New Towns Old Habits
I turn my seat towards the window as much as I can without looking like I’m using the widow as a cinema screen which, conversely, is what I actually plan to use it as. My hand holds a pint which I put on the dark wood table before plonking myself down in the faux-leather chair. The pub is almost empty on this Tuesday evening.
I sit there sipping a pint of Guinness and I watch the last dregs of sunlight filter through the clouds that cover the sky lazily revealing the road outside. As I sit there, night falls.
A few tables away a couple in their 40s take a stab at conversation motivated not by a need to say anything but by a frustrated desire to escape from the pervading boredom that hangs over this provincial English town. I don’t register any of what they say because there is no animation in their voices. The sound they make is too quiet and while I overhear their murmurs, I register nothing.
I peer outside at the few people walking by – about two or three in any given five minutes – not many out on this weekday evening. A large girl, the sort you can imagine doing a good job in a company admin department, smokes with her two workmates: a plain blonde who looks destined for better things and a gangly man in his thirties who might once have been destined for better things.
I don’t notice where they go when they finish their cigarettes. I drink my pint quickly feeling the breath of alcohol against my nervous system. My mind is empty apart from a single anxiety… that I may run out of smack too quickly.
In the last hour I had bought two bags of heroin from a new dealer and rushed into the pub toilets and inhaled some of the drug by vaporizing it on foil using a lighter and a tube to suck up the pale smoke.
Someone had come into the toilet while I was in the middle of this process. I cursed him and felt self conscious through the cubical doors. I listened to him piss and exit without washing his hands. I went back to the smack.
Then I heard the door creak open, I listened, and heard no footsteps, no zips and no tiny streams of piss gurgle down a drain… I was convinced that the manager was stood there waiting for me but after a few minutes I heard no development outside the cubical so I peaked my head around the door – nothing.
I go downstairs, pick up my pint of Guinness and walk to the large windows at the end of the pub and turn my seat towards the windows as much as I can without looking like I’m using the widow as a cinema screen which is, conversely, what I actually plan to use it as.
Halfway through my Guinness, I decide that I’d better buy one more, no, two more bags to make sure I have plenty of smack. Then I finish my drink quickly and leave exiting past the couple in their 40s who have lapsed into silence.
I call the dealer on my way to the cashpoint. Then I walk through a huge carpark on an industrial estate. It is empty and it looks like it has always been empty ever since it was built – a good square mile of nothing, except, in a corner, there are five kids spinning around a streetlamp.
As I pass, they stop and eye me as if they know who I am. They are at that age where girls are bigger than the boys. The one girl in the group is tall and chubby with pre-pubescence, like a tight rosebud – the boys are small and scrawny and have spiky hair.
I pass them and enter an alleyway that takes me onto a main road which flows with yellow beamed cars. The dealer is already there – a toothless scarecrow with an accomplice who looked like he is drowning in his own coat.
You could hardly call them dealers – they were junkies pushing to support their own habits. But I was a stranger in the town and had to take what I could get which, in this instance, was the two bags I told you about earlier.
I buy my stuff and return in the direction I had come, walking past the kids who turn silent as I pass. I walk past the pub and, at the last moment, wheel back inside. I walk past the same islands of people separated by an ocean of silence which is broken only by the siren-call of the fruit machines. I pass the bar and make my way upstairs into the toilets again…
Cheers to everyone who has supported the blog and who have waited patiantly for new material… it is slow at the moment but it will come. Peace x