“You’re a cheeky chappie, aintcha? aintcha?. Yessiree, a cheeky, creepy chappie. No doubt about it. Butcha love me, doncha, doncha. Couldn’t live without me, could ya? Can’t live with me neither, can ya? Ha, ha, ha.” Mad Mary Muldoon pottered about her camp. Talking non-stop to her husband Tommy. Of course, Tommy never listens. It’s not his fault though. A few too many in Finn’s bar, a patch of black ice and wham bam, thank you, ma’am, Tommy’s upside down in a ditch, neck broke. That was nigh on twenty years ago. That made no difference to Mary, she still spoke with him, all day, every day.
Mary never drank before Tommies sudden demise. It was after the funeral that her sister Lizzy pushed a shot of whiskey on her. “For your spirits, you know, Help to keep you going through the day, you know” Everything was ‘You know’ with Lizzy. She wasn’t far wrong though. The demon drink had kept Mary going through many a day and many a cold night ever since. Of course that was before she lost the house. That was before she lost her kids. That was before she lost almost everything she had.
These days, Mary lived on Blue Meths. Whiskey was for folks with money, not the likes of her.
The noonday Sun beat down on Mary’s weather beaten body as she pottered about, ranting and raving at Tommy. The yellow pallor of liver disease showed below the dark tanned leather of her skin. Jaundiced eyes, darted left and right, on the alert for anyone tempted to rob from her trolley. Fleas and lice fought for space on her scalp, hiding in tufts of brittle white hair.
Today was Monday. Monday was cleaning day and Mary retreated into the shade of her lean-to. Made from scrap packing crates, insulated with discarded plastic bags, held in place with old car tyres. This was Mary’s castle, her home and her refuge. Inside was neat and tidy. “Everything in it’s place, and a place for everything. That’s what I say, Tommy,” she says to herself. Neat and tidy, maybe. A bunk bed in one corner, a table fashioned from dumpster pickings, a chair salvaged from the same dumpster, boxes and boxes of books stacked to one side and more boxes stacked on the other side, full of junk for sale someday, maybe. Her cot-bed was made as perfectly as a soldier's, but the covers were threadbare and filthy. God knows how many years had passed since they’d been touched by soap or water.
Pride of place in the shack, right beside the table, stood an old music stand. It reminded Mary of the glory days, of the days when she was soloist with The Royal Philharmonic. Now it held an antique photo=frame, displaying a picture of Mary, dressed in an exquisite, hand embroidered silk gown, Tommy beside her in his dress suit. Taken on the night of her first solo, with Tommy conducting.
Sweet memories flow through her mind, as she pulls her blue feather duster from it’s place, under the bed. At the end of her chores Mary sinks into her bed. Too tired to read, Mary takes one last swig of Meth, and closes her eyes to dream of days past. She sleeps with a contented smile, as if she knows that tonight is her last night alone. Tonight her journey ends.