It’s a drizzly October morning and I’m walking to work from the Bedford Street bus stop. In my right hand I’m carrying a sweet milky tea from the kiosk. Crossing the busy street at Wellington Place to get onto Donegall Square North I half-run the last yard, and the tea slops through the hole in the plastic lid and down my woollen overcoat. Under my breath I curse the mess, and rub it away with my sleeve. No damage done. I continue on my way, weaving through the rush-hour mob on the slick grey pavement, trying to avoid another spill.

At the top of Donegall Place the crowd has thinned out, and I am crossing at the lights when a cyclist nearly runs into me. He is engrossed — muttering to himself through small mean lips, which are pursed into a tight fishy pout — but he sees me in the nick of time and stops. He is thin, hatchet-faced, with lank grey-blonde hair, and is wearing a well-used tracksuit. I get the sense that soon he will greet the doorman with a platitude, enter the panelled lift, and disappear into a top-floor executive suite. He will emerge after a short time, showered, scented and groomed, wearing a bespoke suit, for Sumatran coffee and his first meeting of the day. He’s riding an expensive-looking mountain bike, but I don’t pay it much attention because now his cold blue eyes are surgically inquisitioning me. He doesn’t need to say anything: the red light at which he should have stopped is of no consequence, and I am plainly at fault. I stand transfixed for a moment, warm tea dripping from my hand. Then it’s over. I am only an inconvenience, not the real target of his mission.

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11 Responses to Assassin

  1. Lorraine Rodgers says:

    Really enjoyed that Jason.

  2. jasonoruairc says:

    Thanks Vivi, I’ll see how the writing goes, maybe there will be enough eventually for a book. I’m glad you’re getting something practical out of my writing, but I wouldn’t advise getting too ‘poetic’ in your exam.

    • Virginie says:

      I did not mean I would use this type of writing in my dissertation… Just saying it could be useful for a translating exercise — we’re required to have loads of phrases and turn them well. Thanks anyway!

  3. Des Farry says:

    Agree with assassin comment on cyclists…not your reply….they should be licensed,insured and booked like everyone else….but rarely are. They are a real danger on city roads because of their disregard for traffic laws…siince they share the road….and I have no problem with that…then there must be a level field for everyone using it.Enjoyed the piece.

  4. Oh dear, I only realise every so often how annoying pissed-off-cyclists must be to everyone. I realise but I don’t actually care as I myself am a pissed-off-cyclist a good bit of the time.

    • jasonoruairc says:

      Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough – on this occasion he wasn’t paying attention and should have stopped at the red light while I was crossing. His silent accusation is because he’s the sort of guy who doesn’t accept the same set of rules and values as us mere mortals, so traffic lights are of no consequence to him. In general, I find that cyclists are pissed off for good reasons. I saw one the other day at Cromac St getting whacked by the wing mirror of a white van.

  5. Adrian McElholm says:

    I like turtles

  6. Geoff Bing says:

    Your writing is superb Jason! It’s eloquent, lyrical and “gentle”, if that makes any sense…

  7. Virginie says:

    Excellent, Jason! I think you should really write a whole book. Did you know that the beautiful language you employ makes me learn new-words. That will mean excellent results at my next exam.

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