Alexander & Robinson Migrate
South For The Summer
Alexander slept. Robinson remained awake and grouchy on arrival. At each point of semi-wakefulness Alexander asks Robinson how he is doing, has he slept? This isn't helping matters. On later query though, Alexander has little sympathy learning of R's excessive coffee consumption on the day before the trip. Alexander in readiness had a hazy sunny day trip to a beach town one county over. Pavements, boulevards, crowding. Students and parents and tourists, jostling, vying for shifting and never settling dominance. Cafes, vintage boutiques and sun bleached mono awnings. A trundling local bus back. Greenery and minor roads, twisting and flung against mucky, murky windows.
The bus now - channelling a demon force as it batters forward on its migratory mission south. There's chatter at the start of the journey. Caged monkeys needing to release energy; noise bouncing around the tinny enclosure. Lights dimming, and they naturally try to sleep with rhythmic jolting in artificial LED night.
Dopey Alexander conversing loosely between light cramped shifts of sleep. R mumbling in caffeinated travellers delirium.
Flashes of attempts at roadside civilisation. Lay-by's; miniature malls, pinnacles of a past future, packed with everything needed for the modern, sparkling race who drive the sodium dappled highways, lilting always onward in dreamy, lost isolation. A building passes, Fort Dunlop it screams from the facade. The man we travel south for is messaging us in readiness.
The diaphanous figure, Dunlop, always looking like he may at any time be swept off in the wind. In the city of the living, he navigates us through a land of concrete histories, futures and conspiracies. R and A trail after him, caught in a whimsical tale, the streets traversed and remembered from previous visits, new to be explored through Dunlop's words and wandering chapters of stories linking and unlinking. Grey paths between buildings and islands, we travel beneath, across pavement then curb, balancing between railing and the famous angry, commuting cars.
A spaceship, a species, a colony - a concrete alien above all. Bizarre this building, pushing, punching to the sky, brutalist and stark, and unlike all from this time, from this city. Simultaneously futuristic and archaic, trigging something primeval in their core - the core of the city, this would be Robinson and Alexanders north star, by which they would walk, map and live.
Dunlop's tale, of lost and hidden people, buildings, lives, came to a stop, as abruptly and nonsensically fantastically as begun. A and R were abandoned amongst art and sound and floating clouds. Beige and empty victorian rooms with filings moving independently of anything but a pulse, magic, pulling them across walls. Radio receivers and sensors amongst clouds bleeped and buzzed, and Dunlop was gone. Alexander and Robinson were alone to wander through this unlikely land.
On the trundling bus the forward motion, constant pushing forward forward; magnetically attracted and dragging southward. No choice, a black-hole, vast the city beckons, and Alexander and Robinson's vessel submissive within it's field.
This rhythm onward pulses through their caffeinated and slumping bodies later, onward they say to each other, unsure where, but onward. The brutalist islands and grey and machines are gone. Small winding chic lanes, eateries with food you wouldn't eat and couldn't afford, boutiques with ties the price of houses. A new race appears, angry still, louder, suited, heeled, shined, taught and shouty. Business lunches with pints, conversing in languages unknown to the two foreigners, wheeling and dealing and loud, so loud. Accents so different from their own, Alexander is gripped by a parroting impulse for every person passed. Robinson refuses this to prevent angering this already hyped hive. Alexander, still amused, swallows all impulse until homeward bound and can be let loose, offensively, badly and to Robinson's great embarrassment.
Towering glass and chrome mirror them, scurrying at great speed between giant shiny pods, screaming and shouting into phones, at others, at cars, at the pods, the pavements, the sprawling shined steps they can't climb fast enough. Onward, onward through them, dancing for pavement space, looking down at the shoes moving fast looking for spaces to cut through. Up remembering there is space and sky and light. Never looking in their eyes, lest they attack, they draw back like water to their slick, metallic pods. Robinson and Alexander, alone again, to reflective reverberating streets, their footfall loads in their ears, repeating the rhythm drilled through them by the bus. Onward, forward. A search for water.
Shuttling south, waking sore and thirsty, Alexander was told by a greatly excited Robinson of the proximity to the city, the destination, the end of that chapter of travelling. A spiritual moment of passing over an 80's holy burial ground. Pagan, seeing the death of cars, futures and ideologies, the spiritual and protective ring around the city they were closing in on. Slowing as they entered the city proper, Alexander slept no more and Robinson regaled of regular sandwiches. Hungry. Stop with this talk of sandwiches.
Slowed without food, crumpled and walking in circles through ghostly sectors and bustling quarters, they stumble towards the sludge-lined glistening river, serpentine through the heart of this land. Under apartments and bridges, arches, railings and concrete adorned galleries. The dark water to their left, cooling, bracing them, reminding them of their own northern sludge-lined and glistening river. As they sit, sandwiches in hand, on steps up to St Pauls (where Robinson had, minutes previous, muttered an incantation to the stone in tribute for an upcoming investigation based on Diana, Roman goddess of the moon - whose temple stood here long before), looking down the river, a downpour, flash, freezing and awakening, Robinson and Alexander scurry off to walk in circles , wishing for breadcrumbs, searching for their way back north.