There seems to be a dearth of christian names in England. That's why we add a little tag at the end to identify whatever Tom, Dick or Harry you're talking about.
Down the road from me is Sick Eb. He spends his days laying on the sofa and watching soaps on the telly. Every time he gets a cough he has the doctor come out and give him antibiotics. He rings me up all the time to tell me how close to death he is. He's been doing that for nearly twenty years.
Across the road from him is Typhoid Mary. Not that she's diseased or anything, it just looks like she is. She's about eighty years old and, as far as I can tell, has been wearing the same cardigan and frock ever since I've been here.
Up the road in the other direction is One Legged Fred. That appelation needs no description. It's his right leg. Sometimes, if I meet him downtown, I give it a whack with my stick just for fun. One day I did it too hard as his leg ended up sticking out at a funny angle.
Then there's Dave The Reaper. Dave loves funerals and he keeps a special dark suit so that he can go to as many as he can. Doesn't matter if he knows the people or not. If you see a photograph of the mourners at the graveside you probably see Dave standing under a tree nearby watching. If he ever starts wearing an earpiece and talking into his cufflinks he's really going to freak people out. The other thing about Dave is that people who spend too much time with him tend to die. I don't let Dave into my house.
And there's Mad Mick. He's about six feet six and has this perpetual smile on his face. Looks a bit like you've shaved a sasquatch. He goes off downtown every morning with his backpack. He's got cereal in there and milk. He sits on a bench near the shops and sits there with his bowl and watches the people walking around. I suspect folk give him a wide berth.
And then there's Caz The Knife who lives three doors away from me.
About four years ago one night she rings me up. Turns out it's her birthday and she doesn't want to spend it all on her own. I get some beer and go 'round. She's got some vodka so we're all fine. Just sitting and chatting. Then suddenly she goes off into the kitchen. She calls back to me to ask if I'd help her open a box. I didn't like the sound of her voice. Sounded a bit weird. I put my jacket on. It's a heavy and stiff black leather Barbour that I'd picked up years ago in Prague. It was second hand but I didn't care. There was no way I could have afforded the six hundred quid price tag for a new one. It's nice heavy protection though.
In the kitchen she's got this gray tool box looking thing so I open it for her. Inside there's a bunch of meat knives. She grabs the biggest one and lunges at me. Slashing and stabbing. Caz was a bit of a biker and she's no lightweight. It's no fun being trapped in a small kitchen while some mad woman with a knife has a go at you. It was touch and go for a bit until she missed my head by a few inches and stuck the knife in the wall. I smacked her on the forehead and put her out.
I dragged her into the living room and dumped her on the sofa. She was leaking a bit from her left arm and one leg where she'd managed to cut herself with her wild swings. Not to mention her face where I'd whacked her. I called the police and an ambulance. They took her away.
Apparently they just left her on a bench in casualty and in the morning she got a taxi home.
She's home now. If I walk past her house at night I can see her silhouette on the curtains of her upstairs window. Just sitting in a chair looking at something in the corner. I don't know what she's looking at but I'm never going in that house again.