‘When you gonna get off your arse and do something around here?’ she says.
He can’t remember where he met her, sometimes he confuses her name for the others who have passed by this place seduced by the promise of healing and redemption — of things he’s made up in order to heal and redeem himself.
‘I can’t manage it anymore,’ he says. ‘I’m too cold.’
‘You’re cold?’ she says. She kicks him in the leg as she walks past with a silver tray. ‘I’m cold, we’re all cold.’
Good fortune doesn’t come to those who wait, that’s just bullshit to make the weak stand by the sidelines, trapped and protracted on damp pavements, side long with a cheek stained by boot marks watching those with raw hands and knees crawl past. This is what good fortune looks like he thought, an endless cycle of promise and abuse.
It had been the middle of winter. December was particularly cruel that year. The room he was in was cold and damp, the heating had been terminated months ago when he hemorrhaged money on useless, addictive herbal remedies that promised the end of ennui but made little difference.
What if? he asks lying with a bad leg on the soiled mattress. What if he’d never answered the door that day? What if he’d danced right over those black and white chequered tiles that weren’t even his — he was flat sitting for a friend — and danced right back along them, a knight he could have been, swaying in L-shaped movements, past the Chesterfield chair and Queen Anne sideboard, perhaps catching his ridiculous grin in the Baroque mirror on the way past; anything except answer the door.
You see, good fortune never, ever knocks and definately never rings the bell. He knows that now.
It had happened so fast, so lonely. It’s funny, he reflects, how memories leaked if one didn’t maintain them. Like a house in need of repair, gutter half hanging because simple clips had come loose, this then compounds the problem of leaking rainwater damaging the brickwork, the membrane of the house (being) is stained and infused until the frozen weather splits and cracks it; it watches paralysed as tiny parts of itself flake off into the drains below; and that was where he found himself, a once proud four-storey house watching tiny flakes of bricks fall a long way below. And there went another, he thought, as the mice scurried past. Another and another. Watching helplessly from his dirty mattress.
In the future, he would look back and think how things were better then. More predictable to be huddled frozen and abused by unasked for interlopers into his misery.
The night went slowly, condensed about the edges of the room as the moon looked on with some concern. They huddled together but the intimacy is strange through so many layers of found clothes, as if each stained one is an identity — each layer of material bringing its own memories to replace the ones that have fallen off in the night.
She knees him in their prostrated position. ‘You should get off your arse and do something around here tomorrow,’ she says.
Part of my daily routine is to write unguided, unprompted for ten minutes and see what emerges; they are often fragmentary, often nonsenscial but sometimes interesting. I’ve been doing this for many months now and have hundreds of these collected on my hard drive. I realise that these may never go anywhere so I thought I’d might as well post them on my blog (with a little editing). I wrote this one last month. I’ll post up more as I uncover them.