"Do you believe in angels?"
"No. I believe in people who walk into your life when you need them most to teach you, for you to learn from, and that they only leave when that lesson has been learned."
"Some people might define that as an angel."
"True, but to me 'angel' sounds like a big song and dance coming down from the clouds just trying to be looked at. You don't tend to know these people are teaching you until they've disappeared from your life again."
Alan unfolded his legs stiffly and frowned. "You'd have to be pretty blind."
"Are you saying you've never met someone who influenced your life so profoundly that you were blind to what they were doing?"
"My sympathies. It's a great experience." Leigh looked at his watch, the glass that covered the minute workings was cracked in an upside down 'U' shape pointing, ironically, in the direction the hands were pointed. "I gotta go."
"Still haven't given up on that girl then?"
"I wouldn't say I've ever been in a position where I had to give up on her."
"Whatever. Dunno what you see in her."
"Me either. It's just, " he paused, what did he see in her filthy hair and dull eyes? "I just do." He shrugged at this and threw a battered 1980's looking jean jacket on, unwittingly letting it's stench fill his nostrils and left.
It was getting colder, winter was settling in whether it was wanted or not, a street man's worst nightmare. He settled down in his usual corner, eyes glued to the corner she always came around. And he waited, longer than usual, but he knew she was coming, she always did.
She looked cold, the t shirt she wore wasn't enough for the cooler night air. He resisted the urge to get up, to surrender himself to her notice, and give her his jacket, he could always find another one. But something kept him where he was, watching her thin frame move past his hiding place, and disappear back down the alley way.
For the second time in as many days he followed her, against his better judgment, and stood up against the narrow crevasse between the two buildings, barely wide enough to fit a man, the poster clad bricks glared down at him, rock-stars bearing guitars like weapons, he took a step. The torn paper from an old band poster looked like teeth yet another step took him past it, then another, and another. His breath shortened, an invisible hand clutched his throat, he could feel his heart press against his ribcage, desperate to escape as he was desperate to escape this, his deepest fear.
And then it was over. The alley widened to reveal the sweeping main street in front of him, dead leaves indecisively whispered and clattered as they flew past him in the wind-tunnel the sky scrapers around him created. But she was no where.
Leigh frowned in confusion. Surely she couldn’t have gone far in such a short time. Or perhaps conquering the lane had taken longer than he'd thought, it was hard to tell. Frustration set in.
A couple, weighed down under heavy coats rushed past, almost skipping and laughing as they went, through their laughter it was possible to hear the strains of a song belted out by a lone guitarist.
"...Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice. And she said ’we are all just prisoners here, of our own device..."
There were a few people surrounding the guitarist, and the clatter of a coin joining its fellows in his hat could be heard from time to time. Despite the fact it was late at night, there were many people around, some unsteady on their feet as the emerged from bars others enjoying the cool, but clear night in the company of a partner or a friend.
Looking backwards at the lane he had just emerged from Leigh shuddered and knew there was no way he was going back through that tonight, he’d take the long way home.
".....programmed to receive. You can checkout any time you like, But you can never leave!"
"Did you find her?"
"Nope." Leigh flopped into a pile of blankets that served as a bed with a sigh.
"Better luck next time." Alan rolled onto his side and had started snoring soon after.
But sleep didn’t seem possible to Leigh, he had been following this enigma for weeks, and she’d appeared every single night. It didn’t seem fair! He’d got through that alley for her and still she had disappeared.
He ran his hand through his long, ratty hair before throwing an empty Coke can at the sleeping form of his friend. "Oi!"
Alan groaned by didn’t wake.
"Do you believe in fate?"
"What?! No. No! We are not having one of these talks at..." he paused to look at his watch "...2am."
"It’s not ’one of those talks’. I’m serious. Do you think that fate sometimes fucks up?"
"Well....no, fates...well fate isn’t it, how can something that exists on a higher plane to humans fuck up..." Alan paused and turned accusingly to Leigh. "This is one of those talks!"
Leigh was sitting up against the wall. "No it’s not. What if angels walk into our life to fix the fuck ups fate makes."
"You’re delirious. When was the last time you ate?"
"No. I might not have much structure to my life but night equals sleep. End of story." And he threw himself backwards onto the blankets and shut his eyes firmly to emphasize the point.