an Indian summer, he said

It began when the cats started going missing. All of a sudden, posters popped up, calls for help in thick felt tip, taped to telegraph poles and back gates. There was one on the post box outside the kebab shop. Then came the weasels. Every scuzzy old man wandering the streets seemed to own a weasel in a body brace with a long leather leash clipped on. You felt a pleasant excitement at first. Daisy was the first one I was introduced to, but then she rolled on to her back, curling to clean her testicles, which were swollen and red. After that, dread filled my throat every time I turned a corner. I still can’t get the man’s face out of my head. She doesn’t bite, he said. Give her a tickle if you like. Then I went up to Durham to visit Davy and his sister. Another weasel. Another old man, this one dribbling ale from the corner of his mouth. We were on a train. I watched that drop for twenty minutes, until it reached the collar of his shirt. I would have moved, but the train was packed and we were sandwiched in by another man dressed entirely in black and reading an illustrated hardback, Hitler’s Elite. What surprised me about him were his shoes: a soft pair of Clarks boots called Darian Mid. Who thinks up the names of shoes? And would a real Nazi wear Darian Mids? When I got back home, depressed by the depth of cloud that had hung over Durham the whole weekend, I found a row of three dead rats on my garden path and a bunch of freesia in a jug on the kitchen table. And a woman called Jude had moved in.

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