1. Looking in the Lava Lamp

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I saw her there in the electric glow of the pharmacy. She’s such a beautiful little girl, floating around on the yellow floor with red cheeks, whistling pinker pots of patent patted beats with trickling feet that float a hum that’s a rum tongue in the tum, erm, hang on a second. Whilst anyway her arms float in the air, twirling and flirting in the empty room, she thinks she’s alone, but I’m there just across the field, watching.

I dug my foot into the green grass, but I’m not in a field am I, and I’m not on the grass? Shit, no, hang on, yeah I’m on the pavement and I’m watching this girl in the pharmacy. Sorry I don’t know why I thought that.

\\\\\\Maybe it’s because we stopped taking our medication mate?

He scratched his head and gazed at the little white sprinkles of stars in the darkness and looked back down to her, the lovely her.

\\\\\\Could be, I really did definitely sack that shit off didn’t I, Mum goes, don’t forget to take your medication Squandging, you’re an adult now, 44 remember, we blew out the candles didn’t we, that was fun weren’t it.

\\\\\\Why’s she call us that again?

He twirled his fingers around in front of him and imagined there was a great blaze of flame and blew hard, noticing an odd look from a couple across the road as he did; little peacock man and little peacock woman. He stopped and rubbed his head.

\\\\\\Why’d she call us what?

\\\\\\Squandging mate come on, why does our Mum call us Squandging?

\\\\\\I can’t remember that at all, I didn’t know we had a Mum until I just seen this girl. Then I remembered that our Mum died the other week didn’t she.

\\\\\\Oh fuck yeah! Man, I need to start remembering the little things, and the big, but the little things especially, they’re the ones that are so easy to forget aren’t they. Don’t you think?

I adopted, sorry, for fucks sake, he adopted a praying mantis stance and kicked the air. Did I? Fucking hell that’s a weird thing to do in the middle of the day, BAH! I mean the night, yeah, it’s the night and we’re on the corner of this street watching a stunner in the pharmacy, right?

\\\\\\You got it mate!

\\\\\\Just depends on perspective doesn’t it.

\\\\\\What does?

\\\\\\The big and the little.

\\\\\\Oh, yeah I suppose. Who’s the girl then?

\\\\\\Now you’re asking the right questions! That’s Aphrodite, the most beautiful angel of light I ever did do a thing with the eyes that looked on did. Tongue twizzler.

\\\\\\Go on then, tell us a tale kung fu kid.

We’ve known her for a long time, old Aphrodite, that’s what we’d call her init mate, old Ayla Aphrodite. Fuck off, just fuck off for a minute! I, I would call her that, I’ve known her for a long time, just breathe, lean on the wall. I wasn’t always a nut. Me and her, the oddballs, we’d sit on the big ball of field and twist straw in our mouth like proper bumpkins. It was mental, we were from fucking Slough, we just had a clump of field near us that we pretended was the countryside! So yeah, like I said, we were like salt and pepper. Little shits really, we’d go around town robbing stuff from shops, slapping old grumpy warts, lobbing glass bottles at walls, kicking cars – we were only teenagers, what do you expect? There was more to us than that too, we had insight, clear clairvoyance is what I described it as once; she thought I was a twat saying stuff like that.

Doctor Clarence says I have an incredibly diverse imagination, if only it could be focused in the right direction. Says the aerosols I used to inhale probably twisted my perspective a bit. Really though, I doubt it.

All we ever used to do was have a laugh. We’d sit in that warehouse, the one that smelt like damp concrete and echoed every time you spoke in it, we used to think that was amazing. We’d go there to get away from the bugs. That’s what we’d call everyone else, the bugs.

- Jez suck on this, suck it hard! She said, old Aphrodite, the beaut. Leaves were still stuck in her thick blond wavy hair from where we’d be rolling around in the grass, grabbing each others bits and bobs.

- Give it here then you little fuckin’ tart, I said. Can you believe I said that, well I did! Ha! I knew my limits though, it was just in jest really. See can’t you tell, she’s smiling! Ha! Yes, I knew I’d get away with that one. She picked up the big glass bong and held it up to the sky, the sun danced around inside it then she thrust it into my stomach. Ah that was brilliant, the cheeky bitch.

- You cheeky bitch! I said this with a massive grin, you could see all my teeth and everything. I grabbed the bong and she lit it up and I sucked hard like she told me and I thought, or maybe I said it, actually yeah probably more like I said it knowing me:

- Fuck me Aphers! What was in that fucking (I obviously coughed a bit in between too) thing?

- Smack. Her crystal blue eyes lit up as she said this, she was such a cheeky little thing when she wanted to be.

Wow, that blew my mind. Blew both our minds, we got into all sorts of naughty stuff after that; it was a terrible waste. That’s what Clarence the Cunt always says anyway. We wandered and dreamed all the way to the middle of our twenties, constantly trying to find new ways of getting more money to buy more gear so we could forget and get way up high to stop ourselves from falling low into the sharp cogs in the horrible machine that never stopped turning, always grinding us and making her feel so bad and so horrible and so sick.

\\\\\Don’t trip mate, calm your self a bit, we’re getting excited. Go sit on that bench, the red lipstick one over there.

He put his hand up to the wall and pushed himself towards the bench, some long, intrinsic guitar riff played in his ear as he did. God that sounds amazing he thought, slightly dramatic for the scene but still it sounds great, like a black hole! Thudded around a bit too much and made me feel dizzy though, he had to sit down, or I did, someone did. No I sat on the bench, no one else is listening.

\\\\\I’m listening mate.

\\\\\Yeah but you’re me, and who gives a fuck what you’ve got to say.

Some guy walks past me so obviously I bark at him like a dog, why not? That’s what everyone else expects of me so why the fuck not. Looked pretty shook up, too, the poor guy, looks likes he’s talking to some black brick in his hand now, I know I’m a bit funny but some people, honestly!

So I sat there watching Aphrodite dancing around with her headphones in in the violently green pharmacy that stung my eyes if I starred at it for too long. It was windy and a horrible chill ricocheted through me. It wasn’t surprising really, it was a winter’s night, a cold chilly ‘orrible winter’s night at that and I was only in my pants and a t-shirt. I coughed. This really was pretty embarrassing, what a terrible choice of clothes for an evening like this! I couldn’t understand why I didn’t go over and talk to her, get inside that lovely looking warm shop and dance around with her, maybe even nick a few of them pharmaceuticals too, have a whale of a time!

But she looks so young, like she used to, like we used to, and I’m old now, a little gut on me too, wouldn’t want her seeing that.

\\\\\Nah she wouldn’t wanna see us like that mate. She’d rather remember us as we were, I mean we took a turn for the worst eventually didn’t we, pushed it too far with the drink and the drugs.

\\\\\That’s a bit of an exaggeration.

\\\\\We were on the streets for a while don’t forget! Me and her were huddled in the corner of that car park weren’t we, felt like we were in an egg, just the two of us. Two little embryos hugging each other. We’d go back there at the end of every day, night, morning, whatever, we’d go back there together and get in our egg. I knew every millimetre and every fibre of your body didn’t I, Aphers?

\\\\\She can’t hear you mate.

\\\\\I know yeah, hang on, I got muddled again.

But anyway we were together in the egg, couldn’t crack the egg. I’d been out robbing Woolworths hadn’t I, stole some tools, what a fucker, really not much of a career in nicking is there! Where was she again?

\\\\\She was out selling her snatch.

\\\\\Fucks sake yeah, she used to do that didn’t she, it’s mad now to look back on with… what do you call it?

\\\\\Hindsight.

\\\\\\Yeah with hindsight. But we really didn’t mind, it was the quickest way we could pick up, so who cares? I know I didn’t, she’d just go off and get it over with and then she’d be back and we’d start cooking up, sticking in and roaming around each others heads.

God that went on for a long time. But yeah, after I robbed Woolies I went to the car park and she wasn’t there, I waited and waited but she never turned up.

\\\\\Where was she then? Did you see her?

\\\\\No. I walked around town, looked everywhere, my feet were bleeding by the end of the day and my legs felt burnt right to the core. Then I found myself under a bridge, a big looming bridge with the moon silhouetting it like a painting. It was one with water gushing past, filling everywhere with a relentless noise that you knew, you just fucking knew would never stop. Her face was side up, lying on her belly and looking all bent out of shape. She shouldn’t look like that, her head caved in with fucking stains on the concrete, teeth missing, hair stuck all across her eyes. Is that her? Fuck me, how long ago was that, when I found her? Time feels like a barrel rolling around sometimes, bashing into itself, knocking me all out of sorts. I tried to wake her up but she wouldn’t move so I just sat there with her head on my lap for a few hours. Fucks sake, I need to stop shaking.

\\\\\It’s ok mate just calm down, look at yourself for a second, you’re getting all het up again, you know what you’re like, you go all schizo! Look there, look right there at the girl framed in that window, are you looking?

\\\\\Yeah.

\\\\\We both know who that is. How could someone dance around like that, move the way she does, move us like she does and not be Aphers hey?

\\\\\I know, yeah I know. I don’t know what came over me.

Where was I again? Oh yeah, I felt rigid on the cold bench. I dug my feet under and held myself tight as the wind spiked my legs. Snow slowly began to fall and I thought typical, fucking typical typical typical, and the word bounced around my head like a pinball until I clenched my eyes and slapped my temple. I felt warmth grace my arms and I reached and pulled a blanket around me.

\\\\\Yeah that’s nice that, who fuckin’ put this –

- Bit of an odd thing to do, Jeremy, hitting yourself like that, you’ll catch a cold out here like this.

\\\\\Fucks sake, honestly, he’s everywhere, fucking homing pigeon.

- Hi Doctor Clarence.

- You’ve caused quite a stir tonight I hear Jeremy, running a bit amok are we?

\\\\\This cunt.

- I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but could you like, you know, do one. I’m sort of busy.

I shivered under the blanket and he started on one of his rants, the “deep dialogue moment” that everyone always expects to happen, but I just zoned out and watched Aphrodite move in the slip stream of the half light, shading and illuminating her face in ways I’d never seen before.

- You must learn that this infatuation of yours is gone.

\\\\\She’s like one of them fucking glowing lamp things, you know, one that’s all red inside and moves really slow, to and fro like, around and around.

- Escaping on these bizarre escapades will not bring her back.

\\\\\She melts every time I look at her, winding apart then crashing and moulding back together, all in slow mo.

- Her murder ignited an inferno of psychological trauma.

\\\\\Red, amazing beautiful glowing sexy red.

- The loss of your mother seems to have escalated things even further.

\\\\\Putting warmth in my hands and my body, filling me up, making me whole.

- The high level of drug use in your youth has warped and distorted your mind.

\\\\\You can’t pin it down, why you can’t take your eyes off it, it’s so hypnotic, but you know you couldn’t even if you tried.

- I want to help you, let me help you Jeremy.

\\\\\What, what did he say? Fucking banging on about something again! He means well bless him. I’ve got her here now anyway, with me, that’s all that matters.

\\\\\She’ll always be with us mate, can’t ever forget that.

- Yeah alright Doc, let’s go somewhere toasty, I’m fucking freezing out here anyway.

He glanced over his shoulder and watched her lock up the shop as the Doctor escorted him to the flashing car. Someone bent his head down and he got in the back seat, suddenly feeling disheartened that he didn’t say hello and have a catch up, he would have liked a catch up, or I would have, me, it’s been ages. He’d probably see her again later he thought to himself, somewhere else.

\\\\\Yeah mate, I’m sure we will.

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