When You Need It
At intervals on the long arm of the sea wall there are little red-n-white
plastic strips across the cracks. They look like Band-Aids, kinda. Seems
they're gauges recording the stretch, the rate of rupture. Storms pound the
seaward side, shipping wash rakes at the lee.
Feeling faint after the walk out to the lighthouse and back, I needed a
sugar-boost fast so, recalling the eats shack I'd noticed earlier, I swing
off at the roundabout on the drive back to Raytown. The shutters are up. A
big guy stands outside, cell-phone in hand held away from his ear, a look
of – exasperation? – creasing his fleshy face.
Opening the offside window as much as I judge prudent – dockland and all, and
who is he anyway? – I catch his eye: 'Open?' Irritation becomes resignation
as he thumbs off his call and with a slight shake of the head, focuses. I'm
half out of the car now, he's on the far side. We look at one another
across the roof.
'What'y'want?' 'Bottle of water and a chocolate bar?'. He eyes me, then
decides. 'Never refuse a body water. Sail or oar, can't do without water'.
And he's off, disappearing through a side-door.
I make to follow but faced with a plastic strip-curtain, stop and look into
semi-darkness. Wuuu. I see a store-room and not much beyond. Chancey. Then
it's – fuck it – and I'm through, behind the counter of Donnie's Diner.
It's a galley kitchen, everything ship-shape. On a magnetic wall-strip a
neat row of knives and a handy cleaver.
'Twix?' Good for a boost. Or a Yorkie bar?' Ta. Then the water. Suddenly
we're talkin' diabetes... no, had the tests ... hypoglae-what's-it ... giving
up and going back on cigarettes, yeh, sucking your dinner through a tube,
who needs it ... booze ... drugs.
Drugs. "My nephew," he says, "me sister's young fella comes to me an
says, 'if I don't have fifty they'll stab me this evenin." So I give him the
fifty and I says don't buy what you can't afford'.
And I offer in return, 'Yeh, there's my da dying of emphysema and he says
to me, "son," so I give him the cigarette'. Donnie nods. 'You couldn't
I give him the ₤4:35 – not doing me any favours there. For two Twixes and a
bottle of water?!
a stump-footed pigeon
gets what it needs
And off. It's bumper-to-bumper. Night ferries are in.