The squeaking of her weekly rented wheelchair wakes him from the cheap mists of whatever he was drinking the night before. Slow opening his lids to the sight of her twisting the fancy link gold chain up from her neck and over her head. Dangling the cross that hangs from the end of it in front of him, she says please go and get me more wine, Stan. He says just let me get my glasses on, love. He reaches for the greasy specs and twists them over his ears. How much should I get today? Just ask them for forty, that should hold us till Thursday, it’s pension day then or is it next week, my memory’s not so good anymore. It’s this week, love. Forty will do then, and ask them to hold the rings until the week after please. Ok, do we need anything else? Smokes. Alright.
Stripping in front of the mirror, Stan notices nothing has changed since yesterday. His own gold cross still hangs from his saggy throat, the blue and orange inked tiger he got in the navy still smiles from his forearm, the white scar from a knife fight in the seventies still sits quietly under his rib cage. He’s old now, but he always thanks God for letting him get this far.
Dressed and brill creamed to the sides of the bald patches, with a shirt and pants ironed to perfection the tram clicks along through Collingwood, where a brawl breaks out and drugged knuckles dislocate as sun shines through the windows and even the ticket inspectors are hesitant to make much of a fuss, then through Clifton Hill, where it’s all road and it seems to dry out after six o’clock, then up the hill along High.
Stan stares up towards the sun with a smile thinking how it’s gotten busier up here now, nicer too. Out and into the pawn brokers. Quietly waits as all the other deals are done. Someone sweating screams and stomps out. Finally he makes the exchange, and promises to be back in for Rachel’s rings soon.
Untangling the green eco bags from his pockets, Stan heads to the discount grocery store. Stocks up on wine and smokes for her, some light beer for him cause he doesn’t drink too hard anymore, then straining back to his lover and his home before the real heat sets in. After a few, he again thinks things could be worse, so thank you lord for letting me get this far.