"I never travel without my diary. One should always have
something sensational to read in a train."
DOWN AND OUT
by Roy Stead
It's not exactly the Hilton, but it's home. For tonight, at any
rate. At least this one has four walls. Well, not 'walls,'
exactly. More like four sides. But, when you've lived this life
as long as I have, your idea of luxury changes. Maybe that is a
bad sign - I seem to be getting more used to this
life...existence...as every day goes by. Even this cardboard box
is beginning to look attractive.
What's this? Hmmm. There's an apple in this box. Odd, really.
Oh. yeah - the writing on the door reads, 'Greengrocers.' Ah
well: Supper, I suppose. And dinner. And breakfast. Crunch. Not
too bad - and the bite on the side isn't too large. Why was it
thrown away? The worm hole is only a small one - meat for a
change! I really should save the core for tomorrow morning, but -
Hell, I'm hungry now. The future will take care of itself. I
Wait - who are you? Sorry, I didn't see you there. Let me
introduce myself. Ralph is my name. Could you spare a penny,
Mister? No jokes, please - I couldn't take it today. A rough
time? Yeah, I've had my problems lately. The bottle? Whisky. Why?
Keep your hands off - it's mine! This bottle is all I have left.
At least it won't desert me. You want to hear my story, huh?
What's it worth? You must be joking, Sonny! For my life story,
you'll have to cough up more than...ah. That's more like it.
Where should I begin? Let me see...
Well, I was born a child of the sixties. Not exactly into Flower
Power, though I wore daisies in my hair for a while back then.
Hang on, I've got a photograph here somewhere...there! Sure, it's
a bit crumpled and torn - but ignore those stains, they've been
on it for a while now. Look, I can't help it - sometimes I get
pissed, and I can't help it. Anyway, forget all that and look at
the picture. Yes, that's me. In the pushchair. Well, I was only
three when the sixties came to an end - but there are daisies,
you've got to give me that. There are daisies. Beautiful, isn't
she? The girl. My mother.
You agree? Then you must be blind or summat. She's an ugly cow.
Well, maybe 'ugly' is a bit strong, but beautiful she ain't. No,
don't walk away! Sorry if I shocked you, but she was a real
bitch. As soon as I was old enough to walk and talk, she left me.
Not even in a home or nuthin' - just left me there on the street.
In the park, as it happens. "I'm just going to the shops,
Ralphie," she said. But she never came back.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah - my life story. Have you got a
cigarette on you, Mister? Thanks - and a match? Right. puff.
Christ, that feels good. You wouldn't believe how long it's been
since I had a smoke. puff. cough, cough. Maybe you would, at
that. puff. Hmmm...Yeah, that feels fine. Thanks, mate.
Back then, I wasn't certain what to do. I was only four or five
years old, and there ain't many jobs for kids that young. At
first, I had to survive by scrounging food from litter bins and
the like. But I survived, somehow, long enough to meet Jake.
Jake was my friend back then, when I was young. He was a couple
years older than me, and his mom had a flat on the East side of
town. Nothing special, but it was home - you know what I mean?
You do? Yeah, well, I'd have thought you would. Look like you
came from some fancy home down South, don't you? Probably never
had to fight for a crust or a drink in your life. No, don't tell
me whether I'm right ( I know I am ). Anyway - this is my story,
Elsie, that's Jake's Ma's name, let me sleep at their place.
Jake said she'd come round to the idea pretty quick, once she'd
seen me an' all. Even so, I had to get out pretty damn fast.
Jake's daddy had left them, you see, and Elsie had this
boyfriend. Well, I won't tell you what he tried to make me do -
it would make you sick to your stomach - but let's just say that
I had to get out, before he succeeded. Despite this, I still kept
in touch with Jake - at least, until...
Well, Jake never got on well with his Ma's beau, neither. But he
put up with him for Elsie's sake. I guess he figured that Elsie
knew what was going on, but - looking back on it - I don't reckon
she did. What that bastard did to Jake isn't worth repeating, but
Jake suffered in silence for Elsie. Until, that is, she came home
from work, early like, one night and found Jake and her man buck
naked in the kitchen. She didn't say a word. Nor did her beau,
nor Jake. But that man of hers got dressed and left, and never
came back, neither.
Well, the next week Elsie's building burnt down. We reckoned it
was arson, but the cops never proved nothing, so the bastard got
away with it. At least he couldn't do those things to Jake any
When Elsie moved into a new house, she asked me to come live
with them. I wasn't staying nowhere just then, so I took her up
on it. Elsie had given up on men for a while - I don't think she
ever went with another bloke for the whole time me and Jake lived
with her. Probably, she was too scared after what that other guy
done. Anyways, that suited me an' Jake okay. Meant we had free
reign in the house. That was real handy when we got older, though
Elsie never did let either of us bring a woman back to the place
- that bloke had really turned her off sex.
Me and Jake were good buddies for a fair few years - Jake was
the only real friend I ever had. But then - when I turned sixteen
- we met a girl.
Lill was the broad's name - short for 'Lillian,' she said. We
both fell head over heels with her, and that's when things went
sour with me an' Jake. You see, Jake was a couple years older
than me and, though Lill was just sixteen like me, she preferred
him. Fair enough, I suppose - and Jake didn't rub it in. I'll
give him that.
But I couldn't take it. Women. You can keep 'em. I've got all
the company I want right here in this here bottle. So I up and
left Elsie's right there and then. Took to the streets, and
carried on drinkin' until - well, you can see me now. Never did
see Jake again, I've often wondered what happened to him and
Lill. And Elsie.
Say, you're not Jake are you - that would be neat wouldn't it?
You're not? Then give me the bottle and leave me alone - you've
heard your story...
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.