I fall out of bed on the flat of both feet and weave to the bathroom. The Shaving Mirror. One glance is sufficient to identify a welter of mistimed feints. A jumble of standing counts lurking just beneath the tissue thin skin.
My eyes are ringed blue and black. The hair is an affront. I do not have the fortitude to peel back my lips to examine what remains of the gums.
I fill the kettle and leave it to boil. Forced to transfer water to it from an empty coffee jar. The sink is too shallow, its taps set too snug in its porcelain bowl, to do it directly.
The entire process reminds me of Necchi bailing out his scow, his barge, on that stretch of black ribbon between New Jersey and Coney Island. Several inches of bilge water lapping at the timbers, his kit packed neatly in a tin box on a string. Bobbing in the hold.
I sit on the bed and roll a cigarette.
It is three minutes past eight. Another morning, but this time I am summonsed.
Already I am hot under the collar of my favourite shirt. The colour of scorched jacket potatoes. The boiler is working again, intermittently since the front desk fixed it, a seizure during the night once more sending the temperature plummeting.
I crouch on the edge of the narrow bed and pull on the spastic chain inches from my shoulder. The blind flies up and rattles on the spindle fitted in the window. I look out. Watch a fox take a crap on the bed and breakfast's stricken back lot. Littered with felled trees from the storms, snow from an upended sugar pot.
Listen to a door slam and the creaking of the stair as the first tormented soul ventures down into the bowels of this ship for a cup of milky tea. A sliver of toast.
I rub my nose as the fox shivers up on its haunches.
The building has been besieged by an uncharacteristic calm all weekend. The tone deaf midnight singer has checked out. Two more ejected when prohibited paraphernalia is discovered by room service.
A crack-pipe on a bed. A stash of syringes behind a u-bend.
Anyone here will tell you.
You don't need fucking junkies ruining your Christmas.
Pupils contracted to the size of pinheads from his most recent hit. Irises the precise colour of pebbles paled and eroded by repeated body blows, the crashing Irish Sea, the constant movement of sand, peat. Weighing probabilities as he eyes my hands clenched in my pockets.
And through it all, yet, a New Year looming.