As he walked downstairs and through a freezing cold lounge he peeked out from behind the curtains, big mistake, it was snowing. The falling snow didn't look so heavy and it had been raining for most of the night so there was little chance of it settling he hoped. He didn't HAVE to go that day, he could have put it off, but having decided that he'd go, if he considered not going now, it would only nag at him. He'd said he was going so he would go and that was that.
Fully clothed he shaved in the bathroom then consumed mug after mug of coffee as he waited for the central heating to raise the temperature a few degrees. Finally he took a shower and boy, after four days of not washing, was that a shock to the system but invigorating also. He wasted no time in getting dressed and, after a good helping of yesterday's dinner, re-heated in the microwave, he headed for the High Street, bought a newspaper on his way to the bus-stop and didn't have to wait long, in spite of the weather, the buses seemed to be running pretty much to time, and was soon on his way to Barkton.
The nearer the bus got to Barkton the worse the conditions seemed to get. Wet icy sludge clung to the grass verges. The pathways looked treacherous and when the bus reached his destination there was a fair coating of snow and ice on the paths.
As he negotiated the narrow alleyway that ran alongside the spire of St.Mary's a tall slim chap was coming the other way. Slipping and sliding, waving his arms about, looking as though he might find himself in a heap at any moment but the threat was soon behind him and he headed for the library. The Churchill tea-rooms were open he noticed. So many times he'd determined to pay the place a visit but never has, some other time perhaps.
The warmth of the library was welcoming but he hadn't time for lingering. He quickly availed himself of the free toilet. Maybe it was the cold, his age perhaps, a bit of both probably. He's not able to go for long nowadays and the relief to his bladder was a joy. Borrowed book returned he walked back out into the wintry conditions and up town to the bookshop.
" Sorry about the language, it really is a book -title." He said to the young lady behind the counter as he handed the piece of cardboard, it was actually cut off an empty cereal box, with the title and name of author written on the back of it. "f**k it. the ultimate spiritual way. By John Parkin." She promptly keyed the details into her computer. "Oh yes, I know the one." And with that she skipped from behind the counter and off between countless rows of bookshelves.
He'd thought how thin she looked, but not gaunt looking, so impossibly thin, but as she'd gone to fetch his book, " what an ass" he'd thought to himself. The words " Does my bum look big in this? Yes my dear and it's glorious." An old man's fantasy, he allows his mind to wander. It was as though she'd poured herself into her clothes and it had all settled just below the waistline. He pondered the thought while he waited.
" That'll be 10.99."
10.99. If he'd known then what he knows now. Never mind.
He paid her thanked her and left.
Job done and time to go home he thought and then, as he stood at the bus terminal, he had just one more decision to make. He was just a few yards away from the chip-shop that he always used when in town. Chips? Bus? Chips? Bus? CHIPS! It was a no brainer.
"They'll be a few minutes sir. Is that okay?"
Was that okay? Was that okay?
After a few minutes wait the woman handed him a tray of steaming hot chips.
"£1-70 sir, thank you".
That was, most certainly...okay.
The bus-stop shelter was empty when he got there which suited him fine. He doesn't like eating in the presence of others and if a bus came it would just have to go without him. He was halfway through his chips when a short overweight man approached the shelter, and then another man whose appearance he neglected to register beyond the fact that this second person was male also. He huddled into the corner of the shelter, standing as tall as his limbs would allow, shoulders hunched over his booty like an Eagle might spread it wings over a kill. These chips were not for sharing. No way Hosais.
The two men chatted quietly.
One made a comment about the weather.
" Is Englan, what you expec?" Obviously not English.
He was shocked by that momentarily but he let it go. It hadn't seemed as though the foreigner had really meant anything by it and to be fair, he DID have a point.
Chips consumed, thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated, another non-recyclable polystyrene tray promptly consigned to some out of town landfill site, the bus pulled in, he headed home and wasn't sorry to GET home.
All in a day's dithering...