He slips through the hedgerow and in no time is seen sitting on the bench surprised by it all.
In the shadow of Old Sarum he sits. Salisbury is in sight. It slopes slowly from the old to the new. Now hungry and not too sure what to do about the rue he concludes…
‘I can live with the hunger for a bit… but the thirst I can’t.’
He finds a thrown water bottle and heads into town down a road sloping into Salisbury. Just short of the town, he passes by a park and spots a fountain. He doesn’t think he just drinks, with thirsty urgency. He rinses then fills up his bottle.
Rote returns to his hideaway without even venturing into the town proper. He’s pickled by the predicament. He’s embarrassed. His pride is really riding him. He’s unable to make eye contact with people passing by.
Back at the bench he crawls back into the bushes when no one's looking. He pulls out his orange plastic bag and his basically brand new sleeping bag that after last night looks old.
It’s not even midday yet.
He doesn’t want anyone to see him. He has no money. He has no food. He has water. He has a briar bush for a home. It’s wet and always leaking. It’s infested with all sorts of crawling things. And there’s garbage strewn here and there. Some of it is blown in and then torn by dogs.
He’s fraught with the facts—he’s fucked.
That afternoon and night he stays burrowed in his bane going insane, wrestling with his dilemma. He’s haunted and daunted by his hunger. He tries to ignore his starving stomach.
He tries to hide his pride.
The following morning he awakes slobbered with saliva, washed with froth from another friendly face, truly a restoring grace. Those dogs delight him in their exuberance upon discovering a bushwhacked bum. Aye, a found friend, wagging him well with a non-judgmental manner. It means a whole lot. They in their way, help to raise Rote’s spirits by letting him know it’s okay and to keep his chin up.
Upon packing his pack with his makeshift shack, he burrows them back away and begins his day. Out from behind his bespoken bench he crosses the park. Onto the road he strolls, stirring up a sense of purpose to feed his belly and starve his pride. His pride is like a life preserver; it will buoy him back on track.
He passes through the subterranean pedestrian passage under the roundabout of traffic alongside the Avon River. He continues along the road now into Salisbury proper. Only to be stopped by his propped pride, a pill still too ill to swallow. He returns to wallow.
Back in his burrow with a deep furrow, he struggles with it all. Oh his pride. And as the day turns into night he struggles some more. Unable to sleep, racked with rancour for the heel he has to hallow.
As the sun rises so his spirits, and by the lavish licking, he surrenders too. It brings a smile to his face.
Hunger soon supersedes all qualms with his pride. He proceeds to Salisbury proper. He’s struggled enough and to no end, with the thought and the need thereof of begging. And boy is it a proud pill to swallow. It’s in his best interest. At that point, he doesn’t see any other way of collecting coins to curb his hunger pangs and his tobacco withdrawals... great motivating factors for sure.
He’s desperate. He’s defiantly delayed any render to surrender that in turn will chide his pride. He tries to fend the facts, but faced with them there really is no other possible play.
He’s forced to say,
“Excuse me… but can you spare some change.”
A truly inspired story steeped in history that starts with Rote sending his manuscript overseas to London England.