Friday, 22 August 2014

I Can't Think of a Fucking Story Title

Fifteen years old and I lay curled up on the hard floor of my friend's bathroom. I'm trembling and desperately trying to hold down the few remaining contents of my stomach. The last time I buried my head in the bowl I was met with little more than a trickle of a thick, gooey, yellow substance. I guessed it was some kind of bile. I heaved so hard bringing that up that I suspected there'd be blood, too, but all I did was break a sweat. It's evaporated from my skin now and I'm cold and shivering. It had been a heavy night and this should be my first hangover, but I'd done it all before. It was of little comfort though. I dragged myself into a more upright position and exhaled heavily. My mate's mum would be home soon and there was an awful mess downstairs that needed clearing up. She was a tough senorita and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little afraid of her. Some people would call her a bitch, but I'd never be foolish enough to show her that kind of disrespect. Safe to say, the place needed to be spotless for her return. I felt my stomach turn and lunged for the toilet. Nothing but a full-bodied wretch and a pain in my gut. I cursed. I made a plea to God to cure me of my ailments and bargained never to drink again. I knew it was a lie, but I didn't care. God was a tyrant (and still is!) so I suspected his word meant shit and that I could never be expected to please him. I guess now I'll be destined for hell when I go, but at least when I get there, I'll be among my kind of people. I lay back on the tiles and hoped for sleep to take me. Or the devil.

The scent of bacon frying crept up the stairs. It was nearly enough to help me regain consciousness. Maybe I could regain control of my limbs and my organs. I gathered myself together and made for the door. I hated to think what would greet me below.

I stumbled downstairs, staggering past the crushed lager cans, contents of used party poppers and a lonely ashtray, abandoned on the windowsill, filled with old cigarette butts and cheap, fizzy wine.

On my way to the kitchen, I stuck my head in the living room door. Jimmy was unconscious, spread out on the sofa like a beached whale and looking just as hopeless. Clearly he was too drunk or too dumb last night to drag himself upstairs to his own bed. I could tell that he was going to feel just as bad as I do when he finally comes to. The carpet felt damp beneath my feet, so I moved to the kitchen.

I had tried MD for the first time last night. Jimmy mixed it into a glass of orange juice and told me to drink it up, so I did. I felt nothing. It left a bitter, chalky taste in my mouth, but I felt nothing. Not a thing. I was unimpressed.

I had no idea exactly how much of this stuff he had purchased, but I had given him twenty quid to share it and I was beginning to regret doing so.

I told him it was shit.

"Be patient, it takes time," he reassured me.

The music was loud and bass-driven. Heavy beats and all that brainless bullshit. It went well with the lights though as they flashed from red to blue to yellow. Then they'd mix it up a bit and blur into a purple, a green, an orange. Then back to red. Over and over again, in time with the music.

Red. Blue. Yellow.

Purple. Orange. Green.

And back to the start. Constantly repeating over and over. But each time the cycle began, the colours shone a little brighter, the music a little purer. Each cycle of repetition had a little more swagger to it.

I looked down to notice my drink was empty and suddenly realised I was sitting alone. This is shit, I thought. Bored, I got up and went looking for a better room.

The pale, vinyl floor of the kitchen was just as bad as the living room. It was covered in a thin veil of warm beer and grime from the night before, and my feet were sticking to it. I guessed it'd be my responsibility again to mop it clean. It seemed it was something I could be trusted with to do sufficiently.

I headed straight for the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk and took a long swig from it. It was cold and it immediately made me feel better. I could feel it lining my insides and it was enough to take the immediate edge off my burning throat.

Chloe was standing at the far end of the kitchen, silently staring at her feet with her palms on the counter.

"Good morning."


She was zombiefied. I guess last night had taken its toll on everyone.

I noticed the six rashers of bacon in the frying pan starting to burn, and turned the stove off. If she didn't hear the aggressive sizzling and popping of burning fat, I'd figured she should have at least noticed the smell. She was clearly struggling. I guess it was just one of those mornings. I placed the milk down on the counter.


Still nothing.

I flicked on the kettle, pulled three mugs from the cupboard at head height, placed them on the side and dropped a tea-bag in each of them.

"Sugar, right?"

Still nothing. The silence was frustrating.

"You feeling okay?"

She just turned on her heel and headed straight out of the kitchen door leading into the garden.

I sighed. Girls.

Outside it was cold and a morning moon hung in a clear, blue sky. I could never tell if that was a good or bad omen, but I didn't care, and I just left the thing hanging there, lonely.

She was stood with her back pressed against the wall of the house. I could see she'd been crying. I sat down on the step by the backdoor in silence. I didn't know what was up, but it was more than apparent she didn't want to talk. Not yet anyway.

Inside I could hear the sound of the kettle rumbling towards its climax. Jimmy slept peacefully.

She slipped a pack of cigarettes from her pocket and took one between her teeth and immediately followed it with a lighter. It shook in her hands. It was cold and we were all hung-over. She clicked the thing three times before it finally caught and the cigarette burnt brightly. She took a long drag.

"Jimmy's dead."

The words twisted from her mouth in a stream of smoke that disappeared into the sky. She slid down the wall to the floor.


"Go on and check his fucking pulse then. I'm telling you, he ain't breathing".

She started to sob violently. Her words were a sledgehammer to my gut. I wanted to vomit but there was nothing left in me. The kettle whistled frantically.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Lonesome Jack

Shitty little novels collecting dust on a shelf and wasting space. They are there to give the joint an air of class, but they failed miserably. They weren't even good enough for a place in a charity shop backroom or on bonfires.

In front of the books was a man, tapping his clammy fingers rhythmically and repetitively on the wooden table. He had an anxious look about him as he studied the room. Old men in hounds-tooth suits discussed politics and racing form. A shaggy Terrier scrambled around the sticky floor foraging for food but only ever finding scraps of peanuts and pork scratchings. The barmaid, middle-aged, buxom, tired and haggard, hummed to herself while polishing the brass of an ale pump. She looked as though she could right all the wrongs of her existence if she could just get that pump to shine well enough to show a tinted reflection of her worn-out face. The manager strolled behind her, head held high as if he was running a place to be proud of. A place people would want to come to. And the man just sat in front of those books, alone, waiting. Anyone who knew him called him Jack.

Maybe Jack was in the wrong place. Maybe this wasn't the ideal spot to meet a girl. He came in frequently enough and kind of liked it, but never really thought about it as a place to go for a date. He figured it couldn't hurt to try, but now, as he waited, he began to have his doubts. What if she took one look inside and walked on by? Surely the place wasn't that abhorrent. Surely she was just running late. Perhaps she had let it slip her mind, or didn't get the invite at all. He knew that couldn't be true. He saw her open the envelope he left on the side for her. He saw her face react to his carefully selected words as she sipped on the day's first coffee. Milky. Two sugars. As sweet as her eyes. He had been bubbling with excitement all day since she read the note, nervously anticipating her arrival. He took a mouthful of gin to ease his stomach and felt his head spin a little. He could feel his patience fading. He knew she'd come. He had watched as she placed the note back down on the desk carefully amongst her things. She was clearly interested. It was all the reassurance he could need that she'd be here for their rendezvous, so he slipped quietly from the window and headed straight to the bar, careful not to be seen while leaving her home. All day he sat there at the meeting point, waiting alone beneath those books. The few people who knew him called him Jack.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Beautiful Whores

It was looking like it was going to be a good day until I walked past the dead flowers by the side of the road. Suddenly I was filled with a sense of incurable sadness and headed to the nearest open bar. The door was thick and heavy and creaked loudly on the hinges. I knew I had probably made a mistake but I entered anyway. I found myself a place at the bar and ordered a drink. The smell was bad, and it was the type of place that only ever attracted the misfits and degenerates of society. You'd never expect to find anyone here with any class but here they were, alone in an empty bar.

She was elegantly dressed, wearing pearls and cautiously sucking on a cigarette perched between her fingertips. He adjusted his hat that rested upon a carefully folded newspaper on the table, and he took a mouthful of bitter. He checked her glass of gin and tonic to see that she had enough before having another mouthful. He returned his pint glass to the table and ran a wrinkled hand through his hair. Not a word was said between them and their silence was profound. There was no longer a need for small talk. Every story of youthful adventures had been told, and there was no longer a need to impress. Their love and affection was mutual and understood. They struck me as the symbol of everything we ever strive for. They had someone to keep them from drinking alone. They had no fear of dying alone. When one of them died, there’d be someone to kneel at their graveside and mourn their loss. They could die knowing that they left behind a soul on this earth that would give the remotest shit about their existence and notice when they were gone. I studied them closer in awe and wondered why I couldn't see either of them wearing a wedding ring. They could have been wearing them - my eyesight has never been the finest, and I wasn't planning on staring at them too intensely or walking over to join them to get a better view. I was fine by myself.

Perhaps they weren't married at all. Perhaps they had nothing to say to each other because they had nothing in common. They had no interest in caring about each other. They had both loved and lost enough in this life that they never wanted to go through it again. Their relationship involved no emotion, it was purely physical. They were just here now to take the edge off it. Having a drink just seemed like the appropriate social protocol before returning to their lifeless rest-home to do unspeakable things to each other. To fulfil filthy and kinky dreams that most people would be scared to even imagine. They'd push their bodies and their joints to their very limit in pursuit of a little bit of ecstasy. They couldn't know how long they'd be around for, so they'd enjoy it, and they'd be damned if anyone would stop them. They wouldn’t let themselves be forgotten, the beautiful whores.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Up in Smoke

It started out as a humble purr before erupting into a vicious growl, as the beast sank its teeth into its prey. There was a deathly silence as the stiff, wooden body fell lifelessly to the floor. It had been the last reminder of a phone call I had never hoped to make and now it was gone, just like all the others.

I was at my mother's house when it happened. I was sat in front of the TV with the thing on mute and my nose in a book. It wasn't a good one but I was on the last page of it and I was engrossed, when I heard a call from upstairs to look out the window. I ignored it and turned my attention back to the words; they seemed more important. It was shortly followed by a much more urgent call. It still didn't sound serious enough to dignify it with a look, but my father's sudden burst of expletives summoned me to my feet to look outside.
I made no hesitation and made straight for the telephone. I steadied my nerves and punched the telephone number into the handset and made the phone call I never wished to make. Twenty-six years and I was grateful I had never had to make one like it before.

The neighbours' house was on fire.

I kept as calm as I could, followed the procedure they taught us in school and told the operator everything they needed to know. They thanked me for the call and told me help was on its way. I hung up and made my way outside.

The first thing I noticed as I opened the door was the wall of heat greeting me. I could feel it against my cheeks and it was oddly welcoming. In the street, there was a chaotic hustle and bustle of bodies as neighbours moved nervously between the houses, trying to fathom what to do and how to help. In the sky, the flames made their home, stretching thirty feet in the air and dancing. It was the purest, strongest, brightest orange I had ever seen and it was truly alive. Plumes of thick, black smoke effortlessly slid from its tip and filled the air. We were all powerless as it spread, devouring anything in its path.

Some people dashed to their back gardens to spare their clean washing from being spoiled as it hung out to dry, and others dashed inside to shut their windows to keep the rich smelling smoke out of their homes. Some people were comforting children and soothing them from a panic while others dashed to do what they could to limit the damage. I didn't know what I could do, so I stayed the hell out of everyone's way. I fetched a cold beer, cracked it open and watched. I wasn't alone. This was a spectator sport. For what was usually a quiet, suburban road was now a popular point for people with cameras to drive to and turn their cars around. Some people seemed to get pleasure from watching this part of the world go up in smoke. It was a spectacle, and a relentless one at that. There wasn't a whole lot you could do but to sit and watch.

The excitement was short lived. I was barely at the bottom of my second beer when the flames began to dwindle and turn into a quiver of smoke. It was over. The panic had receded. Fire-fighters had tackled it from the other side and won. Peace was restored in suburbia once more. All that was left were a few tall, blackened reminders of what had happened, and an impending battle with the insurance companies. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

One of the Best

Summer mornings are always the worst. I stagger out of bed, blinded by the sun that pours through the blinds of every room in the house. The first thing I get to see when I manage to peel my eyes open is the first piss of the day resting in the toilet bowl. It's a bright, copper orange and serves as a dead giveaway that I am hung-over. I don't care too much though. I feel pretty good. I feel pretty invincible. I finish up in the bathroom, doing my usual daily chores of vanity and hygiene and check myself in the mirror. I look good. I've shaved five years off my face but I am looking good. There's not a single cut, scratch or nick. I've kept a steady hand when I so frequently get the shakes. I am invincible. It's going to be a good day - one of the best.

I float downstairs and slot myself behind the wheel of my car. It all feels right - mirrors, seatbelt, ignition and clutch. It all feels right. It's going to be a smooth ride, I can just taste it. I point the thing towards work and get rolling. The hours will slip by today. It's one of the better ones. I'll even hit the bars on the way home as a reward.

After dishing out the usual spiel, it only took a round of shots and a couple of cocktails to get her back to mine. Soon we were fumbling with each other's clothes until we were left with nothing on but the skin we were born in. I had to spit on it to get it inside her, but once it was in it was good. We were drunk. She gripped me tightly and moaned like she was set to die. She had claimed she had never done this before, but that was clearly a lie. She sunk her nails into the small of my back, so I bit down on her shoulder and thrust myself in deeper. She liked that. Outside the window a train rolled by. The tracks were so close to the building that when the trains did rattle past, the bulb that hung above my bed would swing back and forth, causing the light to play about the room. It was an irritating distraction. I pulled out, bent her over and buried her face into the pillow, working my way back into her. The light continued to rock back and forth and I felt a migraine coming along. I needed to finish soon before it ruined everything. I pounded away as quickly as I could; bouncing off of her round, white rear. She let out a loud squeal as I filled her with long spurts of warm come. Whether or not she came too, I didn't care. I rolled over and stared at the ceiling as the light gradually came to a halt. I thought about rolling a cigarette. I thought about all the other girls and all the other days. I had definitely had better ones before.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Carnival of Judgement

The chairs were hard, metallic blue and uncared for. They were the kind that folded in on themselves when nobody was sat on them, and currently nobody was seated. We were alone in this vast, stagnant room, in a sea of dirty, paint-chipped chairs. Rows and rows of the uncomfortable planks, just waiting to be filled with the well padded rears of the desperate and lonely. The kind of people who were just one rung above the bottom of society and would be arriving soon for today's freak-show to feel better about their own petty little lives. God knows why we were here so early. She was clearly eager. God knows why I was here at all. I guess I just wanted to get laid afterwards. She sat beside me clutching my arm and resting her head on my shoulder. At least she seemed comfortable, but I couldn't see how it was possible on these seats. She was content, and I guess that meant that I should be too. I had succumbed to her pleas. I had allowed her to drag me here, on the promise that it would be a laugh; that it would be outrageous. She assured me I'd get a kick out of it. I wasn't so sure.

Up at the front was the little wooden platform that would serve as a stage and on top of that were three chairs. Three glorious looking armchairs equipped with thickly padded cushions. Oh how far I have fallen when in this festival of monkeys and degenerates I don't get a little padding to rest on when these inbreds do.

They soon started to file in. The hordes and the masses. They're ready to spill blood today should they not be adequately entertained. They expected the best from their messiah and they refused to be let down. They eagerly awaited his arrival. The clank of metal and springs filled the room as they took their seats.

"Baby, I hope this isn't a sad one."
I just shrugged my shoulders in response. I didn't even know that they made sad ones. I thought it was all just bottle fed reassurance that no matter how shitty your life is that things are always a little worse elsewhere. There is always room to fuck up on a grander scale. One month of unemployment and a handful or rejection letters isn't so bad, when you could have a mild addiction to cough medicine and a healthy dose of crabs thrown in too. How the better-off can laugh at the peasants. I knew it was all bullshit, but the tickets were free and I had a shot at sex, so I couldn't care less about contributing to this abhorrent carnival of judgement. It would just be an hour or so out of my life. Time I would have only spent scratching my balls in bed.

Then the lights came up and a ripple of applause echoed through the crowd until it grew in strength and was soon accompanied by whoops and cheers. The man they had all been waiting for was finally ready to take to the stage. He was amongst his people, his brethren. He stood at the top of the steps that ran through the middle of the studio, dressed in a fine grey suit, with no tie, and lapped up every inch of their worship. His face was smug and his hair neatly trimmed as he made his way triumphantly through the midst of his flock and onto the stage where he belonged. This was truly his domain and it made me sick. I couldn't bear to watch. The big screen behind the stage flashed on with his name lit up in large letters before changing to the nature of today's show.


Holy shit. This sounded wild. I leant forward in my chair and took my baby by the hand and held it tightly. I needed to find out how this fiasco panned out.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Grit Beneath My Fingernails

The fluorescent lights of the tube sank me into a deep stupor. Between the barrage of unnecessary information about un-required products beaming down at me from above the windows and the peculiar paint-splattered design of the vinyl floor, I lost all interest in existence beyond the world of my own thoughts. Looking around at the grey faces of the mundane people surrounding me I knew I was not alone in feeling this way. And like most men with nothing better to think about, my thoughts soon turned to sex. It only seemed natural.

All was not lost in the ether of this miserable train ride. A radiant little soul sat opposite me clutching a worn out copy of Edward Abbey's "Fire on the Mountain". I instantly warmed to her. Not only did I warm to her choice of novel, but also to the fact she was reading it from a paper page and not from an electronic screen. I looked at her dainty facial features framed with long, auburn hair - which looked as if it had been woven from silk - and I looked to see if I could catch her eye as they danced across the page. She was engrossed and clearly did not wish to be disturbed. I wanted to approach her, however, and discover which passage of the book she was currently absorbing and whether she was enjoying it as much as she should. It could be the start of a blossoming friendship. It would be a lot easier to approach her in a bar, to seduce her and to never speak again, but to try to start an innocent conversation, to start something meaningful that stretched beyond sex was terrifying to me. I had heard of guys complaining about being stuck in the friendship zone. It was some kind of relationship status that meant a guy would never get to sleep with a female friend, like sex was the only reason for the origin of the friendship and he would be gutted that it would never come to fruition. It must take one helluva cruel bastard to hate women so much that they deem their friendship not good enough for them. It's as though attractive women aren't worthy of friendship. I couldn't wrap my head around it, so my thoughts returned to the girl. There were probably plenty of secluded benches in the next station where we could slip away to unnoticed and screw. I pictured the pair of us hidden around some urine soaked corner, sat on a half-rusted bench, with her on my lap, my fly open and my hand working its way up her summery dress, grinding our hips in animalistic delight. We wouldn't know each other's names but we would share something vaguely intimate, something carnal and primitive yet entirely hollow, before going our separate ways. We’d each find our own methods to deal with the guilt and to try to forget how low, empty and cheap we would both feel. I knew I would find the nearest bar to sidle up to and sink into oblivion, whereas she may well cry herself to sleep. It was neither glorious nor romantic but it was easy and the simple satisfaction and thrill of it would make it easy to forget any stigma or negative emotion attached, and to jump at the opportunity to do it all again with some other stranger.

I looked at her elegantly crossed legs pointed towards me and I wondered if being with such a beautiful creature wouldn't prove too exciting for me to cope with; particularly being with someone who was not only physically beautiful but also possessed a soul that sparked my curiosity and intrigue. I thought of all the things I would try to occupy my mind with in order to keep myself from getting overly excited. I wanted the deed to last as long as possible. I thought about dead fish. I thought about the President of the U.S. and the faces he may pull when sat upon his porcelain throne. I thought about the smell of antiseptic and I thought about the feel of grit beneath my fingernails. It all seemed farcical. To spend so much time thinking about sex when you can't get it or it's not around, just to try your hardest to think about anything else when you're actually with someone. The things some men must think about when trying to keep themselves from coming in their pants. I knew I wasn't alone in this practice; everyone wants to last longer. Finding out these thoughts would be a quicker way into the workings of a male mind than any Rorschach test. To conjure up thoughts that can prevent ejaculation while maintaining an erection is an incredibly bizarre concept to manage, and would speak volumes of the individual's psyche.

I am just a coward though, and without any form of Dutch courage on my side, I watched the fair angel glide from the chair opposite, and with a farewell smile disappear from the train and out of my life forever. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I hadn't even noticed the train had pulled into the station. I had no intention of following her, despite the smile it would just feel creepy. Instead I remained on the train, alone, gloomily aware that I had one less friend in the world. I looked at the other grey faces around me and I knew that this was where I belonged.