Sunday, September 07, 2008

Gravesmead Rising

Half asleep he drove toward a place he thought he put behind him.

Narrow streets lined by second hand cars, abandoned shops shuttered with corrugated tin, litter strewn pavements - shadows moving without substance.Half a mile and the road gave way to rows of congested, terraced housing. A clearing of undeveloped brush land and it appeared, rising up, a concrete sprawl.

A childhood spent on these streets.The constant lookout for trouble. It's made him the man he has become, sensitive to threat.

The call came through that morning.A girl's body found in a council building parking lot. Up late unable to sleep, he drifted off an hour before the five am announcement from DCI Major: “ Das, you're needed. This one's sensitive. You're the one to represent us here."He knew what sensitive meant before the DCI went on to elaborate

“ The girl's Asian. It's a mess Das a huge fucking mess. We'll need help to to keep it under control."

"Right inspector.,
I'll be there."

The DCI has a paternal way.. He ignored the condescension.. Losing your edge Jack said . He's old school Jack you've never had the benefit of an authoritarian culture. All time outs and groundings, though  he'd concede that he understood how the DCI grated on  the others. Did growing up in Gravesmead leave him indifferent to minor slights.

She was not the first Asian murdered in Gravesmead nor she would she be the last. Gravesmead everyone knew was Dante's inferno. She was only the most unlikely.

Floods along the Thames in the 60's sparked the idea to build a town on an elevated level. A futuristic catacomb of high rises interconnected by a sprawling network of pedways. A stage for a brave new world of community life free from the threat of the traffic and floods 20 feet below.

Once the idea was grand. Monolithic concrete high rises fed wide open berths and with their fresh whitened glaze sent a message to planners that they were on track.

The architects never considered entropy.Entropy ruins everything, entropy and want. No-one accounts for entropy, everyone believes they can control desire.

Over time everyone saw the flaw. A town separated from the roads below allowed a unique enclosure to form.. By then it was too late. Gravesmead  turned  into a warren of crime.. All the vices of modern London washed up on Gravemead's derelict shores. Heroin from Afghanistan, cocaine from Columbia, women from Eastern Europe and men who would do anything to get ahead, kill, exploit the most innocent, men who turned their back to the world.

On a overhanging pedway ramp a group of teenagers gathered to view the investigation taking place in the parking lot below. What started as group of four grew into a raucous mob.

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