Dogs and lovers

The night was hot and the sweat ran down to the small of her back. She reached the pedestrian street where people jostled each other. The smart, the young, deformed, old and eccentric. Close to the city only a few convenience shops were still open with immigrants working the twilight hours.

Her dog pulled and became tangled with a passer-by. It would be tethered behind the gate where she knocked lightly and it opened ajar. Her lover stood half naked at the bottom of the stair and took her hand. Pulling her up to his room with no words said, and the sex was urgent.

The room was spartan and she looked up at the bare yellow bulb. The bed smelled of old sweat and her lover. There was no one to help clean and fetch and choose eye catching decor. There was a laundry basket overflowing and a stained sink. She washed herself and remembered how her lovers had been. When they could stay in a room for days, only leaving for food or for wine and cigarettes. Before time was short and dreams had turned to shadows.

She was tempted to stay, to help out, to call her husband and call it all off but she left. The children still needed her and what could she do? No job, no income, no ideas. Directionless. She left alone with her dog to hide at a cafe, enjoying some wine, avoiding her gossiping friends. Her fellow inmates, trapped, obsessed with their dogs and their lovers.

 

Who will catch you when you fall?

I’m too tired to look up at a dog sniffing, I hope it doesn’t piss on me as I haven’t the strength to push it away. Need to keep notes on all of this. How the fuck did I get here? Life didn’t start out this way, that’s certain. I remember being young, good looking and in love. Was that so long ago? I can smell my own ass, and sure as shit I need a shower. Hell! Was it only just last week I was there in the bank, trying to get some money, from a check I got, from somewhere. It’s was like I have this force field of stench keeping people away. They don’t want to see me, as if I might ask for something, money, a favour, a few moments of their valuable time, what are they afraid of? Do they feel guilty? They should, because everyone is guilty.

I ended up here somehow? It was the relationship, the corporate job, the modern home with the spa and all the fittings. Now all I see are legs and asses. I’m as low as a roach down here.

The ground is hard and cold in the spring and my hands grimy black. My sign says that I am homeless and I need money for food. Most people don’t read it. Sometimes they put paper money in my cup. and that goes a long way. I can buy some wine for later when it’s cold. There is a clothes bin down near the public school I can sleep in, if Norm doesn’t take it first or the men haven’t emptied it. My teeth are loose and my back feels like it can’t take much more of this.

The street is illuminated like a noir painting,  A cross, a crack to fill, shiny things flashing past a nouveau post office. A man walking towards me jigging coins wanting me to notice how generous he is. ‘Thanks,’ I interrupt and a car parks perilously close to my legs on the pavement. A door clicks and she steps out. All legs with an ass I could go to town on. She has golden hair tied back. A pearl necklace which matches nicely with her white diamond wristwatch. The shoes she’s wearing would keep me warm for a month. I could buy a house with that car. She looks towards me but doesn’t see. I am something unpleasant. The man comes around and they walk, he looks back and tosses a coin as if to tip me for not staring. I saw though. I saw how she looked like a girl I once knew in a previous life. A time that is like a dream, before the estrangement and all the drugs, and the breakdown of everything. I was that guy and she was my girl. Maybe it’s not real. Maybe I was never that way. Not rich not handsome, not dirt under your shoes.

I see crazy Anne. ‘Poo Anne’ the locals call her, well it’s not nice but it is descriptive. She begs. We have our corners. Our territories. They say she was an singer. She did shows, all over the country. She sold records and was on TV. They say she was inducted into the music hall of fame. She was somebody. Now she begs and sleeps in the boarding home on Cavendish Street. She was with this guy who had connections. They used together. He use to beat her occasionally. Maybe he is in prison for putting his wife in a suitcase. Perhaps he is dead. Anne should be so lucky.

All the famous beggars, the handsome homeless, the millionaires rummaging through bins for throwaway sandwiches. We were loved once. Think about that when you see us. Our place is only a few doors away from your Bellview Hill home and your Mercedes. Your mental breakdown, your divorce.

I think I saw my brother last week, he saw me and crossed the street. I remind him of the old days that he can’t deal with. I think I saw my daughter. She was stoned and stared at me with bleary grey eyes, unable to focus. She asked me for a cigarette, but I don’t smoke and I said ‘no’. ‘Shelley’, I said but she said she thought I must be mistaken. She said her name was User or Hooker or something, I can’t remember but it wasn’t Shelley. Shelley doesn’t know I’m alive. She spoke with her dead eyes after a pause of staring at my hands then flinched when I lifted a coin from my cup not trusting it. She was waiting for some kind of recognition but wouldn’t look me in the eye. She was in a dark nameless place of shadows. A rung lower. Borrowing and stealing air from the living.

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