That Boy

That boy. I can still see him stalking the streets trailing clouds of conflict.

This story told to me by a friend.
‘Lost his rag, he did. Blood everywhere man. I don’t know what happened. One minute they were standing glasses in hand up on the balcony looking at the dance floor. The next minute he’s trying to shove a broken bottle in the lad’s face. Fucks sake, there was blood everywhere and this pale kid staggering towards the door clutching his arm. He’d raised hand to defend himself. God knows what his face would have looked like otherwise.’

Sometimes it was a nightmare being in the same space as him. Everyone tense, strung so tight the air seemed to crackle.

People flit in and out of memory; sometimes a vague presence, at other times crystal clear. There was about him a brittle dangerous energy not quite contained, forever threatening to erupt, spill over into aggression and violence.
One day in the centre of town he walked towards me bellowing, ‘Kack town, this. What a fuckin’ kack town. Lets burn the shit hole down.’
Startled people turned, and quickly turned away.

‘Where you taking them books?’
‘Back to the library.’
‘Brainy fucka. See you later then, eh?’
‘Aye, maybe. I might go down onto the front after I’ve taken these back.’
‘Aye, alright. See you later.’

Shoulders set; he walked off with such blind certainty.

After the library a walk along the beach to the lighthouse, something I often did to while away the time, to feel a sense of purpose in movement.
I’d reached the rocks and was making my way towards the island when I noticed him, or rather saw someone lying face down gazing intently into a rock pool. He must have sensed me because when he looked up it was with such excitement. ‘Quick. Come here. Look. Look at this, man.’ He pointed into the rock pool. ‘Look at those two crabs. Amazing, they’re fighting over that one shell. Cool, eh? Life and death, man, life and death.’
Satisfied, he became absorbed again, drawn down to the struggle in the pool.

Curious how those incidents remain while I have no recollection of him or what he looked like. Only this-his manic energy, flaring, scaring.