Stan awoke when the dog breathed into his face.
He didn’t know why he was sleeping out here on the grass and not in his room. He didn’t know what time it was and where the dog had gone.
His trousers were wet again. They lay cold upon his thighs and groin.
Stan sat upright, and rolled his sluggish body onto his knees, and pushed himself up. His stomach roiled immediately and he couldn’t remember whether he had any paper left in his pockets. He had to relieve himself of the spasms in his gut.
So he just stood there in the night. With all these things to be done, each emerging thought lost, as if set adrift in the winds of that cathedral sky above him. The Eureka starforest.
He had to wash; his trousers were fouled. Find a cold-water tap in the garden of a darkened house, a hedge or fence to crouch behind. No dogs now, no passers-by. One shivering man out in a sleeping street.
Shit still black.
Rich in illness thought Stan, and he laughed though silently. A flickering of an old humour. Of an older time.
He had not spoken a word in weeks, not since that one day in town when a young boy ran up to him smiling. The boy called him pop before a woman, his mother, rushed up and rushed the boy away. She hurried the boy off and speared into Stans’ eyes with her own. When the boy looked back she smacked him hard.
Is this a new type of sin?
Whenever was I young he asked of himself. And with who.
He saw himself crouched in the night, his thighs bared thin, washing away his illness and stains, and in time he dressed and took the direction that would lead to his room. How he shambles now, how dulled is his carriage.
Kookaburras! .. an hour to dawn.
Stan paused at his gate, a sorry portal rusted agape. The dark window of his front room was open and the night breeze waved at him an old curtain.
He walked through the weeds and pushed open the front door. There was no light to turn on so he stood by his window and looked out at the dark world he had just left.
A woman walking by looked over at his framed and dark shape.
He had a shelf nailed to a wall and that was his pantry. Over there a mattress on a wire bedframe. A chair and a table. A colour picture of the Harbour Bridge was tacked onto the wall. Outside in the yard a shared sink and toilet.
Stan looked down at his hands as they rested on the sill. One finger missing from his left hand all these years.
Another boarder walked into his room. Maurice. He came into the centre of the room and halted, his mouth writhing, his eyes to the floor. Maurice was the one who wandered through the house at all times of the night, sometimes stopping at a door where he would listen. And wait.
Stan waited for him to lift his eyes and when he did and their eyes met the writhing faltered.
‘ It is upon us, ‘ said Maurice.
Rich in Demons, thought Stan.