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It's after midnight when the lights behind the window of the little café finally go out. It closed to customers at eleven-thirty, but the staff worked on after the last customer of the night has left.

 

Eventually the two kitchen workers have called goodnight and left, dragging on their coats against the cold night air as they head for home. Lastly the waiter locks up and leaves.

 

All evening the cheery lighted window and the bustle visible inside have brightened the street, balancing the dour black architecture of Edinburgh with convivial cosiness. And now the light has gone from the window and it appears the light has gone out of the tall, thin waiter too.

 

He doesn't have far to walk to the chemist's shop, above which he lives, in a tiny bedsit. He closes his door on the world, hangs his coat, removes his shoes walks to the bed. He removes his clothes, drapes the trousers over the bentwood chair beside the bed and drops the rest of the clothes in a basket by the window. He walks to the bathroom, there's a shower but no bath, and cleans his teeth while peeing.

 

He pads barefoot back to the bed, climbs under the duvet and lies on his back, staring at the ceiling. Pushes his hand under the bedclothes and cups his genitals comfortably, just holding them there, gaining some comfort from the touch, but not enough. Why is he in such misery?

 

A minute passes but the sadness doesn't. A tear escapes from the corner of one eye and works its way around to his temple. He pulls his hand out from its tactile dock and reaches for the light switch. The room goes dark but you can hear him sobbing quietly.

 


 

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