- How many
have you had?
including the half of the one John gave us 5 minutes ago, and that I saw you
put in your mouth?
fuck off. Dont forget that it was less than a week ago that I found
you in those woods with bile running down the sides of your mouth. You looked
like a sick ginger version of Casper the friendly ghost.
yeah, yeah, whatever. That was last week, this is now. Im not telling
anybody Ive only taken half a pill.
right, of course, I had had much more than half a pill, but when he asked the
question I honestly believed half to be true - though as soon as the answer had
left my lips I knew that it was a complete fabrication. Whilst instinctively
attacking Chris, I saw what he had just mentioned happening all over again,
right in front of me. I saw the rapid assured movements of Chris, with his back
to me, breaking the pill in two, then his deft actions as he moved infinitely
closer to the light to see which side had split more evenly than the other. I
saw myself wild-eyed behind him, slumped in the V where the kitchen units met
with a halo of luminous white light springing out, up and around me, powered by
the utilitarian bulbs that were hidden from view by the cut of the unit and
which bathed the whole scene in a ghostly film of light that stylised
everything into some kind of beautifully grotesque ballet that was being
captured in slow motion only for me. I stepped out through the glare of this
metallic fog and dumbly opened my slack jaw as Chris turned round and, as
though choreographed to music, dropped the semi-circular little piece of
ecstasy onto my grateful tongue.
- Hang on
a minute, youre right. Ive had eight, I think.
- Why are
you being such a dick? Dont forget that you dont even officially
live here anymore. See you how smart you feel tonight when youve
got to get on the 36 back to Langworthy Road, thatll be a nice
ride. The best part will be when you get inside your mams flat and
you start to clock all the religious shit thats all over the place. I
swear that weird Jesus on your living room wall looks the fucking spit of
Beckham. I dont know how you can put up with it; it freaks me out just
thinking about it now.
wanted to call a truce, but he wasnt up for it, so the only thing I could
do was to try to hit him where it hurt. He hated it when I started winding him
up about all the religious stuff that his Mum kept in their flat. Thinking was
probably the last thing he wanted to be doing right then, especially if it was
about the reproduction of a crucified man on the wall of his living room that
looked like David Beckham. I should have never wound him up about that shit,
though, because I knew that it did really freak him out to think about anything
too much. He hated to be alone and he hated to have to think about anything,
because when he did he always went too far and could never get himself out of
the holes he would inexorably find himself in.
lived most of his life in foster homes as his mother hadnt been fit to
take care of him and his sister. She was in Meadowbrook at the bequest of the
local government. You can do pretty much anything in Manchester before somebody
will really try to deal with you, but attempting to smother your two young kids
pushes even that boat out too far. In spite of all that, I never once heard
Chris complain about how the cards had been dealt to him. He was always the one
who was the most full of life and energy to do things, but inside I knew he was
afraid that what she had had would be passed on to him.
Ive had fifteen.
dared me to look back at him with a face that was unconditionally resigned to
fear and straight away I forgot all about my 8 and the problems they were about
to cause. He had said fifteen with the confessional honesty of a
little boy who truly wanted to repent to the priest he still believed in. It
often fell to me to play this part and as always I absolved him in a joyful
laughter that was as close as anything we could ever come to being truly
spiritual. Unfortunately, on this night, Chris had already gone too far with
his thoughts and thanks to my previous provocation he was in no mood to be
acquiesced by my laughter.
- Are you
not afraid of God?
- Has he
got a knife?
- What are
you talking about, its God?
understand that. What I dont understand is how Im supposed to be
afraid of him when I dont whether hes got a knife or not.
doesnt need a knife. Hes God, he can do whatever he wants.
- Well, he
aint doing fuck all now. I tell you what Chris; when he gets here, you
let me know and then Ill tell you if Im scared or not. But, I
really cant be arsed with this stupid shit right now because I need to
get back to my Mums. Ive got to get back so I can go with our Mark
to his first Holy Communion. When I get to the church Ill have a look
around for him. Do you want me to give you a bell if hes there?
Youre a sick bastard, Sam. Youre going to burn in hell.
Probably, but theres clearly nothing to be done in here with you, so
Im going to get off and see where Lee is.
living room there were about 10 or 11 people all attempting to forge some
semblance of conversation amongst themselves and over the regulatory beat
emanating from the stereo, which as was the custom was set to 40 on the
dial. It was said that 40 was right and that anything above
that was takin the piss. We lived in a small mews of flats
with neighbours on both sides and above, it was 7.30 in the morning. 40
- Lee, are
you still alright for what we talked about earlier?
what what what what what, p p p p p p p p what ya talking bout Sam? Do you know
what I mean Sam? Do you know what I mean? Do you get me Sam? Do you know what I
mean? Do you know what Im sayin?
- Come on
Lee, chill out. You know what Im talking about; you said that there was
no problem before.
about 10 years older than the rest of my friends and the madness routine was
the trick that he often used to try and get some attention for himself. He also
had a worrying penchant for young girls. It was only a few weeks earlier that
he had told me that the Olsen twins, who we were watching on some TV magazine
programme, had been better when they were younger- they were still only about
11 years old. But, he had a nice BMW and he would always be the one who ran
around getting everybodys drugs for a night out. His feigned madness was
irritating as fuck but despite that, and the not so latent paedophilia, he was
a funny guy- especially on the occasions where he went too far with the tablets
and there was no shame in his insanity.
was always only ever a question of patience with Lee; he needed to feel
important for him to do something for you. I persisted and soon we were
sat in his car in the car park outside the flat. The flats windows were
still vibrating from the noise inside and shadows could be seen moving on the
other side of the heavy blue curtain that permanently covered the window, and
the towel that had been placed over the glass section of the door; dirty little
vampires trying to chase away the light.
the car in a way that meant I was forced to constantly be aware that we were in
it together. He raised and lowered the volume of the music sporadically, and at
times slowed the car down to nothing more than walking pace as we made the
tortuous journey back to my mothers house. Outside the car the ugly
buildings and the outside world came alive in front of my eyes as the drugs
readjusted themselves to the light of a new day, and as the car finally made it
to my mothers estate I was only barely able to cling on to the
consciousness that I was now completely fucked and higher than I had been at
any other part of the night. The road that gave entrance to the estate was
blocked by police and bald men in yellow coats. Lee immediately became serious
and was informed that he couldnt pass up the street as the roads had been
closed for the annual Boothstown procession.
forced to get out of the car and make the final 500 metres through the estate
to my mothers house by foot. I thanked Lee, who drove away laughing, and
walked out into the unnaturally hot June Sunday. The unreasonably fast chain of
events from leaving the flat to having found myself stranded alone in the glare
of the summer morning started to take affect and I began to doubt whether I
could really go through with this at all. I loved my kid brother but what
benefit was he going to get from having his drug riddled junky brother
attending a religious ceremony with him that he probably neither understood nor
cared too much about. A frightening vibration in my pocket and everything had
been decided for me as my mother emphasised how important it was that I came,
as Marks father was on holiday and he was really looking forward to his
big brother being there to accompany him.
numerous pubs of the estate had all opened early and lecherous lizard like men
were stationed outside on the car parks facing the street making lewd comments
about the pretty-at-a-distance girls floating by on the procession floats. The
men revelled in the cheap tricks of their double entendres whilst trying hard
not to be seen by the other as their leer defiled the bodies of the kids that
were their daughters.
that wasnt attached to the floor, or some other solid base, was falling
down towards the ground- caught in the frenetic whir of over-excitement that
this event never failed to generate. I saw Salvador Dalís golden
elephant high in the sky, mincing gingerly in an attempt to walk without
impaling the people below. His tentacle like gold and jewel encrusted legs were
somehow invisible to the rest of the people in the Sunday morning summer sun,
or maybe they were just all so lost in the gaudy gratuity of a real true to god
community celebration to notice. More than a little perturbed at having found
himself amongst this scene, the elephants priceless spears were less than
accurate in their intended execution; young and old alike sent splaying into
dizzying twirls to the ground after unwittingly crossing paths with his failed
attempts at navigation.
caught off guard by the surrealist elephants movements were busy being
dazed and confused from the unrelenting bombardment of out of date packets of
mini-size Special K that were being hurled manically from every other
procession float, by a shackled assortment of dwarfs, freaks and any other of
the towns socially non-desirables; who had all been clandestinely rounded
up, under the cover of night, and herded onto the trucks especially for the
all of these attacks and soon found myself with my face squashed up against the
¾ length mirror in my mothers bedroom, being stared at by my
brother Mark who was all dressed up and ready to go to eat the body and blood
of Christ, or was it Jesus Beckham. At that moment those details both escaped
and fascinated me, which semi-explained how it was I was now salivating all
over the mirror. I was having real difficulty in distinguishing reality from
mythology and superstition, as well as having completely forgotten how to
fasten a tie, which was twisted sickly around my neck in some sort of demented
hangmans wet dream.
the real beauty of youth is that it gives the holder a mask to wear that can
overcome almost all drink and drug situations. Relying on this beautiful
borrowed gift i kept my mouth shut and clumsily got into my mothers car,
whilst trying uncomfortably to avoid the still bemused stare of the 7 year old
Mark. Outside on the street some of the vengeful dwarves and other socially
non-desirables had slipped their chains and I struggled to withhold a snicker
as I watched them systematically devour the family of the police detective from
next door, who had been unceremoniously thwarted in their quest for free
supplies of out of date Special K.
church the mood of the place imposed itself on my demeanour. There was no
forthrightness nor were the people expected to show any overly excessive
excitement at being there. The people exchanged nods of the head which were
unequivocally non-committal but laced with thousands of years of conspiratorial
hatred and unease. The light of the bright day outside was commandeered by the
heavy stained-glass windows; whose depictions of a valiant death shafted the
light into obtuse angles that forced it to fall unerringly toward the altar and
the solemn priest raised high-up in his pulpit at its head. I bowed my
head in a false prayer of complicit movement and remembered the hours lost sat
in those benches as a child; forced to suffer through twice weekly visits to
this cold unwelcoming place which was now opening its doors to my youngest
brother and a whole new flock of sweet sacrificial lambs.
began to sweat as I realised the severity of the situation, of the sacrilege
that I must surely be committing; and I felt no shame - more a sly sense of
ecstatic aftershock. I lifted my head and searched the aisles for the God I had
told Lee I would attempt to seek, but found instead remnants of faces I had
long forgotten from the past and whose existence I had ceased to be aware of. I
realised it was because it was only ever here that they came - that it was only
ever here that they had been given a voice to be heard, even if it was only one
of monotonous supplication. Surrounded on all sides by the ghostly souls
of men and woman deep in trance, or pain, I noticed the oily twisting texture
within the varnish of the benches on which we sat and lost myself in their
design as I floated down toward the pinnacle of their truth, unravelled their
mysteries, and caught myself quickly before I fell sideways into the good
brother behind me ready to catch my fall.
service moved along quickly and the children moved forward with their proud
teacher to collect their first mouthfuls of soul food - of the body and blood
of the man who they needed to know had died for them, for their sins. In threes
they approached the harsh marble altar to kneel nervously before the priest of
whom they were afraid but unsure as to why. In threes they represented the holy
trinity of this thing that they were too young to be involved in. In the threes
of grammar that they shouldnt know express all the relationships of all
humankind. In threes whose thought, word and deed completed the sum of their
returned to his seat chewing uncomfortably on the stale not quite tasteless
paper of bread in his mouth and looked at me for assurance that all was right.
The blackness of my stare forced me to refuse his eyes, instead I held his head
warmly with my left hand as I followed the word of the Lord and turned
triumphantly to my neighbour and bid them that wherever they go that peace go