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.