Sergeant Tom Jenkins paused at the entrance to the churchyard. “Better take a look”, he thought. Not that anyone would be hanging about there on Halloween, (although it was a known haunt of druggies) – but it was freezing, so surely no self respecting crackhead would be loitering there at close to midnight! He chuckled to himself at the thought of a self respecting crackhead and entered the churchyard.
Tom’s torch picked out the gravestones as he walked. The graves where, on the whole well cared for. It was a shame that the cemetery was the haunt of junkies and prostitutes who left their needles, condoms and other tools of their trade scattered around for grieving relatives to collect on an almost daily basis. He laughed to himself at “haunt” and quickened his pace desirous to be out of the place.
Turning a corner, he stopped abruptly. “are you okay sir?”, he said to the old man who stood with his hands resting lightly on a gravestone.
The man raised his head. “Oh yes, I’m fine”.
“Can I help you in any way sir? Its nearly midnight you know?”.
“Oh no thank you officer, I’m just pondering on my next poem”.
“Poem sir? Wouldn’t you be more comfortable at home with a nice hot drink or perhaps something a little stronger?”.
“Do you like poetry officer?”.
“Haven’t read any since I was forced to recite the Charge of the Light Brigade at school”.
The sergeant turned his collar up against the rising wind. It was strange that his companion, who was dressed in a thin t-shirt and cotton slacks didn’t appear to notice the chill breeze.
“We poets gain our inspiration from the natural world, overheard conversations, something we hear on the radio or TV and, of course graveyards. “all lovers must consign to thee and come to dust”.
“Did you write that sir?”.
The poet sighed. “I wish I had. But it was a poet far greater than I ever was”.
“Greater than you ever was?”, the sergeant repeated.
“You aint right in the head, you aint!”.
The sergeant spun around to see a girl of 18 or so in cheap heels and a skirt so short it could be mistaken for a belt.
“There aint no one there!”.
“Get out of here before I arrest you for soliciting!”.
“That’s harassment that is”. The girl said, but she tottered off in her cheap heels nonetheless.
Turning back to the grave where the poet had been standing, the sergeant saw only a weathered old stone.
“Man must have discovered some sense and gone home. A poet! My eye! He must have been waiting for that girl or someone like her”.
His cold right hand shook and the torch almost fell from it. Its wavering beam picked out the fading letters on the old gravestone:
“John Smithers, 1900-1980. Poet and artist”.
The torch broke as it hit the ground.