Billy watched Manny hurry across the road with a jerking, awkward movement of his cane, finally slowing down and stalking his way back to the barber shop on Coldharbour Lane. Manny turned and he waved again, a strong, sprawling gesture of benevolence and warmth. Billy huddled in his coat as he walked back to Stockwell Road, entering a pocket of cold in the shadows from the sun. It occurred to him to carry on drinking, take in a couple of bars. He had friends he could meet. They could talk. But it would have been empty roleplay, another game. He passed a scuffle outside MacDonald’s, two rival gangs taunting one another: some fault line of the city’s territory grinding away. Light rain fizzed under the pink of the streetlights, the planes were lazy in the sky, and the girls outside the tube station were talking about finding the beat in real life.
Who wants sweetness?
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