Sterile white room, hum of air conditioners, dried up cunt stink of sour faced junky-baiting receptionists, shhhhht! of automatic doors and bad modern art on the walls...
Uh-uh, here I am again... Treatment.
Taking the cure with Dr. Ira Silverstein at the St Vitus Hospital of Addiction and Disease. Dr Ira is a repulsive old specimen ... smell of pipe tobacco and professional arrogance all over his stinking bones... That red drinker's nose all of these old bastards seem to have - why are they always alcoholics? I suppose they would wither and die without the sweet nectar of hypocrisy and condescension...
Hooked worse than I have ever been hooked on dear old dead Macho's synthetic dope... no amount of smack will fix me now. Pleasure centers all burned out like a terminal coke fiend...
"I have - ahem - been looking at the... reports... you have been writing... Just skimmed the surface really - pages and pages of the stuff... time constraints, you understand..."
Dr Ira's eyes grow moist with a puritan righteousness.
"I must say that I and my team have come to the conclusion that you are an - ahem - undiagnosed schizophrenic, psychopathic type. You understand that I will have to make these findings the heart of your treatment plan..."
I know where the good doctor is going with this particular line in bullshit. An excuse to try and keep me dumb with lithium or antidepressants... an old trick of croakers like Dr Ira.
"You know that I'm no more of a schitzo that you are, Dr Ira - maybe less. When do I get my dose? All of this talking about my problems is just wonderful and all" I tell him my voice dripping with sarcasm, "But I'm sick here... got the chills... guts knotting and unknotting..."
"Ah yesss... of course... your methadone. Are you sick Joe? Does it" he leans in with a dreamy faraway look in his eyes and purrs real nasty, "Does it hurrrrt, Joe?"
And goddamn if old Dr Ira doesn't stand up and start loosening his belt and unzipping his polyester slacks.
"We'll dose you right now if you don't have any objections" he dead-pans handling his tired old meat right in front of my disbelieving face.
He pulls out his nasty looking old man prick and waves the stinking swollen thing in front of me as if he is trying to hypnotize me with it.
I sprint up from my seat knocking over his coffee and a stack of leaflets bearing the legend Relapse Prevention - Practical Tips.
"Jeez Dr Ira!" I yell, "Whatcha doing?"
"Oh this old thing?" he laughs, wagging the prick in my direction, "Oh! You think...? Oh my dear boy, no! This isn't some kind of Turkish bath house! This is a place of recovery! Of safety! Really I have never been so insulted in all my days in medicine..."
"Gee Doc - then what the fuck are ya doing?"
"Oh" the doctor starts coming over all coy, like a twelve year old boy caught whacking off by his mother, "This is simply a new treatment practice... This is a methadone dispensation device, new to St Vitus.
We consider ourselves at the cutting edge of addiction research... This is simply a prosthetic - ahem - device attached to a bladder, if you will, which contains your... um... medication."
Dr Ira stands in front of me and nods towards the mute thing like I am supposed to know what to do with it. I look around the room - the chair, the electric blue carpeting, the white walls, the calendar with careless doctor-scrawls all over it but my eyes eventually return to the doctor with his brown pants around his ankles and an erect penis in his hands.
"And what the fuck" I ask, "Am I supposed to do with it?"
"My dear boy" he harrumphs, "Don't be coy! We're all adults here... Just put your mouth to the... hole... and suck out your dose. It's quite simple, no?"
I look at the doctor's prick, pointing towards me like a loaded gun.
"It doesn't look prosthetic" I comment, quietly.
"Enough shilly shallying!" the doctor bellows with renewed vigor, advancing on me, "I have other patients to see today. Do you want your medication or not?"
"Can't I just get it in a plastic cup like always?"
Dr Ira shoves his prick towards and laughs a guttural laugh... "No, dear boy... he, he, he... this is all in your treatment plan..." his face flushes and his eyes glaze over with a soulless, black lust.
He takes the time to snap on a pair of latex gloves with a puff of baby powder.
"Come and get it" he sing-songs, filling my frame of vision...
Outside of the institutional windows crows whirl and fall to the ground, the sky is a Sunday gray and all is silence in the world.
Nothing but the worms and the air conditioning and the smell of Dr Ira's pipe tobacco... Maybe there has never been anything but this. Time drifts by and the sequence of events becomes jumbled when you have a habit. Did the life before you got strung out ever really exist? Was there anything real and tangible outside of this moment? Life boils down to a series of moments that must be endured before... relief.
Methadone floods my system and a million hungry junk cells scream in rapture, a symphony of reward and relief. I am partially disconnected and everything has the slight sense of being disassociated like in a half dream. The sense of struggling to surface and Dr Ira is stroking my face with a nasty smile of his thin lips.
"Good little doggy" he is saying, "You are all my children... good little doggy..."
I stagger away and pull open the door but outside there is nothing but void which stretches, enveloping me, encroaching into my lungs, my chest, my heart and the dark chill of total anesthesia is all I can hold onto as I tumble out into inner space.
Tony O'Neill © 2006.
In a previous life Tony O’Neill played keyboards for bands and artists as diverse as Kenickie, Marc Almond and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. After moving to Los Angeles his promising career was derailed by heroin addiction, quickie marriages and crack abuse. While kicking methadone he started writing about his experiences on the periphery of the Hollywood Dream and he has been writing ever since. His autobiographical novel DIGGING THE VEIN is published by Contemporary Press, in the US and Canada. Wrecking Ball Press plan to release a UK edition Summer 2006. He lives in New York where he works a variety of odd jobs and writes.
More details can be found at http://www.tonyoneill.net/
Franklin was feeling love for the first time. It suddenly chanced upon him after 15 pints of beer in the Howden Arms. Through the poisoned haze, and cheap cigarette smoke, in walked the prettiest girl he had never seen.
Franklin had lost his sight at the age of 7.
One day he was riding his bike home behind a lorry stuffed with straw bales, and as it edged around the corner it flipped over to one side and crushed little Frankie’s Raleigh, whilst flickers of grains flew into his pupils at one hundred miles an hour. The crown of his ginger hair could be seen poking out from the mound of straw covering the roadside like an elaborate nest for the finest show horse in town.
He felt nothing, but lost vision from his eyes, and from then on in, became the blind tyrant who pissed in fireplaces. A whole life spent stumbling down the high street without the white stick, blind bareback riding, picking fights with imaginary hard men and winning every time.
He dreamt in twisted Technicolor, walking through glimmering blue seas, standing on tops of mountains, holding the hands and squeezing the peachy flesh of every girl he had ever smelled in the four walls of his local.
That evening he stumbled through the back door, about to order another fresh pint of Samuel Smith’s finest, when across the snug, walked a lady who crept up behind him and stroked his fuzzy fingers.
Frank stopped in his tracks; “I can smell your cheap perfume. You put it on about an hour ago to disguise the sweat from under your armpits”
“That’s no way too speak to a lady Frankie” said the voice, deep and seductively from deepest Doncaster.
“I don’t need no woman in my life. I’m a one horse man.”
“Not remember me, Frank?”
She blew a kiss into his ears and collar of shirt, clasped her handbag shut and walked out of the door.
Frank sat on the stool at the end of the brass railed bar, and stopped for a few moments to think.
Picking up his white stick from the stone floor, he tap-tap-tapped his way down the high street, chasing the scent, running over cobbles, manically trying to find his way home; where she would be sat, toasting on the bedside, in a satin gown, marabou slippers, and the finest lace from Victoria Quarter negligee merchants. He could feel the satin slip through his fingers, sending static tinges up to his elbows, dipping his head into her cotton wool groin. All these years he had waited. And she had come. At last. To touch him, to hold him, to smother him with petal kisses and rescue him from the darkness.
His bed-sit was cold and damp, with water pooling in the bases of the windowsills. In winter it would freeze up, the ice creeping up the inside of the glass, causing his toes to scrunch up and turn blue in the night. He slept under a damp blanket, but tonight it didn’t matter. Tonight he felt warm.
She stood in the corner of the room, and beckoned Frank to follow. He wandered out of the corridors, leaving the exits open, and without his stick, held her hand and chased her up to the riverside viaduct. Where they lay side by side, and gazed to the stars. They glimmered through his eternal black night, piercing the midnight haze with twinkles of silvery half light. She wrapped her gown around his back, as they jumped from 200ft to the murky waters down below; like goose down feathers floating effortlessly through the night sky.
Adelle Stripe © 2006.
Adelle Stripe is from Tadcaster in Yorkshire. She writes in her spare time for a self published East London fanzine ‘Straight From The Fridge’, and has also written for The Times amongst others. She hopes one day to write a book about rural life, and the dark underbelly of northern Britain.
Angel at a 25 Degree Angle...
Imperious, impervious, Girl on the escalator going up, pulling her case behind her like a lapdog on a lead, going up. Nifty, shifty, eyeing up Girl going up, naughty, haughty, hoity-toity.
Did she condescend to look down upon you as she went up, Angel at a 25 degree angle? Did she acknowledge your existence as she plucked celestial chords on her flyaway hair and breathed honeyed tones down her cellular phone? Did she fuck. No: your eyes did not meet. You looked at me looking at you looking at her looking up, all high and mighty, pulling her case behind her behind like a slave on a lead, soaring up -- she mighty high, you mighty sore. Looked at me you did, with your chastised eyes, all hot and bothered, hot, hot under the collar, your face a slapped arse.
Andrew Gallix © 2005.
Andrew Gallix is a writer and Editor-in-Chief of 3am Magazine, he also teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Love and Hate on the Silver Screen...
Charlie Boy had it all. And here he was, enjoying the perfect wind-down after the grind of the day. Lights dimmed, beers within reach, a Gwyneth Paltrow film on the go, and a comfortable sofa to stretch out on with his cock in his hand.
As it happened, minus the sardine-run on the tube and the dark walk home, his day hadn't been too bad. Actually, it had been fairly satisfying. A morning of hard, fast IT wizardry - which included getting some praise from his boss - followed by a nice steady afternoon of catching up on his own projects. Most notably, tartversustotty.com, which was coming along quite nicely.
Charlie catered for an audience obsessed with the glitz and glamour of fame (however minor) but eager for another angle, an alternative view. Charlie liked to believe his website attempted to reveal the true nature of these pampered princesses (no males of course), removing them slightly from their rigid, tight-lipped artificial habitat beneath the spotlights. To do this, he first removed their clothes. Bring sex into the mix and you're laughing. Literally. Black humour and irony were the order of the day. Charlie had his routine. Every time the boss fucked off it was me time. Work stopped. Do not disturb. Creativity in progress. Charlie was proud of his achievements.
All those naked bodies with celebs' heads attached. Brit soap-tarts to major Hollywood superstars. Fantasy paparazzi shots. Storyboards. Star sacrilege. It was all in a days' graphics. Cockney frump Jade Goody with her big fat tits getting ordered to get down and perform on Sienna Miller, the anorexic little rich girl. Primrose Hill meets the shitholes of Bermondsey. Yeah! Mixed, criminal, docker's blood fucking with the sex-crazed, drug'n'orgy-addicted, fox-hunting landed gentry. He'd have to think of some toilet-wall witticisms for the bubble captions. Sienna: Get down there you fat, chav, half-black, lard-arsed peasant and suck my A-list top-notch pussy... NOW! But what would Jade say in return...? Maybe he'd stick boxing gloves on the pair of them. Get them in the ring. Battle it out old-working class style. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, let's hear it for a naked bitch slappin' frenzy. He'd make sure Jade would win. Batter fuck out of the bitch...
Yeah. This was Charlie Boy's kind of evening. Legs stretched out, stroking his cock-a-doodle to Gwyneth's attempt at true-totty English. The film was set in London. Bollocks this and Wanker that. Nose-in-the-air Ken and Chelsea style.
Americans made Charlie laugh. Especially when they tried to posh it up. If it wasn't more Jane Austen drivel it was total wank like this. The svelte star taxi-ing across a mythic contemporary London: spotless, well-functioning, no cattle tubes, no crime, white as a Dickens novel (without the hunger). The actress was getting rat-arsed in a bar. Charlie smiled. He wanted to fuck this bitch. Loved her cool stride. Her confidence. Her nonchalance. Wanted her wrapping her body all over him.
He cracked open another can. Even considered heading back to the video shop, making it a double bill, grabbing Bridget Jones' Diary, more pseudo-Anglo made-for-US-market bullshit; for the crack picturing himself as a male version, here alone in his flat with his cock and his alcohol, wallowing in a singletons' lifestyle of one night stands and marathon wank sessions and lots of self-pity and self-loathing and self-fill-in-your-own-fucking-blanks...
But he had to laugh at himself over that (and besides, he wasn't going anywhere). The whole idea of "Bridget Jones" was bullshit. The notion of a woman with blonde hair and big buxom tits having trouble filling her hole was fucking absurd. All that crap about evenings alone. Someone like that could breeze through life without a problem in the world. Charlie was no Bridget Jones. No loner, unable to pull. For Charlie, life was good. So he didn't have a girlfriend? So what. Charlie loved his own company. This was the fucking life, mate, he told himself. And he wouldn't want it any other way. All these real-life Bridget Jones characters he'd read about in the Standard, all alone in the capital and crying over glasses of wine each evening, should get off their arses and get some cock. Charlie laughed, tugging away. There was no shortage of that here, boy...
He watched the screen. Gwynnie was top-class totty, there was no doubt about that. But even better, she was top-class Jewish totty. Oh yes. In other words, that bit more untouchable by all us lowly, unblessed, uncircumcised ones. Being honest, every race and creed in the world looks down on other breeds like they're the lowest form of human shit. Except for the English, of course. We look up to other races as if we are the shit. They've got all the culture and tradition and cuisine and mystique, and we've got fuck all. England in submission, perhaps, wanting to be whipped back for all those Empire days. Forgive us, please, for we have sinned. Who knows. But Charlie would have Princess Gwynnie play the race card on him any day. Oh yeah. Her stiletto heel grinding his face down into the mud. As long as she was in suspenders. Ready for action. What was a good bout of sex without an element of hatred anyway?
One class, one race, fucking over the other. Getting the better of. He imagined the stark naked actress towering over him like an icon, pushing her dampened crotch towards him with force. NOW TAKE THIS YOU LITTLE UNCIRCUMCISED RUNT! and grabbing him by the hair and slamming him in, and in pure Ken and Chelsea saying NOW LICK SOME CHOSEN PUSSY YOU GENTILE WANKER OR I'LL CRUSH YOUR FUCKING BOLLOCKS!!!
Ha! That made him laugh, that did. Cheek of her. Blonde bitch. He was sure she had a sense of humour. Though of course a lot of these Americans didn't. But there was something different about Gwynnie. An un-American genuine classiness. A snobbishness. She had famously slagged London off as a grubby dump with bad restaurant service. You wouldn't hear Madonna say that. She'd be down the backstreet boozer with Guy Richie supping pints of ale and chirping cockney slang. Either that or playing at Enid Blyton down the country manor. Come to think of it, at a press conference for one of her kids books, she hadn't even heard of Enid Blyton. Never put to pen to paper in her life the slag. Full of shit, that Madge. Not alot upstairs. Good body on her though, he'd give her that. Well fit.
But Gwyneth... Hollywood royalty. Once, Charlie had watched a Michael Douglas interview where he'd praised her as having "good genes". Which presumably alluded to the trick of Gwyneth (like him) being naturally blonde and Jewish. Odd that. Jews going on about genes. A touchy subject you would think, almost taboo, considering it was one of old Hitler's favourites. The blonde and blue-eyed Superman and Superbitch. The Aryan blueprint stamping over and conqering the entire fucking world.
But Hitler had got it wrong. Blonde was good, but not for every day of the week, surely. Diversity was beautiful. The only way forward. Multiculturalism? Bring it on, man! A good Latino salsa shag never hurt no-one. Look at Asians. Now they knew about sex. And what about black girls. Best arses in the fucking business. And black girls were hungry for it as well, let me kid you not. Check out the rap videos. Fucking hell. Women being exploited? I don't think so. Strong assertive bitches expressing their sexuality more like. Even if they are gyrating round some gun-totin' pimp's cock.
This Greek guy at work reckoned he got off with this fit black girl from Tottenham. Had her down the car park of an estate. She was begging for more more more, this way, that way, every way going. Couldn't get enough of his white man's cock. Well, if you want to call Greek white. The way this bloke talked you'd think he was one of Hitler's Supermen. "They love it," he said. "Love a good white shag. Goes back to the slavery thing. And who can blame them? All the bruthas off chasing white trophies. Lots of lonely sistas."
The bloke never stopped. He reckoned the Turkish were all total arseholes, so he got one over on them by constantly fucking their women. He had some footage on his phone. He must have been giving it to this Turkish bird up the arse because she was fucking screaming for England. Either that or she was getting raped. One or the other. Of course, he said she'd loved it. Wanted more. Just like the black girl. Costas saw himself as a right romeo. An ego freak, more like. Anyway. Enough about him. The thought of his Greek arse going up and down was putting Charlie off.
On the screen Gwyneth was talking about "going to the pub to get drunk". Who the fuck in London ever admitted that? And a double error - alcohol would never touch that woman's lips. Well, not in real life anyway. Charlie could picture her and that Coldplay prick. On the organic smoothies, the macrobiotic diets, the yoga and everything else. The big hippy-noveau lifestyle. Come the bedroom and it was probably a different story though. Under the sheets these poshies were known to be well adventurous. The whole Freudian thing coming into play. With the upper-class it wasn't a case of coming home exhausted, humping on top of the wife for a minute then you're out like a light. Not at all. That was peasant style. All those cliches about judges getting their bottoms whipped or married MPs with their rent boys was damn fucking right. Everyone knew about public schoolboys and the perversions they kept for the rest of their days. Couldn't forget all that dormitory arse-frollicking with the boys. Martin probably made her wear a big black strap-on to poke his puny rich-boy arse every fucking night, the public-schoolboy crying out HARDER! FASTER! YES!! YES!!! in those poncey tones of his. Charlie'd like to scalp the fucker. Give him a circumcision on his fucking head.
Charlie pressed STOP. He needed a slash. The TV flicked onto London Tonight, a report about the high obesity rate of the capital's kids following him into the bathroom. He shut the door. As he pissed he turned round to observe his bollock-naked figure in the full length mirror. What a stupid place for the landlord to put a bloody mirror, right across from the toilet. Every time he took a shit he had to stare at himself, grunting away. He made little thrusting motions with his arse, careful not to miss the bowl, imagined a sexy hot babe on the receiving end. It wasn't a pretty sight. He'd have to start working out. That arse was too flabby by half. All those burgers at lunchtime, doner kebab dinners, buscuits, cakes, evening beers in front of the screen. No exercise ever. I suppose it all added up. And the hair. Big ferocious patches over his back. Hair all over him. He looked like something from Planet of the fucking Apes. Mediterranean birds might go for it, (and thankfully, there was no shortage of them in North London) but who the fuck else would? Can't imagine some spick-and-span Paltrow lookalike wanting a load of that...
But he relaxed. For now the waxing and the gym membership could wait. There were other things in hand. Like his cock for instance. A fair bit of meat there, that's for sure. No problem there, girls. Why worry? One of these days he'd be back. Slim and rippling. Dick up and out like a fearsome truncheon. Female gazes of awe and wonder.
ATTENTION LADIES, CHARLIE BOY IS BACK IN BUSINESS. Hordes of them lining up in their hotpants, black, white and everything in between, Jewish princesses and Arab whores, equal opportunity for all (he was no racist - colour made the world go round), babes galore turning out in their droves for a Charlie Boy Special. A night in the sack they would never forget. Damn right.
God, he hadn't had a real physical bunk-up in years. Couldn't even remember the last time. Too tanked-up to register it no doubt. Probably shagging some equally pissed meat-market slag that was more out of shape than he was. Some big lump you wake up next to with a hangover and think, NO... I DIDN'T... SURELY. But that was all back in the day. Charlie hadn't been to a club in two years at least. And come to think of it, three, maybe even four stone ago.
Returning to the living room London Tonight was polluting his living space with some story about a gang rape in Finsbury Park. Apparently a foreign exchange student had befriended a gang of youths who dragged her to the roof of a towerblock and did their stuff. The reporter was standing by the estate, filling us in on the gory details, local kids in the background pulling faces. The rapists boasted of their deed and flashed the mobile footage around at school the next day. They ranged in age from twelve to fifteen. A girl had been involved, helping out, cheering them on. The judge waived her right to anonymity, and there she was on the screen. White, pretty, but spiteful looking. Probably abandoned at birth. Should have been strangulated. Charlie imagined the rest of these two-legged beasts. Dumb estate scum. Bigmouthed wannabe gangstas. Only ever born so their cock-humping mothers could jump the council waiting list. Pump out a few more for a bigger flat. On and on. People like Charlie footing the bill. Estates full of walking fucking abortions.
Like the pricks that put a knife to his throat that time. Called him a Fat Pussy. Demanded cash and goods - NOW. You know the procedure, they'd said. If you wanna live. If you know what's best. You fat fuck. And before he knew it - whack! in the face. One of the little bastards broke his jaw. Walked away laughing. Cunts.
Two months' sick leave. Creeping out of the flat for food and videos or whatever and that was it. Living on take-aways most of the time. Not going anywhere. He'd almost wanked his dick away. Tugging at the thing night and day like his life depended on it. It was his only pleasure, the only respite available. It was around this time that he got sick of hard porno. It lacked personality. Who wanted to see a load of butchers' flesh anyway? Cheap cuts. Scrag ends. Heroin-addicted slags cut open like pigs, rotten intestines spilling out. Abused meat. Like you really want to get stuck into that. Forget it. Charlie developed taste. Class. Women were like fine wines - not that he was into fine wines, but it was a good comparison. The gift of connoisseurship was acquired by the very few. Charlie considered himself privileged. FHM, Loaded and Maxim - yeah, fair enough, he subscribed, he went along with the joke. Even some of the cheapo womens' ones with their HolbyCorrieOaks wannabes and trashy headlines: Posh Spice's dress size enters minus figures! But Hollwood... Hollywood was another league. Hollywood, in an unsubtle way, provided the world's real Royal Family (Fuck the Winsors). You despised them, yet you loved them; envy strong in the equation. They provided examples of the highest human perfection. You couldn't get any higher. And you couldn't help it, you worshipped them. The whole world did. Paltrow, Theron, Aniston, Knightley (Cor!!!)... the list was endless. Princesses of wealth, slendour, regal sex on high...
Charlie cracked open another beer, popped a tube of Cheese and Onion Pringles. Man, he was feeling pretty light-headed now. A bit drunk. He chuckled. On the screen a bearded expert was talking bombs and Al Quaida. Rounding off with his belief of more attacks being likely on the tube or in large offices, this time of an unprecedented scale, maximum fatalities, terrorists employing the use of gases, viruses, bacteria. A nuclear dirty bomb perhaps...
For fuck's sake!
Charlie didn't need this! The real world seeping in, infiltrating his set-up, beaming into his living room shouting the odds, plaguing his evening with doom. He flicked back to the movie with disgust. All the killjoys out there could fuck off and die. Bollocks to them. He wanted none of it.
The good life was available, but every day there were people trying their best to poison it out of you. Out to make you go running for the anti-depressants. Please Doctor, dope me up, I can't handle this. No way, not here you don't. Now Gwyneth, she knew a thing or two about the good life, that was for sure. All the Hollywood fucks did. A thing or two about not giving a fuck. There they were climbing out of their limos, parading the red carpets when on the other end of town it was a firearm flarin' muthafuckin' war zone. Poverty, deprivation. London had its similarities too. Except here apartheid was less the rule, less blatant. Hate less voiced. The no-gos were carefully diffused across the board. Dilution. In other words, the no gos were nowhere and everywhere. Anyone anywhere could be your attacker. Jump out and stab you in the eye. Push you down into the tracks. Come up to you in a pub when you're minding your own business and say,"What the fuck are you looking at?", butt you in the face and kick you into a coma. Nobody was safe. You lived in fear...
But it was best to stay indoors in the evenings anyway. Watch the telly. Socialise on the web. If the need arose. Charlie himself couldn't be arsed. In that department tartversustotty.com kept him quite happy, passed a lot of the slow hours at work, tickled him. As for webchatting with sad bods, why bother. Best to sit and watch the World of Gwyneth. He focused in on her snobby face. Once again got an erection going. Observed her tall, lean body. But he found himself waning. He'd lost his momentum. Maybe he'd drunk too much beer. He felt full, squeezed out a full-bodied fart and the obligatory aaahhh. Jesus, the smell of it. Those spicy zinger burgers at lunchtime, triple helping of onion rings, chilli sauce. That sneaky bag of onion bhajis at afternoon break. Just heading out for a Standard. Like fuck. Eating like a pig. Even now, Pringles getting wolfed in, without even thinking. Four beers gone already. Onto the fifth. There was no limit. Charlie ate and drank without even thinking about it. What was the matter with him? Strong accusations were filling his head, fingers pointing, taunting him, telling him he was some kind of slob.
Like the fatsos you saw on the street. Always eating. In supermarkets, stocking their trolleys up wholesale. Hobbling into Burger King, McDonalds, putting people off their food. Gall of these people. The other day for instance, in KFC. Some morbidly fat wreck blown up like an air bag, plonking his lardy arse right across from Charlie, the slob sweating over his grease, wheezing away, heart attack any minute, swallowing down his swill. Charlie felt dirty. Had to get the fuck out of there before he vomited.
God, so many people needed putting down. Get a machine to melt the cunts down to oil, power vehicles, machinery, with the fuckers. Cheap energy. How these fat overweight slobs could even show their faces, Charlie just didn't know. There were limits. Limits to everything. He cracked open another can. Felt pretty pissed now. Concentrated on the screen. That was the trick, concentrate on something else so your whole world doesn't just topple in before your eyes. Gwynnie was the diametric opposite to a slob. Gwynnie kept herself trim. Prim and proper.
But, loath to admit it, Charlie wasn't satisfied. In all honesty, her body wasn't really all that. Not much tit to speak of at all. Not really womanly. Being slim was one thing, but where were the tits and arse, man? This bitch was taking it to Kate Moss extremes. Kate Moss, hey? There was a girl that needed a good ten-inch dick up the arse, if ever there was one. Shaft the life out of the coke snorting slag. COCAINE KATE DIES IN ROUGH SEX RITUAL. Fucked, bound and gagged, and buried in a pile of Columbian snow. Enough there for you, Katie? Fucking dream headline. And hey... there goes another fart. Liquidy, that one. Phew!
When he'd finished inspecting the stink, Charlie sighed. He wasn't pleased with life. Discontent snaked through him like a bad drug. He felt a pang of regret. Maybe he should have braved the night, opted for a double bill, hired the Zellweger Bridget Jones after all. Zellweger in plumped-up mode looked like a Texas milkmaid. The earth mother with the milk. The milk of life. Tits to feed off. All this Sliding Doors bollocks was beginning to seem like, well... exactly that. Bollocks.
Charlie knew exactly what he needed. He checked through an old pile of wank for a copy of Heat magazine. OUR JADE'S AMAZING NEW BOOB JOB! boasted the cover. The Big Brother star had no style, no decorum, but a fine pair of lungs, that was for sure. Jade's position in the world of celebrtity was like that of a sore thumb. Jade was off the street. The real deal. The kind of bird you had up against the bus stop after ten pints and a kebab. No pretence, no bullshit. No illusions that she was anything else but a good shag once you'd licked your fingers clean of doner meat. Right now Charlie didn't need pretense, bullshit, insincerity. He focused in on the chav-idol's tits. They were massive. Could do some damage, they could. Suffocation at least. Real working class in-yer-face knockers. Sometimes in life all you needed was simplicity. No complications. No crap. He had issues he needed to purge forth, get off his person, before he could relax. His ball-bag felt like a dead weight. Once he ejaculated Charlie knew he'd feel a whole lot better.
Michael Keenaghan © 2006.
Michael Keenaghan grew up in Wood Green, North London, where he was [mis]educated at St Thomas More Secondary School. His patchy work history includes burger flipping, general labouring and being a van drivers' mate - none of which proved successful. He has also played in a variety of alternative bands which have railed against the mediocrity of indie and attempted to ressurrect the mythic values of punk. He currently writes furiously.
happily growing breasts in NYC until you exploded midway through Macy’s red and blue and golden like the 4th of July cheap jewellery assistants flying customers ducking themselves down into small customer piles like unwanted news sheets the contents of my head involved in aerial moves of an unpredictable nature my injuries minor all wounds fortunately psychological sooner chewing off my leg than wait around for the lacklustre matinee performance uncannily matching luggage scooped up one-handed by Snoop Dogg asked by the black janitor what do you look for in a ham? not recognising the full significance of the question but wording my reply with extreme caution because in Manhattan people take their hams very seriously I have observed in the short time I have been legally handsome here in the studious gloom copiously numbed the caustic Jewish double act at reception commenting meaningfully on my self-conscious footwear meaning to be helpful with their caustic Jewish double act demeanour but I always follow modern hotel etiquette anyway - to avoid small fines and short uptown prison terms – learning to live through my Jacob’s Creek addiction with a piece in the New Yorker I happen upon during a three-course Chinese breakfast banquet…all disease finally outlawed says new Mayor brain tumours now illegal in Manhattan… a talking point among the Saatchi sociopaths I know and love at The Ear over on Spring Street discussing discussing important topics of the day Tony Award opinions swamping and overflowing will it ever happen? why won’t it happen? what if it never happens? other unwanted media intrusions assaulting my senses indiscriminately another evening alone with myself dying like bad fruit left stranded on the vine feeling wan and languorous and not phoning not speaking not disclosing anything through a glistening high-stemmed glass just one night without myself is all I ask reclined again? pre-Tony under a mid-morning Campari and soda with Henry Kissenger in his prime time TV talk show You Say I’m A Bad Lover But I Have Another Who’ll Tell You Other interrupted by Mother Love at the door with her small team of cleaning dwarves who want to install the latest air conditioning system unit because it is their paid occupation and this is what they do this is what they do this is what they do really? everything bigger outside except the Statue of Liberty - which is smaller - the streets sexually charged with ambiguity the air non-breathable though intercourse is free between consenting men and women during the hours of daylight there may be a small surcharge for homosexuals amidst the uncertainties and distractions of city life little Koreans in tall size shoes chattering friendly and approachable Picasso busking Loser on a slide guitar his pet goat not for sale down in the subway Blondie’s original line-up performing Hangin’ on the Telephone for the 18,438,259th time all this time everywhere passing slowly a New York minute more involved and seemingly complex than a minute anywhere else with all this time still passing at a similarly leisurely pace the persistence of memory tending to get in the way of things as I notice cab drivers wearing abstract expressions not violent but requiring precise neo-geographical co-ordinates because they actually hail from Wapping and speak only Estuary English their tendency to convey weary world travellers to exactly the place they want to be proving more than useful locating the Whitney Houston Museum the Lloyd Cole Collection a private viewing of softball moms in Central Park hot pants cheering on a thousand little juniors beneath the lengthening shadow of the Dakota a late May pang of regret internalised ouch! the tortuous circularity of life moving slowly through the Village passing e.e cummings and his enormous room at 4 Patchin Place with Eugene O’Neil just across the street although they say John Masefield moved out angrily in the middle of the night later citing musical differences which is one way of looking at it taking in the smells and sounds all around all the smells and sounds around not real but piped direct from the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore lending the environment you exist in a more realistic edge in denial of true perspective how I long to hear the waitresses speak the language of love watching the Knicks in St Mark’s personal ale house Ruby shooting Oswald on the wall next to a pair of Siamese twins joined at the head and a squad of Irish telephonists wearing a tone of broken glass and lime green sandals the future is in Manhattan they say you could try commuting from Houston but we wouldn’t recommend it supporting Kent Brockman’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling during their day off donating my shades to the campaign but another evening alone with myself? how I long to hear the waitresses speak the language of love is it really as easy as it looks? and if it is can I do it too? but… your life is totally empty… a song reminds me as I’m rollerskating back up Broadway rain sheeting horizontally against the dirty tenements of another evening alone with myself and the 32nd annual televised Noam Chomsky Arm-Wrestling Championship his third round tie with Harry Belafonte a big draw with the smiling housewife fraternity Noam charasmatic stripped to the waste and flexing despite all my numerous educational experiences something I have never seen before a golden tumbler before me evoking intense memories of my father dancing at weddings - spurious: and if I am this way? what about other people? how do they manage? are they this way too? these and other ethical dilemmas debated at my own private night school gymnasium the morning ashtray suddenly broken: reality cracking through the glass tossing loose coins down for Mother Love to pick up on (enough for a birthday bouquet) wondering whether she will understand the meaning of these coins or not white lions waiting outside to snare the unsuspecting blind tigers prowling up and down Bleecker Street in search of Middle Eastern cuisine distracted (temporarily) by the MOR charm of Brendan the Brewski’s barman resembling Greg Rusedski after facial reconstruction surgery (his testimony put his kid brother in jail or so they say over at Chumley’s the Speakeasy on Bedford Street: Faulkner Salinger Kerouac drinking wheat beer with real men who look like sailors (sailors?) not liking wheat beer but drinking it because they do and even if you were a zillionaire Faulkner says you couldn’t enjoy this wheat beer any more…) feet hitting the perfect street in sluggish unison with one another sinking down into pavement looking out for the famous NY anthropologist I met first ten years ago on Fifth Avenue longing to say hello longing to say thank you longing to say goodbye and thanks for all the pepperoni seeing instead Dawn Vigil the New York Times food columnist from Little Rock AR shoplifting in the world’s unfriendliest book store (previously we had only corresponded) counting her stolen change classy and kooky lipsticked flats and bra straps in her hair duly snappled in the cunning linguistics section care to buy a thirsty girl a drink? choirs of indecision riding bare-backed to the Temple of Beer Worship your real name is unimportant silent Brewist monks encouraging bad drinking habits in the men’s restroom hidden behind the commemorative Marcel Duchamp revolving bookcase can I survive all these new feelings inside? resolve them too? the lure of legalised Indian prostitution beckoning hypnotically: swapping the smiling teeth of the tabla player for Quentin Crisp’s Pasta & Piano bar hey! how ya doin’ a former Scotsman now based in Harlem croons ordering the garlic bread that is never lacking on the tables of our existence the first course delayed by the random drive-by shooting of important kitchen staff: enjoy! drawing strength from the act of breaking the garlic bread that is never lacking on the tables of our existence eventually earning four and a half apples out of five plus the eternal gratitude of being alone with Christopher Street and in the dark: do you believe in Jasper Johns? or Eduardo Paolozzi? and what about Kierkegaard? does irony deprive an object of its subjective reality? is an original event devalued by such distortion? should the facts get in the way of a story? shall we discuss the matter further? my place? 11:30? can you make it? instantly plunged into difficult social waters and screaming (inwardly) NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO then politely inquiring (of one’s inner self) but why not?: 1) people who know me well tell me I deserve better 2) and although this is always the way it has been doesn’t mean it’s always the way it should be 3) and these days I don’t get along with myself terribly well 4) and I never really meant all the things I used to say anyway 5) and I think I deserve it 6) and people who know me well tell me I’m much improved than I used to be 7) and how would things feel if this never actually happened? 8) and everything even you and I has to wither and fade into the dust eventually 9) and this means the means always justifies the end in my book 10) and so much empty time has elapsed since before 11) and there is still so much time on my hands that by now surely I deserve it 12) and that makes everything okay: okay! box cars turning how the streets flew! into west 35th street a room full of the blandest women’s books falling falling falling onto soft white linen the wallpaper on the walls singing: stay for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent! the wallpaper vintage and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for commercial reasons a shadow reaching across the wallpaper shaped like a hand eager to strum upon an acoustic guitar Frank Lloyd Wright looking down beatifically on your golden legs (your legs?: are your legs golden unlike the legs of others? or is a thigh just a thigh? are your legs as meaningless as everybody else’s?) an impressionistic blur of rapid thigh movement like a recent auto-erotic art exhibition before the same room moments later: the moment settling down nicely thank you everything even ourselves quietly enveloped by the velvet fog of several new thoughts entangling themselves into the well-oiled narrative of life gradually returning to earth (moving on moving on moving on moving on) ebbing along Grand Central Parkway pressing on through partially delighted solid reams of traffic slowing me down like frozen treacle tyres creeping little by little toward JFK impossibly complicated new cadences of the vernacular taking a left turn via the language of hazardous emotion molecular structures lifting from the tarmac hostesses bulging at their pretty patterned seams while through the glass golden-bosomed Siamese idols dwindle into the distance and all those once longed for horizons diminish intangible and already half-forgotten like a beautiful shining intermezzo
H P Tinker © 2006.
HP Tinker is an accidental byproduct of Simon Prosser’s controversial attempt to genetically engineer a brand new radically hip Brit Lit author by cloning the narrative technique of William Burroughs with the social largesse of Kingsley Amis. Somewhere the experiment went horribly wrong. Now released into the wider literary community, HP Tinker has been published here, here, and even here. More recently he was published here and can be purchased here. Should you, for whatever reason, wish to find out more you can do so. Here.
French House, Soho...
A London pub that doesn’t sell pints of beer might sound like some flight of fancy, but if you open your mind to a different drinking culture entirely, then a whole new world can be found awaiting at the French House pub in Soho.
At 11:19am on a pleasant Friday morning, I attempted to make my passage through the pub’s sturdy entrance door, instead finding it to be quite locked. Cupping hands around my face like wrinkled racehorse blinkers, I peered through the white-frosted windows, but these offered forth no glimpse within. Finding a second door locked also, I then noted an opening hours sign that indicated that the doors would open this day and every other at 12 noon. I had to laugh. This was to be my first encounter with the ways of an exotic, foreign drinking house.
Upon entering the premises at the appropriate time, I was immediately taken by the very small surroundings, cluttered as they were by all manner of photographs, paintings and illustrations that framed every inch of wall space. Enquiring as to the costs of hiring an audio guide, in English, in order to aid my studied browsing of the artworks upon the walls, the barman lifted his hands before him in an easily understandable gesture of incomprehension. I laughed, only too aware of the cultural divide that separated us. But this chasm deepened when he informed me that the pub only served beers in half-pint glasses. GOOD GOD! BUT…! Obviously familiar with the naÔve likes of me, he slowly repeated this charming local tradition, and shaking my head, I dispensed with some coinage of his fair currency, and left the servery with 300mls of ale.
My early arrival had been rewarded however, with a prime corner bench seat in a cul-de-sac to the rear of the bar, and I made claim to this position by arranging the contents of my pockets in neat, horizontal piles across the table, like the contents of a small nation’s time capsule. The half pint of ale I had purchased was, of course, now empty, and as the bar man again filled my small glass, he reminded me of a petrol station attendant refuelling a vehicle that has just left the station, driven once around the block, and immediately returned with an empty tank.
A large black and white photograph featured a character that looked like an oriental Winston Churchill. I stared at him from my seat, thinking how eerily quiet the pub was without music, TV, or annoying gaming machines. Despite the clink of glasses, and coins being fingered within the pockets of the cash register tray, the only noise of note was the constant hum from a vent in the wall above me. Ghosts speak through radio static, and I was listening out for them in the fan when my mobile phone suddenly rung loudly with its distinctive Easy Lover ring-tone, a track first brought to life in 1984 by English musician Phil Collins and his American counterpart Phil Bailey [must buy Bailey’s Chinese Wall album]. I let it ring for sometime, worried at first that I would have to pay overseas charges if I answered it, but just then the barman stuck his head around my back corner of the bar and loudly exclaimed, ‘No mobile phones in the bar! Thank you!’ An accusing silence sounded like a pane of glass that had been kicked in by a yellow boot roller skate. No mobile phones? I was astounded. What queer custom was this?
Back at the bar, having just broken the rules and traditions of the local ways, I attempted to play my appeasement card by requesting a bottle of fine French wine and uno glass. The barman smiled slightly, as if in pain, and he fetched a bottle and set about uncorking it. Once seated again, I began writing myself a postcard on a piece of scrap paper:
Hello! I’m at the French House pub in Soho. Drinking French wine. Here’s to you! Am fully absorbed in the culture having spoken often to a local man who knows me well. My table is clean. They only serve half pints! Mobiles are barred! And they don’t open until midday! How are things south of the river? For God’s sake, don’t open the door for anyone and never answer the phone.
All the best!
Just then, the barman placed a simple glass bowl before me, filled with fresh olives. Smiling, he said, ‘Enjoy!’ I was taken aback. As he disappeared again, tears began welling in my eyes until a sharp voice nearby said, “Pull yourself together, you big sook.” I glanced around, fearing that it was the voice of a French ghost speaking through the soft baritone hum of the extractor fan. “You stupid man with no taste.” The words seemed to come from beneath my very nose, and as I looked down, I saw the open end of an olive move to perfectly form the shape of the word ‘Loser.’ More olives began piping up with insults out of fish-like mouths. It was extraordinary! Talking olives! In perfect English! The next thing I knew, the entire chorus had begun loudly humming the Easy Lover tune of my mobile phone ring-tone. I was mesmerised. They were very good and they swayed slightly like a church choir. I began swaying too, and the barman looked quite angry when he suddenly appeared again, making it clear in no uncertain terms that mobile phones were not welcome in the French House.
I had an olive squeezed into each eye socket when I returned to the bar, because they told me they wanted to order the wine. But the barman showed me the door instead, and I wish I’d left some more room on my postcard to mention the really early closing hours.
Paul Ewen © 2006.
Paul Ewen was born and raised in New Zealand. After spending six years living and working in Asia,including four years in Vietnam, he moved to London in 2002. His short stories have appeared on 3AM magazine, in Tank magazine and in the Times Higher Education Supplement, and in 2005 he was featured in the British Council's New Writing 13 anthology edited by Ali Smith and Toby Litt. 'London Pub Reviews', his collection of stories based in real London pubs, will be published this year. Paul Ewen can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ways to go...
I leave New Street via WH Smith and M&S Simply Food Shop exit, past cash points and taxi rank, full with police raid vans, unmarked cars (either silver or dark blue), the sight of them always unnerves me, after the London Bombs, and one summer after September 11th, when the station was evacuated, we thought it might be a bomb, but it was a small fire. The panic was real and tangible, the public turned into lemmings, running to the way out.
They are always waiting, and watching – high visibility cops panic people more, so plain-clothed officers watch. I see them, I’m regular as the clock, the CCTV must know my face, same time each morning; and the police, their faces, positions, quasi-casual man at Topman clothes, blend in, mingle, and become one of the crowd. But they are easy to spot. I used to carry a backpack, because my spine won’t take heavy loads on my hip – paper round damage inflicted by those huge Sunday morning papers. After London in July, I found myself cautiously eying up all backpacks in my locale, and then realised it could as much be me with my backpack. Although a skinny white girl doesn’t fit the face of international modern terrorism, even so. I wonder if CCTV ever watched me. Probably not, those cameras never record anything, do they?
Speed walking through the deserted Bullring, I know this is not recommended for my safety- I could be raped, murdered, mugged, or any number of horrible urban crimes that Birmingham is noted for; shooting, stabbing, etc…I often enter the Bullring through the glass doors next to Boots, and the silence closes in, the cold and dark stays outside, sometimes I encounter the man filling up the vending machines, he ignores me, I ignore him (but secretly take in every detail, jut in case anything should happen and I need to give the police a description).
I see the shop girls waiting on the balcony outside Topshop; I wonder if they see me. I wonder why they need to be at work so early. I see some cleaners wheeling sanitary bins back and forth from the ladies toilets, I see security guards in pairs pacing about, and when I move to the underground level via the escalator, I am alone, my footsteps echo about the space, I feel a bit panicked, silly really, but if anything should happen, who would come to help me? I’m so stupid really, should stay where people can see me.
I see a man walking towards me, older; I’m a bit worried. It’s just me and him. I walk a bit faster, pass him without incident, round the corner and out into the open, the Indian man is setting up his shop, traffic is minimal, and buses are plentiful. I sometimes see a black cat, padding around by the entrance to Moor Street, that cat must be tough, a little city cat who knows the streets and gets fed by passers by, or goes after rats, which are in large supply on rail lines. I wonder what the cat is called.
Lauren McCarthy © 2006.
Lauren McCarthy currently lives in the heart of England’s Black Country, somewhere between a rock and a hard place.