I’m a mild man, really, but I’ve had to learn the hard way, that none of us is immune. We all make mistakes and I’ve paid for mine, I’ve paid with my whole life. My wife left me, took the kids, I lost the house, the car, everything gone so fast. All taken, and me with just the clothes I stood up in – all the fancy jackets and shoes were gone, too. I hit the skids hard and spent the next few years waking up in doorways and wishing I was dead. Really, I wanted to check out of here, but I knew that if I did that, people would remember me as that shit who drank his life away.
I have a daughter who lives south. We keep in touch, that is what I use my mobile for, mostly, and she comes to see me when she can. It is about twenty-four hours on the bus each way, so on a long weekend she has two days on the bus and two days with me. I’m proud of my daughter and pleased she wants to keep in touch, and that keeps me sober. That keeps me off the drink and the drugs. I never want to go back there, and God help me, I never will, I swear. I never touch drugs now, nor drink. I am dry and completely stone cold sober. And thin and cold. I’ve started wondering when I will get myself sorted. There’s a woman who comes and talks to me some days, and I like to think we get on okay, but it is easy for her, she can get off and drive away in her car. She asks me stupid questions, like, what would I do if I had a thousand pounds. I look at her as if she is crazy and nod, well, I’d rather have fifty quid a week, if it’s all the same to you. But I might have to wait a while for that, and I’ve become a patient man, but some days I hardly make the price of a cup of tea. Then the mood can descend out of no-where, the darkness, the hatred.
Thank God I have my dog to look after. I take Gazza to the park if it’s dry, or if I’m having a bad day, I’ll just leave and go somewhere else for a while. It’s me and him and we walk everywhere. I get through a pair of shoes in about six weeks. Walking from Midlothian to Edinburgh and back every day is okay in summer, but not so fine in the cold, the sleet and the rain.
One day, I’ll get a Council flat mebbe, and enough cash together to pay for rent, gas and the rest. I’m needing somewhere warmer to sleep at night and I really would love a bathroom with a proper bath, with water that heats up easily. The thing is, once you have the place to stay and the bills all payable monthly, the rest is easier, but getting settled, you need a bit of a hand up to get started. That is when it’s harder to get out of this place. Looking at me, I have all the clothes I need, the food I need and the rest, but when something goes wrong, like my mobile falls out of my pocket, or my jacket gets torn, or my shoes fall apart, that costs extra, and suddenly I have to make it up with the day’s takings. So there are times when I just smoke instead of eating, but what can I do about that?
I’m just like you, really, and I would give a lot to have a normal, straightforward life. Here I am, still young, and waiting on street corners for a miracle. Maybe it will come for me soon. I hope so. I don’t want to get old and die here. What would my daughter think of me?
Two weeks ago, Brian came to the Meeting House. I wasn’t there, so he left a message that he was going to London, then on to Paris. I miss him, but I’m pleased about his decision.