An excerpt from Peter Rake‘s debut short story, Notty: Targaroo’s Disgrace Bar-fly, bludger and sneak-thief turned unlikely hero.
Early mornings would see George leave his ‘digs’ dressed in his every day clothes of battered shoes, no socks of course, trousers that were three sizes too large and a coat that his brother had tossed out as rags ages ago, a coat now as filthy as the rest of the garb. This coat had one cuff burnt and shredded from being pulled down over a hand to retrieve a black billycan from a burning fire, for a cup of vicious looking brew that George called tea.
His trousers were pulled together at the waist and secured by a length of twine, the cuffs long gone to the constant dragging along footpaths and roadways. A shirt that had once, long ago, been white, but in line with the rest of his attire, was as filthy and foul smelling as the man himself.
Although Jack had allowed George to use the showers at the rear of the service station George declined this kind offer for most of the time. There were occasions that George would sneak into the amenities, have a quick shower and re-don the same clothes that he always wore. No one ever noticed that any ablutions had taken place, of course.
George showered when the urge took him, but it may be suggested that the slippery lather of the soap applied to certain parts of his scrawny anatomy was the attraction, rather than any sense of hygiene.
His ‘home’ depicted the man. A rough affair, scant furniture, but boasting an iron framed bed covered by a straw filled mattress that accommodated George in his nightly repose.
The dirt floor was a matter of safety for George as the open, often smoking fire, would throw sparks and coals onto the surrounding area, which lay smouldering to lifelessness without any concern from George.
One door and one unglazed window at opposite ends of the shack were the only ventilation that the building afforded, and in the summer heat and the cold of winter George suffered the deprivation without much complaint.
A wooden crate stood central in the one room building covered with spoilt food from many meals ago combined with the latest culinary delight that George had concocted for his repast of the moment.