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Brian George lives in south Wales, UK. His short stories and poetry have been published in a number of print and online
journals, including
New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales, Cadenza, Tears in the Fence, Prick of the Spindle, Birmingham Arts Journal,
and
Everyday Fiction.  His first collection of short fiction, "Walking the Labyrinth", was published by Stonebridge Press in 2005.
Looking For The Fatman


Momo pulls his baseball cap tighter over his head.  Bloody sun. He drags his feet across the road, away from the church.  He can feel
the shape of the cobblestones through the soles of his trainers.  Jesus, where is that fatman hiding?  
Salaud.  Show yourself. He
puts his hand in his pocket, scrapes a fingernail over his wad of notes.

He makes it into the shade on the far side, but the sweat keeps pouring down his face.  Then the chill shakes him, and the snot
starts to dribble from his nose.  
Putain. What a bitch.

He looks across the road, back at the great mass of the basilica.  The whiteness of the stone stabs his eyes, and he lets them
wander upwards, towards the Virgin watching over the old port far below.  The titch Jesus she is holding seems to be waving his
arms about, like a fan at the Stade Vélodrome.  Momo can hear the roars, the pounding chants from the south terraces:
Allez OM!
Oé, oé, oé!
He shudders an instant, realising he couldn’t name a single player in the side now, still less kick a ball about if someone
chucked one to him across the street.

Somewhere behind his eyes an image is swimming, a memory from his days in St. Antoine.  A boy, sharp-eyed, muscles like the
blade of a knife, running rings round all the others on the concrete waste land, sending some dorky little goalkeeper the wrong way
and sidefooting the ball between the bomber jackets they used as goalposts.  For the tenth time that afternoon.

Golden boy, he says aloud, where did it all go?

He scratches at the goosebumps on his arm, and the touch of different fingernails is upon him.  Fingernails painted a different colour
every day.  Red, turquoise, emerald.  Purple on the bad days.  
Marie-Laure. He tries saying her name, but the consonants catch and
scratch at his throat.  He retches.

Marie-Laure Leblanc. She came from a good family from the southern suburbs.  House in L'Estaque overlooking the bay.  Cleaning
lady and gardener paid for out of Papa's inflated salary.  The first thing her parents asked Momo was where he came from. As he
answered he watched the corners of their mouths curl.  
Saint Antoine?  Vraiment?  Intéressant...

Momo looks up again and feels Our Lady staring, pointing down at him.  He whimpers.  Leave me alone.  No, wait, she's not pointing
at him.  She's showing him where the fatman is hiding!

He squints up again.  Our Lady is swathed in yellow light, but her hand is pointing down the little
ruelle behind Momo.  He swallows
hard, turns and shuffles down the alley.  In a dark doorway that stinks of piss, the fatman is waiting.  He licks his fingers, counts
out the notes Momo hands him.  He spits into the gutter, yawns, then feels in the back pocket of his jeans.  Momo snatches at the
drab little package the fatman tosses at him.

The fatman has disappeared into the maze of little streets to the left.  Momo walks back up the alley, past the sweating bags of
garbage.  There are spiky weeds poking through cracks in the cobblestones, but Momo sees a riot of flowers, purple, green and red
in the hammering Marseille sun.
Brian George
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