The man swaggered along the street, his dog pulling on a chain beside him. A crisp wind picked up the crushed leaf dust. I recognised the scent and sound and taste and instinct squeezed my eyes shut in preparation. The gutters, now relieved of organic material, displayed their usual wares of almost-mulch call-girl cards and the innards of a long-discarded cassette.
Disgust flares my nostrils – someone had left their stomach contents in the doorway to the electrical shop. I’ll never know how those businesses survive with their yellowing teasmaids and peeling manufacturer labels in the window. Probably due to the diligence of an old man who mops up student vomit each morning and likes to tinker with burnt-out toasters while whistling along to oddly current tunes on commercial radio.
I know the sort. They never go home. They married the first girl they met and fill their lives drinking first tea, then IPA, excelling at pub quizzes and working until they die. Those who retire barely survive the transition. I can’t decide if it’s tragic or honourable.
The street has changed since he opened shop. His view of the cars passing by is now obscured by a gaudy bus stop advertising some film he doesn’t want to see. Not that he gets to the pictures nowadays. It’s too dear, and besides, the missus would prattle on through all the good bits.