Burglary at Constantine Court
By Max Dunbar
Location: Salford Crescent
Dubious T lies in the tangled humidity of his bed at half twelve on a Friday afternoon. He is not, naturally, an early riser. Even hearing the others go to work is irritating. Can take a little while to go back under. And that fucking light from the car park keeps him awake.
Tom normally rises – if that’s the word for this grudging abandonment of sleep’s possibilities – about two. Today must be different. George will be here at half five, Alan might be back even earlier. Say this for Carrack, he does have the capacity for surprise.
It is the sixth of June, and summer has officially begun. He looks out onto the dappled tarmac of the car park underneath his window. But Tom’s mood doesn’t match the weather. For long now he’s been feeling a prickly resentment, coupled with a nagging fear and frustration.
Which begins at the bathroom mirror. There are lines on his forehead that cannot possibly be his. A spatter of crow’s nest around the eyes, and two nasty dope-coldsores that turn every yawn into half a scream. The skin itself has a sallow, unhealthy look, perhaps due to lack of exposure to the air.
Loads of munchiefood downstairs, not much of it his. George goes to the supermarket every week but Tom hasn’t put in for a while. Got into a row with Carrack, that twat, because he’d eaten his chicken drummers. Carrack said he’d break Tom’s jaw. Tom would have thought, if Carrack was a high-flying reporter like he acted, a few chicken drummers would be nothing to him. Accused me of nicking his wine when I hadn’t touched it. Carrack and his suits and the voices of his women in the night.
It’s his last meal here, so he makes the most of it; a massive fry up with eggs, bacon, beans, mushroom and toast, plus what’s left of George’s Cumberland sausages and Alan’s sun-dried tomatoes. Stick the plate and pan in the sink – Alan could take care of that shit.
Runs up and gets his Nike rucksack. Packs the tin of hot dogs, some of George’s ready meals, packets of pasta, bottles of Corona, cans of beans. Most of it will keep, and hopefully he’ll be near a fridge soon.
There is a cubbyhole in the bedroom that provides good storage space. Yet most of his wardrobe hasn’t been unpacked from when he moved in, what was it – two weeks, three weeks? Tom’s sense of chronology is not good.