With one hand cradling a cigarette inwards, sheltering it from the clear sky, he extended his other arm perpendicular to the horizon. Well steadied, he stared ahead beyond the mess of chicken wire to the plastic chair in front of the stairwell. It was faded and stooped to one corner from a splintered leg. Four pigeons completed the scene, one lazily stalking a plastic bag as it drifted in and out a shard of sunlight. Shadow, light, shadow.
First releasing breath and smoke in a slow letting of valves, he pulled in his gut, drew in air, and squinted through the lens. Still, ready, owning that moment he coughed deliberately and triggered the shutter.
Something shifted but it wasn’t right. A muffled thud instead of a crisp thwack. The pigeons scrambled, flying perversely towards him, and the moment was lost.
‘Balls,’ said the Pipes Man.
‘Thwack,’ said the shutter.