Visitors are invited to read here the opening lines to my latest fiction
story which has not been given a title as at 2nd June 2001:
faced & weary-eyed he's hangin' 'round the station, got no ticket
& no destination. His days are gray & dreary. His brittle bones don't
seem to care if he'd even live just another day.
Scroungin' 'round for a cigarette or a dime, sometimes even askin'
for the right time - but what does he care when he gets this feelin' that
he's not even there. His gray coat is stained with marks of coffee, and
crumbs of bread cling here and there 'round his evergrowin' beard.
The coffee's long gone cold & there's nowhere a candle burnin' in a
window for him on this dull dark crisp-cold evenin' as he's headin' for
another spot to ramble and prepare himself for another lonely blisten-
in' night. The stars are out, but there's no moon to reflect itself 'mong
the puddles he's tryin' to avoid with his old leatherboots, worn out &
full of holes barely keepin' his feet warm. Under the bridge, then,
another forlorn figure approaches him, but he doesn't seem to care if
not, or if he's there. Hands deep held in his overcoat pockets starin'
ahead at nothin' and no-one in particular, carryin' on, mumblin' some
disconnected syllables to himself. Discomfortable & unrestrained -
he might as well sing or blow a whistle. He's only got the blues on his
mind even though he ain't feelin' low down. He's feelin' comparatively
good. Only last night he managed to sleep for six long hours at the
heated waitin' room at the station. At this thought he starts to whistle
as if to expect to have some luck cross his path again - at not bein'
kicked out for vagrancy, left outside under the neon-lights without
shelter in the pourin' rain. A cigarette danglin' lazily form a corner of
his mouth, his collar raised, his face lookin' grim at the evenin' sky
above, should he go or should he wait & take maybe another chance
when the guards are bein' distracted & too tired to drag him out
again into the street with its busses & cabs rushin' left & right, &
the people on the pavements rushin' by - laughin', talkin' or silently -
just as crazy as himself - he seems to think or even know - for once
he was like them - but he'd have taken more time - more care - watch-
in' the shopdisplays when he used to walk home from his borin' office
work, listenin' to the Jazz-sounds that used to meet his ears from
some basement here or there.
Tired & drousy he sits down at last again for the 'nth time this day on
a wooden bench under another bridge. His ellbows on his knees, his
face in his hands, he looks 'round - just his eyeballs rollin', checkin'
some of the scratchmarks left forever in the wooden planks by some
couples on an odd night out. She loves him & he loves her and they
were here or there - anyhow, they were on their way. This bench knew
the comin's & goin's & the noise of a penknife or some other sharp-
edged piece of scrap that would be intend on leaving its mark of time
on the bench in the wind & the rain or sunshine, mornin', noon or
ev'nin'. This bench knew a whole history of lovestories and missin'
names - & above all, of sleepin' scums & bums that'd be spendin'
here many an hour to rest - bein' short of any better place today for
the night - & if it wasn't there for him, it'd be someone else who'd
suddenly drop himself - or herself for that matter - down on these
decayin' planks in order to rest awhile.
it all came back to him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, for no apparent
reason, he was becomin' emotional, tears came to his eyes, small
glistenin' pieces of little diamonds under this sparsely lit bridge on this
bench where he'd spent so much of his lifetime already, but only durin'
these last four/five months had the bench & him become partners in
the same business. He felt an inner peace at last, and a tiredness over-
came him, yet he still couldn't get himself accustomed to the thought
of sleep again, so soon. It was still to early. If he'd sleep now, he'd be
up all night scurryin' through another cold dark night like a stray dog.
Perhaps his newfound memories could keep him some company, could
keep him awake at least a little longer. He sat back, stretchin' his legs
& stretchin' his arms across the upright back of the bench, rollin' his
head 'round as if he'd just woke up with a stiff neck. Again he smiled
at himself. The Jazzclubs, his boss, the music, his column at the news-
paper, his wall at the basement of his apartment buildin' plastered with
photographs of an assortement of by now famous & sometimes - now -
dead Jazz musicians, guitarists, piano players, drummers, bass players,
guys with trumpets, horns & saxophones. Now he's lost in thought over
one particular musician who dropped by one night unexpectedly - actu-
ally a blues musician, singer and harmonica player - and he has to smile
about that photograph he now remembers particularly, a guitarist, the
blues harp player, their arms 'round him standin' between the two, all
three of 'em smilin' - yes, one might even say laughin' - laughin' out
loud. It had been taken after the set. The customers/audience had
already left the club that night, & only the staff, the owners of the
place & a few musicians were hangin' 'round the bar that night in a
mellow happy mood. One of these rare occasions when he was off from
work early anyhow, and he'd solely enjoyed himself the entire evenin',
the company of three young women, the musicians, the sound, every-
thin' seemed to blend in perfectly the night that picture was taken. He
now remembers it so clearly as if it was just yesterday, or even tonight.
The weather happened to be like tonights, and also the temperature
outside. Maybe that's why he'd felt so emotional earlier on. That per-
fect bliss - that wonderful moment - the click of the camera - that split
second. A glimpse of happiness captured in that black & white frame.
Copyright © 2001 J.P. Wilbrand