Donald Twimbly would loiter at the end of the street I grew up on, a few paces from the vandalized kiosk, a good arm’s length from a dirty puddle, and equidistance from the sweet wrapper and the chocolatey mound of dog shit.
The old Bassett hound with a gimp and balls the size of Mars’ orbiting moons would howl when he saw Twimbly and bite the nearest small child. Windows would fly open and lace would flutter in torrid twists. Sparrows would descend like pestilence and fly off like a godsend. The bus would lurch and a pimply lad with no hope of a sex life would knock up against the neighborhood slut. A taxi would whiz pass and toss a severed hand into the nettles. (Nobody would retrieve it because of the rash.) The Intercity 125 would be late again and my dad would wait alone on the platform and think about my mum’s hands in his hair — she was a hairdresser.
Only I was privileged to see what Donald Twimbly clasped in his hands. In one he squeezed Dickens’ Great Expectations. In the other a gun.
He was dead by the time I unlatched the gate.