Under The Bridge

The occasional surprise of lightning lit the night sky. As if the gods wanted you to start regaining some kind of night vision, before fucking you over with another burst of electric brightness. In the periodic darkness a figure (let’s call him Clive) scurries over the cobblestones as the rain pit patters around him. We hear the rush of water as Clive continues his scurrying along the elevated banks of the river pathway.

Another burst of light, and we see Clive pause. As he comes upon the edge of a narrow, gloomy bridge. He looks this way and that, breathing quickly, his hands shaking ever so slightly. He shrugs off the build up of water on the tall collars of his leather jacket. As the light fades, he ducks down the stone stairs leading to the space underneath the bridge.

Imagine a person who has been told they need to be very sneaky to approach a secret meeting, but never realised that doing so would look incredibly suspicious, that is our Clive.

Underneath the bridge there is a small walkway that widens out into a concrete platform, raised just above the water line. The water frantically grabs at the platform, the small waves like hands grasping out trying to pull you in. If there was a demon controlling the waters of hell, he would have been proud at the way this river was acting.

Clive shuffles his feet along the platform, knocking empty beer cans, cigarette butts and needles into the river as he goes. The graffiti on the underside wall of the bridge mocks him as he passes. A neon steam punk goblin with the speech bubble “Life is shit sex drugs big floppy dildos”. A hastily sprayed purple cloud raining large golden coins onto the peasants below, killing them as it lands. A giant baby in a dirty nappy with a head made of hundreds of politicians. Isn’t street art wonderful.

In front of Clive, on the platform stands a dark figure. Wearing a long trench coat that reaches just above the floor and a black leather Fedora that keeps their eyes in shadows. The figure is smoking a fat cigar, chewing it slowly in the corner of their mouth. The occasional gleam of light from each toke, briefly highlights the stubble on their square jaw. Their back is turned slightly from Clive, as the figure looks out across the water.

Clive shuffles closer and gives a clearing of the throat, hesitating as if a doctor is cupping his testicles and asking him to cough.

The figure turns around abruptly, cigar falling out of their mouth and into the rushing water below.

A squeaky and breaking voice shrills “Cor blimey, you didn’t ‘alf give me a fright. Have you seen how dramatic it is out ‘ere. You nearly made me shit my pants.” The figure turns to face Clive. During this movement the Fedora dislodges slightly, tilting at an angle it gives the figure the appearance of a bemused puffin (if you can picture that).

“Err, I’ve come…. I’ve come to, erm, purchase…” Clive stammers.

“Oh, a customer.” Said the figure, dropping all annoyance and adopting a tone of overly eager friendliness. “All is forgiven, what’s your fancy. I ‘ave it all.” The figure opens up their trench coat and a dazzling gleam glistens from within, as hundreds of tiny pockets are revealed. Each one containing as many forks as it is humanly possible to stuff inside a trench coat.

“I’ve got yer on the go travel fork, a late-night party prong, 6 classic ceremonial birthing forks and don’t forget…” The figure looks around a gives a cheeky wink. “A collection of ‘and tarnished, never been used, tremendously tactile toasting forks. For the discerning gentleman, of course.” The figure stands tall, a wide grin on their face.

Clive clears his throat again “…Oh, um, I err, I was looking for something a bit… a bit rounder and…”.

“Oh, you mean like a rounded red, or wavy wooden wonder fork? Popular with the little kiddies. A must ‘ave for entertaining.” Cut in the figure, doing a little jig with their arms. Looking like if Neo from the Matrix had tried to give Morris dancing a shot, but didn’t quite make the team.

“Um, no, I was thinking of, of something a bit… spoonier… like some kind of… spork?” Clive’s eyes dart down as he shuffles his feet slightly.

The figure abruptly shuts their trench coat, adjusts their hat. And looks around, startled. “A what?” They hiss in a hushed voice.

“A err… a spork” Clive manages to squeak.

“I ‘eard you the first time! Who do you think I am. I’ve got a business to run, you think I can go around diversifying into hybrid abominations like that. You’re disgusting.” The figure turns and spits into the water which rises up as if to catch it.

“Um, no, I mean, I err, I have needs, I gotta…. I gotta…” Clive collapses to his knees. “I gotta have my fix man.” Tears stream down his face, his whole body shaking. “Ever since the Interdiction, I’ve been rationing myself. Only using when I must, but now, but now… this is all I have left.” Clive pulls forth a metallic stub, what was once a proud spork, has been worn away from repeated use. His tears have transcended into pathetic sobbing and mumbling, with Clive clutching at his battered stub.

The figure peers down at the sad lump in front of them, looks around again, double and triple checking no one’s around. “Look, if I ‘elp you out this one time. I don’t never wanna see you around these ‘ere bridges again.” They take off one of their solid steel tipped boots, and pull up a flap in the sole. Their hand retreats holding forth a brand spanking new spork. “Take it, I was never ‘ere, and you never saw nothing.”