That’s what folk call me, among things; I don’t so much talk as hum. They used to call me flying man. They used to talk to me. Now it’s just books keeps me company. And magazines: paragliding ones is what I like best, still counts as books far as I’m concerned, but I’m not fussy. Halie said I am, but I disagree. You don’t get from North of England to Auckland’s North Shore, to spend ten of your fifty-odd years sleeping on street, by being fussy. There’s probably a book to prove it, in science section, but I’m not moving from here to look for it. I’m not moving unless I have to. I like this spot. End of magazines rack by paragliding suits me. I do read other stuff, believe me. I move when I have to. I move when librarian asks me. But see, now you’re thinking, he’s fussy. Now you’re thinking, he only reads paragliding magazines, what does he know about science? Well, aren’t you? Here, then, just to prove I read science, take this magazine: says here, scientists want to use shark skin to coat outside of boats, make them go faster. Under a microscope, skin is jagged scales; so rough, bacteria can’t grow there. Scientists also want to use that: fact. Nothing at all to do with paragliding, that. Here’s another fact: they say, in paragliding, longer you do it, more likely you are to lose somebody you know. I don’t disagree with that. What I disagree with is way folk go about telling me to move, get lost. Take this librarian doing rounds, giving it closing time. He won’t say it to me; no one talks to my face. They think they don’t have to; folk don’t look at me; mams pulling bairns away, shush. But like I say, I’m not fussy. Drink anything, me. I got lost long before Halie told me to.
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Rachel J Fenton was born in South Yorkshire and moved to Auckland’s North Shore in 2007 to write Some Things the English, which was a finalist in the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize. Winner of Short Fiction’s seventh annual competition (in association with the University of Plymouth), she blogs here.