About eighty years ago The White Horse Inn was the cities first pub, above it were seven tiny rooms that were the towns first brothel….
Forward fifty years and the downstairs Inn was boarded up and distinctly unsafe, the upstairs was a rundown boarding house for young people who couldn’t find somewhere better to live in these times of full employment and scarce housing. My meager employment meant I didn't have the money for a unit so I found a room in the front corner of this hovel. My room had a hanging cupboard about a foot wide that was screwed to the wall, a set of four tiny draws under a caravan sized sink and all the stale rusty luke water you could drink; next to that…a single bed. I added a tiny table and bar fridge, apart from that the only room left was for the red floral curtains, or at least the top 3 inches was red…the rest was white with the hint of where the pattern used to be fifty years ago.
Next to me was a young friend who's only claim to fame was being tied to his bed by some strange woman who picked him up in the pub across the road and who robbed him of his virginity. He never saw her again…
Next to him was a bloke (think it was a bloke) we never saw… You'd hear a click and turn to see the door close or see the back of a head through the frosted glass of the bathroom window as he/she disappeared down the stairs. In 18 months I never did see this person… (hiding, on the run?)
On the other side of me was a huge bearded biker whose late night drug parties filled the entire block with dope smoke and loud rock music, I never did get the courage to complain to him about it or even ask him to turn it down.
Next to him on the opposite front corner was a good friend of the biker, another huge bearded biker.
Next to him was a large closet with no window that was inhabited by a young man who was terribly claustrophobic and couldn't close his door when he was home…ever. For fun we would sneak over there when he was asleep and slam the door.. you could hear him in there screaming and crashing around trying to find the door, by the time he got the door open he would be covered in sweat. We thought that was funny! (yeah, I know) Eventually he would rearrange the closet every time he got home to block the door open with his bed, and there he slept in the worst of winter gales and the terrible heat of the Australian summer, half in, half out of his tiny room.
Next to him on the back corner was the best room, it was larger and had a big window that looked out on the steel mills and blast furnace but was also next to the bathrooms. It was inhabited by a strange young bloke who would take his clothes off and drop them on the floor then search around picking up and smelling clothes until he found something less smelly. His floor was completely covered in clothes a foot deep which he didn't seem to notice. Sometimes you could stand getting within six feet of him, other days you couldn’t be in the same building.
I didn't even notice when the guy we never saw moved out, we just never saw him again.
Then one day the door was open…and a new guy was in there. He had a shock of bright red hair and beard, was six foot six and built like a middleweight boxer, I went and introduced myself but he wouldn’t give me his name. When I asked he said I could call him whatever I wanted, I chose 'Red' and he was fine with that. (more about Red later)