An ageing television set sits on a rickety cabinet before the chair, casting garish light that clashes with the shadows across the water stained walls of the flat. The television's volume is muted. The only sound at all comes from a small mantle clock that sits on a thin shelf above a gas fired heater. Its steady tick-tock, announces the passing of time with surety.
In the recliner, a man of an indeterminate age is slouched over and fast asleep. Hiss glasses, reflecting the imagery from the television screen, sit at a precarious angle on the edge of his nose. His silvery hair, matted with grease is combed severely to one side. Flakes of dandruff are sprinkled across the shoulders of his tartan dressing gown. A small globule of saliva clings by a glistening filament from the edge of his mouth. It threatens to fall and soak into the collar of his pyjamas. A newspaper, held in his slackened grip lies across his chest. Several pages have fallen and lie at his feet.
The hands of the mantle clock tick over to the hour and its mechanism whirs to life. The clock chimes six times into the darkness of the room, loud enough to wake the man from his slumber. He flinches in the chair. Arms flail and he tosses the newspaper into the air; its pages taking flight all around him, before floating gracefully downward and settling on the floor and on the man's face. Disoriented, he swats angrily at the newsprint, bucking in the recliner until he frees himself of his paper enemy, then he slumps back, weary from his exertions. He looks around the living room, fumbling for his glasses with arthritic hands.
He tries to remember what he was doing before he'd drifted off to sleep. Very little, evidently. He'd woken early but hadn't bothered changing out of his pyjamas. Nor had he yesterday...or the day before. Lifting an arm, he catches the musky scent of his body odour and screws up his face at the smell.realises he has barely moved from his chair since this morning. The only exception was the short journey he'd made from the chair to the kitchen several hours ago to retrieve a frozen dinner from the refrigerator, which he had set on the bench to thaw. He'd returned to the chair, sat down with his newspaper and turned on the ancient television set. It is the exact same routine that he has observed every day...for what feels like years.
There is little incentive to do anything else. He is years into a retirement that he has never, really come to grips with. He knows no-one any more. His friends are long gone. His family are living too far away and are too disinterested in him to care.
He is a forgotten soul, lost in the multitude of square windows of the tenement...
To read the full version of "Feast", contact Dean today to receive the ebook by email.
Photo Credit: Damon Hart-Davis
"Feast" is Copyright © 2013, Hambledown Road Imprints & Dean Mayes.