The grey ghosts shuffle, aimless, scared and listless. Unable to decide and complaining to the few who still listen.
They move without purpose of what or where or how to be yet holding fast onto the shreds of dignity for without it they will fall.
Out of step with those who walk briskly and outcast by the others. They slouch with their grey heads staring without focus into the middle distance. From park benches.
Or in the warm loneliness of home they binge on the blue TV light with all the experience in the world yet afraid to wake tomorrow for yet another useless day.
Left behind by the rest and dressed with a vague expression of longing and waiting … to be old.
The tracks shake loose in the cracked cement as he leaves the train and the old majestic homes crumble while the flash men walk drunken, lusting, singing ditties with whisky voices from the docks in the old town.
It wasn’t as if he couldn’t remember where he belonged. It was that he didn’t want to live there anymore, so he stood for a while fumbling with his keys. The old place was falling down from decades of neglect but it was clean and straight inside and smelled of fish broth and bread from the kitchen.
The daughter hangs clothes on a line out of the window and watching her father, hoping he isn’t drunk so early. She would not be shocked or surprised. He hasn’t been the same since the company shut down the docks.
He falls and the daughter helps him to his comfortable chair and fetches a cigar. He bites a tip and she lights it and he bangs on the arm when she doesn’t do it right. The acrid smoke fills the room so she opens the shutters despite the rain.
The people used to say he was brave man, a fighter. Now they say he is broken and ignored but for the daughter who picks up the pieces of his life. He has no purpose now and drinks more than before, driving the mother crazy. They argue and then make peace.
Drink, argue and make peace. It is the pattern of the days.