Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crossing paths.

The Sluice by the tip in Ipswich
I think I heard his bottle chink as it bounced off a stone in the footpath, but the grind of my rusty chain makes a similar noise, so maybe not. I slowly rolled round the bend in the path and when I first saw him slumped on the ground I thought he was leaning to let me pass; the river is stagnant and foul on that stretch just before the weir, so I slowed to thank him for being considerate, and that's when I saw how desperate he looked.

The bottle I thought I'd heard hit the ground was laying a few feet further down the path; the final drops escaping into the hard trodden dried mud.

"Are you alright mate?"

His head lolled as he looked around himself; as if he was trying to still his thoughts enough to find an answer.  I repeated myself and his head tipped back as he stared up at me, apparently only now aware of my considerable bulk standing in front of him.  He splayed his hands out as he searched for, and then clung loosely onto his knees.

I looked back down the footpath behind me, hoping that 'she' wasn't about to walk around the corner.  I didn't have time for this, but fuck; I can't just leave a fellow human in need?

Can I?

"You sure you're alright mate?"

He worried his knees with slow moving blackened fingers and fought the words as they came, delaying them, trying to hold them in, but after a long sigh they beat him and he muttered,

"Move along..." One of his hands slipped off his knee, and his head fell forward to stare at the dirt in front of his feet.

So I did what he asked me to; I moved on.

About a hundred yards down the path I took a last look over my shoulder and he hadn't moved.  I really wanted to help, but I guess he'd already escaped whatever hell was hounding him, and I was still trying to escape mine on my bike.