Sometimes it takes a wife of over fifty five years to remind a man of a fellow he once met and has forgotten.
Named for the job he had, hauling sacks of coke into the boiler rooms of eastern suburb apartment blocks in the early sixties. Like ours.
Cokey was filth, blackened from eyes to shoes in coke dust and every time I had to deal with him he was pissed. These were the days when the Centennial Hotel on Oxford Street erupted into blood-soaked mayhem late most weekends, Cokey though was never one of the fighters, preferring to knock over the drinks they left abandoned during the fracas.
That’s how Cokey managed to avoid the usual weekend nonsense, being too far gone to be a participant and this is what endeared him to the little woman apparently and who came upon him sober outside the pub entrance about a half hour before opening one fine Saturday morning as she was wheeling our two week old baby daughter out in a borrowed pram for some fresh air and a glimpse of the black swans swimming in the ponds across the road.
Cokey smiled at the missus as she approached, looked into the pram then, alarmingly and uninvited, lifted the bundled up baby from her bed and held her in his grimy hands before raising her to his grimy face where he nestled Anna onto an unshaved and grizzled cheek, kissed her gently on the forehead then laid her back in place.
Not a word said.
The baby hardly woke.
Then Cokey thanked my wife and resumed his place outside the public bar door.