A sad sack fat man is sitting in my arm chair as I pass through the living room, it’s six thirty in the morning so I’m pretty surprised to see him mooning up at me in the half light.
“Alright mate?,” I enquire, wearied by the exchange already.
“Yes mate”, my new friend says, his puffy feline eyes pleading for acceptance.
I pass through the room, slightly self conscious of the fact that I have forgotten what I’m doing downstairs. Fuck it, I pour myself a glass of water, and ponder what the fuck I’m still doing in Norfolk at all.
“You temping them mate?”, I say, having decided that to allow Tubs to sit in my chair unchallenged would be somewhat cowardly of me, despite feeling almost complete indifference towards this portly apparition.
“I’m working over at the other place, having some trouble at home so I’m staying here”, the fat man tells me.
“Right-o”, I reply, possibly a little coldly, but this story suits the fat man and I wish to hear no more of it, so I leave him and return to my room.
The sad fat man is the second desperado to join me in the staffway house on the village green. The other lost soul I share the cottage with is Rylan, an ageing ‘raver’, with pallid, lifeless, hairless skin, and black teeth. To his credit, Rylan knows what a bad joke he is, and gives me a wide birth. He is bright enough to know he revolts me and I respect him for that.
I can even forgive him for his endless attempts to clear his sinuses, a noise so nauseating that a recording of it could be marketed as a diet aid. What is unforgivable however, is Rylans omnipresence in the living room. I would rather listen to rats copulating in the walls than listen to Rylan ‘unwinding’ in the room below mine. ‘Unfurling’ is probably a better word for the reptilian cacophony I am subject to. On restless evenings I lay transfixed by the poppings and cluckings and raspings and the gutterall sloshings of this bowl of chunky human soup. At one point I was convinced that the only way to drive away the audio demons was to break the television and render the living room pointless for all. Unfortunately the television proved harder to kill than Rasputin and I took it as an omen. I ceded control of the ground floor to the Sadsack and the Minestrone Man.
The morning I met the fat man I arrived for work in my usual solitary distemper and was in no mood for the encounter that followed.
“Did you run into Nick this morning?” lisps Rylan from somewhere over my left shoulder. As I turn to Rylan I am distracted from his antibiotic glare, I see debris in the river outside. It’s sparse at first, odds and sods of timber, the remnants of crates, their contents waving as they pass, bottles of all kinds, then a dog his eyes seeking a saviour, more and more drifts by. Beams of varnished wood, logos I don’t recognise, barrels and cartons, tarpaulins strangled by reeds…
I start towards the bank, dropping my shoulder into Rylan’s chest as I pass him, I exhale “Cunts…” like it’s a blessing or a requiem. My apron falls away, my boots discarded, I drop into the electric water, lightning cold.
I write to you from the flotsam, this hasty account as I am already forgetting their names…