My eyes snap open.
I wake up staring at the wall next to my bed and am met with a flood of emotional turmoil; so I roll over and smoke a pipe…
Radio alarm hasn’t even gone off yet, so it’s before seven thirty.
I sigh with frustration at how little I sleep these days and flip myself upright, looking around my room and trying to decide what to do with my six hours before work.
I end up spending it sat at the end of my bed, playing games, guitar and occasionally reading something from the stack of books on my floor.
Then work, which is so dull it doesn’t even really merit telling you about.
Suffice to say that the next few days go along this way. I’m pretty sure that praying didn’t do shit and that there is no God – or if there is he got one dry fuckin’ sense of humour – and nothing really major about my life seems like it’s taking a turn for the better.
Fuck this place…I wish something good would happen to me; just once…
5: “Consider This A Gift.”
I’ve lost count of how many weeks it’s been since Taz dumped me; really couldn’t care less anymore to be honest.
It’s another hot, sunny day in miserable Scabhampton, the radio’s saying its seven thirty and once again I have to work all of the way through the afternoon.
Throwing on a black polo shirt I wore the other day and a pair of torn red chinos I quickly smoke some weed and brace myself for the likelihood of my friends being downstairs in the kitchen.
Well; Penn, Cole, Sibbs and Aaron at least.
Cole must’ve stayed round last night; I wonder where they went…thanks for inviting me guys. I think with a spiteful echo splitting my head.
‘Hey,’ they all say at once.
‘Hey guys, you ok?’ I say wearily.
They all agree that they’re fine and aim the conversation firmly at the subject of Taz and I.
‘Has it gotten any better?’ asks Aaron, as I step over to the kettle and begin brewing some tea.
I drop a bag into my mug and just stare at the bottom of it.
‘Dude?’ Aaron prompts me.
‘Huh? Oh, right; sorry…err…I wouldn’t say better…’ I say.
The kettle finishes boiling and clicks to let us know it’s done, ‘anyone else having one?’
‘Yeah please,’ is the unanimous answer.
So I make four more cups and bring them to the table. I notice that the weather outside’s not sunny at all like the radio said, instead covered in a thick, light grey blanket of clouds.
‘So?’ Cole asks looking up from his bowl of cereal.
‘I don’t wanna’ talk about it…’ I say deciding that it’s best to just let it lie.
‘Do you feel any better?’ Cole.
‘I think…I think I’ve just kinda’; gotten used to feelin’ this way…’
‘What way?’ Penn and Aaron ask at the same time?
‘Like shit.’ I say looking at them all with an exasperated smile.
They all smile back in the same sorta’ way, Sibbs staying indifferent as ever; they know I’ll be fine.
It’s about ten thirty in the evening when I’m walking home from working at the mall that night.
The sky’s still a little light even though it’s so late, but the leftover feathery clouds scattered about gleam with a redness that gives me a glimmer of hope for tomorrow.
Red sky at night, shepherds delight…
The night would be warm if it wasn’t for the light chill sent by the wind to chip away at me as I walk.
I can’t think of anything except Taz, which fills me with the usual numb hurricane of thoughts and feelings, only enhanced by the migraine that jumped me early on in my shift and hasn’t left since.
‘Just get out of my head; please…’ I whisper to no one.
About a quarter of the way home and I’m walking past this run down pub with the name spray painted over so that it now reads:
Nonetheless, I decide to go in for a few pints…
The atmosphere’s pretty droll.
There’s a strong smell of stale tobacco smoke, lager and broken dreams in here; about five customers too. Probably the local drunks who can’t bare the idea of being at home before last orders.
There’s also this nice woman at the bar. She’s got blonde hair in ringlets and looks about thirty, with a few extra years mileage here and there (not where you’d think mind), she’s got an amazing set of tits, especially for a woman of her age. I’d wager that’s why most anyone ever comes in here; god, are we men really that pathetic?
She’s wearing a plain white blouse, with a typical plain black apron and a black skirt.
The barmaid shines bright blue eyes at me behind long, blonde, fluttering eye lashes and says, ‘you alright gorgeous, don’t get many a yor’ type in ‘ere’.
‘Nah?’ I say raising a surreptitious eyebrow.
‘Norm’s justa’ blighters that got no lives ta’ speak of, but keeps me comp’ny I s’pose’ she says looking a little sad suddenly.
Might as well give this dog its bone, I figure, ‘Ya’ look a lil’ low love; somethin’ up?’ I ask, giving her my best Giacamo Casanova I care about you smile.
She smiles back warmly, ‘don’t you worry ‘’bout me lovey. Now, what’ll it be?’
‘Just a Scotch on the rocks cheers’
The woman looks genuinely concerned. ‘Crikey, bit young to be drinkin’ like that ain’cha?’
I raise an eyebrow at her again, ‘how old d’you think I am?’
She folds her arms across her considerable bust and furrows her brow slightly, ‘to be honest?’
‘Eighteen…nineteen maybe, would’nta said a day olda’,’ she confesses, pouring me my drink, followed by the clink of ice against crystal and placing on a napkin in front of me.
‘I’m twenty one…’ I sigh taking the glass and swilling it around a few times before taking my first swig; the warm liquid slips down and causes me to shudder slightly as I breathe out, the after taste always reminds me of bananas for some reason…I feel better for it though.
‘Ha, the drink suites ya’ kid,’ says the barmaid, giving me a wink before return to her usual duties.
An hour goes by in the pub and by the time the cougar of a barmaid comes back around I’ve already had a few more doubles and am starting to feel the booze.
She stands over me as I sit on the same stool hunched over the bar.
The barmaid pulls up the stool next to me, sits down and props her head up on the bar with her elbow; I turn to face her and see that she’s looking at me with - what I’d describe as – lustful concern…like she genuinely wants to know what’s wrong with you, but you can just tell she wants to undress you the way that she is with her eyes.
‘Last orders honey,’ she says smiling softly.
I look at her, images of Taz flashing through my psyche, projecting the emotions into the barmaid, whose name I now realise I don’t even know.
Inevitably I discover that it’s Evalyne and inevitably I end up telling her what the matter is. I tell her everything and after that she tells me her story:
Apparently this pub’s been in her family for a fair few generations. She inherited it when her father died and so her and her husband at the time took it over. She met him - “Kev” - at high school, got married after that, never had kids and long-story-short he left her a couple of years ago, for some younger business woman and she took him for everything he had, which seemed fair enough to me. Apparently that’s the reason for the charming welcome sign where the pubs name should be, he spray painted it after she divorced him and she hasn’t had the energy to clean it off since.
After she’s finished her story she just stares at the surface of the bar, like she’s peering into her own soul, trying to find something left in that cold abyss.
She looks so broken…she looks like I feel…
She looks beautiful…
Tears start to stream down her cheeks one after the other, as I slowly reach out and wipe them away with my thumb. Evalyne looks up at me, her eyes positively sparkling with the moment. I brush a strand of her light blonde hair behind a small ear that’s never been pierced and cup the back of her head in my hand. We stare into each other for seconds that feel like hours, before I notice her eyes flicker down to my lips and back up to meet my own.
Kiss me. Her eyes tell me.
So I oblige, pulling her gently towards me, softly pressing my lips to hers, feeling them part and our wet tongues massage one another. She smells like perfume that’s too expensive for her, cigarettes and gin; and I fucking love it.
Passionately we both become locked in a union of feral libido. I tear open her blouse to reveal a black lace bra holding onto her enormous breasts, which is quickly unclipped by yours truly and tossed aside, letting her tits bounce freely before my bulging eyes (among other things).
I take off my shirt and we both stand centimetres away from each other, our noses practically touching and I swear you’d’ve been able to see steam rising from us.
‘I want you so badly.’ She tells me.
‘I want you too.’ I say throwing her onto the bar, with Evalyne giggling as I climb on top, grabbing her legs and pulling them closer, only to drop myself forward, slamming one palm down next to her head and holding myself up as I use the other to caress her hard, pink nipples, groping her, kissing every inch of her body with a hard delicacy, as I traced my tongue across her skin and ripped off the rest of her clothes.
Needless to say we made love for a while and afterwards even smoked a little of my weed – which she was more than happy to share some of – before heading our separate ways…
Evalyne’s standing in the doorway to the pub looking relieved. ‘Thanks,” she says with a sweet smile, ‘I think I really needed that…’
Ha! I bet you did Ev, I think, but, ‘Ha, yeah; me too’ are the words that pass my lips as I embrace her for our first and final goodbye.
‘Come again anytime!’ She calls back once I’m a few steps away.
I turn around so that I’m walking backwards and say, ‘I will’ with a cheeky grin and wave, before turning back around and carrying on with my mission home.
The paving slabs beneath my feet feel like clouds as I glide down one of the main high streets on the way home.
The event with Evalyne the barmaid has lifted my spirits a tad and at least made me feel very relieved. Guess all I needed was a good shag after all…
In the end though, this feeling lasted me about twenty minutes and soon enough Taz’s back on my mind; pathetic, I know...
I check the time on my phone and it’s coming up two in the morning, the sky’s pitch black, scattered with stars that fade with the terrible light-pollution Scabhampton causes for a city its size, (which is to say not very big at all. I can walk from one end to the other and back again in about four hours; if I’m walking fast anyways).
I have to turn right at a corner shop that has a barbers opposite it and walk down the back alleys, through the shops car park and past what I s’pose you’d call our ‘Red Light District’. The prostitutes never say anything to me though…except for this one time, but she was polite enough when I declined the offer.
There aren’t any around at the moment though, none I can see anyways.
So I get round this bend to where the river bank flows down all the way to my road and the first thing I notice is that right at the end of the bank, some drunk in a trench coat is stumbling towards me with a can of whatever-the-fuck in his hand.
Psshk, he’s probably some poor homeless guy walking the bank to avoid trouble; he seems harmless.
I keep walking and the stranger keeps getting closer and closer.
He’s still stumbling and even swaying from side to side a little. His head’s covered by a massive hood that casts his face in shadow.
We’re coming up to pass one another now; the stranger’s dropped his can and is rifling through his pocket for something, probably just a fag or sumit’.
We come to the point of passing each other and he stops in front of me.
Great, I think, now he’s gonna’ ask me for some fuckin’ money.
‘Look mate, I don’t have an-‘ I stop dead in my tracks with a lump in my throat.
The stranger’s stopped in front of me, but I didn’t notice that as he rifled through one pocket with one hand, the other was pulling out a considerable sized butcher’s knife from behind him and just stood there with it gripped tight in his white knuckled hand.
I think the shock of having suddenly seen a knife pulled on me was what sent me into shock more than anything; otherwise I like to imagine I’d’ve just smacked him and legged it. Instead I just stared at the shiny blade, like a magpie; completely flabbergasted and mesmerised at the same time.
Then without a sound the stranger moves to stab me.
He aims for my lower torso, but my reflexes are just fast enough for me to have grabbed a hold of his wrist, but not before a rock hard fist collided with my temple, sending me crashing to the ground, my head spinning with numbness.
I’m groaning on the floor feeling dazed and sick; the fear’s got a hold of me too and I’m so scared that this is the end, that this is how I’m going to die.
I’m laid on my side, trying to focus my vision when he nudges me onto my back with a leather boot and kicks me hard in the side of the ribs. They crack and I scream with pain from my lungs to the heavens.
The stranger’s nowhere near done however.
He continues to boot me in the sides and when I curl into a ball, covering my head in a vain attempt protect myself while I cowardly whimper, he stomps on my legs, snapping my knees and triggering another rasping, desperate cry of pain to burst out of my throat.
The stranger stops then, taking a quick break from beating me.
I stay curled up in my bitch-ball making noises like a starved puppy. I can feel the warmth of my own blood slowly trickling out of my mouth and become aware that I’m bleeding internally; the pain in my entire torso is excruciating, jagged shards of bone have dug their way into unknown masses of flesh which I’m praying to the same god as the other day aren’t my lungs and my legs have been reduced to a dull ache, except for the occasional spastic twitch that forces me to wince through gritted teeth, Don’t give him the satisfaction; at least try and die with some dignity.
No noises escape the stranger, he’s the silent type; until he breathes out a low growl - that doesn’t sound too far from sexual arousal – before kicking me onto my back again and sitting on my broken and shattered chest, pinning both of my arms down by the biceps with his knees, so that even if I hadn’t just been beaten to the point of near death, the best I’d be able to do would be clawing at his thighs and begging for my life (which isn’t exactly my style).
Lying on my back each of my breaths sounds like nails on a chalkboard, as I scrape the air from my lungs coughing and spluttering the leaking blood into the stranger’s hidden face.
My eyes can’t even focus from the pain; the stranger chuckles. Please don’t kill me… I think meekly, I don’t deserve to die…
Then the punching starts.
No warning again – unless you count the dark giggle – just closed fist after fist colliding with my cheekbones, again and again and again, my head banging from side to side with the force of each blow, until eventually both sides of my face are so swollen, shattered and numb that he probably thinks there’s no more point in tenderizing me anymore.
The stranger gets up and as I think he’s walking away, I manage to choke out one single syllable through all the blood and pain.
‘…Why?’ I plead.
Apparently this hasn’t gone down to well with the stranger; he’s brandishing the same knife that he’d tried to originally stab me with, before the tussle – if you can call it that – started. Fuck; I forgot about the knife…
Wasting no time, the stranger grabs me firmly by the neck, his fingers like a vice-grip and lifts me with the one arm so that we’re eye level; he’s stood straight now with a much better posture, which makes him a good inch or so taller than I am, so I end up being lifted off my feet instead of onto them.
I’m too weak to struggle, or even breathe thanks to his hold on my windpipe. Instead I try to look at him, to see his eyes before he finishes this; but there’s nothing. It’s like the shadow covering his face is a separate thing, conjured as a disguise, thick and surreal…it scares me.
Then the knife….
He jams it into my solar plexus with a fierce jab.
It’d feel like being punched really hard and winded, if I couldn’t feel the tip of the blade still inside me, scratching at the back of whatever it’s been sunk into.
I try to scream (out of reflex), but his grip on my neck is so tight and the blood’s spilling out of me like a facet, so all I manage is a tragic gurgling sound followed by a desperate gasp for air; which fails miserably…
Next he sticks the knife in just a tiny bit more, gripping it even more tightly before pulling down with real gusto and ripping open my entire belly, slicing through the skin and muscle like butter; butter that makes a sound like the tearing of cheap material that is…
The stranger retracts the blade sharply now and puts it away with an impressive casualness; he’s done with that now.
Blood is cascading from the core of my body onto the ground, flooding his feet in a puddle of oxidized plasma and fleshy chunks. I’d probably be able to feel it too, if I could feel anything at all in this moment except for pure pain and absolute, petrifying terror.
He’s reaching for something in his pocket again.
Please let this end already…
Out of his trench coat pocket he pulls a small glowing orb of white light. I’m too close to death to care, but I’m intrigued by it nonetheless.
The stranger closes the orb in his fist, pauses for a few seconds while I stay suspended by my neck, dangling above a pool of my own blood; and punches me the stomach.
His fist goes literally into my stomach through the gash he’s cut in me, I can feel the whole thing inside of me and suddenly I know pain again.
My bloodshot and blurry eyes bulge as the stranger opens his palm, letting go of the orb and tugging his forearm free, leaving the glowing orb lodged within.
His other arm’s still holding me in the air with remarkable ease.
The stranger leans forward so that his lips are as good as touching my ear and whispers, ‘Consider this a gift.’
Then he finally lets go of my throat, allowing me to drop to my knees - that are instantly soaked with the pints of blood that have collected on the floor. I collapse the rest of the way to the side and my face splashes into the warm puddle.
The stranger’s just walking away now, back the way he came.
No thoughts come to my mind really as I lay there watching his back, the pain and life leaving me for good.
I just wait…
My eyes start to sort of shut themselves after a few more minutes bleeding and I can finally drift off into that dark abyss; completely alone…
A single tear claws its way out of my heart and trickles down my puffy cheek; the last thing I feel before I die…