It’s catchy isn’t it? Basically, it’s a screenplay idea I’ve had… this guy, who is like Burt Reynolds in Smokey And The Bandit, is a zookeeper with a hot female apprentice, and together he saves the city, and she saves him from his whiskey problems, and along the way there is gore and rhinos – fucking rhinos! – or I guess just the one, and there’s love and mystery about who or what is causing so much destruction, and at one point he drives a car – probably a black Trans-Am because why not – down this alleyway through some boxes as the rhino chases and….
I turn around the corner, flicking a stone up with the tip of my shoe and volleying it with a loud cymballic crash against a nearby garage door. I feel the sun dancing with the atoms arranged on my cheeks, the downy hairs waving like a festival crowd with their lighters in the air. Last night was a bad night – one grimy blotter and me shrivelled up like a dead prawn hiding underneath a truck as the driver snoozed in the cab – all because I saw a child running towards me and as I bent down to say hello he ran through me and screamed – such a god-awful noise that I felt my bones rattle from my ankles to my skull – and with everything splintered and marrow leaking out from pulsating arms and legs I crawled into this dark place to die. When I woke up this morning, cuddled by a cold blanket of morning dew, the truck driver had left without knowing I was there, and all my achievements could be summarised in the perfect shape of a foetally-curled form, light grey against the wet dark grey concrete.
Walking down this side street, the houses on either side are either bravely inhabited or callously abandoned. It’s all squats and gardens here, where the windows are either broken or open, and an old boy carefully takes the scissors to his roses with a kitchen knife jammed into the belt loops of his trousers. I admire both – the nomads who find a clean space as far away from the smashed windows as they can to light fires, smoke cans and try to see the very molecules that they inhale drifting down inside their chests and creating light like so many fireflies sucked into a transparent vacuum cleaner – and the old timers who try to maintain the dignity of a perfectly cut and chipped lawn even as they throw out the needles and burned Coke cans. It is always Coke, never Pepsi… maybe it’s a moral thing.
Underneath an old teacup buried in the middle of a nest of thistles I pull a ten out from a roll of notes. It’s safer to bury money underneath junk and painful weeds than to keep it in your pockets. Somewhere around here, before the council relaid the road, I buried an old mobile phone, a childhood photo of me with a dog I can’t remember, three packets of Jawbreakers, the arm of a stuffed toy and an old Super Nintendo game that pissed me off so much I almost broke my heels trying to stamp it out of existence.
I would love to lift this road again and see the treasures underneath. Whether it is the faint acid echoes or just memory overtaking me vibrantly, I see two young lads ahead of me – hitherto unseen but no less real – in bright rucksacks laughing and chatting about what they want to do tomorrow, not even thinking about the next day or the next week. Being an adult means that forward plans sneak up on you as they stretch out in their breadth, no longer so focused but spread thin like the last corners of butter smeared across toast. Nothing is about tomorrow anymore, it is always next month or next year… or the year after that, that, that, that will definitely be the time.
Playing with the ten between my fingers I hurry past the old hotel, now so evil that the windows run red with blood when it rains, whilst lingering around the old bus stop carved with so many names that long to be reunited with their owners. It was here that my first, and probably only, love told me she was bored of men and wanted to live in a lighthouse; never mind manners and chivalry… what happened to fingering… why does every guy I meet search inside my vagina like they’ve lost their car keys? I kept my hands deep in my pockets and shrugged. Given the opportunity, I’m sure I would’ve been much worse.
The pub doesn’t have windows, just shutters and metal grates covered in old circus posters. Inside, the floor vibrates with the steady hum of the cellar fans and stale peanuts jump and dance over your shoes. No matter; I enter with a creak and the pale neon lights of the mirrored bar against the ceiling lights and the optics draws me in.
Sitting on a stool I order my first beer and lean over to a man with eyes as pale as milk, and a malformed head resting on a lumpy carcass like too many potatoes crammed into a sack. I tell him about this great idea I’ve had. It’s a screenplay called There’s A Rhino Loose In The City. It’s about this killer rhino who escapes from a zoo and starts slaughtering everyone. Basically, Val Kilmer is a private detective called Johnny Sundays and together with his hot young secretary they have to….