Del walks into a diseased, untidy, dessicated flat. Rodney is sitting on the floor gnawing a rat bone, and blinking in the pale light, his hollow, sunken eyes staring through Del, not at him. He’s barely able to talk, speaking now in truncated grunts and cries. He yelps in a mixture of pain and anguish. His skin, pale, mottled, sallow, his mouth, split with sores, Cassandra no longer wants him, he is impotent and poor.
Grandad’s skeleton lies on the chair, fixed in a leering grin, a crude woolen beard, soiled and tear stained stuck with glue. A speech bubble has been drawn and attached to him. “During the war…” it says in crayon. Del looks from the skeleton to Rodney, and back again, his own withered face showing the lines of years gone, the poverty, the resignment. A noose hangs in the toilet, waiting for its first victim.
No way out.
Del looks in the bathroom mirror, his greying temple flecked with a dispiriting ridge of disappointment.
He silently mouthes at his reflection:
“This time next year we will be dead.”