Fair play, I don’t think you’d have seen my face and you were drunk at the time.
Let’s see if I can jog your memory. I was in my sleeping bag under a pile of cardboard boxes folded flat in the Tesco car park. There used to be a blind spot in the cameras, between the street and the clothing bank bins. You could doss down there and security guards none the wiser – until they got wise and moved the bins, that is.
The catch was it was right up against the railings, so anyone walking down the street could see you, like you did when you came out of the pub across the road.
I remember looking up at you looking down at me from my nest of old boxes. Your polished shoes were at my eye level, so I looked up your day-job suit to your face with its more than stubble, less than beard that you must’ve spent half an hour a day servicing. You were a man who’d made it back then. A man with a look on his face that said he was ready to take a piss on the dosser under a pile of cardboard boxes.
You didn’t. You just spat on me.
Has a man ever told you he was happy you only spat on him before? Well, remember it. It’ll make sense to you before you’ve been out here much longer.
‘Cause you’re new to this, you are. You haven’t grown out what your men’s hairdresser spent hours sculpting on top of your head, and your face has got that what-the-hell-happened-to-me look that won’t leave you until you stop believing you belong in that bed you lost under the roof you lost with it.
No, don’t tell me why. We’ve all got our stories and even if some of them might be true, none of them matter. Save yours until you’ve heard a few of ours and you’ll know what I mean.
Is the penny beginning to drop now? A little murmur of memory stirring in the back of your mind? You’re looking worried, so I guess it is. Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I’m not carrying a knife and frankly, I can’t be bothered to punch you in the face.
You can doss under the same bridge as me if you want to. If anyone bothers you, it won’t be me or anyone like me. It’ll be someone like you – or someone like you used to be.
Now you remember the last time we met, do you remember what you said after you spat on me? You called me a sponger. Didn’t say who exactly I was sponging off, unless you meant Tesco. Perhaps you thought I should’ve been paying them rent for that scrap of car park they weren’t using. I didn’t ask.
Then you said, “That could never happen to me.”
I see you remember saying it. That’s good. Because like I said, I won’t hurt you. But I’ll never let you forget saying that.