Weird how as kids we used to get inside an old washing machine and pretend it was a tank, blowing the shit out of everything. I can’t remember when we both stopped being so willfully militaristic. We seemed to segue from delusions of grandeur to introspection. We stopped launching imaginery artillery out and started using the stuff inside. Tetanus-smetanus; when you’ve pissed together and you’re amazed at how it leaves a girl in such a jet, whereas it just limply falls out of a boy. This is how we grew up; scuffed knees, grass stains, pine sap in our hair and piss stains down our thighs as we rushed ourselves, and tried not to get caught with everything down.
She’s immaculate now, and I…. do my best. We’re walking down one of the narrow streets with no pavement on either side, just sheer walls carrying the hieroglyphic, centuries old pick marks from old stonemasons. Nothing in this town is smooth, not even the sky or the ice rink which breaks three noses a year. We had to take this long cut because there was a child’s toy abandoned on the floor on the road we had to be on, and I don’t like it when she cries, and she always cries when she sees discarded toys on the pavement. Always. So do I, actually.
Above us, clouds perform their magic tricks with outstretched hands. I’m fidgety and anxious. I may be having an attack as I’m short of breath and I can’t really speak, but that could be the pace of our walking. The air feels like it isn’t here and I’ve only just realised. I don’t know what is moving her hair as we walk. There’s nothing but a vacuum and patterned bricks and a narrow sliver of blue sky and clouds and a jet black sun rippling like a blob of mercury.
My lips are still burning from nearly drinking bleach when I’d blacked out on strong liquor. I hadn’t drunk in fifty days and forty nine nights, but I went on a tear, and I realised how great it is to be drunk and to have plans that I’ll never make, dreams that I’ll never realise, fame that I’ll never earn. Now I feel hollow, like all my good work and intent has been scooped out or melted away. I took so many aspirin before I went to bed I can almost hear myself rattling, but I can hear the hangover from the other side of the door I’ve locked, banging and ranting away, wanting to be inside my head.
She ties her hair back. I disagree with this decision, silently. Clip clop clop, heels clacking, hamstrings taut, calves shapely, ankles fragile. A deep drag from a cigarette and billowing smoke like she’s wearing a wedding veil. I feel like she’s marrying someone else and I’ve been invited along for the ceremony, and I have to watch her given away by her dickhead father to her dickhead love. This anxiety has to stop. I feel the need for air, open spaces, a sniff of something. I brush my hand over her leather-clad shoulder pretending to remove a stray hair and then push the palm of my hand into my face.
There’s no such thing as a good drug deal, but scoring next to an ice cream van seems even more obscene, like the difference between fucking an animal carcass in the arse and fucking it in the empty eye sockets. Either way, it’s not something you want brought up in a lift, or at the office party. We’re not fiends or degenerates. We’re not like the savages I see on the bus every morning with purple cheeks, pin prick eyes and scabs along their receeding hairlines. It’s just weed. But it still feels wrong.
We emerge from the lane and I take a big gulp of cold air that makes my teeth throb. Ahead I can see the van and my heart sinks even further when I realise we’re going to be buying dope next to a terrible cartoon painting of Mickey Mouse and Goofy offering Screwballs and ’99 Flakes. The contact is already waiting, looking as inconspicuous as a six-three white skaghead with dreadlocks and army fatigues can next to a couple of kids pulling together their small change.
I’m here simply as the muscle, which is even more preposterous than it sounds. I’m a pawn in all of this. I’m going to smoke with her, but really I’m superfluous. I’m a disposable lighter to her; and if it doesn’t light on the first flick I’ll go in the bin with the rest of them. I wish she hadn’t tied her hair back, it shows the scars on her gaunt cheeks. She was immaculate before and now the mask has slipped. I realise she’s allowed the sleeves of her sweater to cover her hands which, I guess, are shaking.
As we walk down this street there is trash everywhere. The workers are on strike, and so shit piles on shit piles on shit. It’s not good, psychologically, for a town to build fortifications of rubbish but now every front door looks like a defended machine gun nest. There I go again with the military theme. But I was happy then. I was useful. To her and to my own imagination. As we pass the last house on the left, I see a discarded washing machine lying on it’s side, the door hanging open like a dead mouth, and all I want to do is climb inside with you and blow shit up again.