Line of Sight – A novel in progress – by John Bolland

This excerpt from Line of Sight, a novel-in-progress written in Scots was published in Issue 71 of the Lallans Magazine in 2008. My thanks to the selection panel for selecting and publishing the piece.

For a full list of my previous publications, please see the publications page on this website.


Line of Sight – Chapter 1 – Excerpt

Fit aabody disnae ken is this.
Thi pixelation generally applied tae aa thi apertures an orifices o a premises, preventin street surveillance cameras peekin in, kin be suspendit at thi sole discretion o thi operator subject, in thi normal rin o circumstance, tae review an subsequent endorsement o said suspension by a superior within a period no exceedin’ twinty-eight days fae thi instant o suspension.
So there wiz Margaret wi thi bairn laid-oot, airms raised abune his hied. She wiz buttonin up thi bairn in his papoose, tuggin thi woollen bunnet ower his cheeks an then thi hoodie so as jist his neb an thick-lasht een wur visible inside thi bundelt cotton, wool an quilt. She pullt thi draa-string at his thrapple, tuggit doon thi mittens ower baith cleuks an neshed thi hoodie o thi snowsuit up, tight an toastie.
Aat day Margaret hid oan thon rid jumper an thon green lycra leggings, ken.
Thi operator hiz discretion tae suspend thi normally applied pixellation o windies an entries if, based on circumstantial evidence, he hiz reason tae suspect felonies or acts o subversion or conspiracy likely tae eventuate in acts o terror or related forms o civil unrest.
Thi air in thi parlour wiz waarm still . Thi temperature ootdoors oan Seafield Street wiz 12 degrees ablo.
An thon snell win wiz reevin ower thi pack-ice oot o Asia – fur Asia is closer by thi day noo – ye kin walk there fae Portsoy three months in thi year. Thi jeel in February strips heat an moisture fae thi skin an burns. A tattle-tale o pallor – aat’s thi sign, ken – Ah see it on thi screen sometimes, a buddy pinched an davered an in jeopardy o frostbite. Ah canna warn them bit. Maun watch in silence unless a thret tae public order is detectit. S’whit Ah dae.
Aat Setterday, Margaret pit oan salopettes, a puffa jacket . Affy braw.
Ah hid anticipated watchin her as she wiz kittin up but she passed fae ma line o sight, leavin’ thi loon still lyin oan his back oan thi kitchen table proppt atween thi coffee jar an aa her bukes. Ah speculatit how she zipped up oot o sight and closed thi velcro seals on her ensemble.
Portsoy wiz niver meant tae be secure. It’s aa these strips o hooses hard-fronted on thi street that gie thi cameras nae purchase. Thi fishers hae nae greens nor patios tae thi front. Their steps press tae thi paving flags like pettit lips. Here life’s lived tae thi back an ben thi hoose, lang greens an gairdens striped ahin high wa’s o slate an granite – backs chokit wi snaa these winter months, snaa slouched an slewed an crusting ower an here recrystalised like sugar-loaf tae sparkle in ony glimpse o sun. Trenches are dug oot tae empty coal bunkers an thon recycle bins lined up in every midden. Nae policy hiz a back gate. Thi toon stauns humphy-backit, keeps its councel, thraan.
She re-appearit, bootit, her rid hair hidden aneath a hat o white coneys’s fur, its ear-flaps trochled doon an tied aneath her face. She swept up thi loon an cairtit him ben thi lobby. Contact lost. Thi front door opent.
It hadna snaad in weeks. Thi street hid bin swept clear bit thi slate slabs an fractured concrete wiz slippery still. You wak wi discretion cairryin a bairn. Safer to set him doon, Ah tend to think. She disna. Cairts thi bairn (he’s nearly twa) fae tap tae bottom o thi toon like a fairground prize she wunna pairt wi. She hudna brought her gear Ah notit. Nae camera. Nae tripod. An she wiz headin doon thi brae. Doon thi brae? There’s naething there bit ice and Wally’s shop…
Ma personal preference is niver tae adjust thi line o sight o ony camera in thi burgh withoot a pressin reason. Promiscuous realignments ur like to be noticed by thi general populace. Sich movement encourage thi presumption that specific acts or behaviours ur bein focussed on. This, in turn, implies that summat is bein misst. Ironically, folk are apt tae feel baith mair insecure an less on-best-behaviour gif they believe thi array is focussed someplace else. They dinna ken thi blindspots aat exist there onywye. Deterrence dinna need ful coverage as long as suspects dinna ken thi meenit.
Ten steps past her ain front door an Margaret wiz lost, aince mair, fae view.
Thi harbour then or Wally’s shop? Ah wunnert.
Ah tapped-up screens 3, 6 an 9. Empty streets. Spindrift racketing up thi braes fae thi frigid blaw that’s rummeled into toon across thi harbour wa’, shinned up ower broken iceslabs in thi basin, skittered up thi streets. A quarter efter three but light like a dented bell, flat grey an ringin cold. Cloud settled ower us.
A buddy turnt thi corner o Church Street and stertit tae wauchle up thi hill. Short hunched encumbered wifie. Ah needna zoom tae see she wiz ma mither.
Fit wye wid she be scramblin up aat brae?

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>Line of Sight exerpt