‘I saw that he had also stopped his madness and was looking over the heads that thronged between us – seeking me out.’
Read the final extract from Peter Bowes’ Bloodlines comprising two shorter pieces from the collection. See part one and part two in this series. You can also meet the author, and read the amazing (strictly unsolicited) reviews Bloodlines has received since its publication.
Ari Levi and the Oranges
There’s an orchard over the fence with some early oranges already rolling down the slope, lost and fallen off the tree. Ripe. Fifteen overladen trees already and winter two weeks away.
Ari Levi follows his dog from the top house and waits by our backdoor; he’s three. Not one for looking you in the eye yet, other than a sharp glance. He’s down here bludging biscuits. Chocolate-coated this morning. One for him and one for his brother, who idles with his iPad on the lounge at home. He’s five. Jarvis. Steady little bloke, quite the inquisitor at times. We have much in common.
There are three oranges on the table this morning, so we choose the navel, Ari and me. We have a cutting board, a sharp knife and a small bowl of brown sugar handy.
Ari Levi doesn’t do pith, won’t abide it, so he waits for the orange to be pared and properly quartered, laid out in its glistening juice. Then a sparkle of brown sugar sprinkled on the morsels. Making the sweet even sweeter.
There is no talk. The intensity of the preparation forbids it.
He doesn’t rush the prepared fruit and will only take a piece after being asked, takes it slowly to his mouth and chews down about twice. Pauses. Swallows.
Then this little grunt of satisfaction: ‘gmh.’ Hardly audible.
He’s forgotten the chocolate biscuit he laid down on the verandah and it slowly melts away in the morning sun.
We agree that the last few pieces of orange might be supplemented by a dip into the molten chocolate swirl and the subsequent tasting this time is slower, more circumspect. Finally approved. Then he and the dog depart.
The smaller grandson has had his due.
Can’t but watch them sometimes, the insane that patrol their corners of this city; this fellow here, pacing in big circles and decrying all the losses of his life in some language nobody passing by could ever understand.
What a circus. This mad Mick Jagger gabbling away his testament of grief, his few greasy bags piled by the street lamp.
The only thing that kept him grounded was the shift of his eyes – like lasers. They flickered over us ordinary folk passing by, looking for contact.
Not with me, though, not me, not today, not me. Not me.
Half a block on, I stopped walking and turned back, turned back and sought him out – and I saw that he had also stopped his madness and was looking over the heads that thronged between us – seeking me out.