Friday, April 07, 2017

Artemis

Artemis, five foot ten, wrapped up in a padded brown jacket red baseball cap and further insulated with a big brown beard. He's standing outside my gaff with all his possessions in a shopping trolley. He's looking for something, riffling through his stuff. He looks up "Gudding morning" he says. "I looking for food." He laughs then stops. I have a pack of three hot cross buns. I show him the pack and offer him one. his hand darts into the pack and he pulls one out. he holds it carefully with both hands, and smells it. "Good" he pronounces. But  he doesn't eat it. he carefully puts it in his pocket for later.
Artemis is Russian. He was born in September 1972 in a  town a few hundred kilometres from Moscow. I can't pronounce the name. he was married then divorced and somehow ended up in Peterborough.
"I am Russian!" he proclaims beating his fists on his chest "Ya Russkiy." He seems quite proud of that fact. Turning back to his trolley he resumes his search. he pulls out a crumpled plastic drinks bottle with a  piece of baking foil pushed into the neck. "my pipe." he explains, keeping it low down and almost out of sight.
With a  swift movement he turns away from the road and ducks down by the wall of my gaff, crouching he flicks his lighter and sucks on the bottom of the crumpled bottle. The bottle fills with smoke and he breathes in deeply.  Just one pull and he puts his "pipe" back in the trolley and covers it up. The effect on him isn't obviously noticeable. But he seems satisfied. He pats his pocket with the Hot Cross bun in it.  The bun is still there.  "I am RUSSIAN." he repeats emphasising Russian. Suddenly he is taller. "Goodbye my friend. I go." and he wheels his shopping trolley down the road.

There's a war going on. Not the one in Syria. Or anywhere else. But right here, unseen. The Russians and the Pakistanis fighting it out for control of the drug world. I don't think Artemis is part of this war, he's too... polite. Mr Charisma the most boring man on the planet walks past. 68 years old and still not a clue. The world carries on around him and he's totally oblivious to everything.

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