Friday, 12 October 2012

Another Walk of Shame

The air was thick and heavy and held her close like a blanket, comforting her as she staggered down the road. Her make-up was smeared on her face and her clothes were creased and crumpled from the night before, with her leather jacket hanging from her handbag by her side. She walked barefoot, but was too proud to consider this another walk of shame. She was still drunk.

Alison reached into her bag and pulled out a small business card with his details on it. If it wasn't for his advice she would never have gone to that meeting. If it wasn't for him she would never have met Shane. If it wasn't for him she would never have relapsed and she wouldn't be here right now. She screwed the card into a tight little ball and dropped it to the floor. She wanted to vomit but instead swallowed hard and staggered on. She didn't have far to go.

Her nostril was stuffed and empty and it caused her purse to weep. She couldn't stand it. She wondered if either would ever forgive her, if either could ever recover from what she put them through in the night. Her brain knew it. She could feel it, swollen with the grief, the guilt, the agony. It was swelling and trying to crush her skull. She couldn't escape the thought that the pain was thoroughly deserved.

She wanted to run away, to get out of her shitty little life. She wanted to move to Chicago. She didn't really know why Chicago, other than it was the only city she could name in Illinois and she only wanted to move there because she liked the way it sounded. She liked the way Illinois rolled off her tongue. It sounded beautiful to her. It left her with a pleasant tension in her chest and she felt foolish for thinking that way. Still, she had her mind set. One day she would get out and move to Chicago, Illinois. Lake Michigan beckoned. It would be her new home.

Turning the corner, she could see her destination across the damp street. The Bucket of Blood stood out from its surroundings, although its exterior didn't match its name. It looked like an ancient building, with its white, cracked paint and black beams it appeared to be from Tudor times. Smoke lazily rose from the chimney and disappeared into the grey sky of early autumn. It beckoned her. Formerly the Green Witch, it was once a family orientated bar, but when the owner died it became desolate, rotting in the skyline. Several years passed before a collection of rich students took it over and turned it into a lousy dive bar. It soon became a cult venue. Walls were lined with old tour posters, leopard print wallpaper and drunken graffiti. The floor was mostly wooden except for a small patch of thread bare maroon carpet by the jukebox and the ceilings were a tobacco-stained beige. The place reeked of mould but nobody cared. It was a venue for slobs and drunkards. The booze was cheap and nobody gave a shit about any rules.

The heavy wooden door creaked as Alison pushed it open and stepped inside. She was welcomed by the sound of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" and the usual dank aroma of the place. She suddenly felt violently nauseous. Behind the bar, her favourite tender, Joel, was standing, twisting a dirty rag into an empty tumbler. They'd fooled around a few times but it had never amounted to anything serious. She knew she could easily get a free drink out of the guy with just a wink or a smile, but she couldn't face him now. Fortunately he hadn't noticed her, so she walked straight past the bar, trying to ignore him, and headed for the back door hoping for some fresh air and a clear head.

Outside, Alison saw the exact site she hoped to see - her closest friend, Lucy, in her finest form. She was slumped over the only table, unconscious with her face cradled in her arms. She was a beautiful, slender, brunette and Alison loved her dearly. She didn't dare wake her. Instead she picked up the half consumed bottle of white wine from by her side and took a long heavy drink from it. Sighing from refreshment and choking back the vomit she raised the bottle back to her lips and drained the rest of it. It warmed her gut and she started to feel human again. She started to feel a lot better. She started to wish she hadn't thrown that card away.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Call of the Wild

I jerked out of sleep and lay there, coated in sweat with my heart pounding hard against the inside of my chest. It took a moment for me to recognise my surroundings but I soon realised that I was safe. I was free. Here in my room I no longer had to worry, it couldn't get me. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and sat upright. Resting my chin in my palms, I rubbed the dust from my eyes with my fingertips in an attempt to wake myself fully in preparation for the day ahead. It was a day full of business meetings that I knew would be a bitch but I was grateful for it. I'd escaped the nightmare.

My back stiffened and I tried to leap. I couldn't move. I felt the pressure snap around my ankle. Cold fingertips gripped my leg from beneath my bed. I was done for. It had me.

I sat bolt upright in bed and let out a loud whimper. I was breathing harder than usual and it woke her.
"Are you alright, baby?"
I let out a grunt in reply, but tried to make it sound as positive as possible. I'm not a morning person and that was a fucking scary dream. Inception shit. I can only convince myself that I'm safe now. Shit, why didn't I close the blinds properly last night? Or was it her? Whatever, light is pouring through them and it's unbearable.

I reached into my bedside drawer looking for a cigarette. It was a reflex, more out of hope and desperation than any kind of expectation. I just want a fucking drink. Just one.

*          *          *

Jerry Slim had never taken his life seriously. He had never dreamed of fitting in and living a regular, normal lifestyle. He'd always considered himself as something of a lone-wolf. Not anymore. Now he belonged to a marriage. Now he was living a suburban dream and it was costing him his mind. He wanted to belong, but not to this. Not right now. Right now he wanted to be part of a pack, running with the wolves. Hunting. Sinking his teeth into flesh. He had had enough of this life and wanted to be crazy. He wanted to go back to his youthful days. The wild days. He longed for things he could no longer do. He wanted to take drugs. He wanted to take large quantities of hard drugs, get high, climb things and shout at small children. He wanted to terrify them and be feared by them. He wanted to break them. To see them collapse in a fit of tears and run, crying, home for the comfort of their mother's sympathetic breast, with shit in their pants and piss warming their legs. He wanted to go out and fuck women. He wanted to go out and fuck all kinds of women. He wanted beautiful women. He wanted round women. He wanted strange women and pretty women. He wanted hairy women, black women and women who spoke no English and had names he couldn't pronounce. No, he didn't want to even know their names. He wanted short women, too. He wanted one so short that she could fellate him while she was still standing. He thought of murdering them after but thought that too far. Rape crossed his mind, too, but he preferred the idea of consensual. That made him feel better about himself.

He wanted to buy large bottles of whiskey, gin and brandy and sit on park benches, touching himself as people walked by - watching them with arrogance. Maybe he'd buy a gun and shoot their little bastard inbred dogs that they dragged along behind them. Maybe the death of their beloved pets would make them cry and mess their trousers like all the other spoilt children. What did he want of this world other than to lose his mind? He wanted to break it. Destroy all boundaries. He wanted godliness. He screamed.

"Baby, what's wrong?"

He turned to look at his wife, lying beside him in their matrimonial bed, perched on her elbows with her long blonde hair covering most of her face and falling down over her shoulders and touching her bare breast.

"You okay, honey?"

Her sleepy voice was full of sympathy.

"Yeah, babe. Fine. Just fine."

Jerry sighed, casting his eyes to the ceiling and focussing on a spider crawling across the textured white paint. He wanted a cigarette and he wanted one badly. Clean, sober and smoke free for a year and seven months now, but this just felt like the perfect time to jump off the wagon, roll around in the dirt and beg for acceptance from the rest of the wolf-pack. Whoever they were.

"Honey, snap out of it. You're away with the fairies again, like the old days."

Jerry turned his head slowly, to face her, frowning.

"I can't remember the last time you got like this" She continued, "What's troubling you?"

"Nothing, just nothing. Don't worry yourself. You care too much."

"I just love you, Jerry."

"I know you do."

He wanted to scream again. If she wasn't so pretty, so beautifully fragile and perfectly feminine, he would've raised his fist high and brought it down on her head. Not to hurt her - he'd never deliberately hurt her - just to silence her. He only wanted some peace. He wanted to be left alone. Only the wolf-pack would do for company right now.

"Jerry, baby, how about I tell you something to cheer you up?"

Her voice was high-pitched and excitable. She was talking rapidly.

"Well, I know we haven't really spoken about it, that money is tight and the flat is small and I need to work and that you don't want help from my folks but Jerry you know they love you and they'd be willing to help out if only you would let them and please, Jerry, I think you may really need to consider letting them help us, it'd make them happy, it'd make me happy, but if not I'm sure we'll be fine, we're both strong and you're a good man, Jerry..."

She continued in the same rapid manner but Jerry had stopped listening; his attention was back on the spider, now weaving a web where the ceiling met the wall above his head and thinking about his escape, his return to the wild, about finding his wolf-pack. He felt a sharp prod to his ribs and cast his eyes back across to his wife, who was now scowling at him.

"Jerry, you dumb lovable bastard! Are you even listening to me?"

He mumbled quietly in agreement, nodding his head slowly.

"Well, are you? You could at least look at me."

"Yeah, babe, I get it. You're about to tell me you're pregnant and the world is falling to shit. What's there to live for? I never wanted my sanity anyway."

"Fuck you, Jerry, fuck you." Her voice cracked as she fled the room. Her pillow was already wet from her tears. Jerry just laid back and smiled.