Falling Towards Despair – Guest Post by Jim Porter
The following piece of writing has been syndicated from an incredible writer and an even more amazing father – mine. His seemless inter-weaving of poetry and prose is captivating, evocative and is where I one day hope to be myself as a wordsmith. Find more of his musings at his blog – The Arthritic Surfer.
I notice his hands or more specifically his fists. They are large, bruised and one or two of the knuckles are swollen. He has caught my eyes as he has headed towards our line of obedient commuters waiting for the the cash teller machine.
His eyes quickly shift away and he moves towards the bloke behind me. This bloke is a workman dressed in green and orange, tall with large boots.
Mate could you spare a dollar for a feed please?
Beany-ed, light brown jumper under a tartan patterned bomber jacket, grey office trousers, black shined shoes and backpacked. Folded neatly in his ratty Billabong backpack is a pink blanket resembling a larger version of a child’s grubby cuddle blanket. It peers like a kind soft toy.
He has tight, brown blonde hair covering his ears and collar. And eyes that have no colour. That is, eyes that change according to the light. Like one of my sons. Now they are light green. Later I notice they appear early evening sea grey.
The bloke in orange with big boots shakes his head without words.
I’ll buy you a meal I say. If you wait while I get some money. Perhaps this is risky behaviour but it’s broad day light-he seems relaxed and just hungry.
Would you like a bacon and egg roll? Sounds good. This cafe over here, it’s cheaper, he suggests. We make our way across to the familiar tables and chairs.
At first glance, from a distance, he would maybe resemble an interstate train traveler. But as we traverse the concrete to the cafe there are hints of despondency slowly falling towards despair. A whiff of body odour, grooved lines of concentrated effort around his mouth and across his brow, the bruised fists, a crease of shadow beneath his eyes. Although his body is slim and he seems young, maybe 27 or 28, it also appears as if it is slowly un-threading, separating at the seams. The look of a humbled but not yet defeated boxer.
He walks with a slight bow legged roll as if he has spent time on a horse chasing down cattle and tackling opposing forwards on a rugby league field. He is calm as if walking to meet a mate at the pub.
Could I have a coffee as well please? Sure.
Where you from I ask?
Parkes I know it well. Used to go there for work regularly.
Flat white please he asks the young woman behind the steel and glass counter. And a bacon and egg roll with onions and tomato sauce please.
Sugar she asks? She seems nervous her eyes shifting from him to me.
Yeah six please.
Six he nods.
Mate you’ll rot your teeth I say stupidly.
Too late he says smiling showing gums and black holes.
So how come you left Parkes? He looks down and then away from me.
Long story. Do you know where there might be a cheap hostel for me to stay?
Nah mate sorry I don’t.
I pay for his breakfast. I glance at him in his mismatched clothes to lifestyle- the shiny black shoes, the grey trousers, his worn blanket- and his tired country friendliness.
Thank you sir he says… looking at me with my son’s eyes. I push a ten dollar note to him. He’s surprised and I leave quickly, head down holding back tears