by Ben Sixsmith

Piotr smelled of piss. It wasn't his. But how can one say that? How can one say, “I know I smell of piss, but it isn't mine?” So he sat, and smelled of piss, and waited for the shop to open as the sun emerged through the morning clouds.

A police car slipped, sharklike, along the road towards him.

“Any problems, Piotr?” said a cop.

“None that will interest you.”

That sounds interesting.”

“Well, it isn't.”

The cop looked out of the window at him, with a bored amusement that could mean trouble.




Piotr pulled his jacket open to reveal nothing but a worn-out t-shirt.

“In that bag?”

Piotr looked down at the big, black bag that sat beside him.

“Not going to keep an open bottle in a bag, am I.”

The cop shrugged and the car sidled off as Ania opened up the shop. Piotr stood, painfully shouldering his bag.

“Any problems, Piotr?”


He almost apologised for snapping at the shop assistant but she had already shrugged, turned and marched into the shop. He stumbled in, peering at the mass of sticky pastries, the tubs of ageing fish and the ranks of glistening bottles that were massed in the fridge.

“Long night?”

Piotr looked across the familiar labels. His head was throbbing and his throat was dry. A dark brown stained his trousers. He rubbed it with his fingers, adding long, black streaks.


“So, what do you want?”




“To eat?”

“No, for plants, you know. For flowers.”

She folded her arms across the great white apron that she wore beneath her great white breasts.

“You don't mean funny seeds?”

“No. Roses. Poppies. Seeds. Fucking normal seeds.”

“We don't have any. What the fuck, Piotr? You're going to become a gardener? You need somewhere to live before you can have a garden.”

“Fuck it,” Peter snapped, “The usual.”

“What's that smell?” Ania asked.

“Piss,” Piotr said.

Piotr took his beer, adjusted the strap of his bag and wandered out into the sun. He pottered up the road, into the park, and left the path to struggle through the trees and bushes into the neglected wood. There, in a clearing, he placed his bag down and unzipped it. First, he took out a trowel, and then he peered inside, and then he gently levered out the body of a small black dog – a small black dog that he had held against his chest the night before as it had bled, and it had choked, and it had pissed across his clothes. He laid its body on the leaves.

“Sorry, pal,” he said, picking up the trowel, “I'll come back with flowers.”