Coming Of The Magi
by Writer 3

Zak held the martini bottle to his tender lips and swallowed.

“That’s it lads.” The bottle was empty.

Zak stood. He was a large, square man whose layers of clothing made him bulkier. The outer layer was a grey mackintosh secured with a red belt. He looked at his companions. Gino, small, wiry, all edges and angles, swamped by a wool overcoat he had taken from Abe who had drunk himself to death on meths. Patrick was tall, black, mournful in a dirty green Adidas tracksuit.

The light bled out of the day, hung blush in the ropes of Zak’s greasy hair. He held his arms open to the waste ground skeletoned with abandoned cars. “Kings of this place,” he declared.

“Fucking princes,” agreed Patrick.

Off to their right and above them, where the Westway thundered, there was a blast of light.

Zak covered his face. “Fuck,” he complained. The light in his head was a dazzle of pain.

“Bastard,” growled Patrick. The light bounced around inside him like his body was a mirror for something else. He retched but nothing came up. It all stayed inside.

In the distance there was a soft thud.

"Over there." Gino was the first to turn to where something had fallen.

They advanced with the careful clumsiness of drunks. Gino swore every time his right foot hit the ground. That shoe was a size too small and had worn a sore on his instep.

Gino whispering: “Fuck Christ, fuck Christ, fuck Christ,” quiet like a prayer, they approached the fallen object,

It was a box, split from a fall.

“It must have come off the Westway,” said Zak.

“Nah,” said Patrick. “That’s a strong box and the road’s only five yards up.”

“Where else could it come from?” Zak was irritated. Let him have a better idea.

“Plane?” ventured Patrick.

“Something comes off a plane and lands here?” Gino was unbelieving.

“Things fall off.”

The Magi stopped a few feet from the box.

This could be an opportunity or it could be a danger and Zak knew that they were not men to whom opportunity presented itself.

“Fuck the fucking thing,” said Zak meditatively and knelt. He stuck his hand into the box. His mac hung on him like a habit.

“Careful you dumb fuck,” encouraged Gino.

Zak rummaged around in the box, pulled out a soft plastic container filled with jelly.

“What’s that?” Patrick had been hoping for beer or cigarettes, duty free from a plane flying unseen and unheard in the vaults of heaven impossibly far over their heads.

Zak peered at the packaging. “Frankincense,” he said.

“Frankenstein food.” Gino blearily remembered stories in his wife’s Daily Mail, back when he had been normal – that flat, faithless world.

“That’s shit. Worthless,” said Patrick still thinking of free beer; why was that small, transitory paradise always hidden from them?

“No. Look at how it’s packed. It meant something to someone.” Zak went back to the box, retrieved another package. “Myrrh,” he read.

“Isn’t that a country?” said Gino.

Zak drew out something heavier. He looked at the cube in the dirty palm of his hand as though he could not believe but the belief, like love, came.

“Gold.” Zak's voice was certain.

Patrick and Gino were still.

“Good fuck,” said Gino reverentially.

“There’s something else,” said Zak still busy in the box. He slid out a map on which a location was marked by a star.

“How much is the gold worth?” said Gino. Could their lives change? It seemed impossible.

“Where is that?” asked Patrick indicating the star on the map.

“The other side of town. Finsbury Park,” said Zak.

“North London,” said Gino as though speaking of a border.

“Maybe there’s more of this stuff there,” said Zak.

“Let’s stick with what we have,” countered Gino.

“We have this,” said Zak. “But there could be more.”

“A greater prize,” said Patrick. With enough gold they could buy an endless supply of beer. They could bathe in beer.

Zak handed the Frankincense to Patrick, the Myrrh to Gino. He slipped the gold into his own pocket. “Let’s walk,” he said.

The streets were empty and January cold, the sky clear and decorated with stars. Their breath rose from them in clouds like incense.

Hours later Zak stopped outside a tower block south of the Seven Sisters Road. “Here,” he said.

The block was a concrete slab crawling with poor. What could it possibly hold of worth, thought Zak.

Gino was staring at his feet. “Fucking foot’s stopped hurting.”

On the block guide bolted to the entrance a star had been scoured against a flat on the third floor. They climbed stairs which smelt of piss and vomit, memories of these people’s good times. The walls were a patina of graffiti, names and slogans overwritten, entwined like lovers.

Zak knocked on the door. A young man in a baseball cap and bling Joseph around his neck answered.

“Come in,” said Joseph.

Mary was sitting on a mattress on the floor, her baby suckling at her breast. There was a torch for lighting.

“Electrics cut off,” explained Joseph.

“We have gifts,” said Zak.

Gino looked grief-stricken. Gifts. He was stuck inside a story with a wrong ending.

Zak took the gold out of his pocket and offered it to Mary. She smiled and he laid it beside her.

Gino with a long-suffering face laid down the Myrrh, Patrick the Frankincense.

Zak knew that he would hate himself in the morning when he was back in the life that he had to lead but, for the moment, he was in love with every one in this room.

It was something that he wanted to go on forever.

Emd of Coming Of The Magi by Writer 3