Thursday, 25 April 2013


I could never believe the end of this story. It was told to me three days after the events leading up to the end had happened. I believed that the previous occurrences took place before the inevitable end happened because I was there. I saw all of them take place; I even played my own part in this little tale, it was just the twist. The twist was the one thing I never saw and couldn't believe. I was a stubborn 13 year old boy at the time and my lack of belief pretty much ended a friendship.
It was summer in 1994. One of my best friends, Elvis Lewis (yes that was his first name, his father was a massive fan of the king) had just moved house. They had finally gotten out of their tiny flat and somehow got hold of an old council house on the estate where I lived. The estate that I lived on was in the shadow of the block of flats but it didn’t matter; my friend was now only a couple of doors down from me instead of thirty floors up. We had begun spending this summer around each others’ respective domiciles as the weather had been terrible. We had amused ourselves by playing Super Nintendo games to death. Every game each of us owned, we played and completed. We were becoming bored.

One Thursday afternoon we saw another boy from the estate walking down the road. This boy was only one year older than us but he had been caught in the sweaty, clammy grip of puberty. He had acne populating his cheeks and chin, long greasy blond hair, a flannel shirt, torn jeans and Doctor Martin boots. Kids had many names for him: Grunger; Dyke; Tramp; Queer; Hippy; Greaser; but myself and Elvis new him by the name of Nigel Fenton. Nigel Fenton was picked on by the kids who were spending their days listening to the music of rave, populated by such artists as DJ Sy or DJ Druid; and he was worshipped by the kids who were listening to Nirvana, Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam. He had insisted that his name was ‘Soundwave’ at 12 and by thirteen could already play ten chords on a cheap old acoustic guitar. No one called him Soundwave though. It was either the insults or the standard name of Nigel.

Elvis and I were standing on the corner crunching on blue ice that had been sold to us under the guise of ‘Mr Snow’. It was a long ice pole that was dyed a variety of bright chemically colours, and though the day was not particularly hot, and the sun had been fighting with the clouds like a small man at a rock concert trying to get a view of the stage, Elvis had insisted on buying a range of these poles. I was eating a blue one and Elvis was eating a green one when Nigel walked by. We called out his name and he looked out from under his slick of blond hair and clumped his way over to us. We offered him a red flavoured ice pole and he took it. We began talking with him and he said that he had been on holiday with his parents to Cornwall and had had a ‘fucking shit’ time. He peppered his sentences with expletives as if he had just discovered them and needed to catch up on fourteen years of not using them. As we were ending the conversation I spied the one and only Goth girl we knew walking down the road. This girl was strange. Julia Wesnick-Wilson. Though some people liked Nigel Fenton and others hated him, the one person who brought everybody together was Julia. No one liked the Goth girl. No one understood the Goth girl. Dressed in black, face white, black lipstick; black and pink hair and huge boots she lumbered around the estate like a lost dinosaur. Rumours were abound that she was a slag; frigid, or worse (this was spoken only when a chosen few were listening) a witch.

I cannot tell a lie. I started it. I raised my melting ice pole and pointed it towards this beast and said ‘Look! It’s Julia!’ Elvis turned and looked and so did Nigel. First it started with just cat calling her name. She ignored it. Then it became sarcastic wolf whistling, at which she threw a few dozen choice hand gestures our way, the finally Nigel shouted a long string of obscenities that described in glorious teenage detail what sexual practices he would do to her mum and what Julia let her dad do to her. This was the final straw. Julia’s mother was dead and her father was a raging alcoholic. Julia slowly turned and stared at our triumvirate. The clouds started to cheer and rain started to fall. Julia started moving towards us. It was like a train picking up speed. We turned and ran towards the safety of Elvis’ parent’s house.

We made it inside and started laughing, blue, red and green tongues lolling out of our stained mouths. We all walked into the living room festooned with King Memorabilia and looked out of the main window (hidden behind the net curtain). She was there. Julia was just standing in the middle of the street. The rain was coming down in sheets, plastering her lifeless hair to her streaked black and white face. Make up was running and she was there. Staring. Through the double glazing, through the safety of the translucent net curtain, through me and Elvis right to Nigel, who was sitting on the sofa scratching his belly. There was trouble in the air. Nigel saw that myself and Elvis had not left the window and made his way there. He stuck his head under the net curtain and saw her. The strange sight obviously did not shake Nigel as it did us; for he flung open the windows and over the white noise of the rain hitting tarmac shouted another string of choice phrases her way. She smiled as he said them and told him to come outside. Nigel shut the window and uneasily sat back down. We started questioning him about why he did that. He said he didn’t know. We started wondering how long she was going to be out there for. We began checking in ten minute intervals.

Two hours later she was till there. The rain was till lashing down and Elvis’ parents still had not returned home. We were all feeling on edge. We didn’t know what to do. This girl was not giving up and when the power went out on the street that was when the witch rumour began to creep into our young, teenage heads. At first everything in the house stopped. The TV went blank and the fridge stopped regulating its temperature. There was silence. All we could hear was the rain not giving up its barrage on the streets and houses of the estate and also (though it seems stupid now) Julia’s breathing. She had gradually moved closer to the window until her face was just staring in. It looked like it was melting. We had tried to pretend it wasn’t there but every now and then one of us would sneak a glimpse and see this dilapidated teenage girl’s face staring, dead eyed and corpse like into the blur of the living room.

Now just a quick break to either remind people of what goes on in the minds of teenage boys or to explain what goes on. Not much. There is generally crippling guilt about things you do privately or things you have done. The odd thought process on how to get drunk or feel some girls’ breasts; or how to get the high score on a new computer game. That. Is. It. It is a strange mix of still being a child and yet wanting to start more adult activities. Often you have completely irrational and nonsensical plans that have formed in your head and you carry them out, not really thinking about the consequences. These happen throughout a teenage boy’s life. One such plan occurred in Elvis’ living room about how to save Nigel; for it was he that she wanted.

It seemed to make complete sense at the time. We had begun talking of the rumours of her being a witch like boys round a campfire. Many stories came up. She had killed her own mother with a spell and punished her father by making him an alcoholic with another spell. Friend’s of friends were mentioned and their run ins with her and the strange things that had happened to them, like a pet suddenly dieing or an injury suddenly happening to said friend of friend. We needed a plan and we needed one quick to save Nigel. She had begun tapping on the window within the last ten minutes and we could hear a muffled sound leaking through the rain, window and curtain that said ‘Soundwave’.

We moved into the kitchen to follow through with our plan. We began to hack off Nigel’s hair. We first tentatively grabbed hold of the greasy rag and held it like a pony tail. We snipped our way through it and the piece came off in one big chunk. We carried on cutting Elvis and I were trying our best now not to laugh. The terror of Julia had vanished as we became embroiled in our new task. Nigel I think was maybe crying, but I was never sure.

Once we had cut his hair we then entered the second part of our plan. We went into Elvis’ brother’s Aaron’s room. We dressed Nigel in some of Aaron’s ill fitting clothes. The point of our plan was to make Nigel as unlike Nigel as possible so he would be able to walk past Julia un-noticed. He was standing in the hallway with short hair and the stain of the early nineties culture, the shell suit. I glanced at the window and saw that the shape of Julia had gone. This was Nigel’s big chance. With myself stationed at the living room window and Elvis by the front door Nigel ran as soon as the door was open. I watched him scatter himself across the street looking everywhere at once and at nothing. That was when I saw her. I banged on the window and screamed. Elvis relayed the message from the rapidly closing front door out into the no longer empty street to Nigel. He saw her and ran. She chased after him a few steps and stopped. Nigel carried on running. Julia only slowed down to her usual lumbering steps and walked off round the corner in the rain and out of sight.

Three days later with the day’s events already fading into memory and myself and Elvis already assuming that it was Nigel Fenton who was scared, not us, we saw the new Nigel with a freshly shorn head. He told us that on his run home he saw Julia standing on every street corner laughing and holding the remains of his pony tail in her hand. We laughed and said that he was just scared and that it was all nonsense. He protested and then we picked on him. He went off and soon I never saw him again. He just drifted into the background of school life like so many others. The story made its way around and more people openly mocked him.  Soon he stopped coming to school. Julia still came and we often saw her though she acted like the day had never happened. Though no one believed Nigel’s story more people avoided Julia and no one said a word to her.

Apparently soon after, Elvis was walking along the corridor and as Julia brushed past him she placed something in his hand. It was a lock of blond hair. They paused and looked at each other for the most fleeting of moments and then she carried on down the corridor head held low and though they must have only looked at each other for two maybe three seconds Elvis sticks by what he now claims he saw. She smiled. She definitely smiled.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Do you check yourself regularly? the doctor asked.

Looking around the room awkwardly I said Define regularly.

The doctor sighed and pushed his glasses up his nose. I wondered where that finger had been so far today. This was the last place I wanted to be; sitting on a gurney/bed with a soft cushion knowing what was about the happen.

Well, I mean…how do I examine myself regularly? I have no idea. I thought we came to see you people to examine us. No one ever explained how.

What sort of diet do you have? the doctor sighed. Do you eat red meat?


Do you drink alcohol excessively?

I suppose how would you define excessively?

More than 21 units a week.

Then yes.

Have you been constipated recently? Or had diarrhea?

No to both.

Do you eat a lot of fibre or vegetables?

Not really.

Do you have a lot of cheese?


This could be the reason you have what I suspect you have.

What about a sedentary lifestyle?

Do you have one?

Not really, no.

I was clutching at straws. I was doing my best to avoid a lubricated finger. No one likes coming to the doctors; especially when it’s with a problem such as this. The receptionist seemed pissy with me because I didn’t tell her why I wanted to see the doctor. If I knew what was wrong then I wouldn’t have to see him would I was my reply. She sent me into a corner like a naughty child. The posters in the waiting room were full of smiling people who were advertising a wealth of recognisable symptoms, viruses, cancers, tumors, heart problems, and sexually transmitted diseases. Even the guy who might have genital warts didn’t seem that bothered with his predicament.

Was there a lot of blood?

Enough to make me worried and come here, I muttered.

And it was bright red?

Yep. Like that fake vampire blood you can buy from joke shops.

You need to become friends with your bowel Mr. Carter.


You need to take care of it. You need to make sure you are eating the right foods and not drinking so much alcohol.

I will. Well. Is that it?

No. We still need to check your bowel, just in case there are any fissures or polyps that could have caused this problem.

We. He made it seem like we were a team. We were in this together. It was both of us that had blood and shit mixed in the toilet water and smeared on the toilet paper. It was both of us that looked at the brown and red slushy that was draped around my toilet bowl like a lascivious socialite in a hot tub. We were a team.

You’re going to have to take off your trousers and pants and then lay on your left hand side with your knees tucked towards your chest.

What choice did I have? He’s a professional I thought. This is probably the hundredth arsehole he’s seen today. The doctor turned around as I dropped my trousers and pulled my boxer shorts round my ankles. For some reason I didn't take off my shoes so my jeans and underwear bunched up round my ankles. I lay on the bed and brought my knees up to my chest, just like I was told. I heard the snap of latex on flesh.

Now in a second you are going to have a slightly uncomfortable sensation; almost like you have a stool in your bowel ready for ejection.

I wished he hadn't told me that. I would have much preferred he had just taken me by surprise. I supposed he had to tell me that otherwise it could have technically been rape. Well, finger rape. I thought I should have paid more attention to his index finger. I couldn't remember whether it was long and slender like a pipe cleaner or fat and stubby like a yam. It was when I thinking about the possibility of a surprise attack I felt one hand come to rest on my hip. Then he said the dreaded words:

Ready? Just relax; deep breaths. And…in we go.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Neck tie

What was the worst hangover I’d ever had?

We’d been drinking cheap wine, the cheapest, and had gone through bottles of the stuff. Red, like oxygenated blood. I got up from the bed and sat by the window. Sally got up with a grunt and I heard her pad off into the bathroom. I lit the first cigarette of the morning and swallowed hard. It felt refreshing with the smoke in my lungs. I could hear the traffic from the road outside mumbling and suddenly I saw a body fall past my window. A man’s body. He was dressed in a suit with a neck tie done up. It was neat. I swear I could see his top button fastened. He was falling in what seemed like slow motion. The human body when it’s falling does not pass quickly. was gone. The building we were staying in was not the tallest. Nine floors. Now I don’t know if he died or not but I am sure he would have crippled himself for life. I don’t know.

Am I crazy? I thought to myself. Did I just see that? I am sure I saw a body go by; I know it was a body that went by. So I hollered to the bathroom. Hey Sally. Guess what?

Yeah what?

I just saw the strangest thing.


Yeah. A human body. It just dropped by my window. He was all lined up. The feet first and then the head at the top. He was just falling through the air. He dropped right past the window.


I said No no it really happened. I’m not making it up.

She said Ah c’mon. You’re trying to be funny. You’re not funny.

I know I’m not funny I said. Look I’ll tell ya what. Come on out here and take a look out the window. Stick your head out the window and look down.

She said Alright, here I come.

She walked back out the bathroom. Sagging in the places that were pert the night before.

She stuck her head out the window and all I heard was Oh Gawd almighty!

She ran back to the bathroom and puked and puked and puked.

Well I thought as I sat there. I told you so baby, I told you so. Then I wandered over to the refrigerator and got myself a beer. I still didn't look out the window though because I was feeling bad. I drank some of the beer and I felt better. I’m not sure why though.

Maybe because I was right for once.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


I sat in the booth watching the waitress, Dolores, pour me a cup of coffee. I smiled when she finished and she flashed her chewing gum teeth and me and sauntered off. The Formica table was sticky from other patrons and the coffee was watery.

The other customers were milling around like dead leaves in other booths. Some were eating and talking, others staring out the window or at me probably thinking the same shit that I was thinking about them. I could see some young punk opening sugar sachets and tipping the grains all over the table.

The grunts in the kitchen were puking up meals onto the counter for Dolores or any of the other Doloreses to collect and deliver to the waiting mouths. Outside was snowing. The weather was gloomy and the sky was miserable. The sounds of the diner drifted out through the snow and became muffled through the never ending whiteness. I had been drawn here for no other reason than it was cold, I was out and had no where else to go. Why was anyone else here? Truck drivers looking for a rest stop and a bathroom cubicle to wank off in. Old people who were surprised that they weren’t dead yet and so spending their final days in a diner warmer than their meager dwellings. We were waiting for something to happen but secretly knew nothing ever would. We weren’t telling each other though. That would ruin the game.

Dolores delivered me my eggs and I got a look down the front of her top. I took a sip of my coffee, went to say something but she had walked off by the time I’d actually put my cup down and swallowed. Someone was smoking in another booth. I could see the fumes drifting up over the seat. They were talking about someone’s wedding. It had rained. The snow continued to fall like wet confetti. A coach pulled up and in came a crowd of people. They smelled of traveling and let the cold sneak in the front door while no one was looking.

They began cramming themselves onto any available space. Some looked at me expecting me to get out of my booth and let them have my space. I stared at them, and sipped my coffee and began to cut into my eggs. Yolk stained the plate. They hung around for a while and then not quite having the nerve to take a seat with a local they wandered away. They had loud shirts and baseball caps with teams on them. The occasional member of a younger party looked suitably unimpressed with the surroundings but squeezed into the booths anyway. Dumpy women impaled themselves on the tiny stools at the main counter and fought over menus. Men took their hats off and ran fingers through thinning hair and then slid onto the stools next to the dumpy women. The Doloreses picked up the pace and began running round serving gallons of coffee.

The grunts started receiving indecipherable orders through their hatch and the people were all assuming their conversation was the important one. They were either talking about the journey and the chance to stretch their legs or, whether the food was any good here and that it didn’t really matter as they could stretch their legs. The diner was beginning to come alive. I could no longer hear the conversation about the wedding and the young punk had gone.

The cloying smell of kerosene and bubbling fat began to drip its way around the diner in earnest. The food was flying out. People were jostling for space. Elbows clashed and jaws gnashed. The plates were destroyed. I finished my eggs and carried on drinking my coffee. The dumpy women were smacking their fleshy red lips whilst the men were making great sweeping movements with sad looking pieces of bread, mopping up any debris left over from the women’s carnage. Soon they began gesturing outside and almost as one they pulled their coats back on and headed onto the coach.

Plates and cutlery with strewn about the table tops with the randomness of a natural disaster. I looked out the window and saw people getting comfortable. Some were pulling out books, others were holding conversations, while some were nestling themselves into the seats to try and attempt to get some sleep. As the bus pulled away I turned back to my coffee. I didn’t want to see its destination. I called Dolores over to re-fill my coffee and this time I managed to say thank you to her back as she drifted back into the flotsam of cheap water stained tableware. I sipped my coffee. Outside snow was falling.