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Untitled Flash Fiction By Hannah Pereira Sgroi (2)

Here is a dusty book, a glimpse into the world of the ‘tramp’. This page starts with a man who roams the streets and stays the night booked into his regular no-star hotel. He kisses his paper-bagged bottle and then has a cigarette. Living beyond the sidelines erodes mind and body. Where was he ten years ago? In his whiskey sleep he mumbles his father’s name. Then silence.

Each hangover morning he recites lines from Shakespeare on the street. He expresses himself freely until a question about his past. Then silence.

In the afternoons, when his mind is clear, he leads the questioner on like a poker player. No mention of the job lost a decade ago. No mention of indecency.

Today, out of monotony, he sings verse to himself with racing cars in his head.

Today, a year since his last visit, he arrives at his father’s tomb and whispers, ‘Sorry for the hate I caused…’. He holds a small velvet pouch, his keepsake. Rain pierces the tombstone.

When night comes, he parades the High Street. ‘Know this, my friends, we are merely players on a stage.’ The audience scampers away. Some give money before they run.

I pause on his words and reflect on myself.

The next page is a memory.

His father said, ‘You can’t say that to a young child! You gave your armour away, son.’

He said, ‘But I didn’t do that dad. My boss…he…’

The videotape pauses, sticking at that moment.

Black writing on white paper smudge into shameful Rorsach patterns. The lines blur and entangle leaving a puddle of ink on the page.

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