His training run has taken him along pretty empty streets that seem dark and pitted with broken surfaces and a plague of discarded gum. Breathing in some freshness to counter the jet lag; he feels Scotland under his feet really for the first time.
The rain is lashing in as dense swirls that come into the light like liquid pulses. The cold is a bone ache that is so different from the Texas cold. He is here in Edinburgh for New Year. Today is New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay as it is called in Scotland.
His run along the wet and windswept streets of Edinburgh is finished. The hotel is on Princes’ Street right opposite the Castle. It is lit up and its gnarled tooth and rock exposure appears from behind the rain that is coming in.
The court settlement over the kids’ custody seems stilled and he thinks about the restaurant he and Audrey have found on the Royal Mile later. Despite the intense cold he is sweating.
‘You have a good run this dreich and awful evening?’
The voice came from just round a dark patterned part of the store next door to the hotel entrance which is barely a door’s breadth wide.
A homeless guy.
‘It was a pretty slippy course to run..oh boy!’
He put his hands on the pillar where the man-about forty something is sitting with an old hoodie on him with a small brown dog near comatose on his crossed lap.
‘I used to run cross-country when I was a lad in Durham. Where you from sir?’
‘And what is it you do when you’re no pounding the Scottish pavements then?’
‘I’m the marketing manager for a chain of car dealerships-mainly four wheel drive models.’
His Achilles and hamstring stretches done his hands were protesting at the inanimate cold that was sucking the life from them.
‘I’m gonna have to go as there is a lady waiting to go for dinner.’
Later the rain was worse. The wind took past like a piece of shredded brown skin a McDonalds bag from the joint at the start of the block they were on. Pulling up his jacket and holding Audrey close to him they headed for the cab which was waiting in the bus space nearby. She held her hair against the wind and rain.
The tip of the hoodie was just visible from behind the pillar before they went into the wind’s full strength.
He put the five pounds into the guy’s right hand which was still holding the dozing dog.
The black cab headed up a steep hill past the art gallery that looked like a Greek temple.
The idea that he had spoilt his own kids way beyond repair came to him. He had no idea how to put that right.
Although they had a tour tomorrow he wondered and hoped the guy would be there tomorrow.
The restaurant stopped in an even darker part of the street than he thought possible up near the castle. He wondered if Audrey had even seen the guy.