the tramp - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The tramp knew the fine taste of caviar. He knew the feel of an eider-down pillow and the frustration of tardy room-service. He was more than familiar with the soft wine-coloured interior of a brand new Jaguar and his skin was more weathered by the tanning of foreign holidays than life on the streets of London. But now his largest piece of real estate was a borrowed patch of concrete layered with cardboard boxes outside of the Liberty Store on Regents street. He was moved on every morning but by closing time he was back. It was here he used to shop with his mother as a boy, he could almost see her standing outside the towering tudor revival building flushed with the excitement of a new purchase. His shabby overcoat had been bought in a fancy store not far from where he now lay and underneath it was an expensive suit. At the winter shelter they had offered to replace it with a warmer sweater and jeans. He'd looked at them aghast and asked "Then what would I greet my customers in?"
No matter how busy Tottenham Court Road got, the tramp was never jostled or pushed. It was the only time he felt more visible than the average citizen, not blending into the drab pavement. There was no-one who cared if his next breath would be his last. No-one who was concerned if he was eating right, or if he ate at all. Those days were long gone. If he could get alcohol he took it. It helped to anaesthetize his mind. He could still smell them burning sometimes, his son, his daughter, his wife. Even when there was no smoke around he could smell it. And then he would hear their screams and see flames licking at his skin. His medications used to help with that, but he had no doctor now. Even if he were to go to a hospital he didn't think it likely they'd help. Somehow he'd ceased to be human. He'd lost hope of ever communicating that behind the grime and the stench and the tattered clothing he was still Paul Richards, still somebody, still feeling, just broken.
The tramp had never really stood a chance. Born to a drug-addled mother in the inner-city backstreets she had been ignored at best, abused at worst. A full belly was an alien notion to her and she hadn't a clue that her body belonged only to her. People had always just taken what the wanted and it never occurred to her that things could be any other way. She was aware that other people had better lives, jobs, homes, families; but no clue that her humanity alone was enough to qualify her for the same level of respect. She was illiterate, dirty and walked with down-cast eyes trying to avoid the judgemental glances, fleeting though they were. She walked with a hobble, a sharp blow with a broom stick had snapped both tibia and fibula as a toddler and they had healed at an awkward angle. She often snuffled though blocked sinuses and her white blonde hair lay in filthy dread-locks about her face. Today as she checked garbage for left overs she began to wonder if she had a name.
The tramp had ingrained dirt on his frown line.His nails were filled with grit.His jacket was long and shabby as it trailed on the floor.
The man and his life seem to have departed on separate tracks sometime ago, but it's hard to tell who gave up on who first. He walks like his bones are only loosely connected, shoulders moving like potatoes in a sack with every heavy footfall. His clothes aren't badly fitting but the dirt is apparent even from a distance. His eyes never leave the sidewalk and as he passes there is a mumbling of bitter words spat more than spoken and the smell of whiskey. I try to imagine him as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teen. This life is just a day at a time, but somehow all of his days lead him to being human surplus: unregarded, unrequired, unvalued.