His eyes, a clear steel-blue, dragged you in into the fear, loneliness and suffering of being. The geometry of his face was made of strong hard lines that told tales of loss and pain, so deep that you could lose yourself in them. But you couldn’t avoid coming back to those eyes and to the sadness radiating out of them, still laced with the surprise of how things had got to this, why life had dealt him the harshest of hands. It’d started with Jenny breaking up with him. Then the fight over the custody agreement terms. He’d been late a couple of times turning up to see the kids; he’d still been drunk from the night before. And before he knew it, he’d been barred from seeing them all together. He’d been drinking too much, he knew it. But that squalid room he’d taken after the split.. he just had to be drunk to make his way into that room, into that new reality, to face the emptiness of who he was becoming. He knew what would follow and it didn’t take long – he lost his supervisor job at the warehouse. He’d drank the last of his savings. He’d been waiting outside the school, hoping to steal a few moments with his boy, but little Sam seemed too embarrassed to even acknowledge him. He’d been sleeping in the streets for months now – how many he’d lost count. He stole someone’s coat. He didn’t have a sleeping bag and the nights were getting bitter cold. He woke up with a back so stiff he couldn’t move for the first minutes. He’d begged for a hot drink. For a sandwich. For some change that would get the fire back in his belly and make him forget how cold it was. He ran and he hid. He got beaten up. Again and again. He lost his warm clothes. All the money he’d made that day. He found someone that would let him share their spot – not out of kindness but two bodies are warmer than one.
Photo by Lee Jeffries.