Written by Mike Davies
Every morning the sun would rise, along with a fresh hope that he and Bob would find refuge. A hope that would prove futile because, like it or not, he had become invisible: Hector did not exist in society. He had become a statistic; a stain the world wished could be washed away.
On a day like any other, the traffic whizzed by, as did the people, either totally unaware of his existence or doing that half-looking-away-thing, with the feeling of utter disgust and contempt at the bundle of rags lying in the doorway. Bob got more sympathy than he did; the love for our four-legged friends had superseded the love for our fellow humans. Hector often wondered if ever there was a time when we loved each other more than animals. He thought probably not.
A very kind passer-by had left a hot coffee on the pavement next to him while he slept. It was Bob tugging on his lead that woke him, he got out of his sleeping bag, grabbed his coffee and took Bob for his morning walk, as he also needed to pee. He left his belongings (the few that there were) and strolled around the corner where it was quiet. Once they had both relieved themselves, Hector had his usual rummage in the wheelie bins for any edible food that had been thrown out.
He lifted Bob into the bin, Bob's nose was amazing. Bob managed to find a couple of sausages, a lovely piece of fish and a few cold, hard chips - the local takeaway's leftovers from the night before. He grabbed Bob's lead and pulled up a black shiny leather holdall from the grease-stained newspapers, and a smelly old pair of boots. His excitement grew at the thought of the bag's contents; clean clothes, new shoes, perhaps even food. Any of these things would be an amazing find. All hail Super Bob and his amazing nose!
He took Bob and the bag out of the bin and placed both on the floor, The tension was unbearable as he quickly looked around in case anyone was watching. He slowly unzipped the bag. His heart stopped briefly then kicked in again with an almighty thud, he quickly zipped up the bag and knelt in disbelief. What had he just seen?
So shocked by the contents of the leather bag that he hadn't noticed that Bob had polished off both sausages, and was halfway through the fish (even Bob wouldn't eat the chips though). His heart pounded as he grabbed the bag. He headed off somewhere safe to re-examine its contents. His head was spinning and he felt nauseous. He managed to find a park bench to sit on. Not a soul around, he thought. Hector placed the bag on the bench next to him, had a good look around, and with trembling hands, he unzipped the bag.
The whole world seemed to stop as he looked inside. His brain had no idea what to do with the information it was receiving. Earlier, the first time Hector had looked inside the bag by the bin, he swore that he saw rolled up bank notes inside it - thousands of Pounds worth. But now, as he looked through the bag's contents, there was no money. He put his trembling hand inside and felt around, hoping that the money had slipped to the bottom. He grabbed something and took it out, What he saw in front of him was a rolled up pair of football socks. He threw the socks over his shoulder and frantically searched the bag, each item he pulled out went flying; red and black football top, black shorts, boots, and an unopened packet of condoms.
Hector sat on the park bench with Bob by his side. Bob tilted his head and looked at him quizzically. With total confusion Hector stared in the empty bag. He felt sick and at that point lurched forward and vomited.
He sat upright and wiped the sick from his face onto his sleeve, and looked in the bag again; no rolled up banknotes - nothing. At that moment three young men approached him shouting obscenities. It appeared that the sports bag belonged to one of them. Hector tried to explain he had found it in a bin but to no avail. Bob strained at his lead and barked furiously at the antagonistic young men, one of whom went to grab Hector. Bob would have none of it and jumped off the bench to snap at the young man's ankles. In the confusion, Hector seized the opportunity. He pulled Bob away, left the bag, and ran as fast as he could.
Hector hadn't run since secondary school and it showed. Nearly falling over his own feet, he kept running and didn't dare look over his shoulder. Bob was still yapping and trying desperately to pull away and go back. Bob's lead suddenly went slack as he wriggled free from his leash, and off he went. Hector stopped, turned around in a panic, and saw Bob stood at the base of a tree, barking.
Hector could see the park bench he had recently vacated. he could see is own breath turning to vapour like a fog cloud in front of his face, but nothing else. Why was Bob barking up a tree? Where had the three youths gone? He had clearly heard footsteps behind him. But in his right hand was the leather holdall. He was sure he had left it behind. Hector was so confused. Was he beginning to lose his mind? After all, he had been homeless for quite a while now with only Bob and his inner demons to talk to. Bob stared at his crazy friend and sat down on the grass. Tears welled in Hector's eyes and he sobbed. He'd had enough of this lifestyle but just couldn't get a break. He wondered if it wasn't time to just end this pathetic existence right now. It wasn't the first time this had crossed his mind, after all no one would miss him.
The trouble with Hector Blake was, he brought this all on himself. He had been a successful business man, he'd worked in the city, he'd had every thing he could have wished for. Until one drunken night when he did the unthinkable.
Hector had been single all his life, well he'd never been tied down anyway; plenty of girlfriends, and once engaged but no relationship lasted more than a year or so. On one of his weekly trips to see his brother it happened. His brother's Wife had been coming on to him for some time. Hector always noticed but never succumbed. On this unfortunate occasion he did. He committed a cardinal sin. It wasn't love-making but it was a passionate affair, a passion he had never felt before. It was fun at first, then, as time went on, he fell in love with her. Hector always wondered whether she felt the same. The 'L' word, though, was never mentioned by either of them: a dirty, unspoken word. Their relationship was built purely on sex, and plenty of it. He couldn't fall in love with her, it would kill his brother. That's if his brother didn't kill him first.
Hector's brother, Dennis, had come home early one day to find his beloved wife and his brother draped over the tumble drier. She was leaning over while Hector took her from behind. Dennis was a short fat man - his own description of himself. It often made life easier to make a joke of it. Hector was the complete opposite: fairly tall, slim, good-looking, everything his brother wasn't.
The rutting couple were so engrossed in each other that the arrival of Dennis had gone completely unnoticed. He froze on the spot, he stood staring at the sweaty, grunting couple, wondering why she never let him do that. Surely this wasn't happening, they'd been married for over twenty years. He could feel his blood boiling, the red mist appeared and he grabbed Hector's hair and pulled him off his beautiful wife, Hector stumbled backwards , slipped and landed on the floor. Dennis grabbed something off the table and knelt by his side. She screamed and spun around to the sight of Dennis holding his brother's penis in one hand and a large knife in the other.
Hector took a beating that day. He took the beating simply because he knew he was wrong, he knew he had lost his brother for all time, there was no going back. Ever.
Dennis did spare him his penis though, although Hector will bear the scar on his cheek for eternity. Dennis had to leave some sort of mark on him. The pain of seeing them together was unbearable and he saw them "at it ", every time he closed his eyes. The bastard and the slut; as he couldn't bring himself to say their names, set up house together shortly after. It didn't last long as her guilt was too much for her to live with, eventually they separated. He had no idea what happened to her after that, he didn't care either.
Dennis became very insular after the divorce, he lived on his own and developed a kind of hatred towards women, he would use and abuse them at every opportunity. Meanwhile, Hector tried on many occasions to talk to his brother, to somehow make amends, but Dennis never replied to his calls or text messages, he had lost everything and everyone he cared for.
Hector found it very hard to come to terms with how his life had panned out, to the point that he suffered with heavy depression, anxiety, and panic attacks over the stupidest things. That feeling of being completely lost, totally out of control of his emotions, was beginning to show. The anger was the worst. It scared him a little too.
One day, someone jokingly remarked on his greying hair and ever-growing laughter lines. He instantly snapped, and punched his co-worker square on the nose. After showing no remorse, his boss had no option but to fire him. Now he had no brother, no friends, and no job. His world was crumbling around him.
Over the next couple of years things got increasingly worse for Hector. Failure to keep up with mortgage payments meant that his home was repossessed. As a car seemed an unnecessary luxury, he sold it just to make sure he could eat. Before long, he found himself homeless. He didn't care much either; his opinion was that life had fucked him over, none of it was his fault. He blamed his brother for coming home early that day, he blamed the slut for making him wait twenty minutes so she could finish her sudoku puzzle (she was addicted to puzzles, nothing, not even sex, came between her and her puzzles) but never was it his fault. It was the only way he could deal with what had happened. Being angry with someone else was easier than admitting the truth.
That was Hector's life now, sleeping rough, with a stray dog he had befriended, and bemoaning his luck, or lack of it. After all he'd been through, he seriously needed some luck. The leather holdall was the best thing he'd found since becoming homeless and he had no idea what was happening to him, or why he was hallucinating.
Bob had stopped barking and wandered back over to comfort his distraught human, he looked up lovingly at him, and sat down wagging his tail, with that ever quizzical look on his face. People were walking past, looking at Bob but not him, their gaze purposely avoiding the shambles of a man sitting on the grass. He wondered at that moment whether life could get any worse, he looked down at his crotch to see a large wet patch. It was all too much for him. He stood up, almost as if in slow motion, and at the top of his voice he shouted, 'FUUUCK OFF '.
Hector Blake had lost control. The waste bin was the first thing to get it. He pulled it from its protective cage and threw it as hard as he could. Days worth of rotting banana skins, bags of dog shit, and newspapers were strewn all over the grass. A group of teenagers playing football stopped and thought that this, watching Hector standing in the middle of the field screaming at the top of his voice, was the funniest sight ever.
By now Bob had run and cowered in the bushes, his human had broken down. Bob just stood watching as Hector ran towards the laughing teenagers. They started to taunt the crazy old tramp. He wasn't that old though, but with his wizened face he looked like a bag of bones. His lifestyle added at least ten years to his features. As he approached, still hollering, he went up to one of the lads and shouted, 'It's all your fault, if you'd have loved her she wouldn't have wanted me!' he gave a sort of hysterical laugh. 'She was good though, you fat bastard, I only gave her what you couldn't!'
The young lad nonchalantly pushed him away, 'Sort yourself out, man,' he said 'you're a fucking mess.'
As Hector staggered and fell to the ground, Bob decided enough was enough. He charged over and bit the young lad on the ankle. He tried to shake Bob off but couldn't. Then he gave one hard kick to Bob's kidney's and Bob let go and landed right next to where Hector was sat. Poor Bob was lying next to his feet. With tears in his eyes he shouted Bob's name. Bob's eyes flickered briefly. He let out a whimper, his legs began to twitch, and then his short life ended
You could hear the boys shouting at each other, panicked. Hector could hear them but they sounded far away, almost like he was underwater. The muffled shouting became louder as his fogged brain cleared. He tried to get up but felt a weakness in his legs. He sat on the grass with Bob by his side, his breathing had become shallow and for the second time that day he vomited.
He began sweating profusely, one of the young lads stood over him. 'Hey, are you alright mate?'
He tried desperately to answer, but couldn't speak, then he felt a crushing pain right across the centre of his chest. He could feel himself drifting in and out of consciousness, pretty dancing lights flew across his vision, almost like a deathly Aurora. It was like a dream state or an out of body experience, he was looking down on himself, he could see people hovering over him trying desperately to revive his lifeless body. Then there was silence. As he looked down, there was just a husk, an empty vessel that was once full of life - his life. Darkness surrounded him and he ascended.
The trouble with Hector Blake was he was human, with human emotions and human weaknesses, making human mistakes. He paid the ultimate price for his frailties. Was it fair? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing was for sure, Hector Blake was no more.