Happiness is a suspect word…
An unsound concept…
A dodgy character…
I know because I subjected him to surveillance…
Perhaps, but now I know.
Happiness is actually a freak: a chance occurrence…
…A beneficial whim of the vagaries of nature.
His appearance should, properly, inspire momentary elation coupled with caution.
Respect for how things could have turned out.
Wonder, at the hazards of fate, and gratitude…
…When I picked up his scent outside the car showroom, Happiness was parading about the place dressed in the glories of long term satisfaction and eternal contentment.
He looked pretty uncomfortable.
An unhappy get up!
He was sweating under the weight of it.
The burden of sustaining his performance for any length of time kept pulling his face into frowns and grimaces.
He managed to cover them with smiles, the fake kind which can only inspire disgust.
If anybody else noticed his disease they were against pointing it out.
It was a similar scenario further up town.
I caught him handing out holiday brochures in front of the travel agents…
Arranging cosmetics on the shelves of the health store…
I stuck it out with him for the day, following him to and from all his haunts.
He looked tired and harassed through them all.
It would be interesting to see just where he ended up…
…At closing time he slunk off into the darkness.
I could feel the relief issuing across the distance of my tail.
He was walking much easier now.
He seemed somehow aligned to the night.
He stopped for a time outside a betting shop.
The door was open and he could obviously see one of the monitors relaying a race…
He was waiting for the outcome but he did not go in.
I caught the gleam in his eye as he turned amid the furore of victory and sloped off again into the night.
He was heading for the cinema.
He slipped in through one of the exit doors so he must have had his own key.
I had to run to catch the door before it swung shut on my fingers…
There was no performance in the auditorium.
The screen was dead.
An attendant was clambering over chair backs and under chair seats collecting cardboard cartons, crinkled-up straws and crook tins.
Happiness was already up the top-end of the theatre and making his way along the back row of seats…
…He turned left and disappeared into the wall with a prolonged sigh.
There was a well concealed door in the wall where he had vanished.
I pushed against it but it was locked.
Lands of Exile:
KITH ‘N’ KIN
Stuart France & Sue Vincent
The Beeley Stone, ‘liberated’ from the churchyard at Bakewell, stands proudly in the centre of its village green once more. While the locals enjoy the fruits of its restoration, Ben, who had led the daring raid against authority, still languishes in jail.
Don and Wen, arrested and released without explanation in Ireland, now plot an erratic course through the wild places of Wales, while Jaw-Dark and Kraas, seeking the legendary stone of Fergus Mac Roy, have been separated in the most uncanny of circumstances…
As the darkness closes around them, the Black Shade haunts the moors above Beeley and, in the shadowy rooms of the old tower, an ancient and even stranger story begins to unfold…
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