Temporary Measures

There is no other life but this, that’s what he thinks.
What he says is this.
‘It’s like you’ve got all this freedom, well not really freedom, but you can do what you want can’t you?
A woman passes.
‘Please miss, got any change miss?’
She ignores him.
‘They don’t want to see you, like youre invisible. Sometimes they answer. Mostly, it’s like you’re a pane of glass.’
There’s no space in the shelter today; carrier bags, quilts, a sleeping bag define territory.
‘Couldn’t hack it. Like living in a square box. Dunno, it’s like I’ve never been able to handle money, in one hand and out the other, when I’ve got it. Haven’t got a pot to piss in here, but it’s better than that room.

Imagine: rough partitioning, cowboy plumbing, the kitchen more of an afterthought, space stolen from a cramped room. He takes a kettle off the stove, a cup from the draining board, scalds it. Dropping a teabag into the cup, he hands it to me and we return to where we were sitting in front of the open window.
The front door slams. Footsteps echo on the stairs. A door closes. ‘Any time now,’ he says. ‘There it goes.’
Closing the front door, he says, ‘Its like that all the time. Same monotonous beat. Does my head in.’

Time passes, days become weeks become months, and then this chance meeting.
‘Haven’t seen you in while.’
‘Long time. Lost your number.’
‘How are you doing?’
‘Fine. Left that room. Did my head in.’
‘That was some time ago. And now?’
‘Here. Where else?’

The times we talked, times I listened to plans half made, thoughts of returning north, wanting to settle down. And it all comes down to this, his solution. Walk away.
His life: a series of temporary measures, immediate needs, blank days.