Anamnesis – Part 2

 

He left his flat and instantly realised he had forgotten his keys. He’d placed them atop the television in order to remember their companionship, a location calculated due to its proximity to the exit, but remember did he fuck, the door now closed, locked and stern while the landlord awaited rent, the last thing Henry sought to buy. So he decided to get away from all his failures and search for something else in town. To seek something out that might remind him of humanity and hope. But as he descended the stairs it struck him, suddenly from the shadows and unwelcome in his brain. The panic. The fear. The realisation that at any moment, at any given time, he might find himself confronted with an overwhelming desire to recoil and run. Run so fast his legs would splinter into shards of crooked flesh. A trail of blood and disappointment rotting in his retreat. These perilous potentials to harm his fragile will were bountiful in emergence and his eyes quivered in recognition of this impassioned fact. Such bouts of fevered fear encompassed everything he thought and felt, like his state of present unemployment. Finding a job was not the problem, keeping it was. Thinking about the problem became a problem, and so he decided to forget about it, and forget he did, like his keys, gone into the gloom.

Somehow he found himself at the bus stop. He could not remember the walk but there he was, waiting for something to happen. He considered a visit to his father’s grave but soon decided against it. It meant a different bus, it meant remembering, it meant pain and reflections of all he failed to understand. Since his fathers death Henry avoided all but one sensation, and that sensation became so commonplace it now lacked the pleasure it once possessed. So he decided to have a break. He decided perhaps it might be time to find a real woman. A woman he could touch. A woman he could hold and hope to love and cherish. And town was his only hope.

Having sat in meditation throughout the journey he got off the bus and walked towards the shopping centre. Passing through the myriad of shoppers he felt the brief touch of another individual and looked to his side to witness the form of beauty bared and framed on mortal feet. She was right there. Beside him. Breathing the same air. Walking on the same ground. Pure. Perfect. Human. He decided to follow and see what opportunities might arise for a conversation, a social sensibility he knew little of. She stopped by the window of Ann Summers and instantly Henry’s mind filled with erotic fantasies and images of sex and sweat and screaming. He saw bathrooms filled with the flicker of candles, scents of passion rising in the mist and the glow of lovemaking filling empty souls. He was under her spell. She bewitched him and he welcomed it, wilfully surrendering his unstable functions to the magic of her form. She took a few more steps and walked into a coffee shop. He watched her in the queue and followed the smooth surface of her dress as it traced her shapely rear. She purchased her milky latte and sat at a table overlooking the busy market stalls, her dress lifting slightly to reveal the texture of her thighs. Her face glistened in the artificial light, a look of ease, a calm and peace he no longer knew. She had it. She had it all. She was perfect. I must approach her, Henry urged. It must be done. But what do I say? How do I  start? What words can portray when man alone is dumb? He looked around for inspiration but was immediately drawn back to her. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. Do I sit down? Do I stand and speak? Do I walk away? Fuck it, I have to say something, I’m tired of being alone and empty. He walked over to her table and stood looking down on her. Immediately he began to regret his decision and considered a hasty retreat. The panic was setting in and fear and anger and hatred were twisting and churning the stuffing of his skin. What do I say? What? Help? He could feel his heart hammering his ribs, his eyes blinking and cursing all the weakness set within. You fool! You complete and utter fool! What have you done! What have you done! Get out of here. Run. Run fucker run. But before he could move away and accept defeat she looked up to identify the shade upon her face.

‘Can I help you?’ My God she was beautiful, Henry thought as his eyes began to burn.

‘Er…do…do you mind if I sit down?’ Henry said with great disbelief.

‘Sorry?’ She leaned in closer.

‘Do you mind if I sit down?’ he repeated slightly louder and suspicious of her apology.

‘No…not at all…it’s fine. Go ahead.’ She smiled.

‘Can I get you anything?’ He asked.

‘No, thank you, I’m fine.’

Henry stood in awe of her for a moment longer. She was fucking amasing, Henry observed, absolutely fucking amasing. Suddenly he realised what he was doing and decided the best course of action would be the preservation of her kind reception, so he turned and ordered an iced coffee from the counter. This is fucked up. What am I doing? What the fuck is going on? He wasn’t sure, but it felt good. He was scared and nervous, but also something else, something long forgotten, something waiting to be awoken. He returned to sit opposite her and she smiled at him again before returning her eyes to the printed words atop her palm. What to say? He questioned, it seemed so easy when no thoughts were mended by the detail, and now that was all that remained among the allocation of its fright. She had not objected to his approach and now he was sat beside her gripped by fear and hatred. What the fuck do I say? Henry searched his ill practised mind. Come on! What? What do I say? Tell me what to say! Please! She looked up from her book and smiled. Shit.

 

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Ya Get Me

Mr Flanagan was doin’ ma fuckin’ head in goin’ on about God and sin an’ punishment an’ hell an’ all da uva fear da fuckin’ saviour shit. Do what I say shit. Fuckin’ foolish shit. So I start chattin’ to Shavonne about da party dis evenin’. But he starts getting’ all crazy. Starts goin’ on about manners an’ respec’ and yoof and all da uva shit. So I just leave ‘im to it an’ try find out what time da party’s gonna start. But he goes skyzo. Get’s all het up and shit. Calls me a nuisance. A distruption to da class. A waster. So I tell ‘im to go fuck himself, ya get me. Fuck him. Who is he to be sayin’ dat shit about me. He don’t know me. He don’t know nuffin’ about me. He don’t know nuffin’. Standin’ dere all fuckin’ high and mighty wiv his butterz attitude getting’ all fuckin’ fresh and shit. Da manz a fuckin’ fool and he gets all trippy cause he finks he can dis a school kid. Fuck ‘im. He da one dat needs to learn some manners innit. He da one wyv no respec’. Fuckin’ bare rude. But he sends me out da class. Tells me to go and see my form tootor. Tells me to fink about shit. Fink about what I said. I told him I already fought about it. I told him I fought about it a lot. I told him enjoyed sayin’ it more dan I enjoyed finkin’ about it. I told him to fink about it. Brapp.

Anway, School finally fuckin’ finished and I shot out dem gates as soon as da fuckin’ bell went. Ain’t nuffin’ betta dan getting’ out dem gates, specially when it’s da weekend, ya get me. Fuck dem tutors. Fuck dere lessons. Fuck dere oldskool shit and ancient fuckin’ batty fings. It’s all bullshit.  S’ fuckin’ useless. True dat. Ain’t no good to no one. Not where I’m from. What da fuck I gonna do wiv some fuckin’ pyfagora’s feorem or some bullshit? It gonna help me at da fuckin’ checkout? ‘M I gonna stand dere addin’ ma potatoes an’ peas an’ chicken an’ fink, ah, dat’s five pound sixty. Boom. Na, I ain’t. I ain’t gonna use none dat shit. It’s fuckin’ whack. Na way. But history. Now history get me some ideas. History make me fink. History make me see fings dat mafs don’t. It’s different, ya understand. I don’t like no fuckin’ sums an’ shit, but wid history I get me some knowledge of fings an’ how dey used to be, an’ how fings z changed an’ why. For all a us. Everywhere. It’s all different. We all different, an’ Acton iz full a’ us. Like me. I different. I different from da bruva next to me or da sista ova dere. Like dem poles, innit. I different from dem Poles dat come over an’ eat dere kabanos an’ saukraut cabbage an’ shit. I don’t look nuffin’ like dem. But it don’t matta. We da same. We all da fuckin’ same. An’ I know dey been froo some rough shit, ya get me. Dey seen bare ruff shit. True dat. Hitler an’ his fuckin’ Nazi bredrins and Stalin and his shit. All dem fuckers. Like Mao. Dey all evil. But dey ain’t no different to all da uva fuckers dat still ‘ere an’ all da uva shit dat still goes on. I read da papers. I see it. History and all dat’s happnin’ now da same fuckin’ fing, ya get me. Nuffin’ changes. Nuffin’. Jus’ people an’ places. Same shit. Same shit all da fuckin’ time. Ain’t nuffin’ gonna make a difference. Nuffin’. ‘Cept dat stoopyd fuckin’ Flanagan an’ his dickshit lessons fink dere some better place. Fink dere’s some greater meanin’ an’ higher power an’ holy shit dat gonna help an’ cure us. Dat dere be some way to change and make it betta froo God an’ shit. So we gotta pray an’ apologise an’ den fank him for everyfin’. Fank ‘im an’ his family for all dey done an’ do. Fank ‘im. Fank ‘im for what? Fank ‘im for ma dickhead dad who jus’ fuckin’ drinks all day? Fank ‘im for all dem times I got jacked and buss up? Fank ‘im for ma mum da’s dead? Fank him for ma sister dat say she ain’t neva cumin’ home? Fank him for dat shit? An’ den when I’m dun I gotta fank ‘im for Saddam an’ Gadaffi an’ Kim Jong an’ Aferwerki an’ Bashir an’ dat fuckin’ Cameron cunt? Fank ‘im for dem cunts? For real? Ya gotta be jokin’, ya get me. I ain’t see no God in dat shit. I ain’t see no fuckin’ angels and saviours. I see hell on fuckin’ erf, blud. But I got a brain. I read ma books. I watch dem documentries an’ shit. I see da news. I educate. And I see uva fings, innit. I see it. But I don’t let no motherfucka know. Ain’t dere business, ya get me. Ain’t no mans business. It’s da way it is, innit. Da only way. I do what I do ta survive an’ you do what you do. We all do whateva shit we fink’ll make our lives betta now. Not in some future fuckin’ bullshit in da sky. But hereNow. An’ I don’t give a fuck how yoo do it. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t come up in yo crib and judge yoo. I don’t say my way’s betta. I don’t say nuffink, bruv, I just do ma fing and leave dem uva bitches be. Ya know what am sayin’. It’s da troof. Gospel.

But da’s long ting head fuck shit so now I gonna chillax. I gonna go an’ have a joint wiv ma sister Michelle. She one ma friends. I mean propa friends. Like we propa tight an’ shit. We grew up togeva. Been in same nursery and primary skool an’ now in anuda fucked up skool. But she make it all okay. Cause we got each uva and no-one gonna take dat. Da’s it. We sisters. For eva. An’ now we gonna get mash up. Get high. We all got our ways to relax, an’ dis is ours, ya get me. Dis da way we chill out an’ fink bout nuffin’ an’ try an’ forget all dat shit dat gets you down. Happens, but you get on wyv it. Happens to everyone, innit. It’s always happenin’. You jus’ gotta find ya means ta cotch an’ enjoy  da shit you got. Fuck. Dere’s planty a fings dat’l’ make ya cry and shit. But da’s for pussies. Don’t do nuffin’. Don’t help. Never does. So we put on some choones an’ smoke a bifta. Talk shit an’ have bare jokes. Fuck da Flanagans. Fuck dem other cunts. They all fuckin’ clowns. All a dem. Dey jus’ angry an’ shit cause dey forgot how ta have jokes. Dey all angry an’ shit cause dey stuck in some fucked up marriage or dey wanna be stuck in some fucked up marriage. But dey neva happy. Neva. An’ dey gotta let every uva fucka know it. Share it. Make ‘em suffer too. Fuck ‘em. Dey should puff on some weed. Get high. Den maybe dey’ll see God. And den he’ll tell ‘em to shut da fuck up. Ha.

I breeze past some yutes an’ dey try and churpse me but I ain’t interested. I ain’t interested in none dat shit. Even if dey were older an’ had bare sterling I wouldn’t give a fuck. Tings have changed. I ain’t got time for dat shit no more. Not now. Dey jus’ messin’ an’ dats da way I treat it, so I flash dem my teef an’ bowl on. Dey’ll find der laydee. Unless dey’re batty. But den da’s up to dem, innit. I don’t give a fuck. Betta for me. I see Michelle cotchin’ by our bench and head over. ‘Hey girl, how’s it goin’.’

‘S’ cool.’ We greet each uva. ‘Wha’ happened wyv Ms. Shemal?’ She arks me.

‘Nuffin’. She jus’ gave me a Saturday detention, innit.’

‘She gonna call your dad?’

‘I dunno.’

‘Shit.’

‘Fuck it.’

She pulls da spliff from her pocket and smiles. ‘Le’s get high.’ She sparks up and takes a few tokes an’ I watch da glow a da cherry as it changes colour an’ get’s bigga an’ brighta. Da smell makes me feel betta. I fink about all dem fuckers dat smoked before us. All dem fuckers dat done shit an’ achieved sumfin’. Made uva’s feel betta. Helped people like me. An’ despite da rest I know dat dere is dem uva betta bruvas and sistas dat make fings betta. Make de sadness lighter. Make us feel betta an’ fink ‘bout shit. Make us act like we should, like people, wyv hearts an’ minds an’ care an’ love an’ shit. Dey dere. Dey just harder ta find, ya get me. But dey dere. Dey waitin’. Trust me.

Michelle start’s hummin’ ‘Survivor’ an’ I can’t help but fink how fuckin’ wicked it is. How wicked she is. She’s ma girl. She always senses when I feelin’ shit. She knows. ‘Here.’ She passes me da spliff an’ I start tokin’.

‘We goin’ dis party tonight den?’ She arks.

‘Yeah, I fink so.’

‘Aaron’s gonna be there.’

‘So?’

‘You gonna chat wyv ‘im?’

I take a long toke and close ma eyes. ‘No.’

‘Don’t you fink yoo should?’

‘No.’

We finish da spliif and sit dere. I feel high but dis time it’s different. I can’t stop finkin’, ya get me. I can’t switch off. I fink about what’s gonna happen. How fings is gonna change. I fink about Michelle goin’ uni and leavin’. She gonna go study English Lit cause she wants’a be a writer, and she fuckin’ good at dat shit. She bare fuckin’ good. Trust me. She gonna bust dat shit up. But it’s up in Chester or sum shit and bare mileage from Acton. S’ far innit. It’s all good dough. She gonna get outta here. And dough it’s scary dat she gonna duss, I’m happy for her, innit. She gonna have a betta life. She gonna be fucked up wyv debt an’ shit, but she gonna be doin’ somefin’. She gonna make a difference. And…more important dan all dat uva shit, she gonna be happy.

‘I gotta go.’ I say and get up.

‘So we gonna meet at eight?’

‘Yeah.’

‘What you gonna wear?’

‘Dunno.’

‘It don’t matter. You fine anyway.’

‘Shut up.’

‘Im serious, girl. Aaron stoppyd if he don’t see it.’

‘Yeah, well. Fanks. You too girl.’

‘You know dat. See ya laterz den.’

‘See ya.’

We separate and I bowl back to ma estate. But I don’t wanna go back. I don’t wanna go home cause I know he’s gonna be dere. I know da fucker gonna be in an’ I don’t wanna see ‘im. I don’t wanna look at ‘im. He’s a fuckin’ pussy’ole, ya get me. He’s a propa fuckin’ fool. But I have to get outta dis fuckin’ skool shit, innit. I have ta get ma garms on an’ get maself fresh. Do ma hair and nails and duss back out. As quick as fuckin’ poss. Fuck ‘im.

Da lift’s still broke so I take da fuckin’ stairs an’ have ta step round dat fuckin’ smackhead dat live’s dere. He’s mash up an’ I step round him an’ make sure ta look out for any a’ his needles an’ shit. Fuckin’ sad. Ain’t no way ta live, ya get me. But no one dere to save ‘im. Not no Flanagan in dis fuckin’ crib. Neva. S’ fucked up. I get to ma floor an’ every step I take’s against ma every fuckin’ wish. Against everyfin’. But it’s gonna be over soon. I just gotta keep remindin’ maself. Stay strong girl. Keep it tight. Finka about da bigga picture. Fink about da future.

I open da door an’ dere he is. Waitin’. ‘Where you been?’ He says and knocks over de fuckin’ coat rack. I try to get past ‘im but he just stands dere swayin’ like a fool.

‘Nowhere.’ I say and pick up da coats an’ rack.

‘Do you know what time it is?’

‘Yeah.’

‘So where have you been?’

‘Nowhere, innit. Was jus’ comin’ home.’

‘For this long?’ He leans up on da wall cause he can’t fuckin’ stand straight.

‘It’s Friday, man. Wha’s wrong wiv you.’ I get froo da gap between his pissed up arse an’ da wall an’ head to da kitchen. I need a drink. I need ta get away from him an’ his rank up stink. Da man’s a bare disgrace, ya get me. Fuckin’ embarassin’.

‘Don’t walk away from me, I’m talking to you.’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ I get me some Coke an’ close ma eyes as da coldness makes me feel good an’ helps ma dry mouf. But he bowls up behind me, innit, followin’ me, wantin’ somefin’, always fuckin’ wantin’ somefin’.

‘How was school?’ He arks.

‘Same, innit.’ I go to wash ma glass an’ see da man’s been sick in da fuckin’ sink again. ‘S fuckin’ mingin’. Always da same shit. Every fuckin’ day.

‘Nothing happened?’

‘Na, nufin.’ I turn da tap on an’ close ma eyes as I push ma finga around da plug ‘ole. Da smell makes me wanna fuckin’ puke. You’d fink I’d be used ta it now. I pour some bleach down da drain an’ turn to see ‘im starin’ at da bottle a whiskey he finks I can’t see. He’s so fuckin’ stoopyd.

‘Your school phoned.’ He comes up to ma face an’ starts swayin’ an’ shit, propa stoopyd like. An’ he stinks like dem mans on da street so I turn ma face away. ‘Told me you got detention.’

‘So.’

‘Saturday detention.’

‘Yeah. And?’ I push past an’ try to get to ma room, innit, get away from ‘im.

‘And? And?’ He follows me down da hall. ‘Come back here. I’m talking to you.’ Before I can open ma door he grips me by ma arm an’ flings me round, all aggressive an’ shit. So I stare at da motherfucka, ya get me. Fuck ‘im. ‘What did you do this time?’

‘Nuffin’.’

‘It ain’t nothing. Tell me.’

‘Why. Wha d’yoo care.’

‘I do care.’

‘Bullshit. You don’t care bout shit cept yo fuckin’ drink.’

‘That’s not true.’ He let’s go a ma arm. ‘I…’

‘What. You what?’

But he don’t say nuffin’ an’ jus’ stands dere like a fassy’ole. He’s all pissed up an’ shit. He’s ’fucked up. Mans always da fuckin’ same. Always. So I go in ma room an’ close ma door. But I sit on ma bed an’ straight away hear a can open in da kitchen. Fuck. Man, fuck dis shit. I can’ take it no more, ya get me. Fuckin’ all day every day. Cookin’ an’ makin’ food an’ shit an’ washin’ an’ cleanin’ an’ takin’ ‘im ta hospital when he falls ova an’ breaks his fuckin’ arms an’ shit. Pickin’ ‘im up an’ tryin’ ta carry ‘im fuck to bed. Moppin’ up his piss. Fuck dat shit. Fuck all dat shit. I ain’t go da will no more. Ain’t got da strenf. Not for dat shit. I don’t care, ya understand. Not no more. I got uva fings on ma brain, ya get me. New fings. More important fings. Betta fings.

I start pickin’ out some a my garms when I hear da fucker come up ta ma door again. He don’t leve me alone, man. He don’t let me be. Man, fuck. ‘I’m…sorry.’ He says froo da door. But I don’t give a fuck, ya get me. He always fuckin’ sorry bout some shit. I pick out ma spesh D&G dress an’ try an’ get it on, but it don’t fit no more. I gettin’ too big. ‘…I’m…sorry…’ He says again. Fuck ‘im. I look at maself in da mirror. I gettin’ fat, innit, but it’s all right. I still look good. Still got ma lips and hips. Boom. He finally fucks off an’ I finish getttin’ ready. Even do I got ma shit on I take a few uva dresses an’ fings jus’ in case, innit. I’ll see what Michelle finks. When I look in da mirror again before dussin’ an’ I smile, damn girl, I look good, ya get me. I look fuckin’ good. Fuck all da uva shit, I fine. Know dat shit. When I open da door an’ walk back out into da hallway, I hear ‘im cryin’ in da kitchen an’ mumblin’ about how much he cares an’ shit. It’s bullshit. So I try ta be quiet, innit, try an’ sneak da fuck out wivout him hearin’. But he does. ‘Where you going?’ He arks an’ almost falls over as he gets up.

‘Out.’ I say an’ put on ma jacket.

‘What about dinner?’

‘Get some chips or somefin’.’ I’m about to open da front door when he pulls me back.

‘You’re not going out.’

Now he’s all angry an’ shit. One minute deres tears an’ shit and da next he’s all wexed and fucked up. He’s a fuckin’ mess, ya get me, proper fucked up. ‘S da alcohol. Dat an’ whateva fuckin’ crazee shit’s inside his head. But I been froo it too. All a it. An’ now I had enough. I pull ma arm away. Fuck ‘im. ‘Why not?’

‘Because I said so.’

‘You gonna stop me?’

‘Yes.’ He stumbles in front a da door an’ leans back on it. ‘What’s that?’ He points at ma bag an’ I see his eyes roll about in his fuckin’ head.

‘S ma bag, innit.’

‘What’s in it?’ He tries to take it off me but I move too quick. ‘What’s inside?’

‘Ma clothes an’ shit.’

‘What? What do you mean your clothes? Where are you going?’

‘I told you, blud, I’m going out, ya get me, out. Away.’

‘Stop talking like that.’

‘Like what?’

‘You know what.’

‘S da way I speak, shit.’

‘Stop talking like that.’

‘Man, fuck, get outta ma way.’ I try to move him but he’s a heavy fuck. He grabs me an’ we push and pull each uva about in da hallway. Da fucker’s crazy. ‘You well pissed, jus’ move.’ He grips me by ma collar an’ slams me against da fuckin’ wall. I drop ma bag and he holds me back as he picks it up. He opens it an’ looks inside.

‘What’s this?’ He arks.

‘Nufin’.’

‘You leavin’?’

‘What? Shut up.’ I grab ma bag back an’ try ta get past him again but he keeps grabbin’ an’ pullin’ me, fuckin’ up ma hair an’ dress an’ shit.

‘You leavin’ me?’

‘You talkin’ fraff

‘No I’m not. Tell me.’

‘You been in Red Lion an’ got all pissed an’ shit. You a fuckin’ mess.’

‘Stop it. How many times have I told you? How many times? Eh?’

‘Whateva.’

‘Don’t fucking talk to me like that.’

‘Chaaa.’

‘Don’t you dare talk like that.’

He starts shakin’ me an’ shit an’ I stare straight at da fucker. He’s all cryin’ and dribblin’ an’ mumblin’ an’ shit. Trippin’ out. He’s fucked up. I mean propa fuckin’ crazy, ya understand. For real. I can’t remember da last time I saw him like dis. Cryin’ an’ shoutin’ at da same fuckin’ time. He’s propa lost it. Shit. He’s fuckin’ mental. An’ den I remember. I see it. I was like five or sumfin’. It was when mum died. An’ den again a few years later when Jess left. But I was hurtin’ too, ya get me. I ain’t stopped fuckin’ hurtin’. Ever. An’ now I jus’ wanna get out, ya understand. For good. ‘Talk like what, blud, like what? What?’

‘Like them.’

‘Who? Who da fuck you talkin’ about?’

‘Like them niggers at your skool.’

‘Shut up.’

‘What d’you say?’

‘I said shut up. You don’t know shit.’

‘You ain’t a nigger.’ He screams.

‘You bare fuckin’ racist.’

‘Ain’t no nigger in my house.’

‘You sure bout dat?’

‘No fuckin’ way.’

‘No?’

‘NO!’

‘What about a nigger baby?’

He jus’ stands dere. I see his eyes. I see da hate. I see it all. Den I feel his fist on ma stomach. Once. Den twice more. Again and again. Da last one proper fuckin’ hard. I can’t see shit no more’. Everyfin’ fucked up. I feel da blood in me eye. I crumple over on da ground. Fings started going hazy. I can’t see shit. My nose is fucked. Everyfin’s fucked. He spits and I feel it on ma face. Den da door shuts. I hold my stomach. I hold it tight. But I don’t cry. I fink about…da flat I’ve applied for…

….but fings start get blurry……

…I start blackin’ out…

…but I fink bout…

…da council…

…da government…

…helpin’ me…

…helpin’…

…me an’ ma baby…

…s’ fucked up…

…s’ all fucked up…

…but…

…..I hold ma stomach…..

…we’ll make it……

…you an’ me…

…………togeva………..

………we’re………

………survivors………..

……………both a us……………..

……………we’ll………………

…………………make it…………………

….

………………………………….I promise………………………………….

………………………………….I………………………………….

………………………………….promise………………………………….

……………………I……………………

…………………..

……

Anamnesis – Part 1

Henry arose to face another day, another arduous succession of minutes in the same languid life, the same boring routines that made up his grieving existence. He was, like so many, a tool of the state economy. He added sums, subtracted lives, and equated death. For the mind and body there was no relief, no reprieve from a time and place that neither accepted his thoughts nor rewarded his actions. It was the way of things and he was merely one among a zone of duplicates, empty and alone, scribbling in the dark amid a million mounted check books, all numbered and identified and condemned to cornered fate. Henry often wondered how many people died for the printed paper of his birth. How many soldiers fell to madmen, how many foiled them, how many spoiled them, and how many finally joined them? Was it the promise of a better life? Was it this life? Was it his life? If so, his life was slain and he smiled at thoughts of kissing Satan’s feet, his mind wandering and absconding until the Lord of tortured fate appeared aloud behind him.

‘Come on Henry, you’re dreaming again.’ The cold and dour voice intruded. Henry knew he was dreaming. He knew he always dreamt. It was the one thing that made reality bearable, the only thing, his thing, and now they wanted to strip him of his right to enjoy the one side of life no one could control but him.

‘Sorry, it won’t happen again.’ Henry replied, and off he went again. Numbers turning into naked women. Letters into woven mantras of lustful affliction. Love on his brain. Sex in his pants. Work in his face. Always in his face. Poking and prodding and relentlessly claiming every portion of his soul. ‘You’re doing it again Henry, what the hell is wrong with you today?’

‘You.’ Shit. This time he wasn’t dreaming. Reality merged and what he dreamt of saying so many times before finally spilled from loosened lips.

‘What did you say?’

‘I said you’re a fucking idiot and you can find someone else to fuck your fractions.’

‘Are you sure you want to do this?’

Henry looked at the man before him. He looked at the new suit and shiny shoes tailored for his crooked hooves and stubborn eyes. He looked at his neatly trimmed beard and plucked eyebrows. He looked at his gold jewellery, diamond cuffs and manicured nails. He searched for a trace of humanity in between the stripes of his Armani shirt. He stared at the pink tie as its brightness damaged his desire to remain sat inside this rancid place of silent death. Who the fuck is this man? Henry thought. Who the fuck is he to me? What the hell do I owe him? He looked around the office. What the hell do I owe any of these people? What the fuck am I doing here? For what reason do I surrender my life to profits far removed from mine? What the fuck? Why?

‘What, this?’ Henry finally spoke and rose to feet. He grabbed his bag and walked out, away beyond and gone. He did not look back. He did not regret or curse what disappeared behind. He did not speak or motion his farewell. He merely walked out. Just like that. Gone.

That was how Henry lost his job, four years ago, today. And today he stood beside his sister as they watched the priest tell tales of a life long since given up in search of peace. A life Henry saw diminishing, a life he smelt decaying, a life his father forgot, the last of his relatives, gone. Now he was the final hope for forebear’s name and fame, an unemployed burden to a society that washed its hands of him the day he lost his job. Henry was never one to seek refuge in distant worlds, particularly worlds that made no place for him, but this time things were different. This time, he was different. This time, there was no time.

*

Henry spent the past four hours watching Lost on DVD. His eyes transfixed by the troubles of a set of strangers thrust into the abyss of barren lands and places bereft of gaping minds and sagging spines. Why would this be a problem, Henry thought, adrift from everything and everyone. No work, no bills, no joys no thrills. Just myself and me, alone, together. But though he was indeed alone, confined within the trembling walls of a sullen flat devoid of familiar flesh, Henry felt no better in seclusion. This was how he lived. Six months. Six long months of self and shit and pain and piss. From the moment he was told of his father’s grim mortality, time became a burden, a burden he held no wish to recognise. Fuck off, he screamed, leave me be, can’t you see I’m already dead? Look, my veins are dry and my heart amiss, no hand to kiss, no love in bliss. But nothing came to save him, no rescue, no salvation, nothing. So he filled his time with senseless tasks and welcomed slight and sound distractions for a pulsing mind, a desperate escape from the confines of his irate anatomy, and sleep became the main component.

Henry slept for fourteen hours a day and the remaining ten were spent in preparation for a sullen slumber, coercing the mind into a trance forbidding emotional response. When thoughts of his father entered his consciousness Henry made sure to force them to retire. He tried everything. Drink, drugs, books, films, eating, shitting wanking, fighting, and rarely sex. And despite his cosmic cravings, his minor will fell ill. It was the one thing he thought would help, someone to talk to, a partner, a friend, a lover, but it was not to be. Following the disintegration of his past relationships, Henry found himself confronted by a plethora of detrimental thoughts, deliberations that made no sense and an existence that appeared to serve no purpose. In a relationship he experienced joy and pleasure in his deeds to make the other happy, he had a role, a duty, welcome tasks to make life easier and more enjoyable for the fortunate flesh joined beside him. The problem was, these persons deemed themselves unfortunate and discovered increasing difficulty in legitimising his involvement. Life with Henry was anything but easy, not because he cheated or lied or stole or cried, but because he told the truth, and when he couldn’t, silence was his only friend. Genuine truths were seldom welcome and caused more pain than peace, so he stuck with silence and refrained from words of friction. But this silence was mistaken for a distance dark in danger, a distance that made the maintaining of any relationship a laborious struggle. It was his way of coping. His way of dealing with problems that never seemed to disappear. But they never got it. Instead, he was advised to seek counselling, to get help, to speak to someone, anyone. That was all well and good, and as much as he desired a companion, as much as he yearned for love and passion, he knew it would end the same way. He would end up broken, shattered and confused, while the other smiled with glee at the absence of his presence. And no matter how much he reflected on what went wrong, how it went wrong, and why, the conclusion was the same, he was wrong. Wrong for relationships. Wrong for work. Wrong for everything. Wrong.

‘I’ll always be here for you.’ They promised.

‘I’ll never leave you.’ They assured.

‘Goodbye.’ They never said. No uttered words of compassion sounded in the thinning air. It just stopped. The end. No words. No sounds. Nothing. And that was how Henry’s relationships ended, his brief encounters with joy feebly surrendered, muscles quivering in the dark as love left him alone and scared again.

The last episode of Lost finished over half an hour ago, leaving nine and a half hours yet to waste, but how? He could wash and get cleaned up, but what was the point? The only person who could smell him was himself, and he was now used to the stale stench. He was unable to accurately identify what it was, he could not distinguish between the mixture of aromas that constituted his constitution, but he liked it. He breathed it in with intense appreciation, sucking at the peculiar taste, savouring every salty second, for in its very essence was the proof of his existence. I’m here, he thought, alive. Unless it was the smell of deaths slow grip, like the essence of a lemon, singeing open wounds and blistering battered wits. Perhaps, perhaps I should get washed, Henry decided, and trudged into the shower.