Photograph by Louis Berk

From 3:AM:

On Hawley Road, where the Hampstead and Highgate Brooks meet, the Knight sees Malis and Eunica descending the steps of one of the parade of condemned houses that stands across the road from him. Its wall is painted with the head of a black cat, steampunk goggles pushed up on its brow, but the sisters look back towards the front door as they reach the pavement. Malis is laughing as By the time he has struggled past the traffic, they have moved on towards Kentish Town Road. He raises his eyes to the door of no. 15, taking in an image of three 746 type telephones, respectively coloured red, blue and orange, positioned side by side in an unsteady line. Higher up, a photograph of Bettie Page is superimposed over the notice plate on a yellow postbox: two more pictures of her mirror each other on either side of the crown and Royal Cipher. In the space between this pair of triads, the words SWIM DEEPER have been stencilled.

He stands beside the public drinking fountain, set within five circles of upended bricks, in front of the north gates of Camden Gardens, and looks around for any further trace of Malis and Eunica. After some thought, he wanders back in the direction of Angler’s Lane, to find a message he had not seen before, sprayed in silver ink upon the boarded up window of the former Pizza Express at the corner of Prince of Wales Road: WE NEVER LAND. Satisfied with this communication, he reverses his path beneath a darkening sky, and strolls past Water Lane, descending to Kentish Town Lock, where he turns left along the towpath. A sudden hailstorm forces him to take shelter beneath Camden Road Bridge: while he waits for the sky to clear, he studies the childrens’ painting of boats and arches, a horse, a fish and a butterfly, affixed to the brickwork opposite.

The sisters hear the rattle overhead as they sit together, sipping blackcurrant squash in one of the steam rooms in Rio’s Health Spa. They wrap their damp white towels around themselves – Malis just beneath her breasts, Eunica above hers – and walk past another steam room and a sauna, to join the other more or less undressed figures assembled at the entrance to the garden, watching the hailstones clatter down on the statuary, the little galvanised steel buckets that serve as ash trays, the plastic chairs set out upon the low banks of artificial turf on either side of the central path.

“Fleet”, Paul Holman, 3:AM