A cold deserted alleyway, dark as a desolate grave. Away off in the distance, dogs howling their dismay. A winter wind is gathering, blowing tattered old papers away. With tired forgotten faces and the news of yesterday. Discarded cans and bottles clatter on down silent streets. The chill night air is biting as he pulls in frozen feet. So many dull and dreary nights spent seeking private reproof. The familiar pitter-patter sounds upon his cardboard roof. His heart is filled with shame, there’s a cold, deep hollow pain... ...and here comes the rain. In and out of a fitful sleep his dreams are demon-filled. Taunting him and teasing him, destroying the last of his will. He hears an awful scratching and he’s searching all about. The sight of rats around his feet, he screams and then kicks out. Scuttling away in the darkness, squeaking out with their complaint. Off to find some other poor soul to torment and to taint. Another wretched creature, living life down in the drain... ...and here comes the rain. Traffic swishing here and there on dampened tarmac lanes. Home to feel such loving arms, a fire of flickering flames. Safe within their warm embrace, they watch the hot flames dance. No need for words between them as they drift into a trance. Silently they kiss and cuddle and gaze into each other’s eyes. Warm, dry and safe inside the other’s contented sighs. His long distant memories are all that remain... ...in the cold and pouring rain. His body starts to tremble with a deep and longing need. The painful image beckons him, then just as slowly recedes. A sob escapes the willful wall he’d built to hold it in. It turns into a mournful moan, that’s lost amidst the din. His body is wracked with baleful cries for a life that he once enjoyed. So fragile, as he soon discovered, he’d watched it all destroyed. And all he now has to show for all those precious years, is a glimpse of sunlight memory, between clouds of doubt and fear. A bitter, painful afterimage and an un-relenting stain... ...in the cold and pouring rain. And as the slow dawn breaks, he lies motionless and quiet. Whilst out there on the busy street , people talk about their diets. Oblivious to the lifeless victim, enshrined in a cardboard tomb. A helpless soul in a world of indifference, he lost his fight too soon. The report will say “Hypothermia”, they'll tie a tag on his toe. But the real tragedy in his tale, is that nobody will ever know. That a once proud and happy man could no longer take the strain. He died of a torn and broken heart, in the cold... and the dark... and the rain. * Written by Darren Scanlon, 16th September 2014 Revised by Darren Scanlon, 16th September 2016. ©2016 Darren Scanlon. All rights reserved.