First, I fell for the heavens and then the deep blue sea. I came to rest in a rain gully that ran the length of the street. My stomach was damp and cold, my hands were grazed and electric. Somewhere there was laughter like a bell.
Where are my friends? My dear, dear friends? Who amongst you will grant me safe passage?
I found my feet, took two long balletic strides and fell again.
I must be on hill of some kind. But where?
Hateful, harsh voices documented my folly.
I must hide. I’m too delicate for this savagery.
A sob was growing in my chest. I sang instead.
“Oh Mama! Can this really be the end? To be stuck inside the Ring Road with the tumbledown blues again!”
I beat a palsy retreat.
Let the darkness find me. Chart my course. Tack away from light and sound, until there is one…
My body danced with inertia.
Let it find some peaceful place for me.
For every five steps I took, my toes found the tarmac thrice. Slowly the sound, the light, the fury and the fight slipped away, another world was willing me into its arms.
When I woke there was pooled-blood pain in my knee and a stretched smile on my lips. I sat bolt upright and found myself on the deck of a canal boat. My wallet was in my right hand.
Have I bought the bugger? No, nonsense. No such arrangements could be made with a man of such frightful dispositions.
Still, as if to distance myself from this hypothetical buyers remorse, I disembarked and climbed the wet stone steps which lead to the street.
How had all of this gotten started? A train, a kindly God-fearing creep and a copy of C.S Lewis’ radio lectures on morality. That ‘orrible bastard had seen me coming. He’d probably been carrying that book around for weeks waiting for a derelict like me to slip, trip and fall arse-over-tit into his lap.
“Religion is the opiate of the masses, old man! Do I look like the masses to you? It takes stronger stuff than that to lay me down!”
No, before the train. The interview…
It hadn’t gone well. They hadn’t bought into my bulllshit. Nobody ever did. When I realised the jig was up, I babbled about Wittgenstein, Gaullist myth and the Ethereum blockchain for what felt like hours, words turning to porridge in my mouth, tumbling into my lap. I was still staring at the porridge in my lap when one of them said,
“O-kay, thanks for coming in, we’ll let you know in a day or two.”
I carried their pity with me like guilt until I hit the bar at Dirty Dick’s. I hit the bar at Dirty Dick’s like a water balloon hits a freight train. It went straight through me and I was carried a hundred miles east in its slip stream.
I flipped the sermonising C.S into the first receptacle I passed leaving Norwich station. I pictured it spinning all the way through to Narnia and hitting Aslan the Lion square between the eyes…
Enough! Sweet Christ, ya basta!
Down by the canal in the half light, dusk or dawn, dawn or dusk, a head full of C.S Fucking Lewis. I decided to walk down the hill, less resistance. The sun was rising and I heard the coarse rattle of shutters being lifted.
I asked a shopkeeper if he would sell me wine. No one was around so he let it slide. I took my bottle of red into the street and felt the day creep up on me. I owed the boys in Nottingham three thousand words on, The Tangle: The Hottest New Shit In Imaginary Money. What was the world coming to? Had we filled our lives with such rot and filth that we willingly embraced nothingness?
TRUSTLESS FUNGIBLE NOTHINGNESS
No matter, I had a plan. Home to bed for three and a half hours, shower, breakfast, papers, sit down at the computer and…bleed.
As it turns out, I slept for twelve hours, kicked my phone into the garden, watched the sun disappear over the wash and considered joining the Kurds in their quest for autonomy.
I wrote this last part down with the word quest in bold and underlined. It looked something like this;