The New Geography

When Taylor wakes up they’re in afternoon traffic on a ring road somewhere, driving into a late September sun. Taylor is relieved to find he’s in the passenger seat this time. He’s not sure he knows what day it is. They’ve been criss-crossing the continent for weeks now.

“Where are we?” he says.

“Belgium,” says Baumann, at the wheel, hunched over in that big down jacket. He looks like a bear. A bear that hasn’t slept for three days and is on a lot of recreational drugs. “Or possibly Germany. Or the Netherlands. Almost definitely not France.”

He squints into the distance.

“Somewhere in the Low Countries anyway.”

“I thought the Netherlands was the Low Countries?” Taylor says.

“Well, technically,” says Baumann, ‘Nederland’ is the low country. That’s what the Dutch call it. ‘The Low Countries’ is more of a general term for this whole…” he waves his hand toward the window.

Taylor looks out of the window. The same giant supermarkets, car showrooms and retail outlets they’ve been seeing for the last ten thousand miles. They could be anywhere in Northern Europe. On the outer edge of any medium sized town.

“It’s complicated,” says Taylor.

“It’s a fucking mess. Have you got any cigarettes?” Read the rest of this entry »