If you want to live on the edge of life, you need to be flexible.”
~ Kim Novak
“I just can’t do it! I can’t,” he implored. Manfred was clearly beside himself.
Holly paused to let the tension digest before replying, “Can’t you negotiate with them, Mannie?“
Manfred looked sad, then stubbornly fixed his jaw, explaining, “No, I just can’t go back. It won’t work.“
Holly decided Manfred wasn’t going to budge. It was hard to understand why he was so fixated on quitting the job he’d started just a day or two before. After all, working in a food truck was good work experience, even if the Manager had indeed abused him and rostered him on at weekends.
Holly also suspected that if Manfred quit this job, he’d find it difficult to survive and worse still, he’d lose the routine and direction he sorely needed in his life. Teenage boys with time on their hands created trouble; something Holly had witnessed with her own brothers.
“So, ah – what’s your plan now?” she ventured, after letting the silence hang for a minute.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about doing street entertainment, so I can start my own business,” Manfred began enthusiastically. “I’d love to remodel shipping containers as cheap accommodation.” “They’re portable, cheap – everyone wants one.”
“A business, hey? thought Holly. “You could call it, Home, ship, Home,” she joked.
Manfred’s face lit up, giving Holly a warm feeling inside. Since meeting Manfred on the park bench months before, she’d grown to like his confidence and enthusiasm. He’d charmed her with easy conversation and a good dose of charisma, but she knew he was dangerously impulsive. And that was worrisome.
After promises to meet again, they parted ways. Holly back to her family in the suburbs, and Manfred to who knows where. Holly wondered where he’d sleep that night. He said it was often safer to walk the streets at night and ‘crash’ in the park, when daylight came. Holly also knew on those nights, he used pills to cope with his inner demons. She resolved to find help for him, when they met again, the following week.
It was whilst clearing the dishes from Mum’s lamb casserole; the 6 o’clock news blaring in the background that Holly’s legs suddenly collapsed – her head hitting the floor.
“MAN FALLS from the CITY BRIDGE in DARING STUNT.”
When Holly came to, it was easy to forget the news story. Surely, she’d see Manfred’s smiling face again, at the end of the week.
After work on Friday, Holly rushed down to the City Bridge, anxiously looking for Manfred’s slouching figure, waiting as he did, in their usual spot.
An empty seat.
A gut wrenching, tearing despair mixed with utter hopelessness blinded her thoughts. Was Manfred really gone?
With trepidation, Holly peered over the police tape cordoning the City Bridge’s narrow railing, her throat filled with bile.
A wilted flower was forlornly tucked in the wires. As Holly pulled it out, a gum wrapper fluttered to the ground. Her heart broke as she read the words scrawled thereon:
“Home, ship Home”
Something different for Sunday Sayings this week
Appreciate and treasure the moments with others.
There isn’t always a second chance.
“The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest” – Bob Hawke