THE END OF HOPE
It all comes down to this. The thought scrolled across the front of his mind like a price ticker. Fucking, fighting and getting high were the only things he had ever been interested in and he could not do any of them any more. There was nothing left to do, nothing left to be, nothing left to want, nothing left to see. So what the fuck now?
Solon Witts crouched in the murky, half shadows of a miserable, bamboo shack teetering on uneven stilts, listening to the heavy, warm raindrops as they plopped into glaze of mud that paved the compound outside his window. He could not bear to pull back the limp, oily rag that some lazy hand had hung across the empty opening in a feeble attempt to create some privacy where there was none to be had. He could not bring himself to look out and flinched under the din of the downpour pounding on the tin roof of the decrepit hovel. It grated on his nerves with the tedium of a child thrashing a toy drum.
Everything trembled under the battering deluge. Giant jungle creepers gripped the many rooted Banyan tree, securing themselves under the protection of the massive canopy while their roots, burrowing like desperate fingers into the soggy ground, clenched tight for fear of being washed away by the torrent. The relentless rain had been rattling on the jungle for days. Monotonous, muggy, tropical days. He shivered with cold. Nobody told him it could get cold in the jungle.
Quietly, with the listless resolution of a condemned man, he inspected himself in the last broken shard of a mirror that he had shattered in some long forgotten drunken fit of rage. He stretched up onto his toes to assess the distressed condition of his bedraggled, sweat soaked, linen suit. It slumped on the haunted rack of his skeletal shoulders with the pathetic elegance of an old dinner jacket on a scarecrow.
'Every gentleman deserves a fine linen suit from Savile Row,' he murmured to himself, pulling at the lapels of the jacket, half smiling at his own feeble joke. He clucked his tongue, impulsively poking it through the gaps in his gums where the where the gingivitis raged and the teeth had fallen out. He pulled at the urine-stained trousers that were cinched to his waist and worried that they sagged worse than the jacket. The heavy, sharpened spur of his belt buckle held fast in the new hole he had punched into the leather. It barely kept his trousers up on his fleshless hips but the buckle and the heavy leather could be useful weapons when the situation called for it.
He pulled a wrist-watch out of his pocket. The leather strap had rotted off and the crystal was fogged with humidity. He squinted at its broken face.
Kryder was late. Twenty minutes late. Fuck him. Fuck him. Solon knew there was nothing to worry about. Yet. But he was bent almost double with anxiety.
The hoot from a Gibbon echoed out of the high branches of the rainforest. Then the rain ceased as abruptly as it started. Remnants of the downpour dripped from the waxy, broad leaves of the forest foliage and trickled from the roof like disappearing whispers in a schoolroom suddenly brought to order. A pig snorted in the darkness of the crawlspace under the floorboards. A scarlet bird sailed across the clearing and swooped up into the upper branches of the Banyan tree. Solon cocked his head forward and extracted a few flecks of sleep from the corners of his eyes with nervous pecking fingers while he listened for the sound of an approaching vehicle, eliminating all the ambient noise of the dense forest one by one, like a hunter stalking his quarry. But there was nothing to be heard. Kryder was late.