Mohammad and Yassen.


Hello everyone.

I’m writing this as part of my creative writing/english lit degree, and would love any criticism. Harsher the better! This is the 1st draft and I know it needs lots of work.

Cheers.

 

 

Mohammad and Yassen played slaps in the school house every morning, until their hands were smacked bright red and stinging. Mohammad held his hands together behind his back, and Yassen stood with his palms facing downwards. Mohammed brought his open hand down hard on Yassen’s, before the younger boy had a chance to dodge it. Yassen was always too slow to hit his brother’s back when it came to his turn. They were frustrated to be at an English Summer School for eleven weeks when they both spoke good English already.

“Boys, stop.” I said.

“I am stronger than him Mr. Philip! He is a fatty.” Yassen erupted with a milky grin.

“Shut up, I am the strong one.” Mohammad flexed his biceps, giggling.

“Why do you want to hurt Yassen?” I said. Mohammad looked confused.

“I’m not hurting him. I am helping him.”

“Look,” I held Yassen’s hand out in front of his face. It was less than half the size of my own and covered in a sore red patch. His knuckles had white scars which stood out on his dark olive skin.

“He isn’t hurting me! He fights like a girl.” Yassen jumped up and down and stuck out his tongue at his twelve year old brother. A small army of children burst into the hall after their breakfast.

Every morning it was necessary to split the brothers up. Mohammad would be made to sit on one side of the hall, slumped with his pot-belly bulging out of his t-shirt, and his three-quarter length trousers dangling just above his ankles. The other children would pat the empty seats next to them and smile as Mohammad was being separated from his brother, offering him their company. But he always chose to be alone. He watched Yassen with a careful eye; like he was always in danger. Yassen ran around on his own, murmuring things to himself like “jetpack!”, jumping and pretending to be a bird or an aeroplane. At eight years old he seemed content enough spending his summer on the south coast of England, thousands of miles from home. I sat with Mohammad as we waited for nine o’clock and the first English lessons of the day to begin.

“Why do you choose to be alone, Mohammad?” I asked.

“None of these people are my friends,” he said. “None of these people are Libyan. Just me and Yassen.” Mohammad looked around the hall at the groups of children chatting and laughing away in a handful of different languages.

“They can still be your friends, if they are not Libyan, it shouldn’t matter. They all speak English.”

“But they don’t come from what I come from. We are different.” I didn’t know what to say. The sea air filled the room, trickling into the school over the Downs. The July heat was blistering, even in the early morning, and the tips of Mohammad’s brown fringe has had been bleached blonde from the last few weeks in the Sun.

“Why do you stop us, Mr?” Mohammad locked his arms across his chest.

“It’s not good to fight,” I said, spinning a rugby ball into the air as I spoke. Mohammad’s brow rumpled.

“But if we do not do this game, it will be worse for us when we go home.” Mohammad lurched forward in his chair, snatching the ball from the air.

“How?” I said.

“You are more stupid, Mr. Philip,” Mohammad said, before jumping bolt upright and wiggling his index finger in the air. “Very! I mean very stupid.” At this point Yassen reappeared, with his tongue out once more, and his hands attached to the sides of his head imitating big ears.

“How do I say this, Mr. Philip?” Mohammad asked, pointing at a scrap of paper he held out in his hands.

“Tripoli, known as the mermaid of the mediterranean, for it’s Turquoise waters and whitewashed buildings,” I read. “Why have you got this?”

“Mermaid of the mediterranean!” Mohammad shouted. His younger brother Yassen covered his mouth with his red hands as he laughed and jumped around.

“Mr! Mr! Mr!” Yassen shouted, prodding my shoulder and gesturing for me to stand and hold out my arm. I did as he wished, and he jumped up, latching on to my forearm. “One, two, three,” Yassen heaved his head and shoulders above his hands, performing six strained pull ups, before plodding down to the floor to catch his breath.

The nine o’clock bell rang, and the mass of children scurried out of the hall to their lessons.

“I will see you at Rugby this afternoon then, Mohammad?”

“Of course, Mr. Philip. I will show you how to play really. Stupid Mr. Philip.” Mohammad let out a laugh that I wouldn’t have paired with a boy of his age. Somehow it was adult.

 

 

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Bobby.


 

“Surely it’s unnatural for an eye to see death twice over?” Bobby said doubled over, fastening two straps around his grey wrists.

He coiled the straps around a one hundred and twenty kilogram barbell, sucked in a chestful of stagnant air and tugged the bar up from the floor. I watched him grind it along the front of his hairless shins, struggling and grunting, testing his joints, barely hauling it up to the top of his legs. I caught him enjoying a moment of pride in his crinkled face, having deadlifted more than me. He had always been so smug about his strength, but officially becoming a pensioner at the age of sixty-eight really thickened up his broth. He let the metal weights crash onto the rubber floor with a loud clang. His white moustache fell over his lips like two wilting petals, parting for his yellow smile.

The gym instructor drew his eyes up from his copy of Fifty Shades Darker and shot us a cutting stare from the back of the old warehouse gym. He was well known round Eastbourne as Slickback Rick – rumour had it that the nickname spread as far as Brighton and Polegate during his doorman days. He sat by the old wooden door which fell into the room at a jaunty angle; like it was pulling itself away from its hinges. On windier days, a salty sea-breeze tickled its way through that old cracked door. Sometimes the sunlight broke through the jagged blind, and fractured the suffocating grey light. It was a strange place for a gym to be: up by the coast, on the Downs. It was too close to nature.

“But you ain’t gotta give your eyes. I chose to. You can choose what goes.”

“I’d never fancy getting rid of all my innards. Especially my eyes. They see it all. Don’t they deserve a rest?” Bobby’s arms were tied in a defiant knot. I watched as his yellow mouth opened to form a long, flat smile.

“It’s just something I’ve had to think about,” I said. “They ask if you’d want to be a donor on the driving licence application.” I lied. A few other men were in the weights section, measuring their manliness by the resonance of their grunting. Their tuneless music of dumbbells clattering onto iron racks rattled through my ribcage.

“I hate the idea of it. Always have. It’s Frankenstein nonsense. Why would I want my heart beating in another man’s body?” Bobby was as stubborn as a wet match. Any transplant of his organs would be useless: they’d reject their new host straight off. Take his bowel. Although it seems loyal to him, in another I could see the thing slackening at will. It’d be anarchy. I imagine no amount of Yakult could appease Bobby’s betrayed bowels.

A bead of sweat plummeted down Bobby’s straight nose, lingering on the tip for a few seconds. His nose had been flattened out from his National Service in the mid-fifties, when he got into a scrap over a cut out of Brigitte Bardot. He never told me any more than that, but I guess he lost, ‘cos his nose was as sheer as a cliff’s edge. “How’s your dad, anyway?” He always shoe-horned that question into conversation, as the people who are never there to ask for themselves will do. He inspected the loose sleeves around my biceps. “You’re slacking, Freckles,” he said. I didn’t like him calling me that. I expected better than a lazy jibe at my gingery skin. A seafront burster whisked Rick’s sheets of loose paperwork up into the air. One fell onto a treadmill and got stuck in its belt, appearing and vanishing every other second. He ignored them and leafed over the next page of his book with hungry eyes.

“So you wouldn’t have another man’s heart, or liver, if you needed it?” I asked, knowing he needed a liver – my dad told me before everything, a few weeks back. “Well, he’s alright for now,” he’d said, “but they say it’s six months an’ old Bobby’ll be out on his back.”

I slipped two plates off each side of Bobby’s barbell and let them clank on the floor. At that, Slickback Rick looked ready to kick fifty shades of shit into me. To him the iron plates were to be treated as sensitively as a grandmother’s rosebush; and his animosity towards weight-clangers intensified if such noises interrupted his spunky imaginings. He gritted his teeth. His jaw tensed and relaxed just below his ear at a slow, pulsating rate.

I went as Bobby did, wrapping the straps about the greasy bar and heaving it upwards towards my mid-riff. It slipped from my grasp as I almost had it, crashing down like a Mammoth onto the floor.

“Rick’s gonna chop your bollocks off if you keep that up, Freckles.”

“Someone else could make use of them then, maybe.” I said.

“No-one’s gonna want a bollock-transplant with you, old boy. Imagine waking up from the op with a pair of tic-tac ginger nuts. I’d rather have no bloody bollocks.” I noticed a burst blood vessel in Bobby’s left eye. Probably from lifting too much.

“My grip’s still so weak,” I said, thumbing the golden callouses at the bottom of my fingers.

“It’ll come on with time.”

“I don’t know.”

Bobby snatched at my nose, squeezing it between his index and middle finger, before drawing his hand away and pursing his thumb between the two fingers.

“Got your nose! I’ve got it lad — hope it’s not on the transplant list.”

I had a bad habit of trying to grab Bobby’s fist when he did that. It felt like I had to, otherwise he’d win and I couldn’t bear that. Bobby hid his hand behind his back, and then lifted it above his head as I scrambled around him to try and lock his hand in mine. With his spare hand he patted me away. Brushing me aside, he started to laugh. He was at least six inches taller than me and twice as broad. He kept laughing at my attempts to grab his hand which made me more angry and so I started to hit him on the arms and chest. But he was still laughing, more and more with every punch. His long, flat mouth dissected itself into an open red wound, bleeding laughter. I started telling him to “shut up” and “stop now,” and “let’s just carry on with it”, but by then he knew, and he could see the tears that blended into the sweat on my whiskerless cheeks.

“Why won’t you just have a transplant when you need it, Bobby?” He stopped. Like a marble statue, he was fixed. He wrapped his arms around me and lifted me up off the floor, clicking what felt like each separate vertebrae in my spine. My chin rested on his hard shoulder.

“There’s no point, Freckles.”

“Of course there’s a point. What’s the point in all this, then? Building yourself up, making yourself stronger, just to give up?”

“Give the worms more to chew on when I’m six feet under, won’t it?” Bobby’s sandpaper cheeks became colder and wet. His face had fallen green at the mention of death – the colour of an apple that would never run ripe.

“You’re giving up.”

“I’m not,” Bobby rubbed away the teardrops from his eyelids.

“It doesn’t make sense,” I said. Bobby sat on one of the old leather benches that had lost half of its covering. I sat down next to him. His back crumpled over into an arc, and his face dropped into the palms of his hands. My arm was around his wide back as we spoke. I think Slickback Rick had been put off his erotic fiction by this point. I spotted him in the reflection, slumped on his stool, eyeballing us.

“It’s just not meant for me, Freckles.”

“But you love your life. You always said about Beachy Head and how people would be stupid to throw away their lives down there. Why won’t you try? There could be a donor out there already.” I just wanted him to understand how much I wanted him to stay with me.

“I just want to enjoy what’s left. Now let’s see you lift that thing properly.”

 

We left the gym. I hopped on my old red bicycle, ready to get home to see dad and tell him how strong I’d been that day. I could feel the crest of the waves that night; I heard the foaming whitecaps crackle over the black sand from the roadside. Bobby shook my hand, squeezing mine between both of his hard palms. Before he left me he patted me on the chest and offered me his packet of aniseed balls. He always had a half-empty packet of aniseed balls. Bobby pulled his backpack straps taut so that it sat on the tops of his shoulders. It looked heavier than it needed to be, he looked hunchbacked.

Bobby left, meandering over the South Downs in the half-light, along the Seven Sisters. I thought it strange because Bobby didn’t live that way. I carried on anyway.

 

At home the smoke clung to the walls. Dad sat in his armchair, wearing a light blue shirt unbuttoned to the chest. He was whistling some flat tune that I didn’t want to know. I thought there was something wrong with it, it sounded like it struggled in the thicker air, or that the melody was blackened by his sticky lungs.

“Why won’t Bobby do anything?” Dad carried on with his tune. I went into the kitchen and fired up the gas hob. The clink of the pan in the metal grids reminded me of Bobby slamming down his weights. Dad’s whistling drowned out the hiss of the gas. The kitchen worktops had a dusting of ash scattered across them, and an empty bottle of Bell’s laid against the skirting board. Dad let out a hacking cough. I knew he didn’t care, but I wanted him to pretend to. He picked up his tune again a few moments later. I heard the footstool rush out of the armchair, thrusting his body back. On the table there were dog-eared family photos that Dad had stubbed his cigarettes out on. I picked up the glass bottle, felt the weight of it in my hand, wrapped my fingers around the bottleneck and drew it back over my shoulder. I imagined the impact of it on the wall, how it would explode and release everything. But I couldn’t do it.

“Don’t cry, George,” dad said from the other room. I could have cried for hours. But Bobby wouldn’t have let me.

 

 

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Cinnamon Sticks.


lay me down in the long grass

early october,

take me back.

take off your shirt, take the bridge,

take what was lost, the long last night, the

late winter night when you came around

and the cold had frozen your hair a little, to the peach

by the fountain, to the lazy afternoons delaying your

deadlines just a smidgen more for an hour of

us. to the severn breeze, and that moment.

i know that’s the happiest i’ve ever been.

and now scatterbrained, I wane, I’m vague,

it’s all gone.

But the letter –

tulips bloom, and spring –

when will we meet again.

watch the birches,

our constant.

like girls on hands and knees, as i

read to you that frosty night,

like girls that throw their hair before them

to dry in the Sun.

but i want you too. to

purse those petal pink lips

and blow away my blossoming agony.

lay me down in the long grass,

take me back.

tulips bloom, and spring –

when will we meet again.

My Scatterbrained Cycle Ride with Jazzy.


I don’t suppose you’re interested in the ridiculous, irresponsible tales of a first year University student somewhere in the west of England. But if you’re reading this now, that’s what you’re in store for. A little slice of stupidity.

This was back in October — a month into my first year of studying hard and doing my best to ruin my already mediocre physical state with alcohol and other such trifles. By this point I’d met many of the people I associate with daily and consider great friends. Jazzy Pete, who’s now my boss as a gardener, and also fulfilled the role of a dealer for a time, too. He has a penchant for well, jazz, but also whiskey, gin, foxy babes, marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms, good quality meats, vegetables, the piano and electric guitar, skateboarding, tightrope walking, mischief making and anything else of the weird or wonderful. Not forgetting Tara, Tash, Laura, Luke or Jimmy. They were all there too. And probably a couple of others. But this tale is all about Jazzy fucking Pete.

It was a bleak friday night, and nobody particularly wanted to do anything. Going out was definitely out of the question. Yep, you wouldn’t be seeing any of us on the town that night. Except when it got to 11pm, we all fancied a drink. By 1am we were fucked, and a taxi had been ordered to ferry us into town as soon as possible. The problem was, the taxi was for 6, and we were made of 8. Being something of adventurer and a bit of a fucking idiot, I suggested that myself and Jazzy would make the 25 minute cycle into town and catch up with the gang. In the pissing rain. With no lights. Fucked.

Everyone heartily agreed that this was an excellent idea, and Jazzy proceeded to roll a joint the size of a cricket bat. The others left, the cricket bat was smoked to its stingers, and the world seemed to revolve at a rate that would make years swing by in seconds. We both agreed that a brief yet gratifying tinkle on his Korg electric piano was in order before our pilgrimage into town. After ten minutes of fingers falling on duff keys, we figured it was time to make for the road. Pete chucked me a parker which was not built for my rotund frame and perhaps even a little tight on his boyish body, but it went on all the same.

I veered across the empty road as though tracing the peaks and troughs of a heartbeat monitor. It was, as Pete might put it, ‘fucking intense’. Pete however performed jumps, tricks, flicks and all the rest of it. I have no idea how. I think he may have been possessed by some BMX demon, that night. We’d made it into town without any major cause for concern. At least the outskirts. We hadn’t passed car, with it being half 1am, until, around the corner from the club, a deafening light comes up from behind us. Jazzy shouted: “Phil, come left,” to get out of its way, with us being in the middle of the road. And I, in quite a mind melted state, over compensate by thrusting the handlebars sharp to the left, so much so that it felt necessary to spin them immediately back to the right. Next thing I’ve crashed into a car that’s parked on the side of the road, in a heap, thinking I have no idea what, but probably something nothing to do with anything. I get to my feet, and to what should have been my horror, but at the time seemed nothing too concerning, the car behind had stopped, and two uniformed officers were making their way towards me. They got me onto the pavement, and Pete, being one of the most decent people I’ve ever come to meet, despite what aspersions you may have interpreted from my descriptions of the man, came and spoke to them with me, although I am certain he could have gotten away without any trouble.

“Been drinking tonight boys?” an officer said.

“A little, I’ve had, officer,” I said, trying my best to perfect the balance apology and sobriety in my response.

“We could take you in tonight if we wanted to. But that seems unnecessary. Stupid thing to do that….etc etc” I can’t really remember.

They let us go. I think it probably gave them a fucking good laugh. We locked up our bikes and went to the club, only to have no idea where we’d left them the next day.

Lesson learnt.

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Molly.


Molly.

I never wanted to start working for Gerry Broker. It was all sort of out of my control. The fucker used to pull at my hair when we were kids, and shower me in abuse of all shades of shite. Molly couldn’t stand him either. When we were together she used to say:

– He’s a bad bloke, Gerry Broker is, she said. – Stay clear of him. But I’d no choice. Broker basically seized his Dad’s double glazing business in Blackpool soon after he left school. He tried to sound like a flash fuck and describe himself as European Sales Manager when we all knew he was just a door-to-door salesman. So was I. And, him being a natural bully, he was very good at it. Me being a bit limp tongued, I was pretty bad. The thing is, I wasn’t actually working for Broker. Well I was…technically. But I was more just watching: documenting. We didn’t have a camera, no… nor me or Niall, we were too poor for that. But I took note of how Broker behaved. I wrote it all down. I suppose this is the story of where my findings took me. But not the whole thing. Not by a long shot. My notes on Broker came to over a thousand pages in the end. Of what Broker taught me. You might think it’s dumb really, to work for a man you hate, just to observe him for all his wrongs. But it made sense. Molly loved documentaries after all. It seemed like the only way I win her love back, in making one of my own. I thought I’d publish it all and illuminate to Mol my ingenuity and thoughtfulness and bring Brooks down in the process. The plan was sweeter than strawberries.

I was telling her about my dreams before it all began. Quirky little fucked up ones they were, at the time. I told Mol what happened in ‘em. I said:

– I’m falling, hurtling, down to the floor from some tummy turning height. Then I’m in a room fulla tickin clocks and my teeth are all falling out on the floor. Molly’d shake us awake and she’d say I’d be like crying almost. I’d be alright though, once I could roll onto my side and trace the curves in her back with my hands, and rest my thumb in the delicate kidney dimples on the small of her back. I remember how the bow in her spine eased down and swept upwards at the bottom. It could have been formed in the design of a delicate swish of a composer’s baton. Those dreams plagued me in the odd hours for weeks on end. Until I took Mol over Blackpool tower one day. She was going on about how the glass at the top, the walk of faith she says it’s called, can take a weight of summit like fifty tonnes. She said it was on Louis Theroux or some other documentary the other week.

– I fuckin hate Louis Theroux. I said, trying to move the conversation away from documentaries. They’re all she ever spoke about.

– You don’t even know who he is, Jon. He’s an interesting man. I’d never been into documentaries. Looking at everything through a magnifying glass, you miss the bigger picture, I reckon.

– Jonny, she says. – I can’t be doing this no more. At first I thought she meant the height of it, what with us bein’ near 150 metres up in clouds.

– Let’s geddown then, shall we? I said, putting my arm round her flat shoulders, ushering her to the exit. She stepped back from me and says:

– That’s not what I mean, Jonny. I can’t deal with your hate for everything, she says. After two years together she pissed all over us. I didn’t know at the time what brought it on. I’d had thoughts of asking Mol to become Mrs. Jonny Hopping. Just as well I didn’t ask. Proper tit I’d have looked when she’d have said no. I looked down at my feet so she couldn’t see me weeping like an open wound, forgettin we’re on the glass floor, right at the top. My bowels slackened at the sight of all the lego-men below – the ittiness of everything. Nigh on shat my pants at the very top. That wouldn’t have been the ideal way to go about winning her love back. She nestled her precious head in my chest for a few seconds, then left. I can still feel that impression on my heart now. I rang Niall and he came down to the pier and we skittered skimming stones across the flat grey water for a while, supping at Special Brew and acting like neither of us had a care for anything in the whole shitey world. He’d just told us that his Dad’s window tinting company had gone under.

– We’re fucked, he said. – There’s no decent work for boys like us, Jonny. Dad says he’s sorted us somethin’ though. With Broker.

– Fuck that, I said. That’s not for me, Ni. Broker’s a fat bastard. And he’s always had it in for me.

– He’s not the same as when we were boys, Jon. He’s a grown bloke, he’s done us a good turn. And so that’s when I thought it. I had no option but to work for the fucker, I’d be out on the streets if not. And I wanted to stick with Niall. The lanky bastard would be lost without me, and I don’t mean that in a big-headed way. He’s as dumb as a dandelion. If I had to work for this cocky bastard then I’d at least be in it to fuck him up somehow. Even if all that meant was jotting down how much of a twat he was in a little notebook. I felt like a soldier that didn’t shoot his gun on the job. A real thrill. A conscientious objector to door-to-door sales techniques.

Broker’s techniques were quite something, too. When me and Niall went over for our first day with him, he showed us some real dark stuff. I’d forgotten how unpleasant time spent in his company was. He had a maddening way of describing any conversation as though it happened back-to-back. “Then he turned round to me and says” forming the beginning of almost all his anecdotes.

– Then he turned round to me and says ‘you’re the best salesman I ever dealt with Gerry.’ And he’s right, Broker said, choking on his laugh which crawled up his thick neck and barked out of his rotter. When I thought about it, I completely understood if most of his conversations did happen back-to-back. After all, Broker had a nose like a huge glowing red chili and an uneven peppering of stubble across his cheeks. Proper fiery fucker. And you could tell he was a flash cunt right away, even if you didn’t see him rock up in his soft-top Saab, it was from his Clooney-grey hair that must work its charms on his victims. You couldn’t help but think he’d be driving something shitey like a Rover if his locks were Jon Snow-white. He had a fancy-as-fuck watch shackled around his wrist as well. A white metal thing with a face almost as big as his own. He wore it like a second cock. I never asked him the time, even if I really needed to know, just so he couldn’t get the satisfaction of swishing it in front of my muzzle.

– How’s the Mrs, Jonny? he said soon after we arrived and had suffered his crippling handshake. When he spoke his tongue slithered along his cheek before saying what he wanted to. He spoke too fast and huffed at the slightest of inconveniences. Asking this question seemed an inconvenience, and was followed by a long, wheezy huff.

– Fine, I said. Then he showed us his twisted mind. He knocked on a door and said – This is the shoes-off method. Me and Niall stood there behind him, a bit confused by that. You could already smell his bullshit blowing in the winter breeze. A bingo-winged lady answered, wearing a pinkish smock, with bulging electric blue varicose veins worming their way through her dimpled calves. Broker said:

– Good afternoon, lovey, how are you? before she could respond he started to unlace his shimmering black shoes and had them off pretty quick and offered himself in. In an instant I was drinking her cold tea and sat on her damp sofa with Niall beside me. Broker was performing his set from a clicky-combination type briefcase by the fireplace, and the lady sunk into her own swathes of yellow fat in the armchair by the front windows. I didn’t realise quite how large the lady was until we got in her living room. She needed a zimmerframe to get around. But despite asking us in for a drink and sounding very interested in Broker’s double glazing special offers, she soon backed away from any purchase.

– I’m sorry Mr. Broker, I’ve listened to what you’re offering but it just isn’t for me. I suppose I invited you in because I’m just lonely. My husband passed away a few months back, she said. I looked at Niall and he looked proper spaced out by the whole situation. It made the whole thing proper thorny. But Broker will never give up on a sale.

– What if I can offer you a third off our fitting fees? surely that’ll swing you, lovey? he said. I didn’t know there even was a fitting fee.

– No, no, Mr. Broker, she said, her swollen face dropping into a look of discomfort. – My husband wouldn’t be so happy at me spending money I don’t be needing to, she said. I was fascinated. Broker turned around and, almost hyperventilating, let out a sort of roar. You could tell he wanted to remind her that her husband is dead. Proper fucking psycho. Then he turned back all professional and said:

– May I ask how your husband died? I am very sorry for your loss, lovey.

– He fell and broke his neck… the C7, the bone at the bottom of your neck. The doc’s said it would have been almost instant, mind. So I can take something from that, she said, twisting her wedding ring around her oversized fingers.

– Goodness, Broker said. He was quiet for a sec, and then followed up with – What a jazzy way to go, the C7. Well, I’ll be blown. It’s been a pleasure, lovey. Now take a card. Broker threw one of his shitey business cards down on the brown carpet, snapped up his briefcase and left. Brash cunt. If I was the fly on the wall, she was the elephant in the room. Proper obese and having none of it and crying now. Made the rest of the day proper tetchy.

This sort of situation would be replicated around ten to fifteen times in an average day working with Broker. We must have covered half of Blackpool in a week or so, having shoes and abuse hurled at us often along the way. He bullied people with the power of his wrist-cock and silvering Ocean’s Thirteen hair. What I’m really here to tell you though, is about the one house we knocked on that really changed everything. I’d been a spending my days thinking too much, living inside my own head, I spose. It was just how it all ended so sudden. Like having my legs smashed out from beneath me, without a word of warning or chair to fall back on. Just fell right on my arse. My heart and stomach felt as though they’d plummeted through the walk of faith and thudded onto Blackpool beach. The house was in Staple Street, a shitey little road, straight from the set of Coronation Street. I pinged the broken doorbell and knocked a handful of times. Broker had been giving me shit all day about how shit I was at selling double glazing.

– Mediocrity is what it is Jonny boy, he said. – It’s as far as the eye can see. He also said it was ‘my day’, and that he wasn’t going to try and sell a thing to anyone until I’d made twenty seven sales. One for every mediocre year of my existence he said. He was more full of himself than a fucking Russian doll. Fucker, he is. Inflating his ego on the taste of my shortcomings. He was prodding me in the back I remember, at the doorstep of this house. And I remember how I noticed just before any answer came, that the skeletons of trees which lined the pot-holed road had ribbons of toilet roll coiled over and around them. It had taken over the trees themselves and infected them with its shitey contempt. I snapped my head back around to reprepare my pre-prepared bullshit Blue Peter speech. Broker called it the Blue Peter speech because it was ‘one he made earlier’. The prick. From behind the blue door a default faced lady answered, but I took nothing of her face in. My attentions fell to the blonde over her sharp shoulder, in the room behind her, almost supine, reclined way back in a special chair, plugged into a respirator, with tubes coming out of her like a web of poison ivy. It was Molly. I said nothing and just walked straight in. I could hear Broker yelp with awe at what he probably thought was some new, ballsy technique I’d invented to try to impress him. But I just had to speak to her. I knelt down by her side and pressed her fingers in my hands. She didn’t move and for a while I just knelt there and held her. The lady then said from the doorway:

– Jonnny, I suppose you are? I didn’t turn to her but nodded and she left us to it. Gerry didn’t come in either. The door clicked shut and I told Molly that I loved her, and I always would. I told her that if death ran off with me tomorrow, that I’d be more complete and not quite as cold and bitter as other men. It’s thanks to Molly’s compassion that I can say that. I said she’d always be welcome, in ten years or even fifty, to come and see me and spend an evening in each other’s company. Even though she couldn’t respond and nothing of it was said, we both knew that this could never happen. Mol wouldn’t make it. She looked grey. I found out at her funeral that it was her kidneys. I never found out why she did it.

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The Sky You Painted.


 

 

Upon rotten ledges and woods, your thirsty words became

 

doubted.

 

Yet still — we watched and waved, we blamed and waited.

The sky you’d painted fell,

tainted,

ruined by the night.

 

And as it attacked in blues and blacks, we listened and heard our breathing be clean and our smoking out –

 

The skin-soft breeze filled the air and lured the boats in.

 

They waited, watched and waved and halted.

We sang; and our feet were wet and our kisses salted – but then, from a sudden, far off… way away, in the distance,

a tugboat whistled.

Yet still.

We managed. You stayed afloat in shouts and flails; drowning in the whites of sails.

In a clamour,

soaked to your own heavy bones.

It was drunken and sobering.

My confidences bottled,

shattered and

failing.

But in the morning

The tides they came in, creeping, still -

still, and still.

 

 

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The New Louis Theroux.


I would love your feedback on this Fucking love it. If you read it, please please please say something, anything about it!!

cheers

 

 

I never wanted to start working for Gerry Broker. It was all sort of out of my control. The fucker used to pull at my long ginger hair when we were kids, and call me all sorts of names. Molly couldn’t stand him either. When we were together she used to say
-He’s a bad bloke, Gerry Broker is, she said. -Stay clear of him. But I’d no choice. Broker basically seized his Dad’s double glazing business in Blackpool soon after he left school. He tried to sound like a flash cunt and describe himself as European Sales Manager, but he was just a door to door salesman. So was I. And, him being a natural bully, he was very good at it. Me being a bit limp tongued, I was pretty bad. The thing is, I wasn’t actually working for Broker. Well I was…technically. But I was more just watching: documenting. We didn’t have a camera, no… nor me or Niall, we were too poor for that. But we took note of how Broker behaved. I suppose this is the documentation of that. Of what Broker taught me. You might think it’s silly really, to work for a man you hate, just to observe him for all his wrongs. But it made sense. Molly loved documentaries after all. It seemed like the only way I could have her back… to make one of my own.

I was telling her about my dreams. Quirky little fucked up ones they were, at the time. I told Mol what happened in ‘em. I said -Am falling, hurtling, down to the floor from some tummy turning height. Then I’m in a room fulla tickin clocks and my teeth are all falling out on the floor. Really fucked. Molly’d shake us awake and she’d say I’d be like crying almost. Not for want of dreaming again, I can tell ya that much. Sketched me right out. Had them plaguing me in the odd hours for weeks on end. Until I took Mol over Blackpool tower. She was going on about how the glass at the top, the walk of faith she says it’s called, can take a weight of summit like fifty tonnes. She says it was on Louis Theroux the other week.
- I fuckin hate Louis Theroux. I say, trying to move the conversation away from documentaries.
- You don’t even know who he is, Jon. He’s an interesting man. I’d never been into these documentaries. Looking at everything through a magnifying glass, you miss the bigger picture,I reckon.
- Jonny, she says. – I can’t be doing this no more. At first I thought she meant the height of it, what with us bein’ near 150 metres up in clouds.
- Let’s geddown then, shall we? I say, putting my arm round her flat shoulders, ushering her to the exit. She brushes me off and says:
- That’s not what I mean, Jonny. We’re goin’ nowhere. Time we went our separate ways, she says. After two years of picking her up from work and going to the cinema each Wednesday, and driving up the coast, or going to see her folks, she pisses all over us. That really gave my heart a kick in the balls. I couldn’t tell what bought it on. I had thoughts of asking Mol to become Mrs. Jonny Hopping. Just as well I didn’t ask. Proper tit I’d have looked when she’d have said no. I looked down at my feet so’s she can’t see me weeping like an open wound, forgettin we’re on the glass floor, right at the top. My bowels slackened at the sight of all the lego-men below — the ittiness of everything. Nigh on shat my pants at the very top. Now that wouldn’t have been the ideal way to go about winning her love back. She nestled her precious head in my chest for a few seconds, and then left. I can still feel that impression on my heart now. I rang Niall and he came down to the pier and we skittered skimming stones across the flat grey water for a while, supping at Special Brew and acting like neither of us had feelings. He’d just told us that his Dad’s window tinting company had gone under.
- We’re fucked, he said. – There’s no decent work for boys like us, Jonny. Dad says he’s sorted us somethin’ though. With Broker.
- Fuck that, I said. That’s not for me, Ni. Broker’s a fat bastard. And he’s always had it in for me.
- He’s not the same as when we were boys, Jon. He’s a grown bloke, he’s done us a good turn. And so that’s when I thought it. If I had to work for this balding cocky bastard then I’d at least be in it to fuck him up somehow. Even if all that meant was jotting down how much of a twat he was in this little notebook. I felt like a soldier that didn’t shoot his gun on the job. A real thrill. A conscientious objector to door to door sales techniques.

Broker’s techniques were quite somethin. When me and Niall went over for our first day with him, he showed us some real dark stuff. I’d forgotten how unpleasant time spent in his company was. He had a really fucking annoying way of describing any conversation as though it happened back to back. “Then he turned round to me and says” forming the beginning of almost all of his anecdotes.
- Then he turned round to me and says ‘you’re the best salesman I ever dealt with Gerry.’ And he’s right, Broker said, choking on his laugh which crawled up his thick neck and barked out. When I thought about it, I completely understood if most of his conversations did happen back-to-back. After all, Broker had a nose like a huge glowing red chili and an uneven peppering of stubble across his cheeks. You could tell he was a flash cunt right away, even if you didn’t see him rock up in his soft-top Saab, but from his Clooney-grey hair that must work its charms on his victims. You couldn’t help but think he’d be driving something shitey like a Rover if his locks were Jon Snow-white. He had a fancy-as-fuck watch shackled around his wrist as well. A white metal thing with a face almost as big as his own. And he wore it like a second cock. I never asked him the time, even if I really needed to know, just so he couldn’t get the satisfaction of swishing it in front of my face.
- How’s the Mrs, Jonny? he said soon after we arrived and suffered his crippling handshake. When he spoke his tongue slithered along his cheek before saying what he wanted to. He spoke too fast and huffed at the slightest of inconveniences. Asking this question seemed an inconvenience, and was followed by a long, wheezy huff.
- Fine, I said. Then he showed us his twisted mind. He knocked on a door and said – This is the shoes-off method. Me and Niall stood there behind him, a bit confused by that. You could already smell his bullshit blowing in the winter breeze. A bingo-winged lady answered, wearing a pinkish smock, with bulging electric blue varicose veins. Broker said – Good afternoon, lovey, how are you? before she could respond he started to unlace his shimmering black shoes and had them off pretty quick, and offered himself in. In an instant I was drinking her cold tea and sat on her damp sofa with Niall beside me. Broker was performing his set from a clicky-combination type briefcase by the fireplace, and the lady sunk into her own swathes of yellow fat in the armchair by the front windows. I didn’t realise quite how large the lady was until we got in her living room. She needed a zimmerframe to get around. But despite asking us in for a drink and sounding very interested in Broker’s double glazing special offers, she soon backed away from any purchase.
- I’m sorry Mr. Broker, I’ve listened to what you’re offering but it just isn’t for me. I suppose I invited you in because I’m just lonely. My husband passed away a few months back, she said. I looked at Niall and he looked spaced out by the whole situation. It made the whole thing proper thorny. But Broker will never give up on a sale.
- What if I can offer you a third off our fitting fees? surely that’ll swing you, lovey? he said. I didn’t know there even was a fitting fee.
- No, no, Mr. Broker, she said, her swollen face dropping into a look of discomfort. – My husband wouldn’t be so happy at me spending money I don’t be needing to, she said. I was fascinated. Broker turned around and, almost hyperventilating, let out a sort of roar. You could tell he wanted to remind her that her husband is dead. Proper fucking psycho. Then he turned back all professional and said:
- May I ask how your husband died? I am very sorry for your loss, lovey.
- He fell and broke his neck… the C7, the bone at the bottom of his neck. The doc’s said it would have been almost instant, mind. So I can take something from that, she said looking out of her netted curtains.
- Goodness, Broker said. He was quiet for a sec, and then followed up with – What a jazzy way to go — the C7. Well, I’ll be blown. It’s been a pleasure, lovey. Now take a card. Broker threw one of his business cards down on the brown carpet, snapped up his briefcase and left. Brash cunt. If I was the fly on the wall, she was the elephant in the room. Proper obese and having none of it and crying now. Made the rest of the day proper tetchy.

 

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