I fell back out of the bottle of sunshine and went home, confused by the physical nature of my surroundings. I had an even stronger than recently sense of ‘about to’ whirling around my ever spinning mind. Which was probably why I was taken by surprise by the awaiting rozzers; I hadn’t felt their presence due to my distracted state. While trying to snap the handcuffs on binding my wrists (a little extreme, you might think, but had something to do with “resisting arrest”), I heard only selected words emanating from one of the officers.

“... Disappearance of Mark X... Damien Y...” Nice motor though: not the familiar crap family saloon, I was escorted in a Jag, usually used on motorways I thought, unmarked. Detective Nick M something, didn’t catch his name fully, carried on talking to me but I wasn’t listening.

Their mistake was letting themselves think they had it sorted and that I was cooperating. I’d been taught as a kid by a magician how to escape from handcuffs; all down to subtle muscle control, the temporarily painful dislocation of a thumb and a bit of luck. As we got out at the station, poor old Nick was probably surprised to eat pavement. Shocked even not seeing me melt into the night and out of his life. I’d already packed what I needed (not much, I’d concluded) yesterday, or the day before even; I seemed to have predicted some kind of outcome. I was at the airport before they could say the word and was showing my false passport in an extremely relaxed way, my subtle disguise matched the picture well enough.

Manchester evaporated behind us in a puff, as the aircraft contemplated the long flight ahead. I slurped red – Burgundy for sure – and chatted peacefully to my neighbour, reclining as images of past and future were typed through my head as if read from a hefty novel.

“Yes I have,” I answered his question (“have you been to Hong Kong before?”) “... business and pleasure.” I had to pick up… some freight I’d sent there a few weeks ago, before flying on to Australia. I wouldn’t usually encourage fellow passengers to be so talkative on a long distance flight, but this time I didn’t mind. With an inevitable conflict or showdown or whatever waiting for me at some point somewhere, I felt I needed to indulge myself a little in confirming my own existence (I think the passenger’s name was Jean-Paul).


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