The warm glow from a row of street lights lit up a muggy morning on a quiet residential road in London, the yellow tinge lead the way for a large disposal lorry which struggled to make its way down the narrow passage. The disposal men clung on tight to the handles of its rear before jumping off at their designated pickup points.
Working silently, the only sound came from the vehicle itself when it moved from house to house edging the team closer and closer to home. Each man wore safety fluorescent clothing and carefully moved their way through the cars taking care not to cause any damage. The high visibility strips that lined their jackets shone like cats’ eyes as they went about their business.
This particular street gave a home to many old large properties all interlinked in some way as if they were holding hands, some by a garage, others by an extension and some only by the solitary touch of their black lead drainpipes. Most of the properties looked as if they had been converted into flats, however; a small handful remained individual homes.
One of the properties had been converted into a hostel establishment. Just outside it a small, chunky disposal man peered into a bin and then let the lid drop, mistakenly causing a loud bang.
Moments later one of the hostel’s windows lit up and a pair of hands opened the curtains before a head popped though the crack peering out checking to see what had caused the disturbance. The squinting eyes looked on as they saw the half empty bin get dragged away.
Each of the residencies had a small front yard, where the different coloured wheelie bins were stored; they were small and not much else was capable of being kept in the area. In the hostel’s yard accompanying the bins a small green sign hung from a wooden frame, it had seen better days and displayed on one side “rooms available” and on the other “full.”
The door was old, along with many others on the street, but this one stood out from the rest as the paint was uncared for and flaking away. The bricks of the building were hard to make out in the weak orange light, but they appeared to be the classic red brick that was heavily used at the time of the building’s birth. The cement binding them together was crumbling and, in some cracks, the occasional weed had made its home.
Inside one of the hostel’s dark rooms a mobile phone sprang to life. It was lying face-up on a tarnished and tea stained table that stood next to a low metal bed which possessed a poor black finish. The room’s objects had seen many a dark morning before this day as the phone continued to dance around slowly, with its vibration mode in overtime, only stopping due to its time out program.
The single bed was dressed by some old and tatty sheets that had been disturbed, but not slept in and had an object resting at its foot. A gentle breeze cantered through the single paned window unsettling the thin red curtains that were so old they were fraying.
The intermittent draft gave passage for the street’s light, allowing it to glide in, filling the corner of the room and hitting a man occupying a white plastic garden chair. The alarm hadn’t moved the man. The time passed, but he remained motionless except for occasionally rubbing his hand on the chair’s arm.
The alarm started again, this time though the vibrations shook the phone closer and closer to the edge of the table until it finally fell off breaking into three pieces. The man eventually moved if only momentarily and looked across the room towards the phone and then back slowly to the foot of the bed.
The battered white door to the room opened quickly and stopped just before the handle crashed into the wall by a rubber stopper screwed into the floor. A figure entered. Only the silhouette of his outline could be seen as the hallway’s low security light made its way in.
Snapping out of his fix, the seated man stood up; startled, he adjusted his worn plastic belt which had twisted. The man in the door reached out a long finger which hovered momentarily above the light switch before pressing it down, clicking it into place and completing the circuit, flickering before lighting the four corners of the small room.
The man still adjusting his clothes looked at the light, but quickly turned his sensitive red eyes away and down to the floor; he rose his arm adding a further deterrent to the rays. The walls bore flowers, but the decor was outdated; the seams of the wallpaper had opened, and the purple paint below peeked out.
After getting used to the light the man lifted his head lethargically before looking towards the door where the figure remained silent. His eyes caught a stare through the glass of a gold framed pair of spectacles. Despite the unpleasant surroundings it wasn’t an unwelcoming look, however, quite the contrary, the man’s eyes were warm and comforting, looking at him in a friendly manner.
A middle-aged white man with a long and thin face topped by a full head of hair that was greying slightly stood in the opened door. He was smart and well dressed in his dark blue jeans, a brown blazer and black boots.
The silence remained before finally the figure opened his mouth addressing the other in an Eastern European accent, “Good morning, how did you sleep?”
The guest of the room looked over to his bed and then back to the man, “Ahhh ok. Yes. I see, sorry you haven’t slept at all, have you? It’s understandable, today is the most important day of your life and you are very nervous. Don’t worry though; everything will be ok, I am sure the rest are just as nervous and as excited as you are.”
This didn’t help at all and the man’s expressions didn’t change. The figure in the doorway spoke again, trying to ease the other’s worried tension, “come on now you have been wanting this day for a long time now! The time has arrived where you take the limelight and become a star fulfilling your destiny. Not many people get this responsibility and opportunity to make a difference in their life.” Again, the man’s dark face didn’t change, and his thin lips remained firmly closed.
The two stood for a further few seconds until eventually, just as the Eastern European was about to the leave, the man cleared his throat and asked, “what time do we leave?” before looking back to the object at the end of his bed.
The man at the door didn’t answer straightaway but took two strides on the worn carpet beneath his feet towards him. Within reaching distance now, he stretched out his left arm and plonked it around his neck to reveal a gold watch before holding it up to show him the time.
With the same finger that gave light to the room, he pointed at the watch’s bezel. “We shall be on our way at eight o’clock, which gives you all of about 28 minutes to get ready!” Releasing his loose grasp on the man, he patted him on the back and left without saying another word.