It was at my father’s funeral that I found my new hobby. My old man had mocked my for my old pastime right up until the day he’d died, sitting right there in front of the newspaper headlines with his cock in his mistress’ mouth. Far more normal to have a habit like sports or drinking, art or fetish sex.
It wasn’t just my father, mind. Plenty of others had given me more than just funny looks over my recreational pursuits, the odd black eye and split lip might have put some off, but not me. It wasn’t just a hobby to me you see. I knew that amongst the lost roads of the city, beyond the removed street signs which once held such meaning, only now for no-one to remember, lay the dreams of the forgotten. The ghosts of this place. Only the Gold Man has understood that. Understood what was there waiting. A collage of forfeited histories - the dreams, memories and myths of the missing - the gaping hole that lies at the heart of our history. People didn’t get that that’s what I was after when I was walking down the recently cleared streets or crawling through the wreckages of housing rows simply abandoned, deemed somehow unfit or unfashionable. I sought treasure - the mislaid truths of forgotten lives - echos of joy, of grief, of age, of fear, of madness - not ghouls. Most of the time, of course, I felt nothing, and occasionally I did stumble across something I shouldn’t have, but it was worth all that, all the nightmares for those rare moments when I found what I was looking for, a familiar kind of vibration, a resonance deep inside. Sorry, it’s kind of hard to explain. The closest feeling I can come up with is dream recall. You know that microsecond when you wake from a deep sleep with the complete and clear recollection of a dream clinging to you. The feeling is kind of like that. Only, usually with the dream memory of course, the feeling falls apart immediately, just as the memory does. As if any attention - thinking about the feeling, trying to understand the feeling - shatters it, like a pane of glass beneath a wrecking ball. The resonance I’m talking about is like that - a dream recall feeling stretched on and on. The lost souls of the past remade within.
But there at the burial yard, with my father in the ground, the oaths being recited and the earth being laid, I found a new hobby. Or rather, my hobby took a new and interesting turn. I bent and took up a handful of earth to lay upon his pale, naked body as is our custom, and there, crouched with my hand on the ground I felt a little tremor. A tiny sign of something much much bigger. I felt for it like the Gold man says to - savouring that last lap of the sea before the water draws out and the tsunami hits. I paused like that for some time, safe in the knowledge that the rest of the mourners would put my hesitation down to grief or some silent unsaid words. And the wave hit. There amid the grief and the tombs I found a new truth. That there in the earth itself, a different kind of time exists. What the Gold Man calls “soiled eternity”. I’d always wondered what I’d do once the unexplored corners of the city began to dwindle, and here I had my answer. Of course, the city was forever changing, but beneath it the boundless earth goes on. It preceded us, it would likely survive us, and within it lay an entire realm of the forgotten, generations of spectres from our buried past lives.
And so now I dig. While the Gold man continues his long slowlife above ground, his golden body rotting gently away, his vast power and wealth unable to provide the immortality he assumed it would, I take my orders. I hollow and I delve for him, excavating and tunnelling for resonance. For me it is a life spent with others - with the memories and dreams of our past. For the Gold man, just another attempt to chase down the ravages of time, a race against his aged and blackened blood. For it turns out all the world is not gold. The world is dirt. Just the soil and the things we’ve buried in it.