We used tae hing aboot doon at this auld factory
, knocked doon but the walls eh the thing still standin' here an' there. Rubble
strewen all over the place an' shoots eh weeds growin' out the ground.
When winter came we'd build a wee fire, bits eh wood, crates, anythin' tae hand. Standin' about drinkin' cheap wine an' talkin'. Smokin' if we had any. Whit wis it, eighteen, nineteen or somthin' we were.
Every now and again Auld Joe would turn up, always the same, dressed in his wee bunnet, auld troosers worn tae the holes, suit jacket that never quite fitted and nuthin' but a vest under it.
Staggered over tae us, through the stones and broken bricks, bottle in hand. Never knew really whit kind eh age he wis. Fifty maybe. Whitever, the years hud never been blessin' um, hit um hard if anythin'.
"It's no often these days ye get a fire built" he'd say "No often."
"Aye, Joe, an' hows life treatin' ye?"
"Ach, same as always boys, it comes an' it goes"
An' so we'd pass him the bottle, spare him a fag where we could. A wee bit eh change out the pockets, Joe wis always in mare need thin us.
An' there he'd tell ye stories, the wummin he'd met, the times he wis flush. Tell us all sorts aboot how this and that was, when he wis jist the same age as us. We'd nod heads an' smile at each other, the auld boy spraffin' away. Stories we'd mibbe heard many times, but all the same, ye'd never tell him that.
One time though, it'd been weeks since we'd seen him. Never really thought about it at first. It took a while before it seemed odd, before that auld face wis missed. It wis Davey said first that the auld boy wis naewhere around. An' we talked tae some eh the the auld croanies, askin' where yer man might've gone.
"Down tae his sister in London"
"Away back wey his daughter in Leeds"
Whatever, the stories were different each wan that ye talked tae, never more than ideas eh whit might have happened.
Me, ah don't know if ah believe any of it, but ah've never seen the auld boy since.