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Nuremberg

 

Paper pasted pealing strips providing a bland background un-patterned rather like the bare wrinkled neck of an old man with a black battered hat that tips forward in the direction of the unseen eyes that watch the cat basket.
Ragged curtain prodigal slash and gashed, fluttering like the wing of a frightened bat and a soiled bed impacted with dirt and dried blood. Claw hammer walls white and pock marked like the old man’s skin. An impassive expression hides his feelings. The references to the Roman Pillars and Atys cause him to shiver. Listening to the babel of scurrying rats that had troubled him the nights before - quadruped things with occasional recruits from the biped class, fattened on coarse and rotten vegetables.

The black and white cat sits aside the French bulldog in the basket. The stuffed parrot silently doubts in it silver cage ornate. Startled at one’s own reflection, like hearing one’s voice on film. Erased gesturality inevitably asserting difference into and onto these grey rectangles. Holes in the curtains. The wrinkled hands tug and adjust, carefully folding the black funeral veil over the widow’s teary eyes.
Bending down and examining the kitten for fleas as an Egyptian death mask surveys each minute movement that is made in this stopgap. An assortment of skulls and garish statues lie on a chipped wooden table below. There is something moving under the dark blanket. He picks it up and uses it as a cape before covering the mirror, smoothing the black material over with wrinkled fingers and palms.

‘Get out and go, man’ he kept telling himself, but these orders were no sooner given than countermanded. What could he expect to find out there, save fresh disappointments. Opening the door he throws the bulldog out. Turning he scoops up the cat to throw it out too and opens the door only to let the bulldog back in. He re-opens the door and throws the bulldog back out only to let the cat back in. He throws the dog back out of the door but lets the cat back. He throws the cat outside the door only to let the dog back in and only in swiftness can he ensure an empty basket.
He turns the satchel upside down, the damned black blanket falls off the mirror. He hangs it back roughly.
executioners hood.

Sitting quietly in the rocking chair before the mask and staring into its black wide eyes. Back to his feet he rips up the mask and tears it into tiny pieces and sits back in the chair to observe the remaining nail. Wrinkled fingers open the brown envelope that fell from the satchel. He removes the photographs but quickly replaces them. He does not want to see the details.
The goldfish is alive and these walls have scars as long as branches. The fish’s eyes must be covered – no reflections.

No shiny surfaces
No shiny buttons
No sheets of white paper
No shaking hands that had became his enemies
No tightening of the neck tie
No tightening of the noose
Under the lilies of the lamplights
No salutes or metal tins
No shovels on the shoulders
No ordered multitudes of brick

He sits and dozes in the rocking chair. ‘Get up and go man’ he tells himself, but these orders were no sooner given than countermanded. After all what was the point of moving, when a fellow could travel so magnificently when sitting in a chair? Wasn’t he already in Nuremberg?

He opens the brown envelope and stares at the photos.

A lady and a young child
A man and his dog
Two lovers embracing
A soldier’s homecoming
He tears each photo one at a time into quadrants with wrinkled fingers and speckled brown fists, agitated and nervous. Checking the pulse – still steady though slightly rapid. Suddenly still for a short while but then suddenly rapid and in time with the rocking of the chair for a short while but then suddenly still. The walls have scars as long as branches their surfaces are pockmarked like an old man’s neck. Checking the pulse, as steady as the rocking chair.
Suddenly he is staring back at himself – other and foreign. The threat, the demon, that apprehension generated by the projective apparition of the other at the heart of what persists in maintaining a proper and solid ‘I’.
He hides his eyes with wrinkled fingers.

The wrinkled eyelid opens. The iris like a solar eclipse. Outside again amid the tall grey walls and multiply ordered brickwork, the cloudless sky and the vertical staircases. Shuffling along the grey wall he must be careful not to be seen. He must traverse these obstructions, human or object, that lie between him and the tower. He checks his pulse before placing his wrinkled hand on the iron banister and begins to climb the staircase. Opening the door with shaky hands and a rusty key he enters. Placing a chain across the door he puts down his satchel and turns to look at the scarred walls, the wallpaper peeling and pockmarked like the wrinkled neck of an old man.



(c) Mark Greenwood 2oo8