The Wooden Man James Trebilco

There he is again, sitting on his own with only his drink for comfort. Contemplating on how he was going to make the world a better place. He could have been a piece of furniture. His brown eyes could have been knots in the wooden strut. The wooden strut that supported the inn had been beaten, worn slowly down, getting thinner and weaker, soon to collapse, this was a mirror image of him. He was fed up with his life, for the whole time he was on the greedy planet he had supported people and they were to lead to his subsidence.

The wrinkly skin on the decrepit arms was like the grooves that had been carved into the wood by the local drone of people. His tanned skin was a reflection of the emotional dirt that had darkened him as the beach had now changed to an oak remnant. The odour he possessed wasn’t recognisable against the reek of the place. His wallet after every night is as empty and worthless as he feels, he tries shamefully to conceal the contents of it when he opens it, and with a hopeful depending face he examines closely the bare fold of the broken brown leather.

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Then his eyes slowly sink as the sun setting on a hard day, the expression on his face is sickening you can see and feel his sadness. Wherever he sits darkness seems to follow him, his presence only brightened by the dim, mundane blue coloured light that is given out by the beer tap logos. The woodenness of his being by booze has regurgitated itself by rotting him away from the inside out with only the shell of a human left.

The old pieces of cloth that he wears, a sorry excuse for clothes are bound tight, stuck to his body by sweat. The cold stare, the analysing look he gives any person entering the pub, happy and merry could have extinguished a fire. Even with the claden clothes he shivers and shakes with the draft. His scar on his cheek, a reminder of his prime, the bar and his scar are the only memories he carries with him. Everyday since he was 47 has he drowned himself. I remember how in ’64 this began.

I was the one that introduced the innocent boy, with his whole life in front of him, to the demonic liquid. Yes, I know he was a weak person, he always had been, the runt of the litter. One of the scary things is that I could have ended up like that insignificant wreak. It was only for a bit of fun, he was cut off from the outside world he came back from WW2 suffering from shock, his friends slowly lost interest in him. He wouldn’t speak. He is still in shock. Come on” I pleaded to him. I thought that this would get him back on his feet. As I strolled into the pub with my head up and a smile he cautiously, walked through with his head down, not daring to look at anyone, and sat down next to me looking like a scared child just about to be beaten. I asked for two whiskeys on the rocks, they were served to us in crystal glasses with thick bases and thin sharp rims. I took mine in a shot but he sipped his like he was drinking poison.

He pointed to the bottle it had been poured from and so I ordered another. This time he took is like mine, but afterwards coughed. He seemed to have a more confident air about him now but still unsure. That was then, 36 years ago. He came into the pub every evening from then on still drinking the same old malt. Every now and again he will glance over at me and look at me as if he never knew me. The sapling that sprouted in the pub so many years ago has now become part of the wooden world he belongs to.