When Quincy Ayers speaks, it’s easy to feel like a cross between an at risk bird of prey and a touchy alligator, ready to snap. His narrow grey eyes are as emotionless as two slabs of slate. One might think that this was simply a result of age, but they have been thus since that fateful day of August 23rd, 1944 – when he reluctantly came into the world via the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire. His thinning curly hair that once resembled rusted iron, is now a mishmash of unruly, wiry silver strands, that make it look as though he may have recently been on the receiving end of an electric shock .
Before her death in 2012, Quincy’s older sister Marilyn, always referred to him simply as Quinine… because of the bitter taste he left in one’s mouth.
Quincy passes the time by watching reruns of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and furiously scraping with coins at scratch cards, from the discomfort of a charity shop-purchased, lumpy, green Chesterfield armchair in his council flat on the Cornflower Grove estate; while his equally unkempt and disgruntled feline companion, Bingo, looks on with utter contempt.
He tried marriage and family earlier in life, but quickly found the burden of having to interact with others far too heavy for his gaunt shoulders to bear, so he left Rosemary high and dry when his daughter Judith and her brother Harold were not yet school aged. Judith had never wanted anything to do with him thereafter, but Harold had attempted to contact him once back in the 90s, before quickly realising his old man was a stone better left unturned…for which Quincy was grateful.
On the rare occasions that he does venture out to replenish his dwindling pile of scratch cards and tea bags, Quincy Ayers insists on wearing the same offensively orange polyester shirt and mustard yellow tweed jacket, together with ochre brown corduroy trousers and a hideous pair of ‘burnt sienna’ deck shoes that contain his abnormally wide feet. His choice of attire could inspire musings of an elderly time traveller, that happened to stumble into a jumble sale basket circa 1972, before being whisked back to the modern day without warning.
Whatever onlookers opinions of him though, it mattered not. Quincy took a certain satisfaction in the knowledge that no one observing or interacting with him could possibly loathe his existence more than he did himself. The only thing that scared him was the niggling concern that reincarnation was real and he might come back as himself. All he cared about now was scraping his way to a winning set of cherries, so that he could get one last dig in at the world by leaving every penny of his winnings to the matted, flea-ridden, overweight stray cat that moved in with him seven years prior…Bingo.