Adam Napier

The street-performer rips off his eyelid, (right). Just one tear, like that, like, Oh my fuck. And then the other follows, so noiselessly the crowd thinks, pushed out of his hand and the air by the pelt of rain, each drop hitting a ripple into the skin. Of course next he moves to his nose, wrenching it off with an approximate 210° wrist flick and the crowd are like, How do you even rehearse this?, and, I really really don’t have any change to give, and the only ones unsurprised are the babies in prams who face this nose-crime all the time from parents, uncle, et al. And the street-performer’s very open eyes develop an almost instantaneous rheum from the dust and then cloud over with red as he spits out one, two, all of his teeth. Somehow, probably from a film, it brings to mind to all of the crowd some sort of orally-fixated hag from olden times, one who would cast her spittle-coated and bitten runes onto the street to divine whether foxes would come in the night and snack on her chickens or chew a hole in her cat. And now the crowd think of cider cans because the street-performer is pulling up his fingernails between finger and thumb. By the second hand it gets tricky and he doesn’t even scream, though his lips are white and suckered into his face like he’s already torn them off. He unlaces his trainers, kicks them over the crowd and the socks come too, soggy, weighted. Okay, so now the crowd think about hags again because the guy’s square feet are without toes and when he shimmies out of his jeans and coat and top the crowd see his shaven, plucked body and the crater that is his stomach. And now he hurtles headfirst towards the crowd, his shoulders buckle against theirs and possibly his arms fall off and his legs and his head, who knows?

You race after him. You elbow and slap your way around the people and break out on the other side but he’s not there, or there, or there. There’s no smoke or mirrors and you don’t think holograms exist yet. Already the crowd shuffles along, pats their pockets, tucks their elbows into their sides and hold up flat palms. You feel again like, Oh my fuck, like, if the entire crowd had a spirit animal it would be one of those security guards at the end of The Truman Show who just snorts and turns over. And so you recover his coat for him, a fur-topped parka, and slide it on and put up the hood and pull it down over the front of your face.