I do a few tabs of blotter acid and head for the arcade. Mercy is working tonight; a diva with dirty feet and a bruised knuckle from knocking the shit out of her Dad. I nod towards her, but those circular hawk eyes are scanning the room like a survellience camera. This time of year, old homeless guys come in looking for warmth and free water, using their last pennies to start a game they’ll never finish as they get the feeling back in their throats and fingers. Mercy shows none; she stands behind the old fools waiting for them to take a turn of a game they can’t understand, before throwing them out by their greasy collars.
A seventeen year old boy in a huge uniform, with a rock in his throat, waves at me and offers me a gappy smile. Slip works the ice cream parlour, which is why I never order any. Slip’s face is pebbledashed with acne, a series of hideous eruptions that produce small yellow snakes whenever he does something like talk, or breathe or exhale into his cheeks. Mercy has thumped him twice; once when he tried it on with her and once when he tried to jerk off into the salted caramel.
Somewhere around the fifth go on House Of The Dead the wave crashes over my brain and I’m failing badly. I take a few more tabs, knowing there is no going back now, and my only chance is to fry my brain so badly it tries to reset itself. Monsters are reaching out from the cabinet to wrestle the light gun from my hand. I can feel the coins in my pocket chewing each other like little Pac-Men. I step away from the encroaching zombies and start firing the light gun wildly at a ten year old boy trying to play Virtua Cop on the machine next to mine. He has red eyes and sounds like James Earl Jones, and I know he is controlling the monsters and so must be destroyed.
When I regain consciousness, I’m sitting on the floor against the shutter of the arcade. It’s closed, but the lights still blink and fizz above me. My head has melted to my knee, bone on bone, and I scream as I wrench it free. Standing up, on one leg and with the sea wind blasting through the hole in my head, I stumble down the empty promenade. On nights like this I’ll break into a car and sleep on the backseat, because the wallpaper in my bedroom moves and makes me seasick.