Ragamuffin Remembrances – Dead Deer

Ragamuffin Remembrances

I was adored once, too.” Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Twelve Night

The familiar sting of heat on his gnarled fingers as he pulled the well-used teabag from the chipped enamel mug on his small fire. The dirty creased face, the strands of straw in his hair. Someone from the nearby village walked by and nodded a greeting as he sat on the edge of the field. This tramp fitted this idealised bucolic scene, as a cheery aproned pig fits a butcher’s window.

Transport the derelict to an urban environment, however, and we have children staring and adults moving away from this smelly, menacing street presence. A blot on the city, a blot on all of our conscious. How did this happen? How can we allow this to continue?

The answer to the latter question is easier to come by, it is political divide-and-rule policies, but the answer to the former is of more interest to us here. Let us eavesdrop into the unfortunate’s thoughts for a moment.

At this moment he was thinking of his wife, his ex-wife. When they had the children they decided he would give up work and mind them full time; What joy that time was! But once they started school he found work hard to re-enter, no one willing to take him on again.  After a few years this had a debilitating affect on him, and it was too much for her. She left. Eventually, over time, his precarious life and inability to remain close to the children led them all to drift apart. Rents increased, work became ever harder as his age continued to progress.

Of course this led to his first night out on the streets, that Rubicon crossed. It might well have been hard for him, and impossible for you, to imagine but it was all even further downhill from here.

Today I wrote from 13:54 to 14:06. I was prompted by an idea here. My other writings here. All my prompted writing here, and my tweets here

Feb 21st – Ragamuffin remembrances

February 21st – Ragamuffin remembrances

09.32-09.42

It was better when it didn’t rain.

It was always a little easier being on the streets when it was dry, and warm: winter brought cold and rain and sleet and snow, and all of these made living hard. That was when your friends disappeared, kids you played and fought and stole bread with, kids you slept alongside, huddled up together in doorways or in the tunnels under the city, or under bridges by the river where it was dry, disappeared. You never saw them again. Once they were gone, they were gone, and it was better to forget them and move on.

I was one of those children. I am one of the lucky ones. There are very few of us who made it out.

I never go back to Paris, if I can help it. If I do I feel drawn back to the same streets, my pockets full of sous, handing them out to the echoes of my past.

Monsieur, rien pour nous?

Ragamuffin voices. Urchins. Hugo’s Gavroche. I was one of them.

The memories hurt.

I am an old man now, and I see in the faces of my grandchildren as they play in my garden, chasing birds and butterflies, the faces of Pierre, of Henri, of LeMarchand, Oiseau, Colette.

Colette.

She didn’t see the spring of 1830. Colette, who had tears at the corners of her eyes, even when she smiled,, Colette who taught me to read the words she knew, who drew letters for me in the dust and showed me that there was more than just stealing bread and chasing cats. Colette named things.

Colette named me.

I watched them take her body away, tiny, on a cart, watched them drag her off through the streets as the ice cracked in the gutters under the heavy wheels. Spring was late that year, but I chased it south, walking, hitching rides with sympathetic coachmen, stealing rides from others, until I came to Aix. Where I stayed.

I worked hard. At everything. And what little I earned, I saved. I saved a man from drowning: he rewarded me with a roof, shelter, food. A home.

The home I still live in, the home with the garden where my grandchildren chase birds and butterflies, and laugh in the spring sunshine.

I still think of Colette.

I know I am the lucky one.

 

Inspired by a prompt from here