Sunday, 6 October 2013

Strong Gear

We're both ill now, striding through darkened streets to Gonzo's house to score, but when we get there this guy I've never seen before opens the door.
     -Er, orright blue, is Gonzo about?  He knows I'm coming, like.
     -What were you after?
     I hesitate.  This guy looks tanned and healthy, teeth white and even, expensive-looking clothes.  Not many people look like that in this game.  Dai's hanging back, leaving this to me.  I'm thinking, fuck it, I'm dying.
     -Just two twenny bags.
     -Mon in.
     We follow him in.  All Gonzo's stuff has gone.  All new furniture.  It looks like a different flat.
     -Where's Gonzo then?
     -He had to leave, he says, sitting down and pulling scales from under the sofa, weighing out two bags, putting them in squares of foil.
     -I spoke to him half hour ago, Dai says.  -He said to call over.  That's why we're yer.
     The guy shrugs, stands up, hands us our gear.  -That's why you're here, he says.
     A good point.  I pocket the gear, hand the cash over and I'm turning to leave when Dai says, -Gonzo's... orright, is he?  Did he get busted or something?
     The guy sighs.  -Gonzo's fine.  He's just not here.
     -Fuck it, Dai, come on, I say.  -I'm dying yer.
     I look at the guy.  Cheers blue, I say.
     He salutes me, says, -Go with God, boys.
     Dai turns and stalks out.  I follow him, stopping in the doorway to ask, -So, if I need something in future, do I call you?
     He just smiles and says, -Be careful with that stuff.  It's something else.
     I've heard that line a thousand times, and it's always bullshit.  We leave.

     We get back to my flat.  We haven't spoken the whole way home.  Dai gets his works out while I put the kettle and the telly on.  Out of some masochistic tendency I'll often leave off fixing for a little while after I've scored, because your need is never as brutal when you've actually got the gear in your possession, so I'll sit there and savour every twitch and shiver for a few minutes.  Perverse.  Dai doesn't share this view (nor does anyone else) so his shot's nearly ready.  I finish making the tea and sit down, pull my works out, get started.
     -That fella said this stuff was strong, I say.
     -And I've got a bridge I can sell yew, he says.  He pulls the dirty fluid into the syringe and does the little pantomime of flicking the bubbles away.  Stops, looks at me.  -What's the fuckin score with Gonzo then?
     I can only shrug.  -Doan know, doan wanna know.  That guy just now gave me the fuckin creeps.
     Dai's pulling his belt from his jeans, wrapping it around his bicep.  -But all his fuckin stuff was gone!  And I talked to him half hour before.  He didn't mention he'd be movin fuckin house in the time it took us to walk there.
     I say nothing.  The gear has a weird sheen to it, like sand.  Rip off?
     -How does it cook?
     -Like...a...dream, he says, pushing the needle into his arm.  He pulls the plunger til blood flowers in the chamber, then pushes it home, and gasps.
     -Oh...oh...oh my fuckin, God, man...I...
     He slumps forward, needle dangling from his arm, and makes a sound somewhere between a groan and a sigh.  I'm sitting there watching this performance, smiling, thinking I guess it is strong then when he starts to laugh, flops bonelessly back into the sofa, laughs again, and something's happening to him.  He looks...blurry.  Like he's coming apart before my eyes, like he's turning to multicoloured dust and floating into nothing.
     I put my gear down and rub my eyes.
     -I get it, he says.  -I know...I...I get it...
     Rubbing my eyes changes nothing.  Whatever it is, it's still happening, his body pixellating and drifting apart, and the last expression on his face is one of bliss.
     His laughter turns to sobs and back again, then a final slurred whisper of I get it before it fades to nothing, and the only sound is the soft thump of the needle hitting the carpet.
     And I sit there alone, looking at the indentation he left on the sofa cushions, the half a rollie he left in the ashtray, the needle on the floor, and finally at the gear, laying in its little foil bed on the table like an unexploded bomb.  I look for a long time.
     Eventually, sunrise, and I stand at my window and watch the first rays climb over the hill and wash the world with colour.  I can see the spot on the pavement where I kissed Jess for the first time.  Off in the distance is the park where I used to hang out and get drunk when I was thirteen, fourteen.  If I lean, I can see my grandma's old house.
     I stand there and remember for a while, not even feeling that bad now, just a few cold sweats, before sitting down and starting to cook my shot.  My hands are shaking, but I'll be ok.  It's going to be ok.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


The first thing I'm aware of
is her voice,
saying Go in the front room please
Daddy. Please?
My eyes creak open.  I say,
Ok babes,
roll on my back,
examine the ceiling.
A florid nonsense sentence
comes from him;
I turn my head.
He's standing in his cot
grinning at me.
He looks like Kilroy.
You remember him?
The graffiti,
not the guy with orange skin.
I sit up, rub my eyes
and check the time.
Half eight.  Not bad.
A lie-in's like a gift..

She's been talking to me
this whole time,
asking for toast, to
get out of her cot.
She settles on a name for me
for now;
I'm Daddy Pig.
A Peppa freak,
she calls me that a lot.
I get called Daddy Iron Man as well,
and sometimes Daddy Dragon
and/or Robot.
I love the way
these words sound in her voice,
which reminds me of
white chocolate.
Who knows why.

He's excited now,
holds up his arms
for me to pick him up.
I do. He grins.
He's got a brilliant grin.
It's weapons grade,
just like his frowns,
which come like summer storms
and dissipate as fast.
He pokes my nose,
I make a noise, a horn.
He laughs, pokes his.
I soak all this stuff up
like rays of sun.

And then I make us breakfast,
and I drink
some coffee.  First of many.
Did I change their nappies yet?
Yes, I did.
I'm barely conscious.
It's alright.
The coffee's working.

He will concentrate
on eating toast,
and she'll talk to me
about everything.
What's that, Daddy?
What's this?
Look Dad, a cat!

Meow, I go.
She mee-yows back. This day
is gonna be ok.
We'll be alright.

And there are the mornings
they're not here.
I rarely use my bed
when it's just me.
I stay awake, and play guitar,
and read.
The moment I'm in bed
with the light off,
all sorts of ugly
memories recur,
and I can't sleep.
But when the kids are here,
these memories
are held at bay
by snores from sleeping kids.
(I can't afford to live
in any flat
that has more than one bedroom.
So we share.)
The sofa, then,
when they are not around.
A lumpy two-seater affair,
as comfy as a brick.
I'll sit up til dawn,
til my eyes droop,
then curl up and black out.
It's not ideal.

But this how it is,
and it's ok.
At least I've got my kids
and they've got me.
They saved me from myself
when nothing else
seemed able to perform
that humble trick.

Don't get me wrong.
They can be assholes too.
But that's ok.  They're tiny.
It's allowed.

So anyway,
breakfast has come and gone.
She wants to hear Nirvana;
they are now
her favourite band of all.
She's nearly three.
I put Teen Spirit on,
her favourite tune,
and as I watch them
bop their little heads,
and she sings just the last
word of each line,
I sip my drink,
remember being young.