A short story set in modern day which enhances the lonely and melancholy life that everyday tramps experiance. This short story explores, in depth, how tramps end up on the streets and how carelessness can lead to nothingness.
A man sat on a bench all alone. His only companions were the pigeons who demanded the bread he was throwing them. Many years ago, he would have had his companion alongside him. The woman who used to tell him she would support him if he needed her, and no matter what happened, she would always love him. In that same park, they had spent many moments cherishing their love and admiring the delightful landscape. Children would run on the green and play make-believe. Some would feed the ducks or walk their dogs on the elongated pavement. They had taken countless picnics on the verdant hill and picked ripe fruits off the generous, lush trees; but now the land looked old and uncared for.
The park was empty and desolate. The narrow lights off the street lamps stood still in a phantasmagorical, unearthly manner. Sometimes the silence in the park felt like thunder. The weather never seemed to be sunny anymore; it was as if another beautiful memory had been taken away from him. The clouds seemed to be weeping his tears. He was wearing an old, well worn motorbike jacket, some tatty trousers and shabby trainers. Middle-aged and tired, his face was weary with exhaustion.
The pigeons’ green and grey feathers echoed into the humid, damp, alleyway as they fluttered into the dark sky. The man gave a slight chuckle to himself and asked them where they were going. Only one or two pigeons stayed behind to peck at the remaining crumbs on the dull grey, concrete ground. The man lay down on the bench and closed his eyes. The bench was wet and uncomfortable, but he couldn’t complain, this was where he slept now. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts come to him. He saw pretty little coloured lights, symmetrical shapes and patterns, a little like what a kaleidoscope would reveal. He was silent for a moment; all he could hear was the sound of a wood pigeon in the distance and a faint sound of cars on a road. He reluctantly opened his eyes and squinted as he saw an old world war two aeroplane roaring over the dull sky…
He couldn’t remember when he had fallen asleep. He had woken up with a start at the sound of female laughter. He opened his eyes and stood up quickly; it had been days since he had seen anyone. Sometimes he thought he saw silhouettes in the shadows, but the park was usually so empty. He happened to grow rather excited when anyone walked past, even if they were not particularly friendly. Now and then he felt that after all these months, he might see someone who would have recognised him, an old friend perhaps, and they could shelter him and take him away from the shady, desolate park. He occasionally imagined that he would be taken to a warm home where he could have a steaming bath and lie in a comfortable bed surrounded by the heat of a gentle fire…
But it was the loneliness and grief that drove him mad. He had wanted so much to be back with the people he had once belonged to. Like when he had used to spend time with the woman he had loved so tenderly, and when he still had some devoted friends from his family. He had nothing else and no one else to think about during these prolonged days, which seemed never ending. All he had left now was his past - and of course the pigeons.
He sat down for a second, leaned forward and stared into the distance. He gazed his bleary eyes towards the tennis court. Up on the hill, he could see two small figures walking hand in hand in the court. His grey eyes glittered in the dreary sunshine and he watched intently at the young, fresh new generation. They would flourish, succeed and do well in life. They had the perfect opportunity to explore the world and finally one day, raise a family. But as he looked at himself, he felt disgust. He was filthy and dirty, and he stank of cigarettes and booze. His careless attitude had led him to where he was; and now he was left with nothing. If he had been like this new generation, maybe he would have had a better future. But he knew that he had been too easily led by the wrong crowd, and they had changed his life forever. They had led him to great loss, loneliness and, most of all, grief. But he too was to blame for his own suffering.
He quietly cleared his throat and stood up. He glanced up at the bleak sky as another old plane coughed out fumes into the air. He fumbled in his pocket for his crumpled tissue. He put his hands in his pockets and, as he had done so many times, strolled casually up the well-trodden path that he knew so well. He happened to pass by the tennis court, and as he stood by the screeching gate, his hands in his coat pockets, he slowly smiled to himself. His tired old, grey eyes softened, his smile was warm. The aged creases on his face became exposed onto his weary skin. He had noticed that as he watched these innocent lovers, they brought back memories of Julia.
He rested there for a few moments, and then slowly drew his eyes away from the scene. But as he turned and walked around the bend, he quietly smiled to himself in amusement as the old, beautiful memories of his first love came flooding back to him.