Rubin's Response V
By Simon Barget
“Heeey, over here.”
They were encouraging him to join, but not with any real enthusiasm. Certainly not an enthusiasm that betrayed sincerity, and it was clear to Rubin that they just wanted to show that they were still aware of him and weren’t leaving him out on purpose. A palpable ambivalence but he could carry on in his own space if he wanted. It was an open field; whatever once had grown -- maize or cereal perhaps -- was now just burnt out husks and Rubin felt peaceful amongst them. In the near distance the land sank slowly downwards to a green wire fence which abutted a brook. Only a trickle of water flowed. But where he was now was predominantly flat; a wide open, cradling expanse.
He wasn’t far from them but they seemed to be engaged in frivolities and he couldn’t bring himself to join in. Most conspicuous was a clamorous, tomboyish woman whose multi-coloured cloak Rubin kept catching glimpses of; she was that kind of ebullient character who’d insist on wearing something garish to commandeer attention without good reason. As the thing swirled about around her haunches, she drew the others into some sort of petty, superfluous fervour by means of cat-calling, a fervour that wasn’t really there, but to Rubin’s consternation, her efforts worked. Every so often she broke out in exclamatory hurrahs and whooping sounds and the group followed. They couldn’t see that there was no call for excitement or agitation, and that this was all fake.
They were throwing something in the air repeatedly and then it just reminded Rubin of new-age goonery or a stag weekend. It was naff. The object was something trivial and basic, like a hunk of wood, or a ball of socks -– Rubin couldn’t quite make it out -- but the more they threw it between them, the more jubilant and raucous they became in an endlessly self-perpetuating cycle. If Rubin had previously harboured any stifled desire to join them, this was now completely extinguished.
Though it had been partially sunny, the clouds started to gather and a wind blew up, a gusty wind and Rubin felt exposed and had to hunch over and cover his face and side to stop himself feeling cold. He had wanted just to lie down and sleep but now the sun had gone in this wouldn’t be comfortable. And the guffaws continued from the crowd which disturbed him.
But he had fallen asleep, and without dreaming, since when he came to, it was dark, it was night, so he must have lost consciousness for a time. The crowd was still there, but instead of howling in delight they were running from something. There was a real commotion now. Obviously someone had been guilty of something as the skies were awash with government or police helicopters which seemed to be chasing them down, them and Rubin included. He barely had the time to get up on his feet and run as he noticed all the black specks above him. He didn’t question that he might not have done anything to have earned this; he knew that he was being targeted as part of the group. But there was nowhere to go. They weren’t firing yet, but who knew when they might change their minds?