When Harold died he discovered there was after all an afterlife. He was in a snaking queue in a large, low-ceilinged hall, not unlike immigration control in an international airport. The line was moving slowly forward to a row of glass booths staffed by uniformed figures dressed in white. Beyond this line of officialdom was a pair of sliding gates decorated in what looked like mother-of-pearl. Some of the people who had passed beyond the control points advanced towards these doors in which a small wicket gate opened to admit them, briefly affording a glimpse of sunlight beyond. Others were directed to the left or right of the central doors towards a pair of descending escalators. When Harold reached the head of the queue he was summoned to one of the booths by the official seated inside, a figure with a strangely androgynous appearance. Then he noticed that his deceased ex-wife Louise was also inside the booth. ‘And another other thing,’ she was saying, ‘he used to get the collars of his shirts so grubby it was impossible to get them clean.’




Simon Collings

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