UKArchive



UKArchive ID: 6916No Fixed Abode by thegeeza
Originally published on June 7, 2004 in Fiction    

A vignette about Ray Williams. Written today.

910 words.





Ray opened his eyes because someone was pushing him. ‘What?’ he said. He smelled stale alcohol coming in waves from the stubbly face. It grunted at him, reached in and pulled his hand from inside the blanket, where it was nice and warm. He felt a polystyrene cup pushed in his hand. ‘Tea,’ the man grunted at him. ‘John said to give you one.’ He watched the man turn and stand, the top of his filthy welt-peppered backside disappearing behind a grubby coat as he walked away.



He sipped the sugary tea and watched the first of the commuters walk past. The smartest looking people came first, then the scruffier ones, before the rush died out. He thought the smarter ones would give most, but the younger ones, rushing to be on time, had more to give. The early birds sneered as the breezed past, the inconvenience of moving from train to office foremost in their minds.



He finished the tea and pulled back the blanket. He put on his shoes and walked down the alley between two shops. He pulled out his penis and gagged on the smell. He aimed the dark urine into the drain, shook and put himself away. He cursed his way of life as sweet-smelling water followed his putrid offering into the sewer. It was bath water. He put his hands into the soapy stream, then wiped his hands on the seat of his jeans and went back to his home.



He sat under the blanket and asked for change. He spoke like he didn’t care. That worked best. If he sounded like he was pleading, people would tell him to “get a fucking life”, “get a fucking job”. He had tried to be polite, he had tried to make people feel guilty. Truth was, no one felt guilt, he was not their fault, he was not their problem. He had tried asking for some money to get a bacon sandwich, a meal, a cup of tea. People told him he would buy drink or drugs if they gave him fifty pence. They were helping him by not helping him. He stuck on asking if people had any change they could spare him and no more. It kept him alive. His was a tramp with no attitude. People don’t like tramps with attitude.



John came over with a bacon roll. ‘Here,’ said John.



‘Thanks,’ said Ray. ‘I appreciate that.’ He looked at John and smiled. A human connection.



John shook his head. ‘No bother … cooked it for a customer.’ He coughed. ‘He didn’t want it.’ He nodded at Ray and walked back to his shop. John gave him a bacon roll every day, each time with a different excuse. The shop was closed at the weekend. It meant moving around to the tube station to wait for enough money for a hamburger.



Today, two giant rabbits stood with buckets, collecting money for a Children’s hospital. They played music and danced to the tune of coins falling on coins. Children’s hospitals are one of the better causes, thought Ray. Do the people care, or do the bunnies shame them, or maybe amuse them enough to put their hands in their pockets? Don’t they care about me because I’ve got no home? Does no one care about me?



He threw the blanket aside and picked up his baseball cap. He stood alongside the two rabbits and started to shuffle his feet. He hummed to the tune and moved faster. He closed his eyes and held out his cap.



‘For fuck’s sake, mate! What are you doing?’



Ray opened his eyes and looked at the grey clouds above his head.



‘Mate!’



He looked at the two rabbits. One stood behind the other and they had stopped to look at him.



‘We’re collecting for a kids’ charity, for fuck’s sake. Can’t you just piss off? You’re losing us money.’



Ray looked in his empty cap.



He thumped the rabbit, sending him spinning and crashing to the floor. The other put its hands up and backed away. Ray moved forward and tore off its head. The young man mumbled, his lips quivered. The headless rabbit moved back again, before he turned and ran through the flow of commuters. No one came to help the stricken rabbit. Ray put the rabbit head on and turned to watch the people walk past, the relentless flow arcing around them.



He turned and walked to the rabbit on the floor. It struggled to crawl away, but Ray bent down and helped it to its feet.



‘Okay, mate, okay … just take the money, okay?’



‘I don’t want your money,’ said Ray.



‘What do you want?’ said the rabbit.



‘My name is Ray Williams and I’m a person of no fixed abode. I didn’t want to have no home, I didn’t ask to have no home.’



The rabbit nodded.



‘And no one cares.’



The rabbit nodded. Ray could see the bright eyes moving behind the costume.



‘I just wanted you to know that.’



The tramp with a rabbit head turned and walked with the commuters. The other rabbit, his white suit quite dirty, watched him disappear in the crowd. He looked for his colleague, but he was nowhere to be seen.



John came out of his shop, collected Ray’s things into a bundle and put them into his backyard. Later, he would put the bundle into the alleyway for Ray to pick up. It’s an arrangement they have.






© thegeeza (thegeeza on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 6916
Archived comments for No Fixed Abode
thehaven on 2004-06-07 04:22:30
Re: No Fixed Abode
This has a message that everyone should heed .I felt it could be developed and made stronger though.
I can see why Ray walked with he crowd but there was no conclusion for him.

Author's Reply:

Heirloom on 2004-06-07 04:44:31
Re: No Fixed Abode
I enjoyed this, Steve. Nothing original about the theme, but you present it in a new and interesting way, imo. I especially liked the fact that he was accepted more by the 'crowd' dressed as a giant rabbit than when he was just another homeless person - nice touch. I think you could leave the reader with that image, however, rather than the 2-3 lines that follow it. A good example of Flash Fiction. Thanks.
regards
Steven

Author's Reply:

Skeeter on 2004-06-07 05:55:58
Re: No Fixed Abode
Enjoyable and interesting. i like your style, it has an immediacy about it. The subject matter is one of those that everyone thinks has been done, but which probably hasn't been doen as much as it seems, but anyway, these things need re-telling. Liked it.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 06:35:08
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Haven ... appreciate your comment.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 06:39:24
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Steven. No nothing original, but I sat down and wanted to write something, and this came into my head first!
Thanks for your comment.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 06:40:02
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Skeets... appreciate your reading and commenting.


Author's Reply:

KDR on 2004-06-07 07:15:18
Re: No Fixed Abode
A good story...but I couldn't see the point of the 'arrangement'. The only time it would be needed was if they were in cahoots to rip people off, and that doesn't appear to be the case.

Author's Reply:

malc on 2004-06-07 08:26:24
Re: No Fixed Abode
I loved the introduction of the rivalry with the rabbits and the different excuses that the bacon butty man gave for his charitable donations. Excellent. That said, I'd be tempted to loose the last two pars and end on 'I just wanted you to know that.' Also, in the para introducing the rabbits, I'd lose the self-pitying, 'Don't they come...' lines. But that's just me being picky. Nice one, Geeza.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 11:29:34
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Karl.
The "arrangement" was just something nice the shopkeeper done for Ray - no hidden motives or nastiness!
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Steve.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 11:30:35
Re: No Fixed Abode
Cheers, Malc. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Author's Reply:

discopants on 2004-06-07 11:54:28
Re: No Fixed Abode
I liked this but then as it touches upon a similar theme to my piece today, I would say that!

Author's Reply:

neil2 on 2004-06-07 13:22:42
Re: No Fixed Abode
Yes I like - the part with the rabbit costumes is a great invention which takes it out of the usual run of this kind of story into bitter satire on charitable giving. Excellent!

Author's Reply:

flash on 2004-06-07 14:16:20
Re: No Fixed Abode
It would make a memorable short film Steve, i liked it a lot, the charity thing with the rabbits did give it originality or at least added something inventive to the piece IMHO.

Good stuff


Alan

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2004-06-07 14:31:43
Re: No Fixed Abode
A good interesting piece. If there were more John's in the world, the world would be more peaceful.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 15:23:02
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Disco. I'll take heed of your shameless advert and have a look! 🙂


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 15:26:15
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Neil - appreciate your reading and commenting.



Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 15:27:21
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Alan - appreciate your comments, as usual.
Steve.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-07 15:29:15
Re: No Fixed Abode
It would be, wouldn't it? Can't see it though - be nice if people were 10% like a John.
Thanks for commenting, Claire.
Steve.


Author's Reply:

dogfrog on 2004-06-08 05:49:06
Re: No Fixed Abode
Ah...I was expecting him to steal the rabbit costume and use it to collect money for himself. I've often wondered why the homeless aren't a bit more creative, but a broken spirit, mental illness and substance abuse can't help.

As hard as it is these days, if it were me, I'd definitely try and squat.

http://www.homeless.org.uk/db/2004052709360
Some good news I think?

They say that any one of us are only two or three paychecks away from a similar fate. Anyhoo, nice story Geez.



Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-08 07:06:37
Re: No Fixed Abode
Yep, you see these poor folks and don't realise that some of them could easily be your next door neighbour, but for some bad luck/judgement.
Thanks for reading and commenting ...
Steve.

Author's Reply:

Sunken on 2004-06-10 01:33:34
Re: No Fixed Abode
Very original twist on an all too familiar scene. The 'bright eyes' connection (I'm thinking watership down) made me smile. Witty, clever and poignant.

s
u
n
k

Author's Reply:

shangri-la on 2004-06-10 05:59:05
Re: No Fixed Abode
I like this, I especially like the touch of the guy giving over a bacon butty always with a different excuse suggestive of perhaps masking his own embarrassment for his generous act and affording the tramp some semblence of dignity. I also like the summing up of the reasons why people don't give money - excusing themselves by telling him 'he would buy drink or drugs if they gave him fifty pence. They were helping him by not helping him'

I think it's so sad that we walk on by without a second thought - never pondering on how that person might have gotten into this situation - so many on the streets were once successful professionals with families - someones husband/father/son - hard financial times, marriage break-ups, the loss of a loved one or a nervous breakdown often being the cause....sorry for waffling

An excellent piece, very thought provoking.

Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-10 09:20:40
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, Sunk - glad someone picked up on the "bright eyes" thing!
Steve.


Author's Reply:

TheGeeza on 2004-06-10 10:58:41
Re: No Fixed Abode
Thanks, shangri-la. Glad you liked it.


Author's Reply: