I don’t know why I let ‘em talk me into coming out. Having to pay to get in a fuckin’ pub. Liberty. I hate this shit. I feel like an alien spectator. Are they really having that much fun, or are they just pretending to fit in with everyone else pretending to fit in? I don’t fit nowhere. Don’t feel like pretending either. They’re all excited about the night and I don’t get it. I feel nothing. What are they celebrating? Another year gone? Another year to fuck up? Another year closer to death.
I’m not even sure this is real. Everything’s like a strange dream since I got better. Did I really get better? Wouldn’t be surprised if I’m dead, or in a coma. Or in some nuthouse somewhere, delusional. I only came out to see if I could get hold of some drunk bird for a snog. Everything’s changed since I last went out. The music’s shit. I’m not even sure how to pull anymore. Girls look better than they used to. Probably because they’re not all chewing their own faces off and gurning on a rush.
I split with my girlfriend just after I got better. Had a bit of a downturn and she couldn’t take anymore. Glad really, she was a pain in the fuckin’ arse. I was gonna dump ’er anyway when I fully recovered. Just holding on for a bit of support, like a parasite. My nerves are too raw without my forcefield for a moody cunt like that.
I’m trying to make eyes at a cutie, but I might be staring with a crooked leer. She turns away. There’s a fella here, mate of a mate who keeps offering me cocaine. He’s doing my fuckin’ head in, but I know he’s just being polite, or sellin’. I see him coming near again. On his way to the bog.
-Yeah… you alright?
-Yeah mate, having a good time mate. How you been keeping?
I feel like a spotlight has lit me up on stage and I’ve forgotten me lines. I look at him for what seems a long time, but time might just have stopped dead for all I know. He looks uneasy, or is it me? I know I’m supposed to just say, yeah mate, I’m good, but that don’t want to come out. I grab his head with both hands and bite into his face, the blood running down my chin. He stands there looking at me in awkward realisation that I’m not looking at him, but through ‘im and offers me a line.
-Mate, I told ya, I can’t touch that shit man. I got a problem with it.
-Yeah, tell me about it. Ain’t we all?
-I ain’t talkin’ about a few grams on a Friday, I got a serious problem with it. That shit drives me round the fuckin’ bend. I can’t stop.
-When d’you last do it?
-Years ago, but it don’t matter.
-You’d probably be alright now.
-You got no idea what would happen if I had it. You wouldn’t want to be in the same room. I’m alright.
He moves on. I try chatting up the girl next to me, but I can’t hear much of what she says. What I do hear’s making me think of smashin’ her face out through the back of her head instead of kissing. Nice looking though.
There’s a countdown. Everyone’s joining in except me. I feel like they’re all looking at me. They know I’m an imposter. I’m not like them. It occurs to me that the countdown might end with them all attacking me. This is a set-up. No no no, that’s not what’s happening here. They’re having fun. It’s me that’s wrong here. They’re escaping their hell and I can’t. I can only see the meaninglessness of it all. I can’t access their fun. I can’t fake it.
The countdown ends and the bird I was chatting up is all over me. Something odd about kissing a stranger on a night out. Her hands are everywhere, so I keep up. She’s wearing a flimsy skirt and I’m rubbing her through her knickers and she’s wet. At least I got something sorted. We part and she gives me a sex look. Someone shoves past behind me and I turn round and shove back. There’s a moment of stand-off and then he carries on his way. I look round to see the girl I was just kissing snogging somebody else. Oh well. I ain’t got no claim on that. Fuck it.
Matey with the coke’s here again. Why did I stay near the toilet?
-D’ya want a line?
-Yeah, fuck it. Let’s go.
In the cubicle, he chops off a couple of small lines. I feel the excitement of terror well up, as I go down. I sniff it up, stand straight and it hits me. Good gear. I see a flashing image of myself, naked with blood all down me. I rub my face like I’m wipin’ it off. He bends down to do the other line and I bring an open palm down on the back of his head, smashing his face into the cistern. He crumples, as I punch ‘im over and over. He’s lying in piss, blood making patterns in it. I go down his pockets. Money, gear. Here we go. Sorted. I chop out a proper line and do that too. I leave the cubicle. Busy at the urinals, but nobody notices me holding on to a basin staring at myself in the mirror. Eyes, like black holes to nowhere. Fire in my veins.
-Happy fuckin’ new year, cunt.
o o o
was born in London 1971. He left school with no qualifications, got lost in an abyss and spent a decade on another planet. He returned to earth just in time for the new millennium and married a beautiful, strange girl. She taught him how to use paragraphs and punctuation and his writing has been a bit better ever since.
He has work out in 2018 in Granta, and tweets now and again at @RobTrueStories