You aim the torch ahead of you, and as you cautiously approach, you see a pale hand come up to try to cast some shadow. Belatedly, you point the beam of light at the ground and stop a little way away. “Are you Davy?” you ask. You realise that you don’t sound very confident – you’re not – but dealing with the man is your job. You decide that you need to add: “You know you shouldn’t be here.”
The top sheet of plastic parts and a face appears. Davy is tanned and lined, with watery blue eyes. His teeth, where he has them, are yellow and crooked, and his beard is scraggy and stained. He slowly sits up. He can’t see you, how old you are, or anything about you, because of the brightness of the torch, but he peers up at you all the same. He looks deflated, defeated, and he, not to put too fine a point on it, stinks. You can smell him from where you stand.
“You’re no going to throw me out, are you? I’m doing no harm here, and it’s pissing it down outside. Show an old man some mercy, will you?” He’s slurring his words, either through sleep or drink, though it’s probably the latter.
You feel something shrivel quietly inside you. You don’t want this. You don’t need this. But it’s your decision. You know that on one hand, if you let him stay here and someone finds out that you did, you’ve lost your job. If he dies here, then the chances of you getting another job after this one are startlingly remote. On the other, he’s right: it’d be a mercy to let him sleep off whatever he’s had and, even if you kick him out when it stops raining, you might be keeping him alive for another night. It’s grim out.