He made his way the length of Sumner Road. Cigarette to his bottom lip, constant, pushing an open, dull-metal cart pendanted with scrap trophies; a hubcap, a strappy shoe, a tiny transistor radio. Holstered at its side was a wide shovel, a mean looking yard broom, an oversized pan, a wire brush. From the front of the squeaking and stinking cart, a toy bear, one-eyed and black, save for a yellowish rag scarf, was inveigled into the framework like some figurehead. He kept his eyes to the street, picking newspaper sheets and hound shites and sweet wrappers from the paving, the gutter and the tarmac with a long handled grabbing device, introducing each find straight into the stinking cart. The dog-ends went to his pockets.
He wore a black serge coat with the word CORPORATION on the leather patch that ran across his shoulders, oversized and creased work denims, a large knife with a beautiful deer-antler handle sheathed at his hip. Every so often he would stop and, unsheathing the blade, crouching, extricate the pave weeds, rogue daisies and, on occasion, small coins from the cracks. Slowly this way, he made his way toward the last building, a squat and flat roofed public house, striking in that it appeared untouched by the chaos around it. A silent, brooding and black-eyed Boxer, docked of ears, of tail, paced the roof from one lip to the other, finding some fascination, some intrusion, from the approach of the man and the squeaking cart.
Dave pushed the cart up close to the brick, capped his brow, saluting the glass. Therein, almost at once, he glimpsed her; a rose among the ruined. He went in. The scent is cheap – beer and tobacco, body stink, wet carpet. Old coals smoulder in the grate. The bar, back mirrored, busy with whippet and bulldog faces that bristled with flash and snap. Everywhere were broken, black, crooked, cracked, braced, filled, missing and porcelain teeth. Heads, cheaply crowned, rheumy eyes, in and behind glass, followed, swallowed him. Round shoulders straightened as he passed. Straight backs curved. Dirty denim, soiled cotton, polyester, flesh: beer belly, bingo wing and fat folds, like dough. Scribbles and doodles decorated arms and wrists and hands and necks; blue knuckles, ringed fingers of crap: gold and silver. Elvis, all speed jitters and knitting needles, details lament from the jukebox– ‘…train, train…’