CREATIVE Joao Morais

NWR Issue 117

The Pavement Poet

It’s the last day of the month and I still have money in the bank, and I can’t help but feel that I’ve somehow failed at life. I make the most of it by getting a halloumi slammer and a raw coconut cacao bar for lunch, and I send Erin a picture to show her how I’m always eating vegan.

I’m sat on the big rock in the middle of the stone circle in the park, reading a review on my phone of the book Erin lent me. I’m reading it so I can pretend to Erin that I could be arsed to read the whole thing, but I’m surrounded on all sides by screaming kids. They’ve been going back and forth like ants to the ice cream van on the edge of the grass, and now they’re all so jumpy that they won’t stop shouting at each other. The review goes on forever about the book’s relevance to both ancient Greek myths and modern life, but all I can think above the noise is that if sugar did the same thing to adults as it did to kids it would be worth fifty quid a gram.

Just when I get near the end I feel someone looking at me. I look up and a hunched, skinny man is standing not five feet from where I’m sat. He looks kind of ill in the way that long-time alkies sometimes get. The lines under his eyes make it look like someone has carved out chunks of his face, and despite the sun he’s wearing a red hood up underneath his brown jacket.

My blessings to you, the man says. You got any spare change?

This preview story was inspired by (but not based on) the real Pavement Poet, who does have a Facebook page. It is a preview from Joao Morais’ forthcoming debut book, his short-story collection, Things That Make the Heart Beat Faster, out with Parthian in September 2018. Our animation of this story is here.

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