Extract

Not quite sure why I’m talking to you at all. I don’t even know you. Maybe it’s something Becky said to me. You got to make sense of your life. You got to think about what you’re doing. You got to think before you act. And if you ever want to talk, I’m here for you. Except Becky’s dead.

So maybe that’s why I’m dumping on you.

Not that I feel obliged to tell you the truth, mind. Don’t get any ideas. I mean, I might tell you the truth but I might not. Just so you know.

I call the shots here. I choose what I say and what I don’t. You can choose whether to stay or wig it somewhere else. And if you choose to wig it, that’s fine with me. I don’t need you. Remember that.

I don’t need anyone.

Thing about lying—we’re all told it’s wrong. Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth. But where’s that ever got anyone? I’ve been lying since as long as I can remember. Why? Cos everyone I’ve ever known has lied to me.

So what am I going to tell you? Not much so don’t get excited. You probably want to know my name. Well, that’s a bit of a problem. I got loads.

There’s the name I was given as a baby but that’s a dronky name so I never use it. Then there’s the names I make up. I got binbags of those. Different names for different people. Depends on where I am and who I’m with.

But there is one name I like.

It’s the name Becky gave me. A name from the past. Everybody called me it in the old days. No one does now cos no one in this city knows it. And that’s fine. I don’t like to remember. But I do like the name. You can use it if you want.

BLADE.

That’s what they used to call me. And I liked it. Bit of style, bit of clash. But remember—it’s a secret. Don’t be a claphead and spew it. If I find out you’ve blotched on me, then you’ll find out why Becky called me Blade.

As for the rest of the world, I don’t give two bells what people call me. Why fuss about a name when you can make ’em up so easy? And you know what? Life’s a bit like that too.

Easy, simple, no sweat.

What you shaking your head for? Don’t believe me? Well, I don’t care. Believe what you like. It’s true anyway. Life’s a whack. It’s no big deal coping with stuff. Other people—they make a horse trough out of it, get stressed out. Me, I’m different.

It’s like I’m on top of this mountain, this great big mountain, higher than all the others, higher than—what’s it called—Everest. Miles higher. I’m all on my own with my head way up above everybody else, and I’m fine about it. There’s no one’ll ever conquer me, cos no one’ll ever get near me.

You listening to this, Bigeyes?

That’s what it’s about. It’s about seeing things from a higher place than everybody else. Seeing things no one else can.

Like that guy in Caf? Blue Sox. I can see things about him no one else can. I can see things about him even he can’t see. Got him? Table by the window. Not the guy with the vomity hair. He’ll be leaving in a minute. Don’t ask me how I know.

The other guy, the one with the mobile phone. Brown hair, about twenty, bit smooth. Got him?

There’s loads like him round here. Big head, small brain. This city breeds ’em. Very easy meat. He’ll finish his phone call in a minute, drape his coat over the back of that empty chair next to him, and forget about it.

Why? Cos all his attention’ll be taken up with that blond girl behind the bar.

There you go. What did I tell you? Vomity’s leaving. Now?watch Dogbrain. There he goes, see? Mobile down, sip of coffee, coat over the chair.

Walk over, stand outside, wander in. Busy place, lots of yak. Even better.

No one notices me. I’m good at that. No one notices me when I don’t want ’em to. I might be invisible. Only the red-lipped girl behind the bar sees me, and that’s just cos I want a coffee.

Blondie’s already over by the window talking to Dogbrain.

‘Can I help you?’ says Redlips.

‘Latte, please. Medium.’

She fixes me the latte. Take it over to the window. Blondie’s still there, leaning over the guy’s chair. They’re talking about nothing. Murmurs, giggles.

Sit down at the next table. They don’t notice. Move the chair closer to his. More murmurs, giggles. They’re talking about a guy he knows, some dungpot called Kenny.

Check round me, check the guy, check the girl.

Nobody even knows I’m here. I might be a dream, a spirit. I love doing this. I know where the wallet is. I can see the shape of it from here. Inside pocket of the jacket, closed with a zip.

Another check round—stop. Blondie’s straightened up. She’s looking me over. But she’s not noticing me. She’s thinking of Dogbrain even as she looks at me.

The guy hasn’t even turned. He’s drinking her up with his eyes like she’s some kind of cocktail. She looks back at him, leans down again, puts a hand on his shoulder.

Two minutes later I’ve drunk my latte and gone. And I’ve got a nice fat wallet.

I’ve also got a problem.

I’m being followed.