Temple felt the nudge to his ribs. It stirred him from a beautiful dream he was having involving Clare Campbell, the love of his imaginary life.
He opened his eyes enough to see the hairy shins of Catchpole standing over him.
“Give us a durry* Temple,” his gruff voice asked.
“I’ve given them up,” mumbled Temple wanting to return to his dream.
“Yeah and pigs can fly,” said Catchpole.
Reaching under his well-worn ‘mattress’ Temple found two he’d stashed the day before. He was happy to sacrifice the durries if it meant he could return to the charms of Clare Campbell.
Catchpole grabbed the durries and headed off triumphantly, holding up his prize for all to see.
Temple didn’t care, he wanted more of his dream, but his mind wasn’t co-operating, and where she had been previously she wasn’t any longer.
Discouraged, he silently cursed Catchpole and drew his one ragged blanket over himself. Sleep he enjoyed even if his body objected to the hard surface he lay on.
Away from him he could hear the toothless joy of Catchpole and his mates enjoying the durries, and he felt a sense of inner satisfaction that he had in fact given up smoking, but his habit of collecting any discarded cigarette had stayed with him, and the others knew it.
From his position under the bridge, he could see that it was going to be a fine day. The sun was shining, and it meant he could wander the city savaging whatever he could lay his hands on.
He had once worked, a proper job, a postman, a good job but the constant threat of dog attacks and unhappy customers was enough to eventually bring about his ‘retirement’.
He lost faith in society, he started drinking, gambling and avoiding home where his wife lay in wait with another tirade about how worthless and irresponsible he had become.
When she and the kids left him, he began his nomadic lifestyle wandering the city, sleeping rough but doing so knowing he had not a care in the world.
It suited him, after all, he reasoned to himself, responsibility, was a blown up concept, and he was happy to take on a life with none of that implied responsibility.
Glancing up, he saw Catchpole coming his way.
“Bring us back a durry or two today Temple, you’re a good source, and the mates and I are appreciative.”
Temple looked at the old man and concluded that despite the obscenity that Catchpole was, there was an air of civility about him. It was just that Catchpole hid it well behind his exterior grossness.
“See what I can find,” said Temple as he headed off towards the fish market knowing it was often a source of discovery, and breakfast if the truth be known.
* durry – a colloquialism for a cigarette.