All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015


There's a little man called Sonny Blake who wears a grey trenchcoat and a furry cap with ear muffs and he smells of piss and faintly, of shit. He has big dark eyes and looks a little like a monkey. His shoes are long, shiny and black like Chaplin's. He carries an ancient red kit bag and pulls a decrepit old lady's shopping trolley with what looks like some Victorian underwear poking out the top. He whistles and wheezes and talks to himself and now and again he breaks into song. He frightens you and repulses you. You see him round Clerkenwell and he leers at you knowingly.

One quiet Sunday afternoon, I stumbled, devastated, back down the stairs from Amina’s flat. Sonny was at the bottom in the alley poking around in his bag. I pushed past him toward the street and, as I passed, he struck up one of his old jazz numbers in his reedy, phlegm filled warble…

'Who's sorry now......'

Unaccountably, of a sudden, I completely and instantaneously lost myself. I rounded on him:

'Shut up you fucking scumbag. I'll kill you - you fucking shit-filled, stinking scumbag. Shut up or I'll rip your fucking eyes out!'

Before I knew it, I had the collar of his coat balled up under his grimy neck pushing him up against the wall so hard that he had to stand on tiptoe not to choke.

'I fucking hate you, you little shit, following me around, whispering your fucking insinuating little songs'

His monkey eyes seemed bigger than ever - though strangely they appeared to be staring through me not at me. The stench of his mouth and his nose and his clothes was so bad that I was gagging. I almost felt for a moment as if I really could kill him but suddenly, with shock, I realised that in fact I was totally terrified of him. I let go his coat and stood back. He sagged, lost his footing and landed on his arse on the concrete in the corner of the alley.

'You sad fuck…’ I was still trying to shout but I felt strangely weak and was increasingly nervous of being overheard. I looked at the pathetic crumpled little bag squirming beneath me and tried to re-summon my rage:

'You're jealous of me aren't you, you sad fuck? You're broke and lonely and old. You stink of shit and no one gives a fuck about you. No one gives a fuck if you live or die. And you will die soon and they'll stuff you in your fucking bag and burn you ‘cause they won’t want to waste a bit of London land on you. And nobody will be there and nobody will notice you've gone and if they do they'll think: ‘Thank God that fucking awful smell's disappeared…’’

He just lay there in the corner staring and wheezing. I felt a migraine beginning. I turned my back on him and went on mumbling for some time with my head against the cold, damp brick wall next to the fire escape stairs.

After a couple of minutes, I realised that there was no longer any sounds coming from behind me.

'Fuck.’ I thought ‘I've killed him.'

I panicked and spun round.

Impossibly, Sonny had disappeared. On the floor whre he had lain prostrate was a piece of paper. I picked it up with no small amount of fear and unfolded it. In a beautiful copperplate hand was written:

"I love you"