The air was cold and dry. Eliot increased his pace. January was a weird time of year, something always seemed to end. He was in pain now and beginning to regret having left no money for a taxi. He reminded himself that he didn’t need it, at least not by comparison and so he walked. The clock on his phone read nineteen something. That was as accurate as he got these days thanks to the crack which so conveniently obscured a fairly important portion of the screen. The thought of this reminded Eliot of the amount of times he had seen James’ toast land butter side down and he shook his head laughing.
Finally he came weakly to the door of his flat where his breath was still visible in the hallway. A girl’s voice came from the other room.
“Eliot? That you?”
He croaked a feeble affirmation and fell to his bed, thankful that he had taken the time to make it. The girl appeared at the door. She knocked feebly.
Eliot turned to face her, opened one eye, protruded his bottom lip and gave a careful nod. She smiled in recognition and fingered her dull ginger curls, slowly. For a minute she looked as if she might say something but after a pause she whispered “okay then”, smiled, and shut the door behind her.
The ginger girl’s name was Nancy. She was a short girl of around twenty, tattooed and heavily freckled beneath the ink; although oddly her face seemed to have been spared. She wore a gaping hole in each earlobe and seldom left the flat, where she spent her days smoking weed. She liked Eliot but felt he was the kind of man you never really got to know. Maybe it was because he was older but there was a definite barrier when it came to communication with Eliot.
Nancy lingered for a second before shuffling down the hall to the living room where her boyfriend had passed out with a cigarette between his fingers. She extinguished it on the coffee table and went to her room.
Meanwhile, back in his squalid flat James had slumped back into yet another crude form of sleep, so hazy that the memory of Eliot’s visit was scrambled in his frail mind. When he awoke he had the sensation that his bones had been subject to hard labour and with great loathing James stood up and looked around, his hands on his head. He caught sight of the envelope. On tearing it open he discovered 200 pounds in twenties.
“Nice” he muttered with raised eyebrows.
The notes were hastily stuffed into empty pockets with no further contemplation. It was 2pm and the flight would leave in three hours.
After throwing a rancid pile of clothes into a duffle bag James didn’t bother locking the door on his way out. He now had about a grand in total which he later remembered thinking would last a lot longer than it did. The wind was monumental.
“Could use a scarf or something man” he said aloud to himself, teeth chattering. He felt an urge to make the flight. The grim prospect of staying put was by far enough to move him despite the overwhelming desire to crawl back into bed.
The man he was supposed to be meeting was just waking up in a caravan somewhere in the South of France as James found his way to the airport. The beauty next to him was a girl of around thirty, with long, matted blonde hair. She had been awake for some time now, walking around the forest as she loved to with that attentive expression she only ever wore when she was alone. She had returned to bed, having thrown off her clothes and for this Patrick was pleased.
“Do you know, some days I love to wake up” he told her as his swollen eyes followed the smooth curves of her body. She stared out of the window with a wry smile at the rain that was so percussive inside the caravan before turning to face him saying something like,
“Me too. Every day…” And then with a compassionate smile, “how do you feel?”
“Horrible” he grinned back at her, “but I am happy because today we meet our guest.”
“Ah yes, James!” she exclaimed with wide eyes, “How long did you know him?”
“I have no idea” he shrugged, “I don’t really know him at all. We first met a long time ago and he was a happy man. He was ready to be a father you know… You will love him.”
“He sounds nice” she said; and she meant it. There was a strange appeal in broken people and she found the fact that he had sought them out particularly exciting. She sat up, naked and re-opened the bottle of red wine on the table, drinking thirstily before passing it to Patrick.
“Ah, the good life huh?!” He sighed, looking toward the sky and putting a loving arm around her. All his eyes met with were the smoke stained ceiling and he felt fortunate. Leaning over to kiss her, Patrick spilled the crimson liquid all over the yellowing sheets. The two watched the stain spread in silence for a second and then looked back to one another. She giggled and pulled him towards her.
“I love it”, Patrick laughed as the couple disappeared under the newly defiled cover.