|The man slept peacefully but noisily in his bathtub.
The sound of his snore bounced off of and around the bathroom tiles and filled the empty house. He was almost fully dressed, the bath was almost empty of water except for the cold tap dripping on to his naked feet. His snore resonated, echoing up through the steep stairwell outside the door and into his empty bedroom across the hall. This was furnished only with a mattress and a carpet of dirty clothes and rubbish. The house had four storeys. Each storey had two rooms. On the top two, both rooms were bedrooms. On the ground floor there was a kitchen and a living room. The kitchen was only called the kitchen because it had a sink and oven in it, in the same way that the bathroom was only called the bathroom because it had a bath in it. All the rooms resembled bins, the only difference being that bins don’t have doors. The bins in the rooms were in a way responsible for this similarity as they had quickly filled to capacity, the rubbish they should have contained erupting across the floor. The bathroom where the man slept and his bedroom, where he should have been sleeping, were situated on the first floor. The stinking mess that the occupants lived in filled the whole house with an odour reminiscent of school shower rooms, public toilets, and tramp breath. How it smelt was irrelevant to any of the house’s occupants when they were there, as they no longer noticed it. The smell was particularly irrelevant today, as today all the occupants would leave the house. Some would leave temporarily, some forever. The man in the bath slept. Not too far away, a church clock struck the hour of ten. The man in the bath wasn’t supposed to be in the bath. Not that any one is ever really supposed to be anywhere, but if there was somewhere this cat wasn’t meant to be, it was in a bath. He was supposed to be in a converted ice cream van driving south, out of London, out of England. He was supposed to be doing it with the two people he was squatting with, who also just happened to be his best friends. The ice cream van sat on double yellow lines outside the house quietly collecting parking tickets that no one would ever pay. The plans for its conversion consisted of simply taking his mattress and all his clothes and transferring them from the stinking room into the stinking van. He was missing two friends, and consciousness. He should have been awake. He should have been loading the ice cream van with junk. He should have been trying to remember the location of the party he had been to last night, and he should have been trying to drive there to pick his friends up. Instead he slept noisily in the bath.
The previous evening had seen the three squatters leave the house, some forever, some temporarily, to go to the pub for one last goodbye drink with a few friends. One last drink before they went home for an early night to ensure their batteries were fully charged before hitting the road early the next day. One last drink; famous last words. Only the man in the bath had returned, staggering home exhausted and drunk. He had fallen through the front door just as the sun began to rise over the city on what would turn into a hot summer’s day. The man lay horizontal and sans consciousness, cast away in his bath, floating on a sea of discarded oomska and detritus. On his hand, scrawled almost indecipherably in blue bookies biro were the words;
‘Van Stone Warlock Passport Ferry’
His alcohol and drug addled brain had managed to write them there in the last throes of consciousness it could muster. It did this in an to attempt to remind his future sober self of the monumental tasks that faced him when he awoke and regained rational thought, whatever that might be.