This December evening I saw a mange-ridden fox with lumps in the full glare of a bulb in the street. Conspicuous from most angles, in the lemon streetlight, then from specific others so shadowy.
A glance told me it was not as street-smart as those particular urban foxes because it showed zero guile: a-prowl at 90' to those railings that skirt the pavement, looking long-nosed and furtive but highly conspicuous to me, walking along the pavement looking down the length of the street, and the railings were low enough look over and down. The fox looked stupid and vulnerable.
But when this blundering animal clocked me staring at it and our eyes found the others' eyes, its' gleamed sinisterly like milk and who knows how it'd have described mine, for that instant I hopped bodies and imagined myself the fox, David the Fox, or Coughs the Fox, and felt out how it maybe feels to be a thing so completely clandestine as an urban beast, born into the heart of a Man-made place, London. But equally any city.
A network of corridors and doors that Man holds the keys to, and Man strutting upright and often with rigid insectoid habits: in columns at significant times of day. Some travel within devilishly fast metal pods that cruise in channels. They stream by like glimmering fish, and transfix me with long glares from brilliant eyes. Cruising without stopping for me, so I stay away from them. I have had friends who limped leaking with dark fur shuddering to pass away beneath an object, unseen until daybreak. Mortally wounded.
My whole life I creep feeling hunted, hiding briefly in the city's shady groins until the coast is clear and I can dart out to the next hiding spot. Flatten my body and slink, do not be seen. I tug at binbags with my mouth, desperate for food.
A concrete warren that goes on and on on all sides. I know its alleys well yet it will always be completely alien to me. As I slink between dazzling signs in the belly of the beast. The smells are completely bewildering too, complex with factors: everything is artificial, addictive sugars drive me wild.
And what happened to architecture you could understand? A garden, a park, a simple wall: these offer a bit of calm, but people always come and I flee. 'Look!'. They always react, as if I am unnatural. In their park. And yet incomprehensibly in this foxy dreamscape I see dogs: dogs who the Men think are also Men like them, who live in their homes and stroll together down the streets. They shit like dogs, but then afterwards do this brisk shake, like Men.
We smell each other – them us from the pavements and us them from the grottos. Perfumed. They even ride the metal fishes, and pull faces out the sides, and look more like Men than ever when they do that.
Just seeing it meant that it had been foiled. Loping back towards the estate, totally wretched and scummy as hell, and as I watched the fox go wherever it was going my human brain returned and I realised I'd like to have beetroot for dinner. And then I thought about how beetroot turns your pee pink, and I can't remember what else.