Lazy Line Painter Jane prayed for an inspiration that would lift her above the mundanity of midday on a Thursday. She was in a hole, sat with egg and chips, watching buses through the plate glass and easy radio of some old café. She was too bashful to pray outright in the café, so she pretended to read her fortune at the bottom of her tea cup, and she got what she wanted that way.
The inspiration came along quite soon. It was lucky for her. It had seemed impossible for her to feel ok, considering the trouble she was in. It seemed impossible, considering the gloominess of that lunchtime.
Jane had never managed to build Thursday into the weekend like some other people did. She didn’t look forward to the weekend anyway. The only good thing about the weekend was that it ushered in the following week. She was a slave to the working week. But she was unemployed.
She was doubtful whether she even deserved her Thursday gift. She had done a lot of swearing and shouting during her period. She almost felt guilty to take up the baton and run. But run she did. Straight to the cathedral graveyard. She took her idea stright through the cathedral graves and out, over the wall at the other end. She found herself in the East End of the city.
She took the inspiration and ran. It filled her like a playground balloon. Now she wasn’t treading on any toes. Jane’s agenda was clear. She just felt like running. To forget about her joblessness and her hopelessness. Stripped of her present care, her skin was translucent, and she travelled fast and light over grass and stone precincts. She ran past lines of traffic into quiet streets where her breath and fast steps were the only sound she could hear. Stripped of her present care. And her guilt at being lazy.
Jane pretended she was making indie-rock videos as she tore through the East End. She thought herself quite magnificent, and causedonly two minor disturbances as she went. She stopped running when she reached the river.
That was lovely. Reaching the river. A sudden wilderness of wasteland and trees. She may have been a bit worried if it wasn’t for the oxygen pumping in her head, acting like a drug. There was a path, dancing with industrial mayflys, constructed with an air of municipal grants. She followed it, ducking flyovers, flying over traveller’s caravans. She ran past long curves of ash and alder. She ran until she flopped down ina bus shelter. The rain came on. She had run out of rock video fodder.
She waited in the bus shelter for a while. She had reached the main street of a town that was not part of the city at all. She had reached the provinces, and as such, the youth of the town flirted and taunted with an unaffected provincial air. Casuals drank QC. They put on a show for her, but they never challenged her directly. She was grateful they didn’t pick up on her strangeness. Her inspiration had flagged, and she didn’t know how she could handle them by herself.
They went away, to be replaced by the town’s thinking girl’s talent. He smoked a real cigar, and paced around a little. Jane couldn’t decide if he was waiting for a bus, or if he had just come out because the rain had stopped. But she liked the sound his segs made on the wet pavement. And she admired him for his quiff. It was the biggest quiff that small town beatings would allow for. He sat down in the shelter. He obliged her by staring at his boots, and rubbing his forehead feverishly. He sat for the length of his cigarette and then went off, leaving Painter Jane alone.
She drank up the peace because she knew that she would be back in her house by the fall of night. In the city, a dozen things would be vying for attention simultaneously. She thought it was around six, but in fact it was nearer nine. She pulled her knees to her chest. Her jogging bottoms smelled of pollen. She waited for the bus to take her back to the city. As she waited, she thought about how she got her bad name, and what she was going to do about it.