On some days, he comes home drunk with happiness. On some days, he comes home drunk with the smell of Gina’s bosom. And on some rare days, he would drink at Frank’s bar and stagger to his front door only to fall inside when he opens the door.

Only on those days is he able to bear going upstairs. He would drag his overweight body up the creaking stairs and through the hallway till he gets to the last room on the landing.

He would then knock three times as it was customary and enter. He would then remove his clothes and boots and place them neatly in the rocky chair that has the magic of looking both old and new.

Then lastly, he would lie down on the unmade side of the bed, careful to never disturb the other side that has been informally partitioned with a thread line running down the sheets,

It is in this place, he would sleep and once he woke the next morning, he would climb out the bed naked, take his clothes and leave the room. He does not like these kinds of days. He would run over to Gina’s the next day and lay his head in the safe space she didn’t know she provided.

Today is one of those days. He is on his way to the island. He has had this job long before he remembered. When he was below fourteen and was too gangly to pass the driving test the almost blind man had organized back then, he would climb into the truck with his father and listen to old and repeated tales about their town.

 If he wanted to be something else, he didn’t know. This job is all he wants. It has enough solitude and enough company for either to not be a bother.

Life, he mused as he drove the truck down to the docks. He has to catch the ferryman before he leaves. That old cat. She has never used the modern way of checking the time. She does not sell tickets; she would wait there till the sun reaches a particular point and then leave.

Once a day, she does this. She leaves the down to the island and comes back the next morning. If you were an old customer like he was then you would know you could still meet her by ten in the morning.

After that time, well, you might have to start swimming since the more modern transport does not reach this side of the water till two.

He parked the old and tired truck and jogged to where the cat stood, her nose in the air and one wrinkly hand on her hip. Her mouth is pursed together; a half-burnt cigarette hangs there.

He pours some coins into her outstretched hand. She counted it and the pursed lips stretch into a thin smile. Her green eyes are covered with a sunglass that was too big for her.

He climbs into the shaky boat and settled himself in the middle. There were three other passengers aboard but no one spoke to him.

He didn’t speak to anyone either. His thoughts are preoccupied with the events that will be taking place tonight. One of these days, he would kill himself. He knew it.

He would climb up those wretched stairs and never come back down again. Or he could throw himself into the icy waters he was currently on. The old cat won’t care much, he knew.

Not today though. Today he had a delivery to make and despite his old age, he is known for being reliable. That’s one of the reasons the company had kept him on. The other was that he didn’t ask for his pay. He has never asked for the past five years and he will never ask.

The company never gave him and he never collected it. Three days a week, he will drive his battered truck to the docks and deliver some light goods to the little people who ask for them on the island.

Four nights a week, he will drive around the town in his battered truck, this time accompanied by a dog, a radio and a baton as a vigilante for the small town. He never collected pay for that either.

Rumors have it that he is running mad. Only Gina does not believe that; everyone else does. Including him. If he was being honest with himself, he had run mad a long time ago and everyone else is just playing catch up.

He held his seat tightly as the boat rocks on the rough water. The weather is nice today. He didn’t feel the cold, although he knew the coat he had on helped.

A baby began to cry. He turned around. One of the passengers had a baby concealed under her big fake fur coat. He winced. He hated babies. That’s why he had never proposed to Gina.

The journey was short and uneventful. Someone had given him a freshly baked cake. He carried it inside the house and dumped it on the ever-growing stack of plates. He can’t eat cake anyways.

He was drunk, he knew and is happy at the prospect. What can she do to me now that I am drunk? Nothing is what. He chuckled to himself.

He took the coat hanging from the back of the door. It has been hanging there for years, untouched. He will need it tonight. His burnt right hand went inside the left pocket of the coat and brought out a small bottle of gin.

He opens it and downed the content in one gulp.

He belched.

He climbed the stairs.

He chuckled every time he stumbles.

He reached the door.

He entered the room.

He put on the coat.

And he laid on his side of the bed. Fully dressed.

Take off your clothes, a voice hissed.

I won’t, he says looking up at the ceiling.

Take it off! The voice is raspy. It is of someone dead or almost dead.

I can’t stand up. I’m drunk.

Not an excuse! Take them off.

He turned around to face his sleeping companion. He looks him right in the eye. I won’t, he repeats.

His body got heavier. Something has sat on his body. He tries to move and turn completely but he can’t. his breathing got worse.

Say you will.

I won’t, he manages to say. He laughs, you can’t kill me.

He thought he heard the voice huff. You think?

Yes. Who will look after you if you do?

We will look after ourselves, we have always done.

The weight got heavier still. He suspects it is mere moments before he will breathe his last.

Get off him. I will have one last episode. This a totally new voice. It is a man’s. One of good health and remarkable wealth.

He turned and twisted and squirmed. Anything to get to the death plane faster. Not again. But the death plane seems to run away from him. He is turned totally to lie on his other side. The weight got less.

He breathed in, his cries already working their way up. Again, and again, his breaths come out short. And at that moment when he thought he could see the death plane, it was taken away.

Good morning world. He was still drunk.


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