22 Aug


An empty bottle rolled from the alley way, across the pavement, and into the gutter. Dustbins and  cardboard boxes, discarded from the various bars and restaurants, filled its dark confined spaces. The shadows shivered, and a feral, bearded, face peered out from the gloom. 

“Bollocks, arse, tits, and cunts!” 

Boris dragged himself out from his one-man cardboard paradise, braced himself against the brickwork and pulled himself up. A forlorn figure, in what had once been Sunday-best, he stood and stared at the crowd mingling outside The Slug and Cabbage, cleared his throat, spat, and scratched himself with vigor.

The problem with sleeping rough, apart from the cold, rain and the bloody coppers, was the damn noise. No sooner, had you got your ‘ead down then some idiot was smashing bottles ,singing and dancing, or even worse, puking and pissing over your prime real-estate. 

“Pricks, shit, boobs,” he shouted into the night. 

His mouth was dry from the aftershave he’d shared with one of his down-and-out brethren and although they’d prepared it using the tried and tested shoe-lace method, and mixed it with some orange-cordial they’d borrowed from a supermarket, the taste of musk was still heavy. Better than nothing though and besides, aftershave was a delicacy and such a rare find these days. 

 He lifted one of his legs above the cobbles, and let rip. A rumbling, roaring, earthy-fart, worthy of royal patronage, blasted passed his cheeks. He giggled to himself, mumbled a few words to an invisible admirer, and fingered his beard. 

“Penis and vaginas,” he screamed at the top of his lungs. 

With warm kitchen grates to lie on, and plentiful leftovers still in take-away food cartons left by the Friday-night drunks, this spot was better than most.

 Amateurs all of them, none of them could hold a candle to him when it came to booze. Bloody professional, thats what he was! 

He picked up a box and popped the lid. A half eaten burger complete with chips, that’d been carelessly tossed and forgotten.

 That was the trouble with the today’s youth, didn’t know they were bloody born Never had it so good. What were they thinking throwing good food away? What was bloody wrong with ‘em?   

“Cunts,” he screamed again at nobody in particular. 

Hungrily he stuffed the meal into his mouth, grunting with satisfaction. Best thing about the weekend was the variety of food left to waste. Normally he found so much he couldn’t eat it all at once and so had to carry it around in an old one-handled leather shopping bag . It was a varied diet and Boris enjoyed the cuisine of India and China as well as the plethora of miscellaneous European fare. Fish and chips was his favorite, but unfortunately there was never much of that left around, and what scraps there were he’d to fight the cats for. It wasn’t worth the effort nor the scratches although, belching and scarring a couple of night-clubbers, he did enjoy a bit of Haddock, and Cod certainly had its place. 

“Farts, arse-wipes and bloody willys,” he mumbled through smacking gums. 

Up until a month ago he’d been sleeping down by the river but the police had moved him on. Once those bastards got an idea into their heads it was hard to shift. Bunch of idiots, poncing about in their blue uniforms, picking on the homeless and less fortunate than themselves. George street was closer to Saint Mary’s anyway, and it was only a hop, skip, and stumble from there to the out-patients clinic where he collected his medication. Not that he always remembered to go, but when he did they always seemed pleased to see him. 

 He took another bite of mystery-meat and masticated slowly, pressing the soggy bread between his gums until it was soft enough to swallow, the salty juiciness filling his mouth.

Although, Nurse Susan was a bit of a looker  – she alone was worth the visit. 

“Nuts and testacles ,” he bellowed, throwing the now empty container to the ground. 

A group of lads across the street pointed at him, laughed and shouted abuse. He was used to it – the wankers were all the same. He stuck two fingers in the air and jumped up and down.

Made him mad it did when they took the piss .Wasn‘t his bloody fault he was the way he was – the doctor had told him so, and so had the officer down at the Salvation Army hostel. An unfortunate accident of nature was how the bastards had put it. All right for them to say, they weren’t the ones who were bloody unfortunate. 

Thirsty from dinner he picked up a beer bottle abandoned, and balanced on a window ledge.

 John Smiths Bitter – loved the stuff.

 He put the bottle to his lips and drank deeply, then coughed and spluttered, spraying the liquid out in a wide arc as fast as he’d ingested it. Bloody piss! He hated it when that happened.  He dragged his arm across his mouth and rubbed his tongue on his sleeve. Dirty little bastards. 

Music was pounding from The Slug and it was starting to upset him. Loud noises and bright lights always had that effect. 

“Knickers and tits,” he cursed pressing his hands to his ears. He’d once had a pair of orange ear-protectors, stolen from some council worker who’d forgotten them on the side of an electrical cabinet – Finders, keepers, losers, bastards ,bastards – that he wore constantly until he’d swapped them for something liquid. Good ones too, with the lining and an adjustable strap. He regretted the exchange. 

“Fanny and dick!” Spittle flew across his face as he wrapped his tongue around the words – enunciation was the key, clear and concise articulation of each and every syllable that issued from his mouth. It wasn’t his fault he used profane language, but because he did, he was determined to do it with fucking dignity, style, and panache. 

It was the loneliness that affected him the most. Some days he could really use a good old chat, an exchange of opinions, a little social intercourse, however, the only people he ever conversed with were the nurses and doctors at the clinic. Them and the voices, of course – they were with him all the time. That being said there was always some do-gooder trying to press him with a cup of coffee or a sandwich, but that was hardly what he called conversation. A non-interested enquiry into how he was doing, coupled with a fleeting God bless. 

 God-bloody-bless his bollocks! 

How the hell did they think he was doing? Bloody wonderful, thank you very much ; love sleeping in the bleeding cold and getting pissed on anything I can find. You should try it yourself mate, bit of a change from your lah-de-do bottle of French plonk and your two-up-two-down in bloody suburbia . Idiots!


            Before the accident life had been normal, even happy. He remembered a house and a woman, maybe his mother, but he didn’t think so. Probably dead by now anyway – but how would he know? 

             Standing with his fists clenched and staring into the street he recalled how once he’d been the same as those on the inside, not as he was now on the fringes, sleeping in doorways and eating shite. The memory fizzled, the cold air biting at his shoulders. It was getting to be that time of year. Soon he’d have to find himself another spot, somewhere warm and dry, far from the idiots walking the streets. It wasn’t safe for a man in his condition to be out by himself. 

He opened his mouth to shout, but caught himself and fought to control the involuntary action. The c-word was softly whispered and rolled off his tongue with a subdued, almost poetical, delivery. He was trying, but it was fucking hard! 

The noise had finally stopped and he looked around trying to gauge what had just happened, the silence now screaming  as loud as the music ever had. Turning back to the alley he crawled into his nest of cardboard, and prepared to bed-down for the night, his second attempt at a peaceful night’s sleep. He grabbed the newspapers and stuffed them inside his jacket, the bag full of left-overs and second hand delights, he put behind his head to use as a cushion. The cordial-paco-rabanne cocktail was starting to take effect and he felt his eyelids grow heavy as sleep washed over him. 


            Whistles pierced the night, car doors slammed, and dogs barked. The night came alive with the machinations of lithe young men in blue uniforms . Shouts and screams, the sound of radios crackling, the blue and white strobes from the police vehicles flashed across his face. 

            “ Arse, wank, tits, hand-job,” he screamed as he rubbed his eyes and peered into the night. Coppers were everywhere, their size tens pounding the pavement and rushing towards the pub. He could hear screams, the crash of glass and the rumble of furniture being either thrown or broken. He’d barely shut his eyes and yet what appeared to be world war three had suddenly broken out in front of him.

Fucking coppers didn’t they know when to give it a rest? He needed his, he’d to be at the clinic the following day for his medication. A little one on one time with Nurse Susan. 

A pub side-door, in the alley where Boris lay, suddenly burst open. Crashing wood rend the air, and bright light streamed out into the darkness. Boris stared in horror at what stood before him as the shadow, cast by the figure silhouetted in the doorway, washed over the cobbles and crawled up the walls. Piss rolled down his leg and he felt the unwelcome warmth of urine soaking his trousers. Covering his eyes from the light he crawled into a kneeling position, clasped his hands together and began to pray – something he hadn’t done for many years. Tears rolled down his face and he shook involuntarily as abject fear turned what little spine he’d left to jelly. 

            Boris bowed his head – hoped for the best but expected the worst. 

            Mother fucker!

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