Was on the way back to the car when an old woman asked: ‘Can I get a taxi from here?’
There was a patch on her head. Some injury. A fall, maybe. I said: ‘I don’t know, it says taxi on the road, but…’
‘Does it? I can’t see properly.’ She said.
‘There’s taxis over there, the far side.’
I put up my hand, hailed one. He rolled down the window, shook his head, pointed to his side of the street, then to mine, and shouted: ‘Can’t go there!’
We’ll walk down here, I said to her, see how we get on.
That’s when the fella with the rosary beads arrived. ‘Excuse me,’ he said. ‘Are you from the area?’
He was holding some kinda prayer book. ‘Great.’ He said. ‘I have a big problem.’
‘Good for you, I’ve to go.’
He was in a grey tracksuit. Bloodshot eyes. White flakes on his lips. Torn runners. Black nails. ‘You don’t understand.’ He said. ‘My sister….’
‘You’re grand thanks.’
‘My sister is schizophrenic, and she needs medical attention.’
‘I’m not a doctor….’
He blessed himself and put his hands together. ‘But if you had some money, some change, just…..the lord, our saviour would be able to help….if…”
‘You’re grand, thanks.’
‘You’re grand, are ya?’
‘You don’t give a fuck, is that it?’
He stormed off.
The old lady was back now. I’d forgotten about her. She was holding a picture in her hand, asked: ‘Did you drop this?’
It was an old polaroid.
Drenched in sepia. From some time in the 80’s. There were three kids sitting on a torn couch in a pub. They had no shoes and their feet were dirty.
The table in front of them was pouplated with half bottles of coke and empty bags of tayto.
A man with a moustache was there too. Grinning at the camera with a missing front tooth. Looked a bit like Pablo Escobar.
‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s not mine anyway. We’ll see can we get you a taxi down here, c’mon.’
We walked on down. Buses roared to the right. Traffic grinding and beeping. People in a hurry on their way home from work, the air charged with impatience.
We found the taxi rank. A taxi arrived. Got the old woman loaded up and kept going.
My own car was across the road. Through the pedestrian crossing.
Was opening the boot when an ambulance arrived.
The drivers got out and pulled open the back door.
There was a fella inside looking confused. Mid twenties. Red hair. Dried blood on his neck. They helped him down. Blue jeans, black shirt.
‘Lads, what’s the story?’ He said to them.
‘We’re letting you out here.’
‘Why’s that lads? Gimme something for the road will ye?’
They ignored him, like they’d heard all this before.
Then he fell down and started having a seizure.
Legs kicking, eyes apoplectic, arms rigid.
No one seemed too concerned.
The ambulance drove off.
There was a car growling behind me now. Someone looking for the space.