With one hand cradling a cigarette inwards, sheltering it from the clear sky, he extends the other arm perpendicular to the horizon. Well steadied, he stares ahead beyond the mess of chicken wire to the plastic chair in front of the stairwell. It is faded and stooped to one corner from a splintered leg. Four pigeons complete the scene, one lazily stalks a plastic bag as it drifts in and out a shard of sunlight. Shadow, light, shadow.
First releasing breath and smoke in a slow letting of valves, he pulls in his gut, draws in air, and squints through the lens. Still, ready, owning that moment he coughs deliberately and triggers the shutter.
Something shifts but it isn’t right. A muffled thud instead of a crisp thwack. The pigeons scramble, flying perversely towards him, and the moment is lost.
‘Balls,’ said the Pipes Man.
‘Thwack,’ said the shutter.