The Boy With…Chapter 54



I went to Jack Freeman’s flat nearly every day.  I had a little routine.  I would go to school, try to get through as much of it as possible, and then leave and walk into town.  On the way to Jack’s I would stop in The Record Shop.  I would stay in there for as long as Terry allowed me to.  It was all that occupied my mind at school, and at home.  The boys still asked me to go to the base with them, or the park, or the café where Jake worked, but I usually shrugged them off.  Those places felt out of bounds to me for some reason.  The base and the park, the things they talked and worried about such as girls and school and exams, all seemed childish and pointless to me.  They moaned about their parents, and talked about TV programmes I never watched. In some ways, I felt sort of unburdened and free compared to them, because I rarely worried about anything.  I turned up at school when I could be bothered.  I faked sick notes from my mother, and slipped out unnoticed when the day was taking too long to pass.  The rest of the time I put in hours at the club, which generally made me feel too tired for school anyway, and I went to the record shop, and I went to Jacks flat.

Terry seemed to tolerate me more as time wore on.  Maybe he even liked me just a bit.  He’d bring out two cup of teas instead of just one, and he’d sling magazines at me when I walked in, ordering me to read the reviews section.  Sometimes, if he was too comfortable on his stool, he would send me out the back to make the tea.  We would talk and argue endlessly about which was the greatest Dylan album, or the greatest Smiths.  I continued to consume music, old and new on a daily basis, as if on some great quest, as if attempting to quench some great and endless thirst I had.  I discovered that there was very little music that did not have some kind of effect on me.  When I had enough money to purchase music, I tried to always buy something old and something new.  One week it would be Captain Beefhearts Safe as Milk and Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, and the next week Frank Zappas Hot Rats alongside Blur’s Parklife.  I’d buy them in any format, tape, vinyl or compact disc.  It didn’t matter, because I could play them all at Jacks.  I still listened to Nirvana at some point every day, out of pure respect.  I just had to.  But I had managed to move on, I mean, it was inevitable when new music was getting so exciting.

I tried to tell anyone who would listen how important Oasis were. “For one, they are British, they’re just like us,” I’d insist while Billy laughed at me.

“They’re from Manchester,” he’d say, as if this was another country altogether.

“It doesn’t matter,” I would cry and shake my head. “It’s just a place, it’s just a town, like millions of other towns, just like this one! Where there’s nothing to do and no jobs and everything is shit and boring! And they’re singing about getting out!  About being rock and roll stars!”

I’d watch them on the TV, transfixed to Top Of The Pops, feeling like I was watching a slice of history being made. What amazed me was how such stillness from a frontman could still convey so much arrogance, so much self-belief, and passion, so much of everything.  I’d kneel on the lounge floor right in front of the screen to watch him sing. I wanted to be him, I wanted to sing like him, and feel like him, invincible and snarling.  And the songs, they spun electric tingles down my spine, they followed me about as I trudged through my days, they thrummed and hummed and beat at my mind at night, they made me imagine what I could be one day.  I sometimes just lay on my bed, or sat on the floor, with my eyes closed, so it was like the lyrics and the vocals were made just for me, and it felt like with every song they were speaking to me, about me, like they knew me, knew everything.  Is is myyyyy imagination, or have I finally found something worth living for? I was looking for some action, but I all I found were cigarettes and alcohol... I’d laugh my fucking head off, light up a smoke and slosh a measure of whiskey down my throat, just to agree, just to feel it.

I bought or borrowed music from Terry every day, then took them over to Jacks to listen to.  His flat was overcrowded with randomly placed furniture.  There were three tatty sofas, two arm chairs, two coffee tables, various mismatched bookshelves and fold down tables.  He blamed the mess on his late mother.  He had to get all her furniture out of her home when it was sold, and he hadn’t got around to selling or dumping any of it yet, or so he said.  I had never seen so many books in one home before.  They were everywhere. He even had a little dark oak bookcase in the bathroom, within reach of the toilet, no less.  It was in there that I discovered Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit To Brooklyn.  Whilst having a shit.  He made a bit of a face and laughed at me when he saw me with that one.  “Did you know they took that book to fucking trial?” he asked me, with a wheezy grin. “It was banned for years!  For being so indecent.”  Of course, that only made me want to read on, and so I did, and by the end, I could well believe him.

I read J.D Salingers Catcher In The Rye one day when I should have been at school.  When I had finished it, I went right back to the beginning and read it again.  I think that was the first time I actually fell in love with a book.  I wanted to crawl into it.  I wanted to be poor old Holdens friend, and be able to tell him not to worry so much.  I got it though.  I mean, when he was going on about fakes and phonies and how depressing people were, I really understood what he meant.  On the rare occasions that I made it into school, I just found myself in increasingly disgusted with these children I was supposed to have things in common with.  I looked at them and didn’t understand them one little bit.  They were all the same, I thought, flashing fake smiles at people they despised, constructing gossip to pass the time, making up filthy rumours to destroy the people they walked home with.  The fake concern they showed each other made me want to writhe in embarrassment.  The constant never ending mantra that this was the last year, that they would stay friends forever and never forget the best years of their lives…it was bullshit!

I discovered that Jack had loads of good books, interesting books, naughty books, books they would never let you read or study at school.  Books that were like good songs, books that pulled you in and held you tight and didn’t let you go free again, even after you had finished reading them.  Charles Bukowski became a literary hero of mine around that time.  I just loved the man.  Every word he wrote was poetic self-destructive beauty, and fucking hilarious.  I devoured Post Office and Tales of Ordinary Madness.  I wanted to write like him; fuck the rules and the grammar and the useless tedious soulless shit they pump into you at school, just write!  Just let it come! And he was right too…you did write better when your veins were full of booze, because you just didn’t give a shit, and you just felt….William Burroughs was another, and Jack Kerouac.  I read On The Road so many times that Jack let me keep it in the end.  It drove me wild, that book.  I got caught up in the mad and restless energy of it, the scrapes they got into, the characters they met, and the beautiful way he described ordinary, mundane things…It made me dream, just like the music did, about escaping, about getting away and being someone, living a life on my terms, a life full of adventure and joy.

Jack remained a man of few words.  He came and went, shuffling about as if lifting his feet from the floor presented too much of an effort for him.  He did not believe in cooking, or shopping, but survived on takeaways and cups of tea and whiskey.  Unlike Howard, mess and rubbish did not offend him, or set him on edge.  The flat remained in a constant sticky and mucky state.  The coffee tables were always covered in food wrappers, which he would simply sweep to the floor to make space for the next greasy meal.  The tiny kitchen had a smell all of its own.  Stale sweat and warm whiskey, mingled with sweet and sour chicken balls, and dead flies.  On the nights that I stayed over, I made myself a bed on one of the sofas, always the grey one, the one that sank in the middle so that you slept in a c shaped position.  It had pale yellow stuffing spilling out of one arm. I would cover myself in blankets that reeked of smoke, or my own jacket, and fall asleep with the record player on softly.  Jack rarely bothered me.  We had a simple relationship which I appreciated.  I only thought about how little I knew about the man, when Michael turned up occasionally, firing his dark eyed questions at me.  What did it matter?  I would shrug at him and say, who knows?  Who cares?  It was cool that we had somewhere private to go.  Somewhere we would not be bothered by parents, or little kids, or anyone else.  There were no rules.  We could smoke a little weed, drink some booze and listen to music.  Michael was always so bloody suspicious.  If it was just the two of us, he would start to relax after a while though.  We would roll a joint or two, neck some lagers and put music on.  For a while maybe, we would laugh and joke like we used to, before there were so many unsaid things between us.  But if Jack rolled in, Michael would change.  He would become dark and surly and tense.  I would just try not to notice, try not to let it get to me.  I was always so pleased to see Michael.  It meant a lot to me that he still looked me up.

One night, a few days before the new school year started, I was alone at the flat, relaxing on the grey sofa, with my feet up, listening to an early Dinosaur Jr album Terry had passed to me earlier in the day. “If you like it, you can pay me later,” he had said, as usual barely glancing up from his music magazine, “and if you don’t like it, just bring it back.” I was two songs in and already hooked when there was a knock at the door.  I instantly recognized it as Michaels knock and rushed to answer it and let him in.  He was smiling for once, really smiling, bright light dancing in his dark brown eyes as he bundled excitedly past me and into the flat.

“Guess what?” he asked, following me over to the collection of knackered sofas. “Guess what?  I’ve got some good news Danny!  Some amazing news!”

“Yeah?” I grinned. “What is it?”

“Anthony gets out next week!” he cried, clasping his hands together and jumping up and down like a little kid.  His face looked manic, with his wide eyes and this big grin plastered across from ear to ear.  I shook my head, disbelieving.

“No way! Does he really?”  I tried to think back in my head, how long it had been.  How many weeks and months had passed since that terrible, confusing day.

“Yep,” he informed me proudly. “Sentenced reduced for good behaviour.  It’s all definite.  It’s all arranged.  I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure.  But he’s coming back Danny…he’s really coming back!”

I couldn’t help but smile of course, but inside I felt a mixture of emotions.  I sat back down and picked up the joint I had started to roll.  I twisted one end up and popped the roach into the other.  “So it’s been about a year?” I asked, unable to look at him as I spoke.  I picked up a lighter lying on the coffee table and sparked up, shaking my head. “Fuckinghell Mike.  I can’t decide if it’s gone fast, or slow.” I stopped then, halting my words for fear of saying the wrong thing.

“Can’t believe it,” Michael said dreamily, as he jumped down beside me and dropped one arm lazily over the back of the sofa.  “Gonna’ be so amazing to have him back Dan. I can’t wait.  I can hardly sleep I am so excited all the time!” He looked at me then, and his smile was hesitant, so I looked down, and there it was again, as usual; all the things left unsaid, all the things that were never spoken of.  I thought of something then.  I was just desperate to end the silence and liven things up, so I passed him the joint and swept my little tin up from the table.

“Hey, this calls for a celebration then!”

Michael toked on the joint a few times and passed it back.  I took it from him and placed it in the ashtray to smoulder. He was eyeing me curiously. “What you got there?”

“Something cool.  Something very cool.” I took out a small package of Clingfilm, unwrapped it in my palm and showed him the delicate pinkish white power that sparkled inside.  He recoiled from it, frowning.

“Oh what the fuck is that?”

“Speed. You want to do a speed bomb with me?”

“A what?”

“A speed bomb.  Look.”  I pinched some of the powder between my fingers, picked up a cigarette paper, dropped the powder into the middle and screwed it up into a tight little ball.  I held it up between my thumb and forefinger to show him.  “You eat it.  See.”

He was looking concerned. “Speed?  Since when did you start doing speed?”

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “Since whenever. Someone gave it to me.  I don’t want to waste it.  Come on, you gonna’ do one with me?”

“You’ve done this before?”

“Yeah, a few times.  It’s no big deal, honest. What do you say?” I held the ball out to him and he took it unsurely and rolled it between his fingers, before placing it on his other palm and poking at it with his index finger.

“Who gave it to you then?” he asked me. “Oh let me guess. Your amazing new friend Jack.”

“So what?” I shrugged again. “It helps keep you awake. Makes you wanna’ talk and talk for hours! The characters in On The Road did stuff like this!  Just stayed awake for days and days and days, just talking and learning!” I made another one and looked back at him. “What do you say then?”

“I’m not sure about this,” he replied, peering distrustfully at the ball in his hand. “Weed is one thing you know.  This is something else.  Anthony always warned me not to, you know?  He said nothing else is safe, not ever. Why is Freeman just giving this to you Danny?  Why didn’t you have to pay?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I laughed at him, rolling my eyes. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again do you?  Come on, it’s meant to be fun!  Don’t you want to have fun Mike?  Just live life by your own rules and not give a fuck!” I laughed, hoping he would laugh with me, but he didn’t.  He eyed me sternly, his forehead furrowed under his hair.

“The guy’s a drug dealer then?” he asked me. I sighed and turned around to change the record over.  Jack had a fold down table behind my sofa with the record player set up on.  I got on my knees and flicked through some records before deciding it couldn’t be anything else other than Definitely Maybe.  “This place is a shit hole and it stinks,” Michael complained huffily beside me.  I held up the twelve inch Definitely Maybe.

“Look I got it on vinyl too!” I told him. But he didn’t care.  He didn’t care about music like I did.  It didn’t make him feel better, or make him feel like he wanted to laugh out loud, or like he wanted to hold someone and cry tears into their eyes.  It was just me.  Maybe I was mental.

“So he’s a dealer then?” he went on. “That’s what he does?”

I jumped back down and grinned when the opening chords of Rock and Roll Star kicked in behind us.  “I dunno and I don’t give a shit,” I told him. “Look are you gonna’ do it or what?  ‘Cause I am.  We’ve only got one life Mike, then we’re dead and gone forever. We might as well try everything once.  I fucking am!”

He watched me as I popped the small ball into my mouth and swallowed it.  “Oh shittinghell,” he groaned then, and promptly did the same.  I wanted to slap him on the back and congratulate him, but I didn’t.  We just smiled at each other dopily, and then rested our heads back on the sofa, waiting for something to happen.  “I’m gonna’ kill you if this fucks me up,” he warned me with a half-smile.  I nodded and tapped his knee.

“You’re gonna’ love it Mike.”

Next thing I knew, we were having this really strange and animated conversation about what songs we would want played at our funerals.  It happened to be a subject I had put a lot of thought into.  Michael was sat cross-legged on the floor, swaying from side to side with the music and tapping his open palms against his knees as if drumming them.  “Live Forever, obviously,” he was saying. “But I bet everyone chooses that from now on.”

“You’d have to have it wouldn’t you?” I agreed passionately, sweeping a sweaty hand through my hair so that it all stood on end.  “Fucking Live Forever man!  You and I are gonna’ live forever! I love that song Mike, god I want to hear it every day, I think it might be my favourite song ever, you know?” I was scratching at the same spot on my head, back and forth with my fingers, while trying to decide if this was a massive betrayal of Nirvana or something. “It is joyous,” I said then, biting my lip. “That’s what it is…lifts you up, like The Stone Roses too, just joyous and uplifting, I don’t know how they do it though..But at my funeral I’d have Lithium too, course I would, it’s so amazing that song, I’m so happy ‘cause today I found my friends, they’re in my head!  Brilliant, I have to listen to it every day out of respect for him you know? Hey, what do you reckon he had played at his funeral?”

Michael didn’t answer me. His eyes looked huge. “I’d have Supersonic or Cigarettes and Alcohol as well,” he was saying, sort of talking and babbling over me.  His voice suddenly sounded very down and low and far away.  For some reason he found himself funny, threw back his head and hooted laughter at the ceiling.

I got up then and stood on the grey sofa.  I was waving my arms about to keep my balance as I stepped from one sagging cushion to the next. “Fuck! I nearly forgot!  How could I forget? I’d have I Am The Ressurrection as well!  Love that song! Hang on I’m gonna’ put it on, we have to have it on Mike, right now, we have to have it really fucking loud to appreciate every genius part of it!”  I turned around and started scrambling through the records to find it.  “Wait,” I was saying breathlessly. “Wait for this, wait for the drum intro…” When it started I whirled around, back on my feet and playing the drums in the air while Michael curled up with laughter on the floor. “Down down you bring me down! I hear you knocking at my door and I can’t sleep at night!”  I bounced down onto my bottom, sweat now pouring from my forehead. When the chorus kicked in I screamed along with it. “I am the resurrection and I am the light!  I couldn’t ever bring myself to hate you as I’d liiiiiiiiike!” I went into the guitar, holding aloft an invisible one, plucking the strings, and then back to the drums again.

“I need water,” Michael announced and got onto his knees to grab a can of coke from the nearest coffee table. “Is this safe to drink?”

“I’d have some Dylan too,” I started to ramble again, and somehow, I don’t know why, but somehow I felt just so desperate to make him understand about the music.  I kept looking over my shoulder at the record player, panicking and thinking about what to put on next, about how to make him feel as I felt. “Positively 4th Street,” I was nodding emphatically. “Or maybe Forever Young…I have to write these down! Billy, fucking Billy, if he takes the piss out of Bob Dylan one more time I’m gonna’ thump him one..Stupid, stupid, he won’t even listen!  How can you dismiss a whole catalogue of work without even properly listening to any of it! Oh and The Smiths. Got to agree with Terry. Just genius Mike. Hilarious. The Boy With The Thorn In His side, that’s me that is!” I pointed to myself happily as I stared down at Michael.  His face had gone very pale, making his eyes look even darker, like lumps of black coal shining in his face.  “That’s what they call me you know, those fuckers…you’re a bloody thorn in my side! Oh I’d have loads..Panic, and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before.”

“Don’t know any of them,” Michael said, looking blank.

“’Cause you don’t listen, you don’t listen!” I insisted, my voice rising up high above the music. “I keep playing you stuff, all the time, I keep trying and you don’t listen! You’ve got to give it a chance!  Oh at my funeral it’s gonna’ be one huge fucking party!”  I turned back to the records and the tapes, hunting through them. I was frantic, and it was getting worse.  I was realizing with dawning horror that there was not going to be enough time in my stupid little life to listen to all of the music, that I would never be able to hear everything, and that it was endless, because new stuff, amazing life changing stuff was coming out every day, and I didn’t want to miss a thing! “I have to just lie down and listen to it sometimes,” I was saying, my back to Michael. “So I can properly listen to it, properly concentrate.  I lie down and put the speakers to my ears and turn it up really loud…oh anyway, until fuck face comes and tells me to turn it down!”

Michael was drumming his hands against his knees again. “Oh right,” he said. “God, he would wouldn’t he? How are things with him mate?”

“Oh I’ll show you,” I said enthusiastically, spinning back around and standing up with my chest puffed out and my hands on my hips and my head cocked to one side. “I can do a really good impression, get this…Turn that fucking shit down you bastard! Sit down when I’m talking to you!  Stand up when I’m talking to you!  Look at me!  Don’t look at me!” I laughed helplessly and tugged at my own hair in frustration, while Mike looked on, his eyes slowly narrowing.  “I can’t do anything right…He took the fucking lock of my bedroom door a while ago, you know.  So now he can come in whenever he wants, ‘cause now he owns the place you know, it’s his fucking house!” I rolled my eyes and laughed. Michael was watching me uneasily from the floor. He had stopped drumming his knees, and pulled them up under his chin.

“All your shit is here,” he said then, looking around. “Do you like, practically live here now, or what?”

“Well,” I shrugged and rubbed at my face.  I was so hot I felt like my insides were ablaze.  “I just come here as much as I can to get away from the arsehole.”

“Doesn’t he give you the creeps though?” Michael asked, shivering suddenly and wrapping his arms firmly around his legs.  “I don’t think I could stand it. He’s like a dirty old man, creeping about, and this…” he gestured to the room, and the mess. “It’s such a shit hole.”

“Who cares about stuff like that? You don’t normally care about stuff like that.”

“But he’s creepy Danny, I’m telling you, there’s something about him! He’s always watching us for one thing. I can’t believe you haven’t noticed!”

“Who Jack?”

“Yes! The way he just comes in, and doesn’t say anything, but then he just sits there and looks at us.”

I laughed. “Mike, it’s his flat, he can do what he wants. He’s just not a talkative person.”

“But it’s creepy,” Michael said rather miserably, glancing at the door. “Why’d you have to be here so much?”

“It’s better than home that’s why!” I yelled, with a laugh.  I turned back around, uncomfortable with his questioning eyes.  I started rummaging through my music again, looking for something that would get us on our feet and feeling wild.  “He lets me do what I want,” I said. “He leaves me alone.  He never goes on at me to do the washing up, or the hoovering, or tells me to the music down, or anything. That’s why Mike.  I can relax here. He’s hardly ever here anyway for fucks sake!” I looked back at him, this huge smile eating up my flushed and sweaty face. “At home, everything has to go through him.  Anything I want, he just says no to.  Mum has to check with him first. Like, a while back I really wanted guitar lessons, I mean I want them so bad, but he said no didn’t he?  Waste of time and money he said. Anything that matters to me is like a joke to him. He’s obsessed with ruining me. He just hasn’t figured out how to do it yet.” I put on a record and turned back to him. “Hey, listen to this. I really like this.”

“Who is it?” Michael shrugged. I started to bounce up and down on my backside again.  I felt too wired up, too crazed to sit still, I just wanted to keep listening to music, keep talking about it.

“James Taylor,” I told him, sniffing. “You like it? I want this at my funeral too please.”

“Listen, what you were saying, about Freeman.”

“What was I saying?”

“He’s Howards friend, Danny.”

I frowned, still bouncing. “Yeah, so?”

He shook his head at me. “So, this is all weird crazy bullshit, and you need to be careful Danny.”

I stopped bouncing and stared at him in wonder. “Do I?”

“Yeah.  Really careful. Look, I know we haven’t talked about it in ages, but we both know what an evil cunt Howard is, so you need to be careful, right?”

“Careful?” I threw back my head and snorted laughter. “Okay Mike.  I’ll be careful, I promise, I really will.  Actually I have been very careful, for ages now.  Haven’t had any falls off that stupid bike have I?” I looked at him and winked and grinned, whilst feeling like I was shrivelling up with guilt on the inside.  I didn’t want him looking at me too long then.  I felt like if he looked at me too long, he would see the truth, he would see the truth of me and how wretched and pointless I really was, and then he would leave.  He would get up and stalk out of the dirty flat he despised so much, and I would never see him again.

“You know what I mean,” he said, with this awful, sad sigh, as he tore his eyes away from me, and gazed around the room.  “You should know what I mean.”

It was all fine and good, like most things, until we woke up the next morning feeling like death.  It was a horrible way to wake up, believe me.  It was like a slow misery awakening inside of you, and your body.  I could see it on Michael’s face as he groaned into life on one of the other sofas.  I felt an instant slam of guilt then too.  I had done it to myself, that was one thing, but I had roped him in as well, and now he looked and felt like shit, and I was swamped with self-loathing.   I wanted to turn over and go back to sleep and wake up when I was feeling normal again.  Michael sat up slowly, his nostrils twitching, his lips curling up.  He looked at the blanket lying over him and punched it away as if it suddenly and violently offended him.  He looked pale and sick and angry.  I smiled at him weakly from my sofa and he shook his head at me. “I am never fucking doing that again,” he said.

“It’s not that bad.”

He raised his eyebrows at me and looked amazed. “Fucking is!  I need to go home.” He shuffled to the edge of the sofa, pressing one hand to the side of his head as he moved, closing his eyes briefly against the pain.  Then he looked across at me and I felt scared when I saw his face, because it looked for a moment like he really and truly hated and loathed me.  I was lying on my back, with my hands laced on my chest.  I was trying not to move too much, because everything seemed to hurt.  “Did he come back?” he whispered then. “Freeman?  Is he here? I don’t remember him coming back.”

I nodded. “It’s alright.  It was really late.  He just went to bed.”

I watched him shiver and he got to his feet quickly, as if knowing Jack was somewhere in the flat made him want to get out of there even faster.  He stretched out his limbs one by one and picked his leather jacket up off the floor. “Are you coming with me?”

I tugged the blanket up to my chin and shook my head. “Nah. Think I’ll stay here for a bit.”

“What for?” he groaned, slapping a hand against his forehead this time and wincing dramatically.

“Just to hang around,” I shrugged.

“Oh okay fine, suit yourself,” he snapped, rolling his eyes and rubbing aggressively at the small of his back.  “You always do,” he added, heading for the door.  I blinked in hurt and surprise and said nothing.  He stopped though, and looked back at me as if waiting for something.

“What does that mean?” I heard my weak voice asking him.  Though of course I knew, I knew what it fucking meant, and he was right.

“Nothing.  It’s just…you always do what you want…Fuck anyone else.”

“I don’t.”

“Yeah, you do, look at you! Just gonna’ hang around this place all day with your creepy drug dealer friend!”

“He’s not my friend,” I replied, childishly, scowling at him and his accusing eyes.

“Why’d you hang about with him then?” Michael cried, throwing up his arms in frustration.  “He’s an old man Danny. It’s not right!  And you and that bloody club!”

I felt myself shrinking under the blanket.  I could see it all in his face, everything I had known was there all along, everything that I deserved. “What about it?”

“You working for Howard. I don’t get it.”

“He pays me.”

“There is no amount of money worth working for him for,” Michael snapped. “You fucking hate the guy, or you should do, after what he did to Anthony. I don’t know how you can stand to be around him.” He slipped his arms through his jacket and zipped it up. He looked so dark and angry and sulky, he reminded me of the boy I’d watched from the window all that time ago.  Circling around and around, keeping his hard flat eyes on my house.  I just stared down and said nothing.  What the hell could I say?  I’d just fucked him up with drugs and he was taking his bad mood out on me.  No problem.  Come on, I felt like saying, give me some more.  Come over here and pound my fucking face in.  It’s no less than I deserve. When Anthony gets out send him right over to me.  Tell him I’m ready.  He sighed then, and opened the door. “It’s just..look I’m sorry Danny okay?  It’s just I think there’s something going on here, but you just don’t wanna’ see it. You just wanna’ stay high and not talk about anything.  We never talk about anything anymore.”

“What do you mean, something’s going on?” I asked him quietly.

“It doesn’t matter, forget it,” he said, shaking his head and stepping out onto the yellow landing outside the door. “Look I’m gonna’ find Jake and Billy and go down the beach or something.  That’s where we’ll be, if you can tear yourself away from this joyous place.” I didn’t say anything else.  I just watched him go.  And then I was alone.  The flat was cold and silent, and my bones throbbed under my skin.  I closed my eyes and let it all go because I had to.  I turned my mind to other things.  Like music, and a little shot of whiskey to warm me up.  Anything to make it all go away.

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