Habit

He hurries in from the cold,shakes his overcoat from his shoulders and hangs it, then his hat, on the bentwood coat stand.

He warms his hands on the radiator, crosses the living room to the hi-fi. Bending down he flick-flacks quickly through the LPs, and in practised movement slides an album from its sleeve and onto the deck. The familiar static clunk as he drops the needle.

To the kitchen now. A glug of deep red wine, a solid slab of cheese, a torn chunk of bread and back to his chair. He uses the plate to clear space on the low table at his side, glasses and dishes from previous evenings clink as they slide across the grain. A trumpet burbles mournfully in the background.

He lifts the glass to his mouth and slowly he savours the first mouthful, leaning back, eyes half-closed. He sits that way for a moment, letting the music wash over him as the headlights from the road slide across the walls, people making their own ways to whatever they call home. He pushes away memories of a time long gone, the noise and fear of his childhood. He wonders which passersby will end the evening beaten, which will resume their comatosed state, so accepting of their lives, habitual and routine, no matter how obscure it may be to others.

He takes his time eating, more wine to wash it down. Repeat until sated. Or at least until no longer hungry. Or at the very least until you’ve lined the stomach, he thinks.

His glass empty, he returns to the kitchen picks up the bottle of wine and returns to his chair. He moves with a slow grace now, but soon he will be just another stumbling, lurching fool. The smile of such forethought is quickly banished from his face by those all too familiar guilts. He is better than this, he is more than this, yet this is all he knows.

He slumps down into the chair once more, takes another thirsty mouthful of wine and thinks of tomorrow. He has plans, he always has plans. The when and where, the how and why, are already mapped out in his head in fine detail. The t of the what has been crossed, the ifs i dotted.

The record jumps.

Snapped from his thoughts he sits up, glaring at the record player.

The record jumps again.

In one fluid and sober movement he is up from his seat, the glass is placed to one side and he delicately plucks the needle from the vinyl. He looks down, horrified, at the deep dark scratch on the surface. He studies it closely, as if he can stare it out of existence, render the vinyl back to its previous, perfect, form. He crouches down to observe the light bouncing of the surface, he puzzles over how this has happened. Has someone been here? No, more likely the drunken fumblings of a previous night. With a resigned shake of his head he stands, picks up the glass and toasts the fallen soldier, all the while hoping Sam will have a good copy stored away somewhere in the back of his shop.

With a sigh he lifts the vinyl from the platter, a broken relic, useless to him now. He slides it back into its sleeve and casts it aside before realising he isn’t sure what to do next. He is out of his routine.

It is from such a small moment that endless possibilities bloom. He looks around at his threadbare furniture, the marked and pitted floorboards, the dull light through grimed windows. How did it get to this? Why didn’t he notice?

He stands in contemplation of what to do next.

One comment

  1. what to do next is to start with a retrospective look as to how he got there – tell his tory up to this point – I feel a whole book lurking…..!

Comments are closed.