Driplets

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I inhale the smoke and gasp under the lights in this jet black room.  Sweating bodies and dead flesh grind and bump around me, so much cadaverous globules.  The first pill hasn’t kicked in yet – I can still taste dry ice and hairspray – so I pop another and dream of my future.

Above me on the stage, the party is just getting started.  But I don’t party.  I’m looking for sensation, real feeling.  I see empty men and indifferent women, just so many appendages and openings, no more atuned to love as the assembly instructions for furniture.  I’ve already seen a Princess, but the low bass throb is reacting badly with my shoes and I’m struggling to move more than five yards a minute.

It doesn’t matter.  She comes over to me, just as the second pill kicks in, and her eyes turn into a pair of gold coins ringed with black.  Leaning on a table, my opening line isn’t brilliant.  Are you blind?  Can you see?  It’s fine if you can’t…. I’m not prejudiced.  She’s sympathetic but confused.  I’m confused but sympathetic.  With firm hands and long nails pinching under my armpits, she hauls me out of the bonfire before the strobe dilutes my memory.

Dragged across the floor, I can see the artifice of this place.  No ceilings, just vents.  No lights, just effects.  My trousers are sticky with beer and other questionable things.  I have a flashback memory; fourteen years old, first time getting loaded on beer stolen from my parent’s fridge, listening to music on my headphones whilst lying on my bed and feeling as though I were floating into the song… like melody could be fluid, and something one could swim around.  I felt my immature quilt cover melting around my arms and legs, the pillow swallowing my head, falling into the rabbit hole of a greater sensation of feeling.  I’ve never felt better than that teenage drunk.

She drags me into the Gents and rams two fingers down my throat, her long nails lacerating the roof of my mouth.  I instantly throw up foam and blood, as a concerned man with aftershave and soaps for sale looks on.  She rubs my back, tells me Everything Will Be Okay, and buys some wipes from the dude.  He won’t accept her money, but she has a way of making things happen.

What’s that Smiths lyric?  Under the iron bridge, we kissed.  This isn’t an iron bridge and we don’t kiss.  She drags me outside and we meander, supporting me as best she can, until we sit under the ruined arch of an ancient church.  The fresh air ploughs into my senses and I feel like I am drowning.  Even the stars in a cloudless sky move too fast.  She sits with me, holding my hand, and asks me questions.  I try and answer them all flirtatiously, but she just laughts.  She wants to know who I am.  When I sit still the echoes of the bass still pinball around my head and send me off-balance.  Her arm around my shoulder isn’t affection… it’s protection.

At some point, I ask her for her number and she hands me a card with a wink.  I go for a kiss, and she darts away from my lips and plants a wet one on my cheek, grabbing a handful of my expanding groin in the process.  I look up and mumble something about the moonlight.  I can barely focus on the damn thing, glowing and bulbous above us.  She looks up and points, tells me about footprints that will never be erased and flags that will never stop fluttering, if we can just believe in the impossible…. something something.  Something something?  Why can’t I remember….?  Fucking hell.  Why can’t I remember?

I woke up in the gardens, not far from the arch.  I opened my eyes to a dogwalker, crouching nearby to pick up some shit and eyeing me pathologically, trying to assess whether I was still alive.  Underneath the crook of a low shrub, dry from the morning dew and still wrapped in her denim jacket, I rolled out from my little grave and surveyed the morning with a thumping headache and slime on my lips.  I felt something sharp in my pocket and I remembered, the card she’d given me.

It was blank except for a lipstick kiss and words scrawled in biro; TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. 

 

Metallic

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We roll up, the tyres cracking and complaining under the broken ground, into the skeletal husk.  In the shell of the old factory the slabs of mottled concrete rise like broken teeth, or gravestones, testaments to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.  Every surface is tattooed with fallen graffiti artists, leaving their tags in blood red as the light dimmed from their eyes.

Trespass is the least of our crimes, and our crimes are the least of anyone’s around here.  I look across to a vibrant bundle of scarlet hair and anger.  Aged fourteen she found her brother kneeling peacefully in the street with a knife hilt buried in his chest.  She ran over to hug him as he rose his head to the sky, closed his eyes and a single tear ran from the corner down his cheek.  He whispered into her ear; this really hurts, and I need to sleep… if I don’t wake up, know that I love you. 

She broke my ribs last week.  As I crouched, doubled up and breathless, she pointedly remarked; if it makes you feel better, I can feel it too… and it hurts.  She was dangling upside down from a tree at the time.

Now we sit in front of a jagged, arrow shaped monolith, casting a shadow over the car.  Five stories of naked, pointless brick holed five times down the centre by glassless windows and kept up by a few flimsy pieces of tape and warning signs that the whole thing could come down at any moment.  We’re underneath it, and for good measure, I turn the key to shut the engine down.  The stand-off begins.  If it decides to fall today, we won’t have time to react.  I pass the can to her and she passes it back.

Tears regularly form on her eyelashes like icicles.  She tells me; I’m finding it harder and harder to keep breathing forwards.  Then, with a deep sigh that raised her chest to the heavens, she turned her head to face me…. See? 

When I walk down the street with her at night, the streetlights flicker and dim as she walks past them.  I used to think it was her energy fucking with the wiring, but now I realise it is the shadows of her thoughts that swim and dance around her head, blocking out the light, selfishly hogging her soul.

Sucking on the can, she leans back and stares out of the window.  Her voice is half panicked and half relieved when she says; I think I’m dying… I can see angels coming to collect me… I never thought I’d be one of the saved. 

I look ahead; flecks of snow are settling on the car windscreen.

 

Creased

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We are such delinquents, and what a joy it is to swill that word around our mouths like bad bourbon.  So what if we’ve started a few fires?  You can walk on water and I can follow in your footsteps.  You tread the waves flat and I aim for the shoeprint.  It’s easy.  It’s so easy.

Because this is what we do.  This isn’t an affectation or a hobby or a cry for help.  This is why we breathe.  Surfing clouds is easy, swimming in a blue sky is easy.  Opening our eyes to the rain and letting it drip on our cornea’s without blinking is easy.  We run our fingertips through the concrete of a subway and carve our names into the dust and disappointment, and it is easy. 

Time to soar, time to beg for more.  A handful of hair and a crease on the hip, we collide and disperse, atoms flirting through space and dancing around our charges.  I inhale the scents of activity – cheap ass perfume covering the seven days since you last saw a shower, the rich iron of your recent cycle and dry sand in your armpits, in the folds under your knees.

I whip off your dress in one motion, drive a stake through the shoulder hoops, and plant it firmly in the ground, in the name of…. something.  Flapping in the breeze we get down to the basic instincts, as the stars revolve above us like voyeurs, trying to appear indifferent but unable to stop staring.  I finish too soon – and isn’t that a well told story without a decent ending – but for once you don’t seem to mind.  Lying on the beach, our only contact is your ankle crossed over mine.  I’m breathing deeply, sticky with all manner of things, but you lie still, absorbing the constellations into your eyes.  When I look across I can see them glittering like sunlight on fresh snow, changing with every blink, and every languid puff of your awful smelling cigarettes.

It’s hard knowing someone who only comes out at night.  I walk alleyways and shopping centres, fields and forests, trying to find the point of it all, waiting for the sun to die and my hope to rise.  But every now and then, under the unforgiving and judgemental glare of daylight, I hear a familiar noise and look up.  I see the kite’s flying above, swooping in circles, wings hooked like your shoulderblades, and all is well in this garish, vulgar, unsubtle world.

 

Rotten Leaves

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Sitting in the woods on the bonnet of my car, the headlights illuminate a circle of trees and this is the stage.  Underneath me, the engine ticks itself quiet and smoke gently wafts from an overheated radiator.  I can smell wet trees, burned oil and dead wildlife.  A rustling and a snapping of twigs announces your arrival.  Swearing, you emerge from behind a curtain of ivy and it is showtime.

Your toe pokes out of your thigh high stockings and your white bra is covered in small brown circles where you stub out cigarettes on your breasts.  You dance and twirl around a thick puddle of soft mud, shards of bracken and the corpses of failed saplings.  The lace thong is perhaps an ambitious mistake – dark hairs curl around the gusset like trapped spiders.  But when you swing those hips, I am in a trance for weeks.

We usually fuck in fields of freshly cut grass to hide the smells; warm iron and bad breath, sweat and yellow fingernails.  But here in the woods, I ask you to climb onto me.  As you walk my way, your foot disappears down to the ankle in mud with a horribly graphic sucking noise.  You gasp with distain, pull your leg free and continue hobbling towards me with one brown, slimy boot.

Kneeling over my prone body, I feel the metal hood beneath us buckle and protest.  I grab a handful of your hair, flecked with pollen and little bugs.  The natural scents of the forest are replaced with cheap vodka and even cheaper roll-ups.  You kiss me with chapped lips and I feel my skin melting like pizza cheese onto yours.  We fuck so hard the lights go out… only later, as we cuddle ourselves into an amorphous gel, do I realise that the battery has died and we won’t be going home tonight.

Sync

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Stroking your arm, I navigate my fingers over the hairs and goosebumps, trying to read your thoughts like braille.  There are no clouds in this night sky, so we lie alone on the beach sharing our moment with 4 billion years of chemical reactions, and a trillion unknown worlds.  Next to us, the remains of a bonfire quietly hisses and crackles, like a grumpy child reluctantly getting into bed.

I can’t read your arm, but I feel your breathing quickening.  I stroke your cheek and check your racing pulse and this is all I need to know.  You stretch a leg out, one side pale against the night, the other textured with grey sand, a monolith sending out a signal to distant tribes.

….like a monolith sending out a signal to distant tribes.  I think it’s a good line but when I say it out loud you pinch my nipple hard enough that I feel my calf muscles tighten and my ears involuntarily twitch.  Too much?  I ask.  You don’t reply.

In the harbour, we can see the lights of an approaching ship.  A small boat, one of the local fishing tubs that go out from time to time.  The quiet of the night is interrupted by Dancing Queen by ABBA blaring out across the dark water.  As if embarrassed, the stars begin to go out.

As the boat draws nearer, we see a small group of men and women gathered around a large beer cooler.  One guy is standing on the prow with a girl, trying to reinact the scene from Titanic.  It’s a sweet moment, and I feel you nuzzle close to me, until he downs a can, throws it high into the air and shouts BRING US YOUR RUM AND WHORES. 

The boat putt-putt-putts away past the breakwaters, to the sound of cackling.  I look up and say aloud; it’s safe to come out now.  You turn and look at me confused, but one by one the stars reappear above us.

 

Tangerine Eyes

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I’m always nervous when she is in a good mood.  She draws too much attention to herself.  And us.  I’m standing next to her but a few paces apart.  I can see a tree, and I can see her former boyfriend hanging from the tree by his wrists.  She’s wrapping herself back up in a deep, dark coat covering up the black lingerie she wore to entice this fool.  And then, with one ridiculous heel braced against the oil drum, she kicks it away and This Boy dangles like a trouserless pinata…. his dick already beginning to tumble in panic like a demolished tower block.

She has a knife in her pocket and it’s already out.  This is both good and bad.  If she shows the blade early it means The Boy will almost certainly return home with the rest of him, but on the flip side she is in the mood for fun.  And any second now a passing dog walker is going to stroll past and start asking questions.  And I have my own blade, hidden and considerably sharper than hers, to deal with intrusions.

Whilst they – whilst she – talks, I sit down on a nearby rock, like a grey island amidst the thistles and weeds.  The wind hisses and waves through the grass that seems to charge in unison towards this weird public execution.  There’s dog shit on my shoes, my jeans, under my armpits and behind my ears.  It’s been an odd day.

I should get out of this.  I tell myself every day.  But within her sphere life isn’t boring and sex is dangerous.  A sniff of her greasy hair flecked with pollen and dandruff and I’m hopeless.  To see her squatting, shitting in a field is divine.  People may laugh, but then they end up like This Boy.  Kicking and fretting about the loss of his insignificant sexual vegetables.

Her eyes are orange, thin black pupils over a pair of deep autumn suns.  She always has plans… and strategies and I wonder if she shouldn’t be in the military, or as a modern day Boudicca, riding a tank into a warzone with a sword in the air and a pair of goggles to protect from the diesel smoke.

It always begins like this; we’re going to do something nice and normal, like go and get pizza from Earl the street vendor, but we ‘happen’ to meet up with her ex; and for a while we sit and we eat pizza and she tells us stories about each other and our failings, and I haven’t even asked why a black trenchcoat in June?; and then she suggests a walk out to the fields and beyond to the wasteland, and by now I’m trying to mouth to her ex that this is a bad idea; but he’s cock of the walk right now, especially when she turns to me and tells me to fuck off but with a knowing wink that he cannot see; so I do go away to give her the five or ten minutes she needs to string up this silly boy and prepare him for the entertainment…

…and as I’m walking away, knowing I will return soon I think, there she goes again with those flawless Tangerine Eyes. 

Back Hare

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Hands deep in pockets I sidestep the chewing gum and the endings, the smashed cups and food wrappers, taking care to step on the ballast rather than the slimy wood of the old railway. Ahead I can see the multiple spines of concrete that run here and there over the convergence of roads, bridges over the lost circulating and standing still. Climbing over the barbed wire and through the nettles, I leave the pain behind and aim for banality.

The overpass hovers above the mess like a dead spider – straight arms spreading out as the multiple roads weave and wind to the whirlpool below. I look over a rusted railing, in between two large groups of flowers, and see nice cars with distressed men and distressed cars with nice women inside. As I lean over the side, admiring the many shades of black and grey someone spits on the back of my shoe. This isn’t an accident; we are both alone on this dusty tributary, but I have been chosen to be defiled. I swing around to face his back and call him terrible things. He swings around on his heel and marches towards me, as the shiny bugs below all nuzzle and beep at each other.

We exchange words and I grab his lapels. I have a blade in my pocket but I’m reluctant to use it unless I feel my life is in danger. He’s twice my size and height, but he just spat on my ankle… I know that I am likely to face a trip to hospital and nothing more. I swing for his temple and aim a foot towards his kneecap and miss both. His first blow knocks my jaw out of its socket and I sink to my knees. I know that I won’t die today, but I need to be as dead as possible for the next five minutes or so.

Lying on the damp floor, I can feel old chewing gum sticking to my jeans. I can look through the metal railings of the overpass and I can see commuters and rude boys, hairdressers and priests, all doing their best not to look up as this guy kicks the shit out of me. My nose is already broken. The next blow costs me a couple of ribs. I keep the blade in my pocket though. He’ll be tired soon. He’ll realise it is time to go.