You wanna know the TRUTH? I’ll tell you the TRUTH — I’m sick of it. Sick of all the FAT stuff and Callan and Vine and the bridge and the road and the cars and the eyes and the words and the lies . . .

GOD.

I wish I’d never been there . . . never got INVOLVED . . .

Yeh, THAT’s what I wish. Din’t see nothing, dunno nothing. Me? I shoulda kept my big mouth shut. I DIN’T SEE NOTHING, ALL RIGHT?

Yeh, now I know it.

Now I gotta fix things. Do things. Bad things.

Bad = good.

Good = bad.

TRUTH = lies.

Lies = TRUTH.

You wanna know the TRUTH?

I’ll tell you the TRUTH.

OK, let’s see what we got. It’s early November last year, nearly Bonfire Night, about 5 o’clock in the evening. We got cold hands and smoky skies and early-bird fireworks ripping the night, and we got heavy breaths misting the air as I stomp down on the garden path, heading for the shed. I’m about halfway down, just zipping my coat, when Mum calls out to me from the back door.

“You got your gloves, Moo?”

“Yeh.”

“You sure?”

“Yeh, I got ‘em.”

“OK — don’t be too long. It’s gonna freeze up later.”

I wave a hand over my shoulder.

The back door shuts — clunk.

I get my bike out the shed and wheel it around the back of the house, down the path, and out the front gate. I pull on my gloves, pull up my hood, yank the gate shut, then scoot the bike along the pavement, swing a leg over the saddle, sit down, get it going, stand up, whack it into gear, hit down hard on the pedals, up through the gears, getting faster and faster, then I’m hopping off the curb at the end of the road, and I’m gone, I’m away, riding the evening streets.

Here we go — around the back of the village, away from the houses, away from the people, into the small country lanes, then down into the dip and up the hill, pedaling hard, puffing BILLY, sweating like a pig . . . GOD, I wish I din’t sweat so much. It’s so cold and sticky, like freezing blood, and the icy air’s burning the back of my throat, hurting like a bastad, and the tips of my fingers are getting all numb . . . but I don’t care. I don’t give a TOSS about none of it. Cos I’m going where I wanna go. I’m going to the bridge . . . MY bridge. And that’s all I EVER want.

The bridge.

Oh yeh . . .

The bridge.

The railings — dit dit dit — the steps, the concrete, the dull gray steel. The shape of it, the angles, the colors . . . the tide of traffic on the road below . . . the sound of it . . . the background uuuurrrrhhhhhsshhhhmmmm . . . the swoo-ooosh-swoo-ooosh-swoo-ooosh of the cars . . . trucks . . . lorries . . .

The song of the road.

I can hear it now, getting louder as I push on up the hill — swoo-ooosh-swoo-ooosh-swoo-ooosh — getting closer all the time, getting inside me. The song, the road, the bridge . . . I can FEEL it, doing its THING, making me smile, emptying my head . . . and now I’m nearly there. The hill’s leveled out and I’m freewheeling, taking it easy, swinging my leg over the saddle and jumping off — landing pretty light for a FAT guy (if only they could see me now) — then bouncing a stride or two, then wheeling the bike to the foot of the steps and letting it go — clank. Just like that. Just leave it. It’s all right — ain’t nobody here but me.

Just me and the bridge.

Me and the road.

MY bridge.

MY road.