"Spike what have they done to you...?"
Spike and his dog came into the carpark. His face was a mess. I take in the sight of his face as he speaks. The bruised eyes, one completely closed; the flattened, broken nose; the encrusted trail of blood from one of his ears. This guy had taken a terrible beating.
"yep Gordon... I can't go in, I'll scare the kiddies.... can I have a cup of tea and a chat with you out here?"
I get a cup of tea, we sit on our bench and we talk. Everytime someone comes he walks away, hides his face. The story emerges of a group of crack users taking a dislike to this affable alcoholic. He looks at me through an eye he can hardly open "Graham ... I don't know what I've done...? I sit in the church grounds so that the Vicar waves to me and knows I am still alive ... and I can't even do that anymore... they came looking for me there...they won't leave me alone"
"Spike...it's Gordon" I gently correct as I nod and listen to the story of violence.
"...sorry... Gordon" I listen to how the police came but couldn't do anything; about the guitar I'd seen him carrying so proudly the day before was now smashed; about the underclass life he is trapped within; about his fear
"Spike what do you want us to do?"
"Graham... I mean Gordon I just need someone to talk to nothing else, I just need someone to know I'm Ok, I need someone to pray for me".
Spike is getting uncomfortable because of the attention his face is getting from people passing by. I have a thought. "Wait here Spike...!" I say as I disappear. I return with some sunglasses from the charity shop.
As he gets up to leave, he taps his new sunglasses "Thanks!... By the way ... why do you keep calling me Spike...?"