I almost stumbled the whole way up the street to the door of number 5. The long starved legs teetered under the weight of my heavy heart as it all came to me at once. I was finally home, and at that moment I realised that I was sincerely coming home. Until that point I hadn't really considered the ramifications of my decision. The journey was a struggle, it obsessed attention in itself so I'd not the time to plan on the way. I only set out upon it because I was hundreds of miles away with nowhere else to go. Here through fatalism, not direction. There were other places nearer, but none that would have me. It had become the one part of the world unbarred and I realised I'd been neglectful of that great kindness offered by people that love me and my lifting heart yearned but feared to see them.
If it hadn't been for the crippling hunger I may have turned that day and felt the time for coming home wasn't then. I'd always dreamed of a triumphant return in wealth, dropping fivers in a suit made from pound coins but here, now that past dreaming day was upon me I stood unmasked the man I am, a beggar in his last pair of trousers.
But how that hunger drove me. Weak sugary tea and brown sauce on toast were all I had dreamed in the months on a road, and now so close, the first step towards humanity. See my Dad, find out about Mum, track down Clive, have an egg. With salt.
I paused before the door, catching breath to compose myself and delay the moment. The doorbell of five Elmhill Drive sounded announcing my final arrival despite the cruel machinations of history and geography. It was to be the happiest I was in all that year and I was lit up by a feeling that lasted only about twenty seconds.
The same old door was opened by a fat wee fella in a semen stained tracksuit and flip flops. Now I'm the kind of man who always goes with his gut, unfortunately my gut was in a state of stunned shock, which I regret now of course.
'Who the fuck are you?'
'What do you mean 'Who the fuck am I?' You're the one one knocking my fucking door.'
'Do you live here then?'
'No. I'm just here waiting for a bus, what the fuck do you think?
'How long have you lived here then?'
'Two years mate.'
'Two years eh? Shit. Look I used to live here, long time ago now, longer that I thought as it turns out, and I'm sorry to harass you in this fashion. I was very rude, I apologise. I'm looking for my Dad you see. Is there a forwarding address or phone number or anything. Please mate, I need this. I need to see my family.
My words had strong effect upon him and I felt my plea had awoken pity in that stout man's soul and he seemed to barely quiver, hoped with tears but in fact with rage. I'd completely misread the reaction. He went very red in the face and spat each word like a nailgun.
'Your family used to live here eh?'
'Grew up here mate.'
'Are you the bastards who pulled the chimney out?'
'That's us. Why do you need the tarp changing?'
'You dirty fucking bastards.'
'Sure you've a nerve calling anyone a dirty bastard when you're answering the door with spunk all down your trousers.'
After that he just snapped. He threw the left at me and with my prizefighter instincts I just leaned back a bit but he over extended and went falling on his face. He couldn't plant himself properly for the blow since he was wearing flip flops you see so the back foot just went from under him. A foolish shoe and all should learn a lesson from this. No wise person has any business being in a flip plop.I back pedalled nimbly on my sensible tennis shoe to remove myself from the path of his descent but he must have hit the side of his head against my knee accidentally on the way down so he fell funny and cracked the nut off the doorstep.
Blood started pissing all over the place and my trousers from the knee down got covered in the stuff. Then a wee fat woman in a pink tracksuit appeared at the back of the hall. I assume from the shared relaxed hygiene it was his wife, although if you'd told me she was his sister I'd have believed you. I don't know how these people find each other but I'm glad they do. She had a ceramic horse in one hand and a cordless phone in the other, hard to say which one I was more afraid of. Screeching like a diving hawk she shrieked 'You get away from my Alfie,' and launched this pottery stallion right for my head, which very unfortunately fell short and shattered across the back of Alfie's skull as he was trying to get back to his feet.
'I'm calling the fucking police. You wait. Nine, nine, nine.'
I tried to calm her, 'Madam, there is no need to involve the police in this.' I was about to go over to reassure her of my innocent role in this misunderstanding when a passing train of thought pulled me up at a mental level crossing. Husband bleeding on the doorstep? Strange man at the door and coming towards her with blood on his trainers? If I was in her place this would be the most reasonable time ever to phone the police. Situations like this is what phoning the police was invented for. I also noticed a bloody tooth knocked out of someone's jaw who wasn't me and felt expensive dentists would be soon be involved in the aftermath of this fracas along with accusations of trespass, assault, and battery.
I ran. Like Hell. I left Elmhill Drive the same way I had last time. Running from imminent police interest. I ran till my lungs burned ducking into gardens, every siren coming for me. I ran up Fortwilliam, through Lansdowne, to hide in the bracken of the forest at Cavehill. In the fine tradition of the outlaws and vagabonds of my ancestors and their accomplices for thousands of years or more.