirteen; the odd numbers of fear…

Each section of the bridge had a difference resonance.

Each section of the bridge had a difference resonance.

Section 141 is coming undone

With a little more exploration Vernon, found his way onto the bridge itself. He had time on his hands, thoughts to keep at bay, and a strange sentimental reluctance to leave this raw English landscape behind so he set about walking the length of the bridge. Vibrations literal and emotional continued to communicating something primitive to him. Each section of the bridge had a different resonance. From his brief verbal exchanges with pedestrians and cyclists along the way, Vernon could tell that this bridge was regarded with affection by those who traversed it regularly. Returning to his car, and his coffee flask, he felt as if he had had an inexpressible religious encounter.

His inspired encounter notwithstanding , on journeying South, Vernon caught up with his worries about Émile and the nonsense filter. Was the boy really clever enough to elude capture and to resolve this crisis without entering a life of crime? It was his own silly imaginings in the pub that had started all this and Vernon vowed to censor them in future, knowing full well he would be unable to.

Would the police recall him for questioning? If they stopped him leaving the country he’d be jobless. Batting away the long arm of the law which seemed to be closing in, and causing an oncoming driver to wave in response, Vernon knew his first practical task on returning home, must be to contact Jean Luc, undoubtedly he could not risk anything other than face to face communication. ‘Hell’s bells’ he thought, what must Émile’s parents be going through?

Like a fungal bloom the spoors of his anxiety spread rapidly to the far reaches of his fertile imagination. He was uneasy about leaving Nsansa behind, and could not understand the equanimity with which she considered his departure. Greater self-belief might have allowed him to see that she considered him worth waiting for. Less self-obsession might have enabled him to see her orphan’s resilience and hard-won pragmatism. On another substrata of anxiety he worried too whether he would succeed in renting his house out and in covering the mortgage.

Nine, eleven, thirteen; the odd numbers of fear

Nine, eleven, thirteen; the odd numbers of fear

Supressed even further down, was the alarm that he might not see his children again? Since 9/11 2001, and  then 7/7 2005, life was lived under the shadow of a brooding terrorist menace of a kind that had largely been considered in the UK as restricted to the desperate legacy of the Irish Question; the troubles. It wasn’t enough nowadays to thank your God, or your lucky stars, that you lived far from the Falls and the Shankill; what if a jihadi attack divided them all?

To drown out the clamour of his private folly, his paranoia about life the universe and everything, Vernon turned on Led Zeppelin and lost himself in noisy homage to John Bonham’s art.


Check out the story so far on The Novel page…



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