BILLY HUGHES-SURE BUT HE'S ONE OF OUR OWN
Billy Hughes is our town drunk. Now, to be known by that title in this town is no small feat, I can tell you, where a sizable portion of the population is almost never sober. But the difference between them and Billy Hughes is that they are almost never sober, he is never sober. Not that Iíve seen in all the time Iíve been here, not that anyone else has seen in the last fifteen years or so.
Billy is of indeterminate age; he could be anywhere between fifty and seventy. I know he canít be as old as he looks because he looks about a hundred and sixty-five. Heís nearly always filthy, I say nearly always because a few times a year theyíll entice him (drag him, more likely) up to the hospital and hose him down, put some clean St. Vincent De Paul clothes on him and send him back down to immediately begin his journey to filthy again. Heís like a dog that always wants to roll in something nasty after youíve bathed it. He has no teeth, a long scraggly beard, and long scraggly hair, unless theyíve managed at the hospital to get the scissors near him. He looks like Howard Hughes in the Melvin Dumarr days. And he smells. He smells of things you just canít believe he could have been close enough to to smell like them.
Billy would be just another town character to me, someone you shake your head at when he passes, someone you might have a little thought for now and then, wondering how the hell he got that way and then forget again for the next several weeks, except for one torturous fact. Billy likes me. Not in Ďthatí way (or so I tell myself, for the salvation of my recently revived sex life) but as a mate, someone to have a little chat with whenever he spots me around the town, and- rheumy and clouded though they might be, his eyes are good enough to spot me from around corners, apparently. The problem with this being, other than the obvious smell and ugliness factor, is that I cannot understand a single word he says to me. This doesnít stop him from talking to me, for what can seem like hours on end, and if I try to get away heíll actually physically restrain me by grabbing at my arm. It horrifies me so much to be touched by him that Iíll stand there and suffer the conversation rather than risk contact. And since the whole town is so entertained by us no one will ever come to my rescue. In fact, some of the bastards will even point me out if by some miracle Billy has failed to see me.
Danny finds this all particularly amusing, damn him, and heíll stand there with the big stupid grin on his face the whole time Billy is rambling at me, even cutting in with his own comments to egg him on. No amount of dirty looks from me, or bitching at him afterwards, or even grinding my heel surreptitiously into his foot will make him stop.
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