258. The City of Corruption

OUT OF ESSEX – Chapter 33

 

The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?

Virginia Woolf

 

 

As he had run across the park to fetch his leathers and helmet, his first thought was murder, a heart for a heart. Emerging from Southend, Satan gunned the Ducatti Diavel down the Arterial Road, as the A127 was known, for 30 seconds. Then he eased back the throttle, remembering about speed limits. He lacked a driving license, and his emotions were all over the place.

By Basildon he was calmer. When he reached Romford’s outskirts, at the Gallows Corner roundabout, gusts of fresh rain smoothed his thinking. The fact remained. He had failed. In protecting the park residents from the darkness.

Sal drove through a last stretch of Essex greenery before the Moby Dick pub began London’s conurbation. Dave was dead. None had been so loved at the park. How to handle this?

Several weeks ago, Buddha’s team had supplied the London address, using remote viewing techniques, combined with all the pictorial options on Google maps to locate their target. It had not been easy, but Sid had tutored his team past a block of virtual trap doors and blind alleyways inserted into the ether.

The motorbike transited the Gants Hill and Wanstead roundabouts, then the massive underpass at Leytonstone. Sal wondered if Micky Gaze could step up. The rain increased along the M11 link road, maintaining its force until the Bow Road roundabout. In the Mile End Road, heading west, he halted by a group of teenagers crossing at a red light opposite the Blind Beggar, the Whitechapel pub where Ronnie Kray shot one of the Richardson gang, in 1966.

Sal thought about that year. The Church of Satan had been formed in San Francisco, and the first foundations of the World Trade Centre were laid. His thoughts were broken when the tallest youth walked up to him, shoved his shoulder and demanded money. Satan pulled up his visor and looked at him. He held the lad’s gaze while the lights went green, and hooters erupted from behind. When the kids moved away, Sal knew no plan was the best plan.

***

 

As Satan penetrated the City of Corruption, a plane took off from Southend airport, flying in the opposite direction. Ravenous-Glutton asked his Arabic-looking stewardess if in-flight pornography was available on the 1,427-mile flight to Marrakesh. His tensions required easing.

***

 

Satan’s nostrils worked keenly. Above the exhaust of the road, familiar smells emerged, dominated by Jesuit and Knights of Malta. Rank, debased smells.

Now, in the moment, Sal remembered himself, the utter glory of what he had been, and his fall and punishment. Stripped of his wings. Then the choice offered by God, to be part and parcel of all-pervading Goodness, God-guaranteed for time and eternity but able to operate on his own terms. No looking back, no more self-recriminating.

Grateful for his enduring vitality, strength, and intellect, he pulled the bike into a side lane off Gresham Street, slowing into a dark back alley. He locked the Diavel by an overflowing wheelie bin. Removing his gloves, he rapped on what looked like a stable door.

***

 

Hoskyns had set his master’s table for 47 years. Eric had intimated, tongue-in-cheek, that Satan himself would dine with them one evening, so a spare place must always be laid. Eyes twinkling, he stressed Satan would be very beautiful and instantly recognisable by his hooves. When the Devil appeared, Hoskyns was immediately to place on ice a Montrachet Grand Cru 2008, Domaine des Comtes Lafon, the Master specified.

The knock at the back door surprised Hoskyns. The extraordinarily tall stranger at the threshold certainly had a handsome face. He gestured to be allowed in. Glancing at the hands, Hoskyns knew this was ordained, but insisted he remove his boots. After body-scanning the gentleman, he fetched the white burgundy.

 

 

8 thoughts on “258. The City of Corruption

  1. Happy Friday, Kevin.

    My new word for today: conurbation. I love the flow of that one.

    You always find the best quotes. I really like the one above. Have you ever read The Hours by Michael Cunningham? I think you’d like it. The writing is subtle but powerful. The author makes some statement in there about what it’s like to write (supposedly quoting Ms. Woolf, but I’m not sure if she said it or not) but it said: “That fragile impulse, that egg balanced on a spoon.”

    That felt very true to me, like in an empirically mathematical way almost.

    This chapter is full of raw emotion; I feel like if Satan can rein his emotions in after the murder of a beloved inhabitant of the experimental commune, I should be able to do the same, at the very least, with my road rage while I’m driving.
    Of course, in the end, it would be better if this was a real story and not make believe. But still. Your fictional character has inspired me to try harder. 🙂 🙂 🙂
    It’s been a tough week here.
    Hope yours went a little better.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Looking for the quotes is the icing on the cake Stace. Let the chapter settle and then try and find something to allude to its key theme(s). So enjoyable. And if Satan can inspire you, I must be doing OK. 🙂 🙂
    Funny old week here. Some beautiful walks to help settle the anxiety of our unknown future.
    And the full moon looming…always hits and stirs me up me like a Mike Tyson punch!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful walks can help a lot to alleviate the soul, can’t they?
    And the full moon brings out your inner werewolf, maybe….heehee…… 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously, there is always a stage in the week leading up to the full moon when I feel distressed, anxious, uncomfortable or just plain mad – and then look up in the sky and think…ah, so that’s what’s going on. It genuinely affects me, every time. If I can walk during these times when it’s twilight, there is a kind of reverse effect, a calming curve, that restores my equilibrium. Being a werewolf can be exacting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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