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by GJ Hart

Still everything was a businessman choice — a choice in business — a decision based on the efficacy of any action/reaction to move him — Joseph — forward. How he swooned, adored the brute — his disease — a type of syndrome whose name had long agoed into the dripping mansard of his mind. Yet sometimes when the wind blew thin and summoned the song, he crept forward, half aware: it was Monday, Treatment Day, his arms like a straight jacket as he’d hurried up Belgravia Hill carrying a cattleya and brandy to Felicity’s tiny house.

The wind was ice and the rain was ice and Felicity’s words would be colder still. She’d greeted him at her door with the wrong name, concealed the mistake beneath sheets of gibberish. “Life’s so precarious, such a sad business,” she’d said as she sat him down, moved her fingers down his spine until his mouth swished like a spy-hole and his muscles settled soft as charmeuse against bones.

After, she dropped a stylus on an old 75 and from a fog of static came arrows of viola, marching guitars, the hob-nailed clomp of drums, and the strangest voice — both youthful and aged — singing words senseless as any nursery rhyme. Joseph looked out at the garden, saw the fargesia had thrust out roots, was emerging like inmates behind the pines. As his eyes wondered on, he felt her mouth crack once, twice and the ceiling split as his vision dollied and he tumbled from lapels wide as heron’s wings.

Dark. He clawed at walls of shoe leather, recognised nothing — the sky was a white stone and she said hold on and he did — kept him close and the song seemed older now — rubbish — but he loved it and when she finally set him down, Joseph had no notion how much time had passed.

Outside now, always outside, he rolled on, delivering the stink as the record played and Felicity at the window, the orchid dead in its pot as a new lover’s arms encircled her waist. He no longer noticed the protuberances, the pearlescence embedded in his skin or wondered whether the lights were others too glamoured to notice. Just kept rolling, kept the momentum, watching the ground like rails as above him the sky split open like a carrion flower.

GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov CocktailThe Jersey Devil PressThe Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.