Monday 2 August 2010

From Drive the Cruel Winter Away

There was one final area to walk, taking the path along the river by the tenting fields, where cloth was pegged out to stretch, then cutting along by New Mill to Mill Garth and through to Boar Lane, past Holy Trinity Chruch and back to the jail. And finally home.
He loved this short stretch of his rounds, no more than a few hundred yards from the city but as peaceful as the country. Even the occasional floating corpse in the river couldn’t spoil it for him.
He’d almost reached the track at New Mill when he noticed something from the corner of his eye, a low, pale shape that didn’t look quite right among the trees. Stopping, he cocked his head and squinted for a better look. It was probably nothing, but he’d better check; it was what he was paid to do.
The hard, frozen grass sawed against his threadbare stockings as he moved through the undergrowth. But it wasn’t until he was three yards away that he was able to make everything out fully.
“Fuck,” he said softly. “Fuck.”
It was a man, lying on his back, eyes blank and wide, staring endlessly into the face of death. One arm was thrown carelessly across his breast, the other outstretched as if reaching for something. The strangest thing was that he was bare-chested. The deep red cut across his neck showed how he’d died.
“Fuck,” Sedgwick said again. He sighed. He wasn’t going to be home anytime soon.

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