I have written three letters, but I suppose I could easily write more. There are probably things I should write down for my mother and my brother, but I don’t have the time, or the energy now. I place each letter into an envelope and write the names on each one. I leave them on the kitchen sideboard, spread out evenly, so that there is little chance of them being missed. I check my pocket for change, to make sure I have enough to catch the bus over there. I pause and scratch at my head, and for a moment fuzzy confusion floods in on me, jumbled lyrics and disjointed melodies, and I am not even sure what I am doing, what is going on. The boy with the thorn in his side, behind the hatred there lies, a murderous desire for love…I don’t have my headphones on yet, but the music is always in there. I have a constant walking soundtrack to my life you see. There is a song for everything. For every bit of pain, for every bit of joy, for every single moment I can see in bright clarity in my mind, for people’s faces and peoples’ words, and for all the words left unsaid…How can they look into my eyes and still they don’t believe me?
There is an open bottle of wine on the side, next to the kettle. Looks like there is about half left, and the cork has been stuffed back in at a wonky angle. I reach out for it. I see my hand travelling slowly and thickly through the air, before my fingers touch the cold glass, and curl hesitantly around it. My breathing has slowed right down again. There is a drumbeat of agony marching its way across my back, and my skin twitches with it, tries to shrug it off. My skin feels tight, stretched out across the damage. The fog in my head has thickened, and intensified, and I can feel my eyes staring, and my heart rate accelerating again, as my grip on the wine bottle tightens. I find myself focusing my gaze on the floor, on the faded green lino that has curled up and receded away from the doorway. I can see the dusty grey tiles that lay beneath. I can see a cigarette butt, a ball of soft brown fluff and some bright orange crumbs that look like broken Doritos. I pull weakly at the bottle, lifting it away from the surface, and somewhere at the back of my wrecked mind, I can hear one of the voices, the aggressive snarling one, asking me what fucking good I’ll be if I don’t snap out of it.
I can feel my throat attempting to swallow, and the back of my mouth feels like it is coated with grit. The bottle falls from the side, just within my feeble grasp. I feel it bang against the side of my leg and it seems to jolt me, just a little bit, as I blink, and finally swallow and drag my eyes away from the peeling lino. But my body is still so very heavy, weighed down by a million things, my mind so full of everything that it seems to want to just shut down on me. My arm moves upwards, lifting the dead weight of the wine bottle, until it has reached my face. There is another voice now, trying to push through all of the others, this poking, needling, pinching voice, struggling through the heavy mist, trying to call out to me. I lift the bottle to my lips and reach in to taste the wine. It rolls back with my tongue, sweet and sharp.
I can hear a slow, steady snoring from the other room. I want to be drawn it by it, I long to move towards it, this crushed and lonely part of me still yearning for warmth and safety, still reaching for hope. The snore rolls out and then in again, whistling slightly on its return. I close my eyes, knowing that if I just step forward, if I peer around the door and see those faces, then I will probably give in, I will probably crumble. I see it in my mind. I see me stumbling towards them, no words needing to be spoken, just seeing the knowing in their eyes, just knowing they are with me. They would receive me with their dark and solemn eyes and I would hear their words. I know what they would say to me. They would stop me.
I lick my lips. I feel the alcohol rushing through me as I continue to guzzle the wine. A brutal kind of warmth thunders through my veins, mixing and dancing with the cocaine, devising their own kind of reality. I remember that alcohol gives you a false kind of security, just as cocaine gives you a false sense of bravado and self-importance. I wonder what the outcome will be. The squeak of a voice has died down again now, been forced silent by the tangled mess of my mind. The Stone Roses smoothly crooning Shoot You Down; Yoooooou know it, and yooooou show it, and the time has come to shoot you down, what a sound! When the day is done and it all works out…I’d love to do it and you know you always had it coming…I wipe my mouth with my other hand. I think I am completely and totally fucked. So I drink more wine, and my body is bracing itself for something even before I know what it is going to be. My body is always ahead of my mind, I think, and it has been true. It always lets me know when trouble is close. It has sung out its warning bells on many an occasion and has reacted accordingly to the most extreme of human emotions; pain, fear and hate. I have closed my mind down so many times that now I wonder if it has shut up shop for good, if it has gone, and only basic animal instincts now remain.
I suck on the wine bottle like a thirsty baby, images of violence and galloping voices and music swirling and crashing around in my brain. Jim Morrison telling me that music is my special friend, to dance on fire as it intends, because music is my only friend…until the end, and I want to laugh and toast him with the wine and tell him that he was fucking right about that. Bob Dylan, he chips right in as well, pushing Morrison out of the way to tell me that a hard rains’ a gonna’ fall. Well Bob you might be right. I feel close to sleep as I gulp the wine, and in dull curiosity I raise my other wrist and turn it slowly right in front of my staring eyes. Thick red blood encircles my hand, like a rusty bracelet. It is fascinating in a grotesque and morbid way. I wonder what it will be like, if I scratch away the layers of scab and blood, what will the skin beneath reveal to me? I guess, whatever it is, it will be with me forever.
Forever. My mind seizes on this word and tosses it around. Forever is a peculiar concept. I frown a little, smile slightly and drain the bottle of wine. I place the bottle carefully back on the side. People talk about forever, not knowing what it means. I don’t think forever is a pleasant thing, a thing to aim for. It just means until you die. Forever ends when you cease to exist. Forever is your choice. I nod a little, mulling it over. Forever is there until you don’t want it to be anymore. I don’t want to live like this forever, I think, and there it is, astounding in its simplicity.
I straighten up. Move my feet back together on the floor. Lock my knees. The aggressive voice is battling back through and I want to allow it. I look at both of my wrists now, hold them up before my face and I want to snarl at them. I flex my shoulders and pull up my spine, and feel the scream of pain as it flicks from one end of me to the other and so I seize it, I seize onto it and claim it and make it mine. Pain can be something that is inflicted upon you, or it can be something you take, and use. It can be a waste, a by-product, another noose around your neck, another nail in your coffin, or it could be more than that; it could be a tool. It can aid you and encourage you. It can comfort you in ways that love cannot. It can remind you and haunt you, it can seep inside and become you, create a new you.
I wonder if that had already happened to me, a long time before last night. Maybe it has been a process at work since the very beginning. I’ve always wondered about it. The nature of violence. What it is and where it comes from. I used to worry that the violence would infect me, that it would somehow worm its way inside of me, and find a place to become entrenched, a place to take root and spread. Maybe it has. Maybe it’s been growing like a disease inside of me all of this time. Maybe that is what this is. An inevitable explosion of the violence that has been breeding within me for so long. So in which case, the bastard only has himself to blame. He has to be stopped. I nod vigorously, in complete agreement with myself.
If I don’t stop him, it will just go on. How many more people will he infect and ruin? His disease will just spread, becoming rampant. I will pass it on myself. I know it. It will begin with my friends, with the people who would stand by me and excuse my behaviour. I will snap and lash out and lose my temper. I will feel better about myself when my fist collides with one of their faces. It will make me feel bigger and better and stronger, and once I see that withered and fearful look upon someone else’s face, who is to say what effect that will have on me? That is how it starts. I am telling you. I know about these things. Once you find that power and own it, you feel better. Once it has lifted you up above the shit and the humiliation, then you would want more of it. It would be friends first. And then lovers. Kids, if I was stupid enough to have any. It is horrendous, and it must be stopped.
I pat myself down, and snap back into action.
The knives are there, all in place, awaiting instruction. I check the side, the three envelopes laid out neatly. I pat my top pocket where my Walkman sits, and I reach in and press play. I smile instantly and brightly when the music fills my ears. It is always good to return to a first love, to something that meant something real, something that kicked your arse along.
I pull on the headphones. Righteous anger and the desire to fight back stir violently inside of me. I take a deep breath and walk out of the kitchen. I stride past them quickly and softly and I do not allow myself to look their way. I am thinking about one thing and one thing only. Revenge. Violence. Blood. I’m coming to get you, I sing inside my head, I’m gonna’ knock on your front door and slice your throat right open! I’m going to dice you up and piss on your bones!
Okay then. It is okay. It is okay because it has to be done. What else is there? What else can I do? No one knows that bastard like I do, no one. And it will never end. It will never ever end, not until one of us is dead. I’ll take my chances, I think and walk out of the door.