Dear Howard

Dear Howard

Tuesday the 17th March

What a nice old man. I’ve seen him before I’m sure, the last time dear Howard left me waiting outside for so long – last Thursday maybe? Turns out he lives in one of the flats opposite Howard’s. I was worried that he’d think I was a weirdo or something, sitting all quiet on my lonesome atop that crusty old bench beneath the broken lamppost but the way he spoke to me today, he’s a good egg. Offered me a drink. Told me I reminded him of his son. He was rather adorable with his fuzzy white forest of a beard and salmon-pink face, just a shame that I’ve completely forgotten his name now.
Unfortunately, that was just about the highlight of my day. Howard didn’t show up in the end, no idea why. I was there on time, four on the dot. Left home nice and early just to make sure, it wasn’t my fault this time. I gave it until seven, then popped to the newsagent at the end of the street for a bottle of coconut water (they don’t seem to sell it anywhere near my place) followed by another couple of hours on the bench before I called it a day. That stupid fat lady with the stupid fat dog was out again. She saw me and gave me that funny look she always gives me, and that was it, I had to get out of there. Who knows why he didn’t show? Maybe he’s not well. Maybe his bastard boss kept him late. It’s not like I could have just texted him to find out. Annoying. I had a feeling today was going to be unlucky, too. Well, more unlucky than usual. (Dear God, I sound so depressing sometimes!)
Ok, it wasn’t a complete washout. It’s finally, finally feeling like spring and that is always good. I’ll be able to spend more than ten minutes outdoors without feeling like I’ll die from hypothermia. Plus I’ll be able to walk much more often instead of taking that chariot from hell people call a bus. I should learn to drive soon -driving will keep me from having to deal with people like that walrus of a bus driver. Charming fellow needs a good slap. Honestly I feel like losing all hope for humanity sometimes, but then I remember there are people like Howard in the world. And that sweet old man. Yes! Another good thing about today – I actually met another decent human being. That’s more like it. Positive thoughts lead to positive experiences. Let us just pray that they don’t take too long to happen.
As for me, I’ll try my best to make one of those positive experiences be a day when my dedication pays off. With any luck I’ll be seeing you soon, dear Howard. I hope I will. For both of our sakes.

Monday the 23rd March

Success! About bloody time! And I thought for sure today was going to be another disappointment as well; I was running super late due to a job interview I had to go to (which went disastrously, of course, not that I want to work at a poxy café anyway) and after that my pit-stop to Tescos found me stuck behind some senile old sod that took a lifetime to find enough coppers to pay for his microwave curry. That put me into one of my “this could only happen to me” moods as it was already near dark by the time I arrived at my usual perching post. I’d no doubt have arrived a lot sooner if I jogged there but that would have made me look like an idiot.
So there I was. Dark, cold, tired, frustrated, ready to accept defeat yet again. So much so that I barely noticed the slender, well-dressed figure of a man carrying a black rubbish bag and casually tossing it into the tenants’ skip. As he passed underneath a rare street light that wasn’t broken, I made out his features, sharp and chiselled. Howard. In the flesh, dear Howard. I stood up. He must have seen me. He gave the road one last glance before he retreated inside so he must have seen me. Magnificent bastard. He even uses tie-handle bin liners, just like me! I stood there, straight and still for a moment, savouring my small victory. I didn’t care who saw me, even if that cow with the fat dog waddled past it wouldn’t stop me. Hell, right then I could have even kissed her. Maybe.
After it all sunk in came the question; what now? I couldn’t just leave, could I? I considered knocking on the door. I have no idea what number his flat is but I’m sure I’d have found it eventually. It was probably the warmest and most luxurious one in the whole block, too. We would have had some coffee together, maybe even a beer or two. But, alas, that constant annoyance known as “reality” set in and I realised that he’d never actually have invited this scruffy looking creature into his home. Not yet, anyway. Baby steps. I’ll finally speak to him one day very soon. I turned round there and then and marched all the way home with a newfound energy that made me feel more alive than I have since before I can truly recall.
A little celebratory drink and then it’ll be off to bed for me. But I’m already planning my next move. It is just unfortunate that I can’t pay a proper visit to my lookout spot for a little while after today. My Mother has been a bit under the weather, nothing serious I’m sure, but still, she needs me around to be a nurse of sorts. I’m usually useless with that kind of thing, but she doesn’t have anyone else, how can I say no? Perhaps some time off from this will do me good. Fresh perspective and all that. Besides, spending that much time just standing on a street corner can’t be that healthy. And it’s dangerous too – who knows what kind of sickos are prowling the streets at night? I know all this is just a means to an end – and when the end feels as good as tonight does it is completely worth it – but I’m not getting any younger. I have to start thinking of the future. Our future.
See you soon, Howard.

Saturday 28th March

Keeping away is difficult. It looks like my Mother has more than just a touch of flu so I’ve been running around trying to help her in any way I can but save for some lemon tea and the odd trip to the pharmacy I don’t have much to offer. It only makes me feel more powerless. That’s all I need right now.
Mother, bless her, she can see something is wrong with me. Yesterday after I stopped by to make her some chicken soup – tried to make her some chicken soup, it ended up more like chicken water – I almost told her everything. I sat on that crinkly old leather sofa of hers watching one of those soppy programmes she likes on the telly with her and I thought of telling her. There was so much kindness in her eyes. She always was the only one who understood me. I’d hate for her to worry, though. And I’d hate for her to blame herself. It isn’t her fault her son is a sad, repugnant, useless excuse for a human being.
Time for a change. Change is hard and scary, and I’m the only one who can do it, but I need to. For him and me. Damn it, why couldn’t life come with instructions? I’d even settle for those condescending Ikea-type instructions with those way too happy stickmen.
I’m sorry for being weak, dear Howard. We’ll both be happy soon.

Friday the 10th May

Fucking fuming! Is this travesty all that I worked so hard for?
It was like a nightmare. The selfish pig keeps me waiting here for five hours like I’m a bit of rubbish on the side of the road only to casually stroll in at near midnight with a girl on his arm? I can’t be the only one that finds that sick and wrong. I felt like a total fool, must have looked like one too because that nosey old man with the dirty beard kept asking me what was wrong and insisted on small talk even though I clearly wasn’t in the mood. And how many times can I turn down a cup of his coffee before he gets the message? The stuff tastes like foot juice. My fault for being nice to the old git before. Damn it all.
It isn’t as though I haven’t still been trying, either. I’ve been distracted over the past few weeks, I admit, but I still make an effort when I can. Just last week I waited at the train station, that one that smells of frying onions. I know he walks home from there when it’s nice out, so I waited there for him. Surely enough I saw him, and he saw me. Well, looked at me. Trouble with public spaces is that there are always so many people. So he looked right through me just like everyone does. It was like I was just a face in the crowd to him, but I know that I should be – will be – much more.
And then there is this girl! While I’m sitting there twiddling my freezing thumbs, she’s wining and dining him without a care. What has she done to earn the honour? She must have a hell of a personality because it can’t be her looks that impressed him, no matter how much of that clumpy fake tan she smothers herself with. She isn’t his type at all. He can do so much better than that camel-faced witch. I hate her. And I know it’s her fault they stayed out so late! Howard never likes to get home after the pubs close, that’s when all the pissheads are about. She’s corrupting him, and I can’t have that. I hate her. I hope she chokes on a chicken bone. It’s her that should be coughing up blood, not my Mother.
As for Howard; I am disappointed in him, but I can’t bring myself to hate him. And the thing is, maybe I should. I thought I hated him once, at the very beginning. In the days after he made a fool out of me in front of everyone without even breaking stride … then I wished he was dead. But once that red mist lifted I realised I didn’t hate him, of course, I didn’t, I was an idiot for even thinking I did. He and I were cut from the same cloth. Kindred Spirits In another lifetime we could have been brothers, twins even. That is exactly why I’m so pissed off. How dare this new slag come in between our happiness?
I suppose I shouldn’t feel too crestfallen. Failure is nothing new to me. I just wanted it to be different this time. I worked so bloody hard for it to be different. No. Maybe this is it, the wake-up call. “Everything happens for a reason” and all that cliché shit. I can’t make a difference to his life even though I have the right to. I earned it long ago. He’s happy right now.
But should he be? Perhaps that is one area of his life I can change if I try a different strategy. Yes. Didn’t a wise man say that it is better to be feared than loved? Maybe that is the reason for all these failures. There’s hope for us yet. Maybe. But then again what do I know? I’m just a weirdo standing on a street corner.

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