…But the years were not kind to Somersby, nor was he to himself. He could no longer hide his age, the wizening of his once beautiful face, the lack of meat on his bones, the pinched nose which had once been so perfectly shaped. His eyelids had started to droop over his eyes which had lost their deep reflection and seemed more washed out and not a little reptilian. And his keen intense stare that had served him so well in his rosy youth, now seemed to deposit a slimy residue on all he proffered it to. When he bestowed young women with overly flowering flatteries, they laughed nervously and tried not to dwell on thoughts of his thin wet lips kissing their powdery skin. When he boasted about his vague social connections and the heights of his artistic career, he was politely tolerated. People were civil and though they had never heard of him, his minor celebrated acquaintances or his failed book of verse, they guarded themselves from the heavy gloom that slithered before him wherever he went. His health started to fail, he wheezed when he spoke and he saw wretchedness in everything. He was released from his position at the paper two years before official retirement which seemed to quicken the onset of his demise. Up to that point he had always managed to convince at least one young fool to fund his excesses, but at last there was no one left. He had used up every last kind soul and had long lost the charm needed to attract more.
It was around this time that he befriended the King Charles Cavalier in Green Park. Somersby went every other day for a walk and to reminiscence about his youth in the bars and restaurants close by. The dog was there often, collarless and alone. One particularly grey day, Somersby sparked up a conversation, ‘Hello old boy, you’re a handsome fellow. You remind me of an old friend.’ The dog yelped and brushed his small head against Somersby’s leg. It was the first physical contact the old man had had in some weeks. And that was that. Somersby invited the dog home, named him George Gordon after one of his heroes and occasionally fed the dog scraps from his scanty meals. It was not the grandest of affairs for the cavalier, but it was a better option than sleeping rough…
(Extract taken from full story first published in ‘Curious Tales’, 2018)
Copyright 2018 Joon Haque. All rights reserved.