Over-Scene #1: Five Euros
by Brendan Strong
The old man lifted his foot – dirty, blackened – from the bucket.
“That’s what happens.” The younger man just nodded, scratched his beanie-hatted head, his matting beard. Itchy hair. The old man was pointing at the foot. The young man was looking at his finger, making agreeable enough noises.
They spoke across each other all the time, neither listening. The old man talked about his past, while the young described his hopes for the future. Their words drew circles around their selves, never touching another. No loves, no friends, no bosses, no lives.
They were weary, and (as the song goes), they were on the street. They had each other, but not even that. Neither saw much of use in the other, so they made suitable companions. They could talk without appearing totally mad. Although the young man knew, if you had to talk – and some times you did – you could just put your fist up to your face, and no one would notice. The old man, who spent his time pointing at his feet and talking to the scissoring legs of passers-by had long ceased to care whether he was or was not insane, much less of whether people thought so.
Another pair of leather shoes kicked over another cup of coffee. This time the culprit – professionally embarrassed – turned, saw what happened and said “My God, I’m so sorry… please, here.” He threw a fiver and walked off, rigidly. The old man and the young man looked at each other. They could share it. The old man could give it to the youth, help him along. The young man could give it to the elder, buy him some comfort. They looked at each other, then looked at the note, then saw the hand of a young lad pick it up and leg it off.
“Fuck!” said the young man, watching the escaping youngster, thinking about when he was younger, he could have caught him – but now, there was no way.
“That’s what happens” said the old man, pointing at his foot, thinking of his crippled, comfortless future.