Sunlight breaches the opening of the fabric, which is strewn across the broken window. I feel it warm my face. I am awoken. Although, I keep my eyes held shut. Are you truly awake if you haven’t opened your eyes yet? Am I still asleep? Am I ever really ‘awake’?
Slowly, I raise my head. There is no pillow beneath it. And, I feel a pain in my neck, the instant I begin to elevate it from the mattress beneath. The mattress is thin, dirty, no bed sheets. It is like that of a mattress you would find on a bunkbed, in a cabin, on a school camp. Insufficient for a grown adult. Uncomfortable.
I look around the room, trying to scan my brain for my location. The mattress, which I am now seated upright on, stretching my limbs, and working my way through the neck pain: is in the centre of a room, no larger than 3×4 metres. It lies on an angle, with rubbish piled all around. Every surface of the room is filthy. Bottles, scattered in piles. Take away food scraps, chicken bones, and kebab droppings. Some old, some new. Smells, fumigate the air. With only the slight breeze rolling in from the broken window, allowing sufficient oxygen to breathe. I search my pockets for a cigarette. A clipper. Anything. I find only two pounds fifty, and some crumpled Tesco receipts.
I attempt to stand. With my now superior scouting position, I scan the room around, once again. I begin to retain where I am. Some abandoned apartment building in Limehouse. The live-in guardians weren’t about, and so I snuck through late last night. This information also reminds me of the small bag of speed I came here with. Although, it isn’t anywhere to be seen.
Did I smoke it all? Where’s the pipe?
Over in the corner, next to that vodka bottle. The pipe, the clipper… Baggy, baggy? Crystals? Dustings? Where out thou?
Nothing. Fuck, is that tobacco? Scrounge that up. Now.
I wrap the dusty tobacco droppings, into a Tesco receipt. Concede to defeat, and acknowledge that I most definitely smoked all the gas.
I rub my hands together. Pushing the grease like filth which is now embalmed upon my palms, further into the pores. Water.
I find only a half empty can of Guinness. Liquid. Does it matter?
Gone in a gulp. Can crushed, and thrown aside.
Out on the street now, I figure it to be, after midday. People move. Lunch time queues. Traffic. Car horns squeal. Headache. Dehydration. Annihilation. An abomination.
Sick now, might spew. The come down has hit hard. I wish these people would fucking move. Out of my way, off my sidewalk. That’s a nice suit. You belong in a zoo. Fuck off now. Don’t look at me, I know I smell. Do you think I enjoy this hell?
Roger, is working his usual corner, drawing pictures of his dog. Sipping vodka, and water.
‘Rodge! Spare us a fag? Coming down hard. Bruv, some water too?’ I cross the street, stepping out in front of an oncoming bus. The driver sounds his horn, but far too late with little sense of urgency, which confirms what I thought, that he had seen me coming across long before. Roger looks up from his latest artwork. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look exactly like the last twenty before it, with Misty resting her head on the pavement surface.
‘Shit, Louie. Just one.’ Roger, pulls out a cigarette from his inside jacket pocket. I snatch it from his hand quickly, placing it in my mouth, and lighting instantly. One rapid motion, and I suddenly feel sane. Alive. Survived.
‘Thanks mate, I really needed this.’ I smoke it through quickly. Roger, averts his eyes back to his picture. Roger, is the kind of guy I go to, when I need anything. He will constantly do favours for me, out of the pure kindness of his own heart. A genuine man. With some mild sex offences on his record. One skunk-drunk seventeen-year-old, when he was twenty-one. And, a workplace tit grab. Sent ole’ Rodge, to the gutter. That, and his addiction to hookers, and cocaine. Often ensuring, he only sort out the party girls who got so wild off his blow, they would punch him up, and thieve his load. Not a terribly smart man, but a kind one, who has done far too many favours for me. With no expectation of reciprocation. That is to say, Roger, knows full and well I would never lend the man a hand, if it were my only option.
The only thing Roger is not prepared to share with me, is his money. He will share his food, his water, his drink, and his drugs. But, he will never spare but a penny he earns from his drawings. I admire this about him. Principle. Although, I can’t say this admiration of his code, has impeded me from attacking him, when I needed to score.
I tap Roger on the shoulder, satisfied with the single offering from the man. And, head down the street.
Sunshine. Blue Skies. June? Tuesday?
I keep an eye out for smokers. Hoping to bum a fag. Come down still lingers in the air. Edging ever closer to the surface, as the nicotine begins to wear.
Only solution. Two pounds fifty. Only need fifteen. Fifteen pounds. Day done.
I make my way down commercial road. Passing the Muslim businesses galore, kebabs shops, chicken shops. Clothing stores. McDonalds. Use the pisser. Scout the entrance. Quick. In a split second. Bathroom door closed. On the shitter.
Back in the sun. Man plays with his bun. At the Lloyds machine. Eyes locked-on. That’s a forty quid score right there. Deed is done.
Elbow to the gut. Grab him by the nuts. Quick upper cut. Grab the cash hanging out, at once. Run
Down the street. Down the next. One alleyway over. Run. Run.
Feet feel light. Am I still being pursued? Should I look behind? Cop sirens? Am I done?
No, too far. Keep on running. Aldgate east.
Underground station. Jump the barrier.
Train is coming. Quick.
Doors shut! Doors please shut!