“Wh… wut?” I struggled to focus my eyes as I awoke from my slumber. I’d been laying with my back against the front door, a protruding UPVC lip jutting painfully into my lower back. Between my legs, still upright and unspilled, was the remaining half of the vodka I’d bought earlier, my fingers still clasped around its neck. I moved to sit up straight on the step and was struck with a quick, sharp pain in my chest, then a thunk as a set of keys fell into my lap.
“Alright nobhead,” I said squinting up at Aaron, who was looming over me like the opening scene of many an internet video. AMATEUR GAY BRITISH COUSINS FUCK HARD IN PUBLIC.
“I need them back later dude,” said Aaron, pointing at my crotch.
“No worries, I’ll drop ’em round ‘fore I go out later. Ow’s your mum?”
“Aye she’s alreet Gav. Will you see your mate Stephan tonight? Any chance you can sort us out, like? I can get draw from t’lads at flats but it’s a bit fucking shit, like smokin’ plastic.”
“No worries I’ll ask ‘im if I see ‘im. Need to talk to t’cunt anyway. Cheers for these!” I held up the keys.
“No probs cuz. Post ’em through if no one’s in. Inabit.” And with that Aaron turned and was gone.
No matter how long I’ve lived in that house, I’m never quite ready for the smell that hits you as you enter through the front door. It smells exactly as bad as it looks. I dumped my vodka and shopping bag on the side in the hallway, and headed straight through to the front room (aka Frank’s bedroom). His rank old stained duvet was piled up on the sofa, surrounded on the floor by empty plates, the coffee table filled with three or four overflowing ashtrays. In the corner the TV was still blaring to itself – something about the UK’s increased terrorism threat, nothing I cared about. Blow this place to hell for all I cared. I found the remote on Frank’s sofa and banished the newsreader into blackness with a click.
I needed sleep. Not police cell sleep, or damp doorstep sleep, but proper, wholesome, deep, rejuvenating sleep. I ascended the staircase to my room, and pulled my phone out.
SORRY UNCLE FRANK HAD A CRAZY NITE WILL TELL YOU WHEN I SEE YOU. HOPE ALL OK AT YARD. GAV [send]
My bed has never looked quite as welcoming as it did that lunchtime. Some would consider a box room that size to be too small, you would probably struggle to fit a double bed in there, but to me it was my castle and my cocoon. A bed, a desk with an old office chair, and a laptop with an internet connection were the only things I had in there, and the only things I truly needed to pass the days and nights. Sure, I had my shifts at the yard which helped me afford my vices, but in all honesty I was starting to feel like there were limits to what my vices could really offer. Don’t get me wrong here, I fucking love my booze and my drugs, I have done since I was about fifteen years old – and it was easy to justify this behaviour as a ‘child of trauma’ – but there must be a point where you have to put the brakes on before you become ‘that guy’. That guy who used to play football at a semi-professional level, or that guy who started making smoothies in his mum’s kitchen as a kid and turned it into a promising business with three supermarket chains showing interest. That guy who spent two years writing minimal techno in his bedroom and got invited to play the opening slot for Leftfield on their UK tour. That guy who had the whole world at his feet but stopped pushing at the crucial moment. That guy who started to enjoy the fruits of his success just a little bit too early, and now sits at the end of the bar every day, a face only recognised by the regulars. That guy who had the whole world bent over in front of him, pants down, but couldn’t quite give it the muck it deserved.
I pondered this bizarre image as I undressed. The image of a frazzled thirty-something, being tirelessly pursued by no-one except for the Child Support Agency, holding a beach ball sized planet earth between his sovereign-adorned hands, making a pathetic attempt to enter it with his floppy, uninterested penis.
Go on my son! Fuck it proper! Fuck the world! What are you even doing mate?!
And imagine if this was real. In some small town in southern Russia, somewhere like Krasnodar, there would be children playing on the banks of the Kuban River, kicking a football around or splashing water at each other under the watchful eyes of their parents. The temperature would suddenly drop as a huge shadow was cast across the town, and the children would scream and point at the sky, some darting for cover under nearby trees and bridges, others frozen to the spot with fear and confusion, as the tip of a giant floppy penis came crashing out of the sky, parting the clouds, and hitting the earth with an almighty thud – causing a tremor the magnitude of which would shake the local historic architecture to its foundations.
Similar scenes would be replicated across Sudan, and on the border between Pakistan and India, each location being breached from above by a humungous sweaty testicle, their size and destructiveness akin to that of a couple of pink hairy Death Stars.
“Lord Vader, the Death Star project is entering its final phase, with the construction of the outer shell being the only remaining task before we are fully operational. May I suggest we go with this lovely graphite-grey colour for the finish? It is in keeping with our general branding policy, and will afford us a degree of camouflage against the ever-expanding blackness of the galaxy in which we reside.”
“[Wheezing noises] Governor, I am most impressed with the work of you and your men. Soon I will be in control of the most powerful weapon ever created, and the known universe will have no choice but to kneel before the Galactic Empire. I don’t like this colour though. Pink please, and covered in pubes.”
“As you wish, Lord Vader.”
I climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over my head, an extra barrier between myself and the daylight that was penetrating the fibrous layers of my thin curtains, and giving the room a warm golden glow. Rolling myself onto my left side I pulled my knees up to my chest and assumed a foetal position with my hands held up to my face, cupped and catching my warm breath. I began to melt into the arms of sleep, drifting further with each exhalation, my mind letting go of any remaining thoughts about last night’s activities. Alison Walker’s agonising wails and screams *poof* gone. PC Grogan’s parting warning *poof* gone. The alcohol still swimming through my bloodstream was probably helping with this process, and I was aware that things may look a bit different in sober thought, but right here, right now, everything was fine. My thoughts became an island floating through space, drifting further and further away until they were nothing but a speck in the distance, and my breathing became slow and deep. Slower. Deeper. Slower. Deeper…
“Eurgh, my fucking phone,” I whispered as I rolled over and fished the handset off the carpet.
UNCLE FRANK: NP nob jockey. need you in tmrw
I switched my phone to silent, threw it back onto the stained and dusty carpet, and returned to the arms of sleep.