Eleven O’Clock Shadows

He started walking faster, feeling the night raindrops on his face. Coming back from Mother’s this late was always depressing.
Mother was depressing.
Having to wash her, feed her, lift her on to the commode, lift her off the commode.
“No way”, he thought, “No way am I moving back in with her. A don’t care what the bastards say”.
The rain then started in earnest. The type of rain that bounces off the sun-dried tarmac as high as a foot.
Cobbled gutters were soon awash with fast flowing muddy water, as it ran to the safety of the stank covers. A break in the cloud could be seen not too far north up the valley.
He took shelter from the rear entrance of the nearest block of tenements. His own house was nearby, but he would be drenched in seconds in this downpour.
The remains of an electric fitting could be seen above the close exit, denying him just enough light to see what tobacco was left in his tin. After a few seconds his sight adjusted to the near darkness, although not enough for him to see the cigarette paper that he slipped from the packet in his pocket that was now sodden from his wet hands.
“Fuck it”, he muttered, drying his fingers on his tee shirt.
Eventually he managed to roll a roll up and lit it, replacing the screw off lid with a twist of satisfaction, inhaling the smoke from the mouthheld cigarette.
As he was looking towards the sky, he was suddenly pushed by the close door, forcing him to move.
“Oh sorry aboot that”, he said, hearing someone taking a startled intake of breath.
“Bloody fright ye gied me, whit the fuck ur ye stawnin there fur, ye could uv gied me a heart attack”, said a female voice.
“Sorry, hen, A’m jist shelterin’ out of the rain furra wee spell”.
From the dim landing light, he could see that the woman was carrying a large black plastic sack. She flung it carelessly into the darkness beyond where he stood.
She shook her head.
“Better no hing aboot here too long”.
“Naw, A’ll no, jist till the rain goes off”.
“It’s no a good place tae hing aboot pal”, she continued, as the door slammed shut on him. He heard the lock locking as he skillfully flicked his damp dog-end.
The break in the clouds had yet to arrive.
She was right enough, this was a bad place to be hanging around.
Losers lost their lives, standing around close mouths, but then again not likely to do so in on such a grim night as this, he thought.
A smell hung in the air, probably from the binbags that had been dumped. His curiosity demanded satisfaction and with an outstretched arm towards the darkness, he tried to light his lighter, but it failed to ignite, although from the sparks of the flint, and only for a second, he thought he saw the silhouette of someone standing in the corner of the dark alcove.

“Is there sumbuddy stawnin there?”, he enquired, as he continually rolled the wheel barrel with his thumb.
There was no answer.
Eventually the flint wore out.
It was maybe just the way the bin bags were crumpling he decided, but more importantly the lighter was now incapable of lighting another roll up.
The rain showed no signs of easing off.
He thought of making a dash for it.
There was a tin of ox tail soup in the cupboard and he would cup his hands around the hot mug, glad to be indoors and dry.
“Fuck this”, he said, psyching himself up for the mad dash home.
Suddenly, lightning flashed and the thunder thundered..
Maybe not just yet he thought.
He built another roll up.
A passer-by passing by would have a match he hoped, but there was no sign of life at all.
Frustrated, and flintlocked he despaired
“Need a light, pal?”, a voice from the dark asked.
A flaming match lit up the face of the flame seeker, as he sucked on his misshapen fag, its burning ember lighting the contours of an adjacent chiseled face.
“Where the hell did you come from, near shit masel”.
“Do you want tae buy some razor blades, ma friend?’.
“Do you want tae want tae buy some shite paper, then?”
“Shite paper?”
“Fur yer Maw, yer wee Maw”.
“Ma maw?
“Some razor blades, for yer Mammy?”.
Just then, a taxi drew up and the window eased down, and a big taxi drivers big head shouted out.
” Did you order a taxi, Jim?”.
“Naw, no us Mr taximan”, Chiselfeatures replied.
“Fur fuck sake” the head said and drove off.
“Heinz tomato soup, ye canny beat it, can ye boy?” quizzed the bladeseller guy.
“Oxtail then, you like the old oxtail then, the coo’s tail, the coo’s lick, ye like the lick sonny boy, ye like yer wee Mammy’s lick, soup sucker motherfucker, that ye are”

Tee-shirt boy checked his tin.
He then felt the stubble on his chin.
He decided to make a run for it.
“So whit aboot this lavvy roll, Sonny Jim?”
Sonny Jim looked back at the mad man.
“Fur yer Maw”.
He ran
“Yer wee Maw”
And he ran and didn’t look back again.
The rain had eased off now, just a bit.


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