Before/After

by nat213

Before

KFC – Illford High Street, sense of loneliness, it’s in my guts, it’s profound as a baptist preacher, the hope of relief is tenuous, down to my last dealer with 40 minutes to wait,  he has to wait for his dealer to visit him, in dealer speak “40 minutes” means that it might not even happen, behind my aches, I miss my friends who have lost their companion who disappeared into a drug-fug bubble, paranoid, addicted, thriving London, the impossibility of control, sitting in a glowing glass-fronted KFC fried chicken house, it’s rush-hour and traffic is flowing by and it’s winter, dark outside, passers look inside, near-empty restaurant, just me, an art installation on the subject of alienation, a couple are other people, sitting opposite each other, they must be about 17 or 18, the boy has a pencil-thin chinstrap beard which his girlfriend strokes, loud syllables emanating from the glass doors, collage-age boys, high on the rush of adulthood, music, it’s surprisingly tasteful, echoes on wall tiles and stainless steel tables and chairs, my stomach aches from Pepsi, craving heroin, relief from humanity, I know it tenuous, and if this deal does not work out, it is too dangerous to try and score through homeless people, with the nationwide heroin drought the odds of getting anything approximating heroin through an unknown source is minimal, I’m not even that desperate, no physical dependency, just a mental habit, the impossibility of control, an hour, a stroll up Illford’s ugly high street, praying, polluted lungs, fingers hovering over the redial button, checking the time, five more minutes, aha, the light is blinking, I’ve received a text, no, it’s a trick of my mind, sigh, it’s tenuous, call, he answers, sounds upbeat, “15 minutes exactly”, not another 40, it’s 15, looking good, assuming his dealer is on his way now, hungry junkie, a belly full of French fries and large Pepsi, “I’m getting some normal stuff and some proper peng but the peng is a bit more expensive”, “Peng all the way”, walk back, high street, walk into coffee shop near the station, the code to the toilet door is given to customers only, clear message: if you are a junkie and want to fix in our toilet you’d better have a good memory or buy a coffee first, it’s a test, too wasted to remember the code? Denied, my anticipation is aimlessness, outside an ownerless dog frantic running with a limp lead chasing, sit down with myself, curly-haired men speak foreign over espresso cups, probably Turkish, the noise is overpowering, I forget, feeling ill, generaly suffering, want to feel better, knowing it’s bollocks but going along with it anyway, a non-paying customer enters the toilet with the waitress keying in the code for her, mild sense of unjustice arising, passing, police cars outside, stream of noises and blue, I hope they are not going to intercept my drugs, opiate release, still not here, removing my red sweater, swallowing paracetemol, veins swell, five steps you’re over, nervous system boosts but it’s decaf, settle back down disappointed, call, “this number is currently unavailable”, shit, shit, shit, shit, sip bitter coffee, worried, so close, the chance, he can’t pick up, he has turned his phone off to avoid having to explain to his addled clientele there will be no drugs tonight, heart beating sickeningly fast, call, he answers, “ten minutes”, return to the coffee shop and head straight to the toilet with a fistful of drug, I have the receipt in my hand, it’s locked, constipated bitch occupying, bitch leaves, smoke, smoke, heart stop bangs on the toilet door, impatient customers disturb me, leave, feeling almost better, into a train station toilet with an empty cooker brown filter and needle packet on the floor, saying it all.

After

My consciousness is fraying and unraveling. I am writing leisurely now. I think my handwriting is nicer. On my way to my connecting train, a pretty Somali woman (there is no other type) drops a shopping bag which I return, smilingly, to her grasp. When I sit down on the carriage removing my coat and bag to place on the seat next to me, I notice the heating is powered to offset a much harsher climate than this mild evening but I enjoy it anyway. I relax and start itching which is a side effect of the Heroin. But apart from the scratching, not a lot betrays my illegal state of mind. To the outside observer I’m just a leisure pirate riding a train home. My angst, which powered the beginnings of this writing, has melted and my pen draws itself slowly forward writing everything and nothing. I notice a pair of shoes to my left. They are open-top (I am not sure of the correct term), with a slight heel and the colour of sunkissed skin and there is a ribbon above the toe. Her face is obscured by a partition and all I can see is the bottom half of her slim body, curved in jeans, leaning against the train’s hard plastic wall. A whisper of lust passes through my groin. I fantasise about showing her these lines and her falling in love with me. On my other side, a man answers his phone in a burst of syllables in a foreign language. My writing hand is aching but I have missed my sullen craft – ah, who could ever name it better? I love the act of making words for no other cause than communication and free from financial need. Under Heroin’s watchful gaze, my holiday is drawing to a close and I know this is no place to stay and soon I will be far enough away from cruel, sweet London. The train carries on in intermittent bursts. I pause my efforts with the top of my pen placed on my lip. Opposite: the hooded, the suits and the paper-rustlers. A robotic lady announces the end.

 

Regulars will notice this is a reworking of  an earlier post. I went back to the original draft and redrafted it from there and I think this version is sufficiently different to deserve it’s own post. Thanks, everyone, who reads this x

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