Wednesday, August 02, 2006

When The Lights Go Out

Without any warning, the electricity went off shortly after half past ten last night. The only light came from my laptop screen. The only air conditioning was a slight breeze that didn't even ripple the heavy, dull coloured curtains that cover my window.

Five minutes later the whole building was down on the street. Some smoking cigarettes, some gossiping by torchlight, some sitting calmly on the kerb. The neighbourhood supermarket didn't sell candles so the owner - fat and barechested with red marks down his back that made him look like he'd been attacked by a suction cup - lent me a torch for the night. When I got back, a workman had clambered up a lampost without a harness and was scrutinising the power lines, while a crowd of people gathered on the road below. As I opened my door the lights all came back on. The big white box on the wall started belching ice cold air. The front doors closed one by one.

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