The Cloud Collector

Lisa Stansbie

(Narrated by Gerard Fletcher)

The top ten best selling novels from the 1950's:

1. The Cardinal
2. Joy Street
3. Across the River and into the Trees
4. The Wall
5. Star Money
6. The Parasites
7. Floodtide
8. Jubilee Trail
9. The Adventurer
10. The Disenchanted

Delivering the news to those who still required it in paper form, he rode his rusted BMX along Joy Street each morning. His route took him across the river and into the trees where the drone of the tarmac subsided into an uneasy silence, and then he would often see the colourless figure of the cardinal in the misty leaded window and feel slightly uncomfortable about his silhouette.

Since the 1950's the cardinal had been a collector. From his window, the wall opposite was etched with years of abuse and when he stared across, he would see fantastical arrangements within this urban monolith. His gaze was only broken intermittently by an expectant glance to the sky. Today he considered how the imprints on the horizon were reminiscent of the pattern on the pedestal his father had left him all those years ago, which now served as a plinth for his camera.

The flood tide from three years ago had damaged his best work, but the tattered ones were still included alongside the pristine books. The parasites that shared the books' wooden shelves crawled invisibly through the important images they contained. Each one was religiously classified with sticky video numbers, like star money, that came, unintentionally, to enumerate the later years of his life.

Occasionally when he looked up to the traces in the sky they reminded him of a time when as a boy he had taken part in the jubilee trail and gained a trophy for his success as an adventurer. Thinking of these lost years often made him a disenchanted man