Running east into the sun, he hadn't seen another human for over half an hour. He navigates Westferry Circus and heads south, cutting from the road through to the riverside pathway. He keeps is breathing steady - no reason to hurry.
The wind catches him from Westminster. It smells slightly salty but it's an ersatz attempt, nowhere near bracing enough to be a real sea breeze.
Pressing on, the vacant citadel of Canary Wharf disappears behind him. But as the peninsula curves around, a man appears in the distance. Even half a mile away he looks out of place, or rather—given the hour—time. He's walking purposefully, but it doesn't feel the kind of route someone would be taking to work. He's not wearing quite enough clothes for the weather either, and homeless people are rarely made to feel welcome in the Docklands. His supermarket denim visibly flaps in the breeze. "Relaxed fit", they call it.
When he gets within earshot the man cocks his head, not expecting to hear the regular cadence of approaching footsteps. He turns slightly to reveal he's cradling a large bottle of Coca-Cola, meekly wrapped in the swathing bands of two anonymously blue corner-shop plastic bags.
The runner eyes the Coke greedily but can quickly see that it has already been opened, tainted. Although only a mouthful or so has gone, a brown froth sloshes against the top of the container. Amateur, he thinks. He'll regret that later.
He looks back up to the man, who is now smiling at him. His left hand bccomes visible as he strides: a four-pack of Carling. The man laughs.
"Oh, you and me mate are worlds apart!" the man shouts.
It's immediately friendly. He starts to raise his Carling as but thinks better of it. It's momentarily awkward.
"Worlds apart mate", the man continues. "Have a good one!"
The runner smiles back.
Only in time, the runner thinks. They both can't stop.
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