She was squatted on the stoop of a fire-escape exit on River Street sucking down a wet-ended cigarette and muttering to herself in unclear, angry words punctuated at times with a hawk of grey phlegm spat from her toothless mouth amidst the spume of spent cigarette smoke. Smoke like an everburning peat fire. Lungs as frail as a mine sparrow’s.
Watchful Wendy, her eyes flickering over as the man approached, doffed his hat, stopped then squatted beside her.
Nobody talks to Wendy. Not that he knows.
‘If a man was to ask you,’ he said after greeting her, for he knew her name and she knew him by the the hat he always wore, ‘whether he could do anything for you today, what would you say to him?’
A husky voice, but clear and intentioned.
‘I’m ok, thanks.’
With that, he stood and left her.
Man about seventy. A tall, slim fellow with a red face pulls his hand out of his pocket as I approach him on the road crossing, dislodging a small object that falls onto the road behind him. He walks on, unknowing. I see it, stop and go ‘Oi … matey.’
Then pick it up. It’s an brown lozenge wrapped in sealed plastic. Big as an Aspro.
He turns and comes back for it, smiling, hand out.
‘You know,’ sez I, handing him the pill, ‘if you were under twenty and dropped that on your way into a rock concert, someone else may harbour another notion of what your intent was to do with it.’
In one ear and out the other. He left me. I left him.
An aged lovely attending an ATM apologised as her small, leashed dog wandered over to sniff the heels of the gentleman engaged in a transaction on the other ATM then entangled his feet in her lead.
‘Come away, Molly, ‘the diminutive, white-haired woman commanded her dog softly, ‘and leave the gentleman alone.’
The gentleman finished his transaction, and in turning said to her, ‘my grandmother’s name was Molly.’