Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Chapter 6

A quick shower and clean clothes. John was finally shedding his last memories of his cockroach infested room. When he heard Tony's car pull up outside he jumped down the stairs, despite his aching bones. DIY was hard work. Especially for someone like John who had spend most of his life behind a desk. Starting with his school desk, which he had shared with Jones both through junior and secondary school.Last time John had seen Jones was at the roman baths in Bath. They had had done a little small talk, but otherwise had nothing to talk about. Jones was there with his wife and seven kids. Seven! John didn't know anything about kids.Jones had been a laugh at school. Always getting into trouble, but never cared. John had been the serious kid, who would never miss classes, and always handed in assignments early. When they had met in Bath John had secretly felt like he was the one of them with the better life. How wrong he had been."OK?", Tony asked with a concerned tone in his voice. It was lunchtime and John had put his mind into painting the upstairs rooms 100%, while Tony was trying to decide what he wanted to do to his new kitchen units, which didn't fit. They where sitting on a couple of boxes having sandwiches from the local corner shop."You look like you have the worl on your sholders", Tony smiled encouragingly. John didn't bite, "I'm fine. Do you want help with the kitchen, or shall I continue painting upstairs?". "let's go to the pub. Forget the kitchen", Tony replied. And they left everything and went to the pub.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Chapter 5

John woke up with a splitting headache as the sun broke through his window at 6.30. He was starting to get used to waking up in this room, though it would take him some time to get over the cockroaches. He had found another cockroach creeping around last night just after Lu had left. He was embareshed, even though he didn't think she had seen it.He got dressed and opened the door to the lounge while waiting for the kettle to boil. Empthy pizza boxes and bottles everywhere. It looked like the day after a student party, except for the missing ashtrays overspilling onto the carpet. University life. It had seemed like there was only one way, and that was up.One of the windows had been left ajar over night, so the room was freezing. John closed it and started picking up boxes and bottles. Did they recycle bottles in this household? He couldn't see any sign of it, so he just put the bottles in a cluster on the kitchen table. He took the boxes out to the bins outside and went back in to have his tea and some toast. The flat was completely quiet. John could hear the light rain on the windows. Sun mixed with rain. It was going to be a typical cold spring day.At 8.30 He could hear an alarm go off, and 10 minutes later Jill appeared from James's room, "morning". The flat was slowly coming to life. He didn't actually, besides Julia, know what anyone did for a living, but noone seemed to keep regular hours. At five to nine he heard Tony's car pull up outside, and John grapped his jacket, ran down the stairs and stopped Tony as he was getting out of the car, "We had a late night, most of them are still asleep". "We better not disturb their beautysleep then", Tony grinned and started the car.Tony started talking about last nights match, but soon realised John hadn't watched it when he asked who won, and Tony changed the subject, "I'm more of a rugby man myself". Another subject John didn't know very much about.They finished clearing out the ground floor by lunch and Tony invited John to the pub, "While we wait for the supplies". John doubted they where coming from B&Q, but he wasn't going to ask. It was non of his business, as long as Tony kept paying him everyday.The local pub was a cosy little place, but after the second pint John was getting restless. Tony didn't look like he was expecting much to happen anytime soon, so John excused himself, "I've got stuff to do tonight, do you mind if I shoot off now?". "I'll just finish this and I'll give you a lift, Tony said pointing at his third pint of Guiness. John didn't think this was a good idea, "Don't worry, I'll be fine, see you tomorrow". John left before Tony got around to insisting. He quite enjoyed the walk back to the flat.The flat was empty when he got back. He had a cup of tea and stuffed all his dirty clothes into his bag and walked back out into the chilly afternoon. The indian lady in the corner shop, where he bought washing powder, gave him directions to the nearest launderette, but advised that two roads further along there was a cheaper place, though they wheren't open at weekends. "You'll need 20p pieces, let me exchange for you", she offered. John got his change, thanked the lady and headed off to was his clothes. White would have to go in with dark, he wasn't going to waste to washes on this small bundle of clothes.It was nice and warm in the launderette, but John restrained from taking off his jeans and adding them to the wash. This was not a Levis advert and John's tan needed working on before he was to strip in public.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Chapter 4

Knock, knock, "Tony's here!". What time was it? Had he overslept? John quickly jumped into his trousers and pulled his T-shirt over his head while he was zipping his trousers up. "I'll only be a minute", he said to Tony while trying to enter the bathroom. The door was locked. "Matti has just gone in with his towel, He'll be a while knowing him", laughed Tony. "Relax, the house is not going anywhere. I've brought pastry, let's have some coffee", Tony went back into the kitchen and emerged with a paperbag smelling of fresh pastry and a cup of steaming hot coffee. John followed him into the lounge. James emerged shortly after, "Do I smell pastry?".Tony was right, Matthew was in the bathroom long enough for John to start wondering if he was painting his toenails or something. Matthew came into the lounge with a towel wrapped around his waist, toenails au naturelle, "Bathrooms free".Five minutes later John and Tony left to rib out the kitchen and downstairs bathroom of Tony's palace to be."They say you have moved down from London", Tony informed while he was lying under the sink trying to disconenct the plumming. "That's right", John replied. Here it comes, he thought, the third degree. John wasn't particular comfortable talking about his life. Talking about it made it more real, and he didn't really want it to be real, he wanted to just move on, and forget it ever happened. "What did you do up in London then?", Tony asked. "Not much", John answered evasively. "You didn't do much, or you don't want to talk about it. No worries, we'll talk about me instead", Tony grinned. Tony spend the rest of the day telling John about his life in the military and his ex-wife. Tony made it sound like the wife had been the problem, but John had a feeling that Tony hadn't been that easy to live with.

At 4pm Tony called it a day, "I'll pick you up around 9 tomorrow, ok?". John finished clearing the cabinet he had been struggling with and started walking back to the flat. It was raining and it was only a 5 minute wait for the bus, but John was in no rush to get back. They where a nice enough lot, but football had never been of any interest to him, and he was not up to possible romantic complications with this Lu girl.John was soaked and hungry by the time he got to their road, it was almost 5pm. He decided to delay the socialising for a bit and popped into the pub on the next road. It was nice and warm, and the football crowd hadn't started arriving yet. He ordered the house steak and ale pie and a pint of beer and found a table away from the bar.John didn't know what time Lu would be turning up, but he figured if he left the pub when it started getting rowdy he would be home just in time for the game to start and he wouldn't have to do to much small talk, and have to evade awkward questions.The pie was delicious at only £4.95, and John took his time eating it, savouring every mouthfull as if it might be his last. After he finished the pie he had another beer which he drank slowly while watching the bar fill up, and listening in to peoples conversations about the upcoming game. Liverpool versus Juventus. John had heard of both teams, but couldn't remember what it was he had heard, and non of the stuff he picked up at the pub made much sense to him. Who was Rafa? John left the rest of his beer, which had gone flat. It had stopped raining, and he got back to the flat in time to be greeted by Lu in the door, "There you are! The match starts in fifteen minutes!". "We've ordered pizza", James came out from the lounge. "I'll just grab a quick shower then", said John and disappeared into his room, to find some semi-clean clothes. Tomorrow night he needed to find the launderette. As he pulled his last clean T-shirt out of his bag a lonely cockroach fell out. "damn!". "Everything ok in there?", Julie enquired through the door. John put his shoe on the cockroach and opened the door, "Everything is fine, thanks". John crossed to the bathroom and locked the door.John was still in the shower when the pizza arrived. "Just in time", he heard James say to the deliveryguy. "Do you think he's ok?". John heard Lu ask James. "Leave him alone, you have all night", James teased, and they disapeared into to lounge.As John stepped out of the bedroom he heard the welcome cries of what sounded like a goal, and he entered the lounge which had people sitting on anything and everything, and some on the floor. Half empty pizza boxes and beer bottles everywhere. "have a beer", Lu was right next to him at the door. "You missed the goal", she said. "Never mind". "You're not much of a football fan, are you?. We could go to your room and listen to music or something else if you want?". "I haven't got any music in my room, or anything else for that matter", John replied. "You can borrow my CD player if you want", offered Matthew helpfully. Before John could reply Lu had already popped into Matthew's room to fetch it. John felt like a teenager, "Listen Lu, I...". Lu broke in, "Stop!, I know what you are going to say, you are not looking for a relationship, etc. etc. That's ok, we can just talk, and if you want I can quite happy talk for both of us". "She's right, you know. Lu can talk anyones ears off", Matthew added grinningly. Apart from putting his foot down, he didn't really have much choice, so he let Lu plug Matthews CD player in in his room, and install herself comfortably on his bed. He kicked his bag into a corner, hoping no more cockroaches would magically appear, they didn't. John sat down against the wall opposite the bed and made a last attempt at protesting, "I'm really not very sociable". "Neither is football", added Lu and smiled. She had a great smile, and very blue eyes, but was otherwise quite average looking, nothing like Josephine at all. Why was he thinking about Josephine again? He didn't want to think about Josephine. Lu noticed his face change and got up, "I'll get us some more beers". While Lu was in the kitchen picking up beers John tried to think of something to talk about. He drew a blank."Goal!". They where cheering in the lounge again, Lu returned with two cold beers and some pizza on a plate. "Thought you might be hungry. I am", she said and attacked a piece of pizza as if she hadn't seen food for days. Lu was nothing at all like Josephine. Josephine had refused to eat anything without a knife and fork, but that had probably all been an act, and maybe she was sat in front of the TV this very moment cheering the TV with a slice of pizza in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. John had been so wrong about her. How could he ever trust his own judgement again, when it came to women? "Have you ever been yachting?", asked Lu. John had to admit that he hadn't. He had been on a suncruiser once. An invitation from a client. But that had been a different life. "No", he answered. "If you're not doing anything this weekend we could ask James and Jill if they want to come out with us. I'll borrow my dad's boat. What do you think?". "It sounds like a double date", said John with a forced smile. "We'll make Matthew come too then", Lu grinned back. The ice was broken, and John managed to put Josephine back in the locked draw where he kept his past.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Chapter 3

John looked around the room. The sun was coming through the gap in the flowery curtains. Someone had left a Westlife poster on the wall and there was a dying banana palm three in the corner. Otherwise the room consisted of the bed John was lying in, an old twodoor wardrobe and an antique desk with paintstains in multiple colours. He wasn't quite sure what he was doing here. He felt like he had entered someone elses life.Someone was in the kitchen, and soon after the aroma of freshly brewed coffee reached Johns nostrils. He stayed under the blanket and closed his eyes. His new life had come to quick, too easy. He wasn't ready to face it. Not just yet.It was almost lunchtime befoer John emerged from under the blanket. When he puled the curtains back he was looking out at the backyard, and further out in the horizon he could see the sea. There was a knock on the door. It was Julia, "James said you might want to borrow a towel. I'll leave some out here for you". Julia walked into the lounge and John could hear her close the door behind her. John picked up the towels and went to the bathroom. He stood under the shower for a long time. He had never felt this clean before, which off course he had, but it seemed like such a long time ago, since he had had a shower, where he didn't have to clean the cockroaches off the soap first. He wrapped himself in the towel and went to put on his jeans and T-shirt. They could do with having the past washed out too, but that had to wait. First he needed to find a shop and get some food. He could not keep spunging of his new found friends. He went into the lounge, "Good morning Julia, thanks for the towels". "No worries, I've got too many anyway. Let me know if there is anything else I can do". John wondered what kind of conversation her and James had had about him this morning. Him moving in with just a small sports bag was bound to create questions, but Julia left it alone. "is there a shop near by where I can pick up some bread and stuff?", John asked. "There's a small corner shop down the far end of the road, but I'm going to the supermarket later if you want me to pick something up for you, or you can have a lift?". "Thanks, I'm sure the corner shop will be ok for now". Julia trew him a key as he was leaving, "you'll need this at some point". John put the key in his pocket and walked out into the sunny road.

It was a nice street with threes along the road, and flowers in the front gardens. John was back in his house the morning Josephine disappeared out of his life. The had had breakfast on the patio, planning a weekend to the Lake District, but as it turned out, it had all been a lie. By the time John returned from work, Josephine had cleared out his life. John had compeltely hit the floorboards, so when cheques started bounching at his bank he had been to distressed to deal with it, and by the time he missed his third work deadline, his boss had lost patience and he let John go. From there onwards Johns life at just been a downwards spiralle, untill today. Or maybe this was only an illusion? John picked up a toothbrush, toothpaste, some bread and jam and a box of tea.The walk to the shop and back had brought Johns hunger back, so he didn't bother toasting the bread, but just put some jam inbetween two slices of bread, while the water was boiling for the tea. By the time the kettled had boiled, John was on his second jam sandwich and Matthew appeared in the kitchen. "Morning. I'm Matthew", Matthew put his hand out to shake Johns, "John, hi". "James says you don't have any belongings. What happened to them?". Matthew was not even half as descreet as Julia or James had been, but somehow John didn't mind. "I got ribbed off yours ago. Haven't really had oppertunity to replace anything yet", John replied. "Do you work?", "Not at the moment", "A mate of mine might need someone to help renovate this old nightmare of a house he just bought, if you are interested", "sure". Matthew picked up his mobile and called his friend right there and then, and 10 minutes later John had a job, starting Monday morning. John had never done any renovating before, but Matthews friend didn't seem to care, so why should John worry. "See you later!", said Matthew as he disappeared back into his room. John mad another jam sandwich and took it into the lounge with his cup of tea.He flicked the TV on. Pope John Paul II had died.After breakfast, which was more like lunch, timewise, John walked towards the sea. The Pope had died, and John had gotten a new life. Untill yesterday Johns life had still been cockroach infested, and now the Pope had died. It was not that John was particularily religious, or political for that matter, but he had shared a name with the dead pope. John found himself at the marina which was buzzing with life, not surprisingly with today being only the 5th day of summer in an otherwise cold and wet spring."John, over here!", someone was yelling. "over here!", John saw James waving his arm like a mad. James was only male at a table of 5 girls. "Come and meet the crowd. Do you want a beer? Lu is getting a round in". One of the girls looked at James with a pretend surprise painted on her face, "I am?", she turned to John, "pull over a chair, I'm Lu. A pint of Stella ok?". John didn't protest. By his second pint he felt part of everything and when Lu kissed him on the cheak before she left it felt as if she had done that a million times before. "hope to see you again, soon!", Lu winked at John, and she disappeared."Lu likes you", announced James, when he and John headed back to the flat in the dusk. John was surprised, "you think so?". "Why else would she invite herself around to watch the game on Tuesday?". John never watched football, never had.

"Coffee's on!". Matthew was hollowing through Johns door. "If you hurry up, Julia will give us a lift". John found a cockroach clean T-shirt in his bag, grapped his jacket and went to the kitchen to poor himself a cup of coffee. As if he did this everyday he greated Matthew and Julia with, "I'm ready when you are", while he gulped down the hot coffee.Julia's car, if you could call it that, looked like it was older than John felt after a sunday afternoon/evening of pooring beer down his throth, but it started after only 3 attempts, and Julia drove like she had been brought up with this car, adjusting her driving to it's every whim.They stopped in front of what John in his privious life would have classified as a dump, but now looked like a potential palace.A short, bodybuilder type, with shaved head approached the car as John got out. "Hi Matti, how's life?". He didn't wait for an answer, "You must be John, glad to have you on board, my name's Tony", he said, while eyeing John up and down. "Have fun", Matthew and Julia said in unison as Julia pulled back out onto the road and drove off.Even though Tony was shorter than John, John felt intimidated by Tony. "You're not affraid of spiders I hope. This house is full of them", Tony introduced while he showed John around. John soon realised that Tony did as much talking has he did working, and he was a hard worker, but he didn't expect any reply, so John and him soon found a rythm, and by the end of the day they had stripped the whole first floor.Tony gave John a lift back and John headed straight for the shower and straight to bed. He slept like a baby.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Chapter 2

The sun had disappeared and John was feeling the chill of the wind. He walked back along Picadilly, through Leichester Square, Trafalgar Square and into The National Gallery. He knew the permanent excibition by heart by now, so he just wondered around at random, stopping once in while, but not long enought to take anything in, not untill he got to Botticelli's Venus and Mars."Mars, god of war, was one of the lovers of Venus, goddess of love. Here Mars is asleep and unarmed, while Venus is awake and alert. The meaning of the picture is that love conquers war, or love conquers all. "Or love conquers you, John thought. Josephine had been John's Venus, as much as she had been his goddess of love and beauty. He didn't know Greek mythology that well, but he knew he was no Mars. If only. If only he had been less ignorant. If only he had been less blinded. If only he had been less in love. If only things had been different.John shook his head clear of thoughts of the past. He had to stop thinking about what could have been. He had to forget about Josephine. She was not a goddess. She was more like a vampire who sucked out all your blood, and left you for dead.John turned away from Venus and went to the Turner room and studied the "Rain, Steam, and Speed" painting from before 1844. He needed to put his life on a steamtrain and speed out. Out of what he wasn't quite sure, and out to what he was even less sure about. But out he had to get, and he knew it.Determinately he walked out of the gallery and into the cold and wet evening. It had started to rain while he was wandering around the gallery. John's T-shirt was soaked through in less than 10 minutes, but he walked all the way back to his room above the kebab shop, with the smell of old fat, cockroaches and mice. Once inside he stripped out of his wet T-shirt and jeans and wrapped himself in a big towel.With the gas boiler on full his clothes should be dry by the morning.John opened up his last tin of baked beans and ate them straight from the pan. There where clean plates in the cupboard, but with cockroaches living all over them, he he had stopped using them weeks ago. The mice had been at his last bread, which by the way was going blue in the corners. He drank 1½ liter of water to fill up. He knew it would be a short lived feeling, but he needed some sleep, and ironically he couldn't afford anything from the kebabshop, and the supermarket had closed 5 minutes before he got there.He shook the cockroaches out of his duvet, and climbed into bed. The sound of the mice running around the walls sent him to sleep.

The sun was baking and John had his eyes closed, listening to the kids playin in the surf. Life was perfect, except for the bugs that kept crawling across his face. He could hear faint knocking, and was wondering what that sound was doing in his beach paradise. Suddenly a load bang made him sit up. He was ot on a nice hot beach, but in his very hot room. The bugs crawling across his face had been cockroaches, and the knocking sound had been someone knocking on his door. He wasn't sure what the loud bang had been, but the kncking on the door persisted. "I'll be right there", he yelled towards the door. The knocking stopped. He pulled his burning hot jeans on, and struggled with the T-shirt on the way to opening the door. "Can I help?". John was looking at a young man in a suit, with a professional smile on his face, and a briefcase under his arm.The young man presented a badge. "I'm Ben, from the council. I've come to inspect your apartment?". John let him in, and listened to Ben go on about his purpose, and that he had sent a letter, and what a nice place John had, and... John had stopped listening, and justed nodded once in a while. The young man took some samples of cockroaches, did a couple of swats, and then he left, thanking John for his hospitality. Not sure what that was all about, but hoping it would get his landlord into trouble, John packed a few clothes into a bag, he picked up his toothbrush, but decided to leave it for the cockroaches which where all over it anyway. He took a look around the room, picked up his Burberry and his bag and walked out, leaving the door unlocked.It was spring, the sun was shining, but not a daffodil in sight. How did people do anymore than survive in a place like this? John took the tube to Waterloo.11:35 to Southampton Central, looked like a good train to get on. John always wanted to live by the sea, and Southampton ought to be big enough for him to be able to find a job to finance a room and basic food while he tried to reinvent his life. He waited on the concourse for the platform announcement which came 11:32; Southwest trains to Southampton Central, stopping at Woking, Winchester, Southampton Airport, and Southampton Central will depart from platform 11. John moved with, what seamed to be half the concourse, to platform 11, where a nice white shining electric train was pulling in. Gone where the days of steam and coaldust. Travelling by train in the 21st century was a clean experience. John picked a windowseat and enjoyed the cleanliness of the train. No kebabfat smell, no grimy carpets or taped up windows, and no cockroaches crawling everywhere you looked.A couple sat down across the isle, a girl came in dragging a big holdall, which she dropped in the isle, sat down next to the couple and pulled out a book. Just before the whistle went, a young lad dropped down across from John, eating a burger. John remembered he had nothing to eat since last nigths tin of baked beans. With a rumbling stomach he watched London Waterloo disappear as the train pulled out of the platform."All ok man?". It was the young lad with the burger trying to get Johns attention. "Want these?". He was holding a bag of fries towards John. John shook his head while he was struggling not to grab the fries and stuff them in his mought before the lad changed his mind. "Please, you would be doing me a favour. I am trying to get fit for running the marathon this year, so this is not what I should be eating". He dropped the fries on the table in front of John. "So where are you off to?". He didn't wait for an answer, just continued, "I'm...". John started laughing. He just couldn't stop himself. He felt releaved listening to the youngster just yapping on as if nothing really mattered. The young lad had stopped talkeng and was looking at John with a puzzled face. John stopped laughing. "Sorry. I just needed to releave the pressure. Thanks for the fries, I am starving really".The young lad's name was Tom, and him and John where chatting all the way to Southampthon Central, even though Tom was supposed to have been off at Winchester. As John got of the train Tom handed him a piece of scrap paper, "give me a call sometime!"

John walked out of the station towards the city centre. Compared to the London buzz, Southampton was a quiet seaside town, but a shopping heaven. John stopped in front of the entrance to the Job Centre in the High Street. He would come back here Monday. First he would explore the localities, find somewhere to stay and somewhere to get some food. He went into WHSmith and picked up a local newspaper and flipped to the Rooms to Let section. He scanned the prices and found a room "Near town centre with own bath" for £55 a week. He went to the nearest phonebox which accepted coins, which in these days of mobile phones and phone cards, was not easy to find, and called the number in the add. "Please leave your name and number and we will call you back". There was no point in leaving a phonebox number. The next add said "room in shared flat, £45". He wasn't sure about a shared flat but beggars can't be choosers, and it was cheap. He dialled the number and a young girl answered the phone, "Hi!". "Hi, I'm John. I'm calling in regards to the room you have to let", said John. "Oh, you need to speak to James, hold on", and the phone went dead. John waited what seemed like forever befoer James came on the line. "You're looking for a room?", Yes", "Do you want to come around and see it now?", "Where is it?". James explained how to get there by foot, and said he would put the kettle on.The house was easy to find with James's instructions, "Just look for the yellow Cincento in the drive". John rang the bell. A girl opened the door, "Hi. You must be John, I'm Jill, we spoke briefly on the phone, I'm James's girlfriend, I don't live here, so I'll just be leaving and leave you two to it, it's upstairs, see you", and Jill walked down the road. "Come on through and close the door", hollowed James from up the stairs. John closed the door behind him and walked up the stairs to be greated by an open door into what looked like a student batchelor pad. Messy but clean, and not a cockroach in sight.James popped his head out of the door into the kitchen, "do you take sugar?". "No thanks". John felt relaxed in James's company. He was glad his girlfriend hadn't hung around though. John got the guided tour on the way from the kitchen to the lounge. "bathroom", James opened a door to a blue room with a blue bathroom suite, towels everywhere. "Sorry, it's a bit messy here today, we didn't expect anyone today. And this is Matthews room, my room, Julia's room, and this will be your room. What do you think? Take a seat", said James and pointed to a sofa covered in newspapers. "It looks ok. The add said rent £45, but how about bills?", asked John. "You'll have to ask Julia when she returns, she's our accountant, works odd hours in a hotel, so she wont be back till later, but it's not much". "Provided I can afford the bills I'll take it then". "Great! Have you had dinner?", asked James as he headed for the kitchen.James threw some mixed vegatables and nudles in a wok, and what seemed like a few minutes later they had one of the best chinese meals John had ever had. As it turned out James was a great chef, and he loved cooking, but everyone in the flat lived on a small budget, which was great for John who had £127 left in his account till he got paid from the new job he didn't even have yet. Matthew came home just after 7pm, but disappeared out the door just as quick as he came in, and a couple of hours later Julia came home from a double shift. "Hi John. Nice to have you here. I'm completely beat though. Do you mind if we catch up in the morning?". James and John sat up chatting till about midnight. James had lent John a blanket, sheet and a pillow when he realised that all Johns belongings where in his bag.John lay awake listening to the unfamiliar noises for a while before he fell asleep. No more creapy crawleys.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Chapter 1

John was woken up by the padder of little feet. It sounded like mice running across the celing. He didn't mind the mice as much as the cockroaches though, and the smell and grease from the kebab shop below didn't exactly make it a desirable room either. He really needed to do something to get out of that place. But after he had paid the excessive rent and minimal bills for the room he called home he only just had enough to cover his monthly intake of oats, water and baked beans on toast.It seemed another lifetime that he had lived in Brent Road in a nice 4 bedroom house with garden, and a new car in the drive. It was no more than 7 months ago.He shook the cockroaches out of his slippers before he walked across the room to wash in the kitchen zink. The one advantage of living a minimalist lifestyle like this; cold water really wakes you up. He put on his jeans and a T-shirt and walked out into the world. Past the kebabshop, past the groceryshop where the cheap foreign cigarettes came from underneath the counter, past the phoneboxes with shattered windows and down the stairs to the tube. The gates where still broken so he could walk straight on to the platform. Someone had left the Daily Express on the seat, John picked it up and studied the front page. "House prices: Biggest fall in 10 years". It was like reading fiction, a different world. He looke around at the other passangers on the train. Where they worried about the dropping house prices? John used to worry himself silly over frontpages like this one, but somehow it didn't seem to be important anymore. 7 months ago he had learned that no matter how much you ae worth, no matter how much your house, your car, you life is worth, it can all be taken away at the click of button, so to speak. John put the paper back on the seat next to him. He didn't want to think about the past, and all the signs he had missed. She had seemed like such a nice girl. She had been a nice girl, when they first met. Another lifetime. John got off at Piccadilly Circus, slipping through the gate while the guard was discussing the need for a ticket with a couple of lippy teenagers. John liked walking through central London. It made him feel, if only for a short time, that everything was normal, whatever that meant. He could forget about his greek landlord running the kebab shop downstairs, the mice and the cockroaches, though he could never quite shake of the smell of old kebab fat. He sat down on a bench in Green park and watched a girl playing with a couple of toddlers. His mind wandering back to childhood memories of sunshine, fairgrounds, icecream and his younger sister, with candyfloss in her hair. He smiled at the memory. Louise had been the sweetest innocent little girl. Always smiling or laughing at something. Not afraid of anything or anyone. Come to think of it, he hadn't been much different himself. Always seeing the best in people, always finding the positive angle. When he met Joshephine, she had reminded him of Louise, and he had fallen for her refreshing spirit right away. Josephine didn't have a care in the world, she took each day as it came, so when she one day turned up with her suitcase and announched she where moving in, he got swept away with the wirlwind and was extatic abou the idea. Little did he know that she would move out of his life as easily and, without a care, let him fall flat on his face.