|Posted by Mark Cantrell on February 2, 2015 at 4:15 AM|
There's No Place Like Home
Flash Fiction By Mark Cantrell
Copyright © February 2015
“AFFORDABLE housing? Affordable housing! Are you taking the piss?”
I rolled my eyes. Phil was off on one again.
“A fucking palace is affordable if you’ve got the fucking money, but you don’t get that by working for it. Working class folk like us aren’t allowed on the property market. We can barely manage to rent. We’ll be lucky if they let us live in shanty towns.”
“Who’s ‘they’, then?”
Phil glared. “Who d’you think? The fucking middle class. The fucking politicians and their property developer mates. The fucking yuppies. The people who are selling everything off and leaving us no place to live.”
“You’re talking crap. They haven’t sold our estate off. They're going to regenerate it.”
“You really think they're gonna spend millions of quid on the likes of us? We got no place in their posh plans, you mark my words!”
“We got rights. They have to consult us. We have to approve the plans. We’ll win the vote. Nowt they can do it about it.”
“They ain’t won the vote in some places.”
“And they have in others. So we can do it too.”
“What about the next one, or the one after that? They’ll keep hammering at you ‘til you break and give ‘em what they want. Or maybe they’ll do it anyway. Those bastards only like democracy when it does what they fucking tell it!”
“Oh give it a rest will you, you miserable sod.”
“Can’t answer that can you. It’s all fucking crap. You, you’re living on the site of a future car park, or an office, or a fucking set of yuppie flats. They want us out. Out of the estate, out of this town, out of their fucking lives.”
He was hard work at times. A right know-it-all. That was Phil. You just couldn’t talk to him when he was in that state...
BUT, damn, that old bastard had a way of being right. Must have had a fucking crystal ball, or something.
So, here I am. Sun’s coming up, but it’s cold. Nobody’s saying anything. What’s there to say? What can we do? There’s cops everywhere, guarding the ‘dozers and the hard hatted, hardhearted bastards from the city.
We watch from beyond the cordon, we ragtag refugees from any kind of hearth and home to call our own. There are few of us left to bear witness; diehards and holdouts, like me. I wince as my home barely resists the 'dozer's blade.
I built the place myself. Put it together piece-by-piece from old timber and corrugated iron I scavenged from the places my dad and his dad used to work. Old factories. Demolition sites. Building sites. Nowadays. Places I knew as a kid. Building them up or knocking them down to make everything Phil said.
It’s not bricks and mortar, that shack, but it is – was – my place.
To the bulldozer it might as well be paper. In a moment of cracking wood and shrieking metal, it’s nothing but junk crushed into the earth. My home.
They huffed and puffed and blew my house down. Squatters, they called us, from over there in their clean, glittering prosperous city. The place where I used to live. Where once I could afford to live. The whole shanty was an eyesore, they said, but it’s not like we got any place else to live. They saw to that.
So much for that future we were promised.
Just as well, really, that old Phil’s not here to see it: he’d only say “I told you so.”
Poor bastard. Dead and gone, now; the strain of this life too much.
The rest of us will move on to join him soon enough, but for now we stand and watch, and wonder. Where will they move us to next and how long will they allow us to stay, before they turn up to move us on again?
I wish I could go home and put my feet up with a cup of tea, shut the world out of mind, but such comforts are a distant memory now. Besides that's what landed me in this cold exile.
We should have fought them, back then, when we still had a chance; when we still had a home to defend. But, no, we were suckered by their fine words and fancy promises. And now we're giving ground again.
There's no place like home. Not any more, not for the likes of us.
1 February 2015
Copyright © February 2015. All Rights Reserved.