By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Morning beckons the faithful, the golden rays of life imbuing them with promise. The shuffle of weary feet resonates within the silence, blurry eyes searching focus in the intense light. The sounds of water cascading, the brisk lather of body renewal and the soft towelling dry of cleanliness fill the tiny houses, street after street, a cacophony of ritual.
Few words spoken, the crisp sound of starched shirts and trousers drawn, watches clicking fast and brushes raking neatly damp wisps of hair, fill bedrooms. Downstairs the children have found voice, beginning their day with antagonism, the shrill squeals of discontent.
In the kitchen, kettles whistle, blue flames hum and bacon sizzles next to pristine yellow eyed eggs. Popping toast and juice poured; the clatter of feet on tiles intersecting, criss-crossing smartly, to tend the breakfast.
Children dressed and brushed within an inch of life, moan with impatience then fly down the stairs to claim the best piece of bacon, wooden chairs screeching, finally seated. Father sits and opens the paper, his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose, while children tease; everything a game, a contention.
Mother distributes the plates and tiny hands explode, grasping for that superior bacon that only one can claim. Father snaps with a booming voice, his eyes squinted over the rim of his glasses. Children immediately into slow-motion smile obediently and begin to eat.
Coffees slurped and focus true, words of morning and days promise spoken softly, organised and noted. Plates are rinsed and stacked and family hurriedly disbanded to retrieve their day’s necessities. The front door squeaks as it’s flung open, children dashing toward the car, their hand-cut sandwiches in crisp white bags in hand, bags slung loosely over shoulders.
All in place the car comes to life, purring like a kitten, a few drops of condensation splatter from the tailpipe as it reverses out on to the street. Six maybe seven other cars back out together, turning then straightening to accelerate toward their destinations.
In a large cardboard box under a freeway bridge not far away, one of the unfaithful stir. His mind is addled, remnants of the nights sojourn by his side. The flagon is all but gone, its ruby rough contents ingested in a mind-numbing frenzy. Here the sun does not entre, that’s why he lives there. No recognition of promise, no possibility of change can affect him and he wallows in self-pity, hopelessness.
He pulls the old blanket over his shoulder, the snap of morning seeping into his bones. He tries desperately to once again lose himself in sleep but his mind is too close to reality, not something he enjoys. So he sits up and crawls from the box, the motorway below filled with cars, whirring along like a procession of the living. He sits with his back against the cold cement and takes a swig from his flagon, the contents sliding down like a handful of nails. He feels even more removed, more misplaced. There is nothing that gives him any glimmer of a chance to join this humanity. He is lost, alone and finished. Hopelessness is a dark and unforgiving place.
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