And they were descending again. Thick tube of steel down through the spongy permanent clouds and clinging November drizzle into the dark canopies of sodden trees and the black-brown fields stubbled with the shorn remnants of hay and slick rubber ribbons of roadways bisecting them and all culminating in that place. Oxford.
Fourth trip there in six years and maybe the last. No. He blinked and pushed that thought away. There is no tomorrow yet, only the impending night: of games played upon the field and in the wealthy suspended boxes far above and far away. Of one more bitter evening, dreams recumbent upon the fading sun and the muted throes of the hungry spectators, eager for blood in some fashion. Blood of the body or the blood of vindictive words beyond the outcome of the evening's show.
The sky disappeared above and the ground embraced them with a soft rubber bump on the tarmac bump and roll and slow and stop and the plane emptied while he stat still and smiling, nodding and serene and inside filled with torment and uncertainty. When it was empty he left and walked slowly down the aisle and the steps with the cold drizzle stinging his eyes at first and gathering on his clothes and pooling and running down in small rivulets as he made his way to the waiting car and so that when he got in and sat down they ran in small torrents down his differently-creased clothing and pooled and puddled on the crisp rubber floormats and they were zooming in the dark towards the waiting hordes of supplicants, gathered dry in their tents and drinking in the night from fine cut glassware and passing around trays of perfectly-sculpted garden snacks on clear plastic serving trays and laughing the measured and assured laughter of those familiar with comfort and carelessly glancing at the clocks and watches for the upcoming event still a day away and laughing some more and not thinking at all about the four thin polyurethane walls separating them from the outside of it all, the bleak and rainy future and the choking nights of November rolling out into the edge of the darkness and somewhere out there the slick car is slithering into the night on hissing wet tires and the man inside is almost dry and he is going over it all again in his mind, his eyes closed to the dim lights shimmering distorted through the wet glass and the sheer face of the stadium under which he's passed, the dark and spindly unlit light towers scraping the low black clouds like stark machinery sitting dormant until the following day when the multitudes reappear and the world inhabited with the touch of a single button.
Of watery autumn daylight with the tang of smoke on the air and the re-descending again into another night, this one the last in Oxford for years or maybe even ever and he closed his eyes tighter and then opened them and smiled and said let’s go and so they did, he began by placing his visor upon his head as a futile guard against the mercilessly bleak weather while across the dark street amid the laden and dripping trees the endless party of no one’s making quietly rages on until the end of time.
GBH 2012: Ackbarlom, Ackbarlom!
RCR 2013: If I Forget Thee, College Station
GBH 2016: Knight’s Gambit
RCR 2016: The Speed and the Noily
RCR 2017: Light in November