A Creative Encounter

I unloaded my groceries onto the checkout conveyor and waited for the woman in front to pay. Glancing round I saw a man in his sixties with a can of beer in each hand.

‘Is that all you’ve got?’

He nodded.

‘Go on, then.’ I waved him ahead. He thanked me in a quiet, polite way and took his cans to the till. I weighed him up. He was clean, and his clothing was far from shabby, though cheap. I had seen him before, standing outside the same supermarket, drinking from a can of beer. Having paid, he nodded to me again, and left the store.

As I emerged from the shop he was wheeling a bicycle across the car park. I loaded my stuff into the car and watched him from the corner of my eye. He had stopped by a concrete block on the edge of the car park, leaned his bike against it and opened a can.

As I drove away, I could not help wondering about him. Clearly, he was not a tramp or a beggar, and was in no way rough. Yet, there he was, and had been before, standing alone on a cold day on a supermarket car park drinking his beer. Why? Did he live in a hostel where alcohol was forbidden, or perhaps he had a wife who would bend his ear for drinking at eleven in the morning.

At the moment, I don’t have the answers to these questions, nor am I likely to find them in reality. I am fairly certain though, that I shall answer them to my satisfaction when I meet him again: in one of my stories. He was custom made to become a ‘character’.

Author: tomkilcourse

A sceptical Mancunian who dislikes pomposity and rudeness.

7 thoughts on “A Creative Encounter”

  1. It is interesting, and the stuff of short stories or novels, Tom.

    It is an interest in people and what motivates them; we make of it what we will, but I suspect you are a natural writer.

  2. Presumably he will be bearing Kingsley Amis’s words in mind,on hangovers that leave us “spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning”, by rationing himself to just two beers: “When I put my head on that pillow, I want to go to sleep, I don’t want to pass out, and when the sun comes out, I want to wake up, I don’t want to come to.”

  3. How did he pay for his beer? At the supermarket round the corner from us in France the SDF and others of that ilk usually pay for their extra-strong beer in very small change, presumably after they have begged enough.

  4. sheona, this was in France, but I didn’t notice how he paid. Had he been roughly dressed or unwashed I would not have thought about him again, but he wasn’t. He certainly didn’t appear as someone who is sleeping rough, nor have I seen him begging. CWJ, I sympathise with you, but don’t live up to the ideal. I don’t pass out, but I confess to going to sleep most nights after a few glasses of wine. Ara, I don’t know about natural, certainly compulsive.

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