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by Neil Campbell

The trains rattled above Corned Beef as he lay against the brick wall. He rose and reached for his cup, walking the streets and warming up and soon having enough for a coffee in the cafe where the man smoked cigarettes at the counter.

The streets were loud with the sound of traffic crashing through puddles in the rain. His eyes blurred with the rain and the streetlights spread across his vision in orange clouds. The revellers came click-clacking across the pavements. Groups of lads, groups of girls all came near him to get money out from the cash point. He saw them gripping fistfuls of twenties and folding and sliding them into purses and wallets. Most people said they had no change when he mumbled up towards them but plenty did. Some people passed the coins while others tossed them in his general direction. A number of men told him to “stop fucking begging and get a job”, and one man reached down and grabbed his coat, lifting him from the ground before dropping him down again to the laughter of his mates.

Corned Beef went into the Spar. He didn’t bother with a carrier bag and instead secreted the bottle within the folds of his long coat, walking the familiar route back to the street with no name.

From Manchester, England. Twice included in Best British Short Stories (2012 and 2015). Three collections of short fiction: Broken Doll, Pictures from Hopper and Ekphrasis. Two poetry chapbooks: Birds and Bugsworth Diary. First novel Sky Hooks out in September 2016.