Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Clean-up

Audio to follow 
Remember that time when your parents went away for the night so you had your friends round, and they invited their friends too and they’d invited their mates and it all got a bit messy. There were beer stains on the carpet and someone had vomited in the front garden, Karen was in your mum's bed with some bloke with a beard while there were so many beer cans that you could build Donald Trump's wall for him. But it was okay because they were not due back till three so you had got, oh shit four hours to clean everything up so they'd never know. Except there was one stain or one scratch mark that you just couldn't do anything about, so you crossed your fingers and hoped they wouldn't notice, while trying to think up a plausible reason why there was a big greasy stain on the ceiling. 
I often think Cardiff is like that at five am on a Sunday morning. Like the grown-ups have left the teenagers in charge for the evening, things got a little out of hand and now the cleaners need to get a shift on to make it all okay again before the adults are back. Except there's always that one indelible mark, and this morning I was looking at it. 
“I'm no expert,” I said, “but I am ninety-nine percent sure.” 
“Okay sir,” the operator replied, “we'll have someone there as soon as possible. Are you okay to stay there.”
“Yeah, no problem.”
 She looked like the Isle of Man flag, all legs in weird angles, a ridiculously high, high heel on her left foot, her right foot bare. Her skirt was as short as the heel was high, her milky legs, contrasting against the black Tarmac. A fake eyelash was dislodged across the eye that I could see and she stared into the great beyond. A McDonald's wrapper had settled on her chest and other debris was collecting around her body. I couldn’t see any blood or any bruising but as the sun rose on the day, I was pretty sure it had set on her. 
The eyelash flickered, was it movement in the breeze or had she moved the eyelid. I bent down and took her hand. There was warmth, not much but it wasn't deathly cold. Maybe the one percent chance I'd given her had come good. I squeezed the hand and felt a slight grip back. 
“Ambulance is coming, lovely,” I said. 
“Sir,” I looked behind me and saw two tired looking police officers. 
“She's alive,” I said. They nodded. I stood up and moved away, “She's all yours,” I said, and walked off into the morning, leaving the clean-up operation to progress. 

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