And I hear this Aaahhmmmmmm. Aaahhmmmmmm. That’s what woke me up in the end, I think. Now I tell you that was a fucking weird afternoon. In the early hours of that morning Satellite had done an off-licence over. We spent the afternoon watching these old Spiderman cartoons on VHS tape. Me, Satellite and my girlfriend Marnie, that is. For health purposes Satellite said he’d switched from whisky to vodka so he hadn’t got any whisky in so we were drinking our faces off on this cheap shit vodka. Satellite had robbed a load of cheap vodka; he didn’t even have the brains to grab the good stuff. Not that I cared. I drank almost anything. Satellite was staring intently at the TV screen, chewing gum frenetically and every minute or so he’d blow this big pink bubble that’d go splat and stick to half his face and he’d suck it back into his mouth.
His real name was Andreas or something, I forget now. But everyone called him Satellite because he was sort of slow-witted, always the last to get something. Like when you asked him a question his eyes kind of rolled around in their sockets as he searched for an answer, or if someone cracked a joke and just as everyone else stopped laughing he would suddenly start laughing. It took incoming information a while to sink in. There was just this delay in everything he did. It was, somebody somewhere said, because he was waiting for his brain to receive the satellite signal. And after that everyone called him Satellite for ever more.
I drank until I passed out in the armchair and I don’t know how long I was out for but when I came around it was getting dark outside by now and Satellite was fucking Marnie on the floor in front of me. I say fucking. It looked more like he was initiating her into this strange kind of tantric sex bullshit; that meld of sex and meditation bullcrap or whatever it is they call all that kind of stuff. Marnie was face down on the floor with her skirt pushed up around her waist, thighs spread wide apart, and it was like this: I’m sitting there half-cut and calmly survey the situation and Satellite’s jeans are folded up on the sofa, even his socks are folded and placed neatly on top of them and he’s lying between her legs, palms on the floor each side of her like he’s doing press-ups with his pelvis pressed firmly against her ass. Her long brown hair is fanned out on the dust-laden brown rug and I can see her just sprawled there, her head is turned towards me, eyes closed, with this dreamy smile wiped across her face. Satellite’s frozen in this fucking odd position with his spine curved backwards like a bulrush in the wind and his head is thrown right back, his awful lashless piggy little round eyes are pressed firmly shut and his mouth is open, emitting this perpetual monotone hum, like: Aaaahhmmmmmm Aaaahhmmmmmm. I mean, it’s just going on forever. And that was what brought me round from my coma. Now I don’t know what Satellite was playing at because I knew for a fact he didn’t at all practice any of that eastern meditation stuff. It would have been beyond his scope anyway. I suppose he just gave Marnie a load of bullshit and she sucked it up like a sponge.
And there I was just sitting there, what the fuck is this shit? I’m thinking to myself, and I get out of my chair — neither of them even notice me getting up and leaving the room — and I go out to my car and grab the tyre iron out the back and I come back in and see the spawny twat is still in the same position, still got his pig’s eyes shut, still going Aaaahhmmmmmmm. I go over and crack him right over the back of the swede with the tyre iron and that soon shuts his rattle and the sound it makes cracking his skull is like the brittle sound of smashing an egg. He falls off Marnie and rolls onto his back beside her, cock still hard. It’s nothing much. It looks pretty much like a walnut whip with a glistening bright red cherry on the top instead of the nut. Marnie’s head spins towards me and first she asks me what the fuck I think I’m doing and then she starts jabbering on, trying to give me all this bullshit about how she was so out of it she didn’t know what was going on and how that makes it rape so I point the bloodied tyre iron at her and tell her not to start giving me all that not what it looks like bullshit and to think herself lucky it wasn’t her I fucking cracked over the skull. Satellite screams you’re a dead man you bastard and makes a feeble attempt to get to his feet and come at me with clenched fists and his paltry cock and balls still dangling between his legs. He truly was a repulsive conglomerate of skin and bone and sinew and grime seemed to be ingrained into his pores. I’ve seen the dirty bastard; I’ve seen him do things like sit there picking his nose and then studying the findings on the end of his finger. So I wait until he gets close enough and crack the Greek bastard another one, across the face this time, and the bridge of his nose shatters and he staggers backwards, smashing into the old, knackered shitbox television of his that’s perched on a wooden crate in this shithole house of his. Blood is pouring from the wound on his bald head and it’s running down all over his shoulders, staining his white t-shirt like a red shawl.
I walked back outside to my ’78 Celica Coupe and slid in the driver’s seat, cool as a fucking cucumber, and drove away and after that I never saw either of those two shits again.
I took a detour through the city, gunning it along the James Watt Queensway. The sky was full of stars and I flicked on the radio and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird came on so I whacked up the volume big style, rolled down the window and sparked up a cigarette and smoked it resting my arm on the door. It was November and the night air was freezing cold but it was a beautiful feeling on my face, it felt good to actually feel something. This was 1986 and I was 20 years old.
Well, nothing means much to me. I didn’t know it then but I’ve since learned that life is just a series of events. I don’t profess to know much about anything. But I don’t see any other way to look at life. I mean some people might get a bit luckier than others, especially in the financial department, but really life is just something that happens to us without much rhyme or reason. Yeah, life is nothing more than a series of events, you can try and claim credit for yourself if you want but the truth is we’re dealt it like cards, and then one day at the end of it all suddenly you’re gone. And it don’t matter whether you wear a golden crown beset with diamonds or a cloth cap. No more thoughts, no more feelings. Zilch. You’re just gone, out of the game. Comes as a pretty sharp smack in the face to most of us though when the realisation hits, usually when it’s too late, that it’s all just a fucking con, the game is rigged and you’ve been fucked over from the start, hook in mouth. And those who believe themselves to be winners are the biggest losers of all. Me, at least I had my eyes open, I looked at how my life panned out and I knew I was one of life’s losers right from the beginning. I never did understand anyone or anything.
I leaned across and grabbed my bottle of beer from out the glove box, popped it open with bottle opener I kept by the hand-brake and swigged it as I drove along.
I drove to my friend and supplier’s flat, Colombian Chris, in Chuckery. Colombian Chris isn’t around any more; he was shot dead a few months later during one of his business trips to New York. But before that no one in town supplied cocaine as good as Colombian Chris’s.
We’re all just trying to lose ourselves in the crowd. And there is sadness in everything and the sadness is that everything is temporary, like a flame or a flower or a dried up river. It all withers away in the end. Humanity itself, too, will one day fade away and for all our art and books and science it will all mean nothing, every human idea ever formulated will ultimately amount to nothing, will have all been for nothing. There will be nothing and no one to remember us and the impartial universe will continue to turn like the mechanism in a clock until it, too, will one day all in an instant simply go… Pop.
And what of your money then? Or your cars? Or your loved ones lying in their graves? Or your precious memories? Or your breast implants, your botox, your collagen injections? What of the books we have written or the paintings we’ve painted? What of all our amassed wisdom and all the worms in the earth and Gods in the sky then? What of it all?
It all means shit. But I digress. I don’t uphold anything as one singular truth. But it is a truth nonetheless; it’s just one truth amongst many truths. But I’ll tell you, I once watched a star in the sky. Over the course of a year, in the time between cigarettes, I just stared out my window night after night and watched this star come all the way around and end up back at the same point in the sky. Even revolutions amount to nothing in the fullness of time. We all end up back where we started. You could look at it like a journey if you want to but we can’t change our trajectory in life because it’s dependent on forces we cannot change within ourselves.
I pulled up and parked in the street outside Colombian’s block of flats.
Colombian Chris was sitting on the edge of his sofa with his legs either side of a little round table on which he was skinning up a joint. So what was all that about this morning? He asks his pregnant girlfriend Belinda, who was directly opposite him, draped across the other sofa. And she goes: what was all what about? Belinda is lying wrapped in nothing but a red bath robe. She doesn’t have her usual dolly-bird make-up on and her just washed blonde hair is tied up on top of her head, she looks as bright and youthful as an angel. You know, Colombian Chris says, all that cosy little chit-chat with the neighbour out in the hallway this morning? What were you talking about? Belinda shrugs and says it was nothing much, she really doesn’t remember.
Colombian lights the joint, takes a few long tokes and then passes it to me. He stands up in his black suit. I never saw him wearing anything other than his black suits. He was tall, dark skinned and handsome with quite pretty, delicate features juxtaposed with deep scar running along his left cheekbone. His long black pleated hair was done in red and green beads, scraped back off his face.
I sat there smoking the joint as he stood staring down at Belinda intimidating and goes: well I’m just asking, you know, it must have been something, I mean, you must remember what you were talking to the geezer about… Unless it’s something you don’t wanna tell me. Belinda fiddled with her bath robe uncomfortably and she said: it was nothing at all, nothing of any consequence. Colombian ran his hand over his face and laughed, looked at me and nodding his head towards her repeated: nothing of any consequence, she says, eh? I passed Colombian the joint back. Well, Colombian said, it musta been a bit more than that, I mean you and him were chit-chatting for quite some time out there, I mean it looked pretty cosy, in fact it looked so friendly at one point I thought you were gonna pull his cock out of his pants and start sucking him off. Belinda shifted in her chair, placing her arms protectively over her pregnant belly and told Colombian not to start all that stupid shit again. She said she thought the guy might have mentioned that the weather report said there was a storm coming. I dunno, she said, he was getting his newspaper, so he might have talked about something in the news or the weather, just something like that, an inconsequential remark, like neighbours do, you know? It was really nothing. She opened her palms in submission, curling her lip. You know? She said somewhat pleadingly.
Colombian returned the joint to me and smacked her hard across the face. And at this point I get up and say maybe I should go but Colombian points at me and tells me to sit the fuck down. And Belinda is left sprawled on the sofa rubbing her reddened cheek and goes: okay, here’s the truth, he asked me what the hell a girl like me was doing with an asshole like you. Colombian smiled in satisfaction now, pleased that he’d squeezed it out of her, and said: yeah, I guessed it was something like that. And did you tell him, baby, that I am an asshole and that’s why you love me? Hazel didn’t reply, she just sat and shook her head in silence. Well, I don’t wanna see you talking to him again, you get my drift, honey-bunch? Colombian said as he leaned down and kissed her. I said, d’you get me? He asked again more forcefully, grabbing a fistful of her hair and yanking her head back. Belinda nodded. Because if I catch you talking to that little piss-fly again, Colombian warned, you know what’s gonna happen to him, right? It means I’d have to cut the motherfucker’s tongue out of his skull and have it for fucking breakfast. And I don’t wanna be doing that because I’m a nice guy, I really am. And don’t make that face at me, either. Put your face straight, woman. Don’t come making that face at me. You know I love you. He made a jaw-flapping gesture with his fingers and added: I just don’t like neighbours who do too much of this business.
Colombian shot me a look and laughed. Women! He went, throwing his arms in the air. What can you do with them? Anyways, he said chirpily, walking over to me and slapping me on the shoulder. I believe you and I have a little bitta business to attend to?
He led me into the bedroom where we scored the deal and I stuffed the baggy in my jacket pocket. C’mon, Colombian said. I need a fucking drink now. We went down to my Celica and Colombian jumped in the passenger seat. We both tooted a line each off the dashboard and he rolled the window down and sat with his head well back against the head rest and his left arm dangling out loosely down the side of the car. With a wave of his hand like he was swatting a fly he told me to take us to The Katz where we’d catch last orders.
I fired the old girl up and as I pulled away Colombian’s eyes flashed in the headlights of a passing car, and he whined: don’t start giving me any crap, listen, you gotta know your woman. Belinda’s just one of them women. If I did all the chocolates and flowers, man, let me tell you, she’d be gone in a flash. Colombian snapped his fingers. She enjoys all this shit, man, makes her feel alive, he said smugly. She don’t know it, he said, they never admit it even to themselves, but they go for nasty bastards, man. I nodded and told him I know. Don’t worry about her, he pointed back in the direction of his gaff. She’s no stranger to sex, I wouldn’t be surprised if that fucker in her stomach right now aint even mine. She’s fucking that neighbour, man. Do you realise that? I know she’s fucking him. Let me tell you something about sweet little butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth Belinda, she’s nothing but a skank. And she knows she’s a skank and what she hates most of all is that she knows I know she’s a skank. Colombian Chris looked at me with this heartbreaking dismay and kind of pain in his eyes and he said, all of a sudden quiet with disappointment: they’re all skanks, man. Maybe, I said, maybe. It does seem that way, I must admit. But maybe the fault lies with us, maybe we just pick the wrong ones, or maybe we pick the right ones and drive them to it, maybe something we do drives them to it. Colombian smiled weakly and told me not to start making excuses for the bitches, if I started making excuses for the bitches, he said, mine and his friendship would be over.
We made last orders at The Katz, we knocked back a couple of scotches and then stayed there sitting at the bar until they turfed us out at about 2 a.m. and then I drove him home again. Outside his place Colombian sat disconsolately in the car for a few minutes toying with the dashboard buttons like a child and then he said fuck it and yanked the door open and said… See ya. A couple of weeks later he left for New York and never made it back.
Huge dark shapes shifted ominously across the sky, obscuring the stars. It did look like a storm was blowing in. I drove home waiting for the lightning to start. I was pretty amped up from the crank at least.
Bio: u.v.ray’s work has appeared in numerous magazines & anthologies around the world. A collection of short stories We Are Glass and a novella Spiral Out are both available on Murder Slim Press. His second novella The Migrant will available towards the end of 2014, also from MSP.