Some people appear to have actually read that last story; this makes me happy.
I'm going to sort out links for e-readers for future work, as requested. Should have a new piece up in the next few weeks, so I'll try to get it done for that. The next one's already written, and it's quite black. Sorry about that.
I'll start another story this week as well, which should help solidify ideas for book two. I'm going back to England for the GMAs on Thursday, so I'll get the first stuff down on the trip.
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Coal put his hand to the back of the laminated yellow door. It shook. Shit jetted into the bowl. He raised an eye and dug in fingernails. Another wave forced itself free. He grinned. Stench and dull colour encased him. Dropping his face, he pulled his hand back and tucked it under his chest, then wrapped his fingers around his sopping forehead and stared at the sparkling flooring until the air on the surface of his eyeballs dried. Liquid dripped as his arsehole chewed itself. Somewhere outside the locked cubicle a man took steps, looking for an acceptable place to hide.
Vents moaned. Coal pulled a wrap from the inside pocket of his suit jacket, fumbling with its edge. He took a breath. One of the other cubicle doors shut and locked. A drop of sweat reached his lip and he took it away with his tongue. Blinking, he opened the paper, exposed compact powder and rested it on the towel dispenser. He bent forward, putting his hand in his trouser pocket, pulling the cloth away from a small pool of piss as an afterthought.
Bank, he thought. No, Egg. The green plastic made furrows in the powder as he did mental arithmetic. He paused as the other man flushed, sucking his lip. The card pushed half the powder onto the paper-housing, then carved out lines after the wrap was stored. He surveyed his work. Three perfect rows aside from a small rock in the one furthest from his face. A nice bit of bite, he thought, pushing out loose faeces.
He opened his wallet and pulled out a train ticket, tore it, dropped one half and used both hands to form a tube with the other. He took all three lines in the left nostril, large, silent exhales between each, then dropped the tube into the puddle on the floor where it unrolled. Brighton, said the dotted text on pale pink. One way.
Coal looked forwards towards the door, his mouth set circular, his eyes laughing, creased at the corners. He pulled his lips back and blew. He closed his eyes hard, then stood, grabbed his semi-turgid penis with one hand and yanked hard down on his balls with the other. Yellow liquid trailed down his leg. Humour left his face and he tugged down and forward, gritting his teeth. He wrenched his scrotum in an effort to find an erection through the drugs and yelped, then tilted his head back, a flush of red splashing his glans. He clamped the head between the inside of his thumb and the crook of his forefinger, tasted chemical, rubbed his testicles hard together than sprayed semen over the back of the door and onto his trousers. A second spurt looped from the tip of his dick into the urine on the floor. His head stuttered.
His breath rattled and he stooped, pulling paper from the dispenser and wiping the back of the door in smearing motions. He pulled the dry side of the towel over the back of his grubby hands and cleaned away the lumps, then crouched and made an effort to clean his trousers. He pulled them up, zipped up, fastened the belt, threw the tissue in the bowl and unlocked the door, tossing back his hair and sniffing hard as he walked into the room.
The other man had gone. All the other doors stood at various angles other than closed. He walked to the sinks in jerky steps and hit a stubby metal tap. Water flew from the nozzle and soaked the top of his trousers. He cantered to the end of the line of mirrors to grab a fistful of paper from the box on the yellow wall. This toilet will be inspected in nine minutes, he read as he mopped at his flies with the blue towelling. The number nine was lit in red neon and, he assumed, was counting down.
This toilet is inspected by a woman, said the sign.
Coal patted himself with the paper for six minutes, until his trousers were no longer obviously wet and the slug trails were gone. He threw the towels into the bin and leant forwards to the mirror. His pupils had opened wide and the muscles in his legs and arms were warm and full of comfort. He saw that his chin was chiselled and his cheekbones more defined than he remembered. The puffiness was gone from the base of his eyes. He drew wet fingers through his hair and turned, striding towards the door. A woman entered as he made to leave, a small person with her black hair tied in a bun, her dark face set in disgust.
"Cheers," said Coal. The woman cast a glance at the man and stooped over her orange bucket.
Outside the toilet the lobby was tungsten bright. A tall man in a blue sports jacket stood looking at mobile phone accessories while an attendant waited behind a counter, his eyes fixed on a spot in space. Coal turned his head and strode passed, the plastic soles of his shoes slapping on the tile mosaic. A woman waddled past him dressed in towelling trousers and a white t-shirt. Fat fuck, thought Coal, sniffing. He rounded a corner and entered the main part of the service station.
A newsagent and a Burger King sat side by side, the former empty aside from a two blond men and two members of staff. Free-standing signs promoted Redbull. He walked to the front of the Burger King and stood alone. A fryer hissed and Coal ignored the smell of old fat, scanning the signs covered in meat. The corner of the left-hand menu panel was broken and showed white light next to the yellows, reds and block black lettering spelling out prices for chips and sandwiches. Coal breathed and chewed his bottom lip, leaning forward over the counter to look around the side of an empty metal rack. The buttons and zip on his trousers clacked on the counter. A thin man appeared.
He was dressed in a t-shirt and wore a cap. When he stood in front of Coal, he turned himself in exact profile, his teeth showing under a hooked nose and only one eye visible.
"Next please," he said in a Midland drone.
Coal furrowed his brow in confusion, then spoke. He leant forwards again as he did so. When sound came from his lips they were no more than a foot from the ear of the man in the hat.
"XL Double Whopper with cheese meal," he said.
"In or out," said the man in the hat.
"In," said Coal.
"Regular or large," said the man in the hat.
"Regular," said Coal.
"One XL Double Whopper with cheese, Barry," said the drone, his voice raised slightly. The one eye dropped as if sleeping and the fat buzz was supplemented by small chimes from the till. "Five pounds forty nine, please."
Coal sniffed, ran his tongue over teeth inside his closed lips and pressed a note into the man's hand. Striplights arced in the eye's amber white. The attendant took the change from the till drawer without looking away from Coal, who shifted weight from one leg to the other and looked again at the signs above the man's head.
"Mate?" said the man in the hat.
"Oh, yes," said Coal. The coins dropped into his palm. He pocketed the money and went back to the signs. The man set him with a hateful half-face and remained motionless. Coal shook his shoulders in his suit and looked down at his fingers, then up again at the eye. Then he went back to the signs and moved his weight to the other foot. Coal put his hand on the counter. The fryer hissed.
Malevolence radiated from the eye. Coal stared into it and his index finger twitched.
"XL Double Whopper with cheese," said a voice from the rear of the shop. A hand emerged through a rack, its back covered in black hair, and dropped a package onto a metal chute. The fingers vanished as if slipping under water. The eye blinked and the man behind the counter moved away, shuffling, to get chips. He scooped them into a funnel and grabbed a cardboard packet. He popped it into existence. The one eye stared at the brushed metal hood of the fryer directly before it. He rested the peak of the cap against it as he slid the chips into the container. He tipped some out of the top, dropped the funnel, picked up a metal shaker with his free hand and added some salt. Coal fancied he saw dribble emerging from the open mouth before looking back at the signs.
The one-eye brought the food back to the counter and placed it centrally. He turned away again to get the drink, pressing a button and looking through the burger rack as a pale, foamy tube limped into a cardboard cup. He turned and put it on the tray. Coal sniffed and wrinkled his nose. No ice, he thought. And no lid. He looked at the one-eye.
"Thanks," said Coal. The one-eye moved his lip slightly showing teeth. Glare from the aluminium counter caused Coal to squint, and the cocaine dipped, letting him smell grease. He picked up the plastic tray and moved away.
At the side of the shop front was a separate room with a doorless opening. Red metal tables and cream plastic chairs were arranged in rows. The walls were all glass aside from one painted white, upon which were two posters for Burger King products. A large man in jeans and a tight t-shirt stared at Coal as he passed, his hands thick with sauce. Coal sat as far away from him as possible. His palms faced each other over the tray, shaking, as he looked out of the darkened glass. It was raining. A lorry passed, red lights a blur on the night's mud. Coal glanced at the other man, who was now looking at the posters. Nearer the entrance, a table had been left dirty, a drink and greasy paper still in the station's motionless air. Yellow light poured from the ceiling. A bulb flickered. Coal hunched over his food and sniffed.
There was a solid piece of semen on his right hand. He wiped it on his trousers. He looked down to see the piece of jelly hanging to his leg by a hair. He ignored it. He picked up the burger and turned it over, the paper unfolding, the flat, sweet bun showing in the light. The man was looking at him again. He could feel it. There was no sound but the distant hiss of fryers. Coal pushed his hands into the paper and pulled out the burger, blowing away a pubic hair. He ate half with one bite, meat and yellow salad pouring into the paper. The drugs made swallowing a chore, but he managed it, gagging slightly. A combination of mayonnaise and spit oozed from the side of his mouth, and he dragged the back of his hand over his face to stem the flow. The man on the other side of the room had finished eating, Coal thought: when he looked there was no one there, just another set of empty wrappers and the tray. He dropped the burger into the paper where it slid apart. The rain had stopped but the windows were wet, and he sat, alone, staring into space, hands either side of the tray, chewing gristle. Three trays on three tables and a man with his food in a triangle of red and yellow. Two cars went past, blade into corpse. Coal wiped his mouth again. He took a drink, put the cardboard cup back on the table and cast a suspicious eye over its top.
Coal hung his head and let his hands drop to his sides in his seat. His breath was shallow. Sweat bunched in the furrows of his skin and ran along his cheeks. He sighed, his eyes shut tight, nothing but patterns behind the lids and he breathed in and out for a while and fell asleep. He opened his eyes and the room was exactly as he'd left it. The meat was becoming cold, he found when he picked the remains of the patty from the limp pieces of bread. He ate it, ignoring the taste. He tried a chip, wiping it in the sauce from the burger, which had now spread over the paper and onto the tray.
"Fucking hell," he said.
The carpark was orange in a night black from storm clouds. Coal stumbled from the station doors, passed a man selling RAC membership in a waterproof yellow jacket. He ignored Coal, staring forward into the building. Coal nearly hit him, falling towards the sliding doors. The RAC man didn't move.
Outside the rain was falling again, and was cold enough to drag Coal back alert. The white stripes of crossings were mirrored in the rain and asphalt. Coal's black suit hid him and he relaxed somewhat. Tall metal arms heaved down cones of orange light, but it was dark enough for Coal. He moved between the rows of cars, stopping occasionally to look around, his face an oval fringed with blur. The clopping from his shoes halted as he found the car's door, to be replaced by the click of a key. The rain redoubled. White light washed over his shoes as he opened the door and he turned himself into the driver's seat with effort. He leant out of the grey Audi and vomited, rain falling over the back of his ears. He pulled himself back into the car and spat, the mucus half-hitting the window. Then he slammed the door.
Darkness followed some ten seconds later, by which point he had the wrap out of his pocket. He flicked the light back on and pulled lines over a Haynes manual, dropping the empty paper to the space under the car's pedals. A piece of thicker card from the glovebox was used a a tube, and he picked vomit from his teeth when he'd finished snorting. He licked the manual. He put the manual back in the glovebox. He turned off the light and sank back into his seat.
Coal stared at the rain as his heart pounded. He immediately wanted more drugs and started the car. He sniffed as the engine spluttered, breathing through his mouth, coughing. He lit a cigarette, and he was thankful of that, inhaling heavily, then inhaling again. He slid the window open a crack and blew out of the side of his mouth. His teeth grinned, smoke spiralling through the gaps, but the top half of his face remained unchanged. He pushed the gear stick towards first, but it slipped out of his hand. He did so again and the car leapt forwards. He stopped and turned the headlights on, the grin gone, then pulled on his seatbelt with slimy fingers. The tires complained as he pushed the engine too hard to escape the car park and moved past the signs for fuel, buses and exit, the spongy wheel turning easily for him, his face straining to see through shortsightedness and old glasses.
He imagined a pistol in the air at the side of his wet head and the final moment before his skull collapsed. No hand held the stock. He told himself to put the gun away, but the action was illogical as he wasn't in possession of it in the first place. Come on Chris, come on Chris, come on Chris, Come on Chris then he shot himself in the face, in the face and no one could believe it. No one could believe it. He shot himself in the fucking face and no one could believe it. Fucking cut me up you cunt, he said, as an Avensis moved inside him after several miles on the M23. He sniffed. He didn't shoot himself in the face. He was a nice lad. A good man. I can't believe he's gone. I'm not going to shoot myself in the face. Put the fucking gun away.
Brake lights across the black road. The moment when the last remnants of his brain moved through the expanding shards of skull, the smoking casing leaving the ejection port, the twisted look of shock, skin blackened by muzzle flash, the stench of exhaust fumes and eight minutes and forty three seconds at a standstill in the shitting weather. The lust for lines. He fumbled in a compartment for an iPod. Might as well try to fucking enjoy it. The white tape stayed permanently in the stereo, its crimped lead ending in a jack. He fitted it to the top of the player and found some drum and bass after squinting at the screen. He smoked as the music started, all numbness gone from his throat. Fuck it. The track's sample was a girl whispering that the Devil was in exile. Coal gripped the steering wheel. The car in front moved and he slipped off the clutch, the Audi jumping straight into the bumper. Sound shook his face. His expression registered disbelief.
The driver of the car, a Mondeo, got out and stood in the dark and rain. Coal stared forward through the windscreen. He turned off the music at the stereo, leaving the iPod playing. He ran his hands over his head and panted. Then he opened the car door and got out.
Coal's foot moved through the air, finding the ground after his shoe was coated evenly with rain-drops. His suit trousers moulded around his ankle in the wet, as he pushed his weight onto his right foot and grabbed the top of the door-frame with his left hand. He arched his chest, lifting himself clear from the seat. I will fucking do you. You fucking cunt. I will fucking kill you. You fucking cunt.
A coated silhouette haloed by red and white light, spray glancing from car metal, trousers and groin visible in Coal's headlight. The shape crouched, examining the back of the Mondeo. Coal advanced, his hands set like claws, shuffling forwards, water spilling up around his shoes. The man was staring at him now, the collar bunched up against his face failing to disguise the shock at seeing Coal.
“There's no damage,” he said.
Fucking kill you.
“Good,” said Coal. He shook the charlie from his shoulders and straightened his back, aware of his appearance. He blinked rain out of his eyes. ”That's good,” he said.
The other man said nothing. Coal could see half a face in dirty white, an eye squinting. Coal attempted a smile. The man's face up-turned into a snarl as his coat billowed round his ankles in the wet, and he turned away, vanished into the pounding rain and slammed the door.
Ahead of Coal, past his messy headlight beams, red taillights began to limp away, the Mondeo's bumper sinking under the storm's surface. A horn whined behind him. His head turned away from the crash, now soaked down to the skull, his black eyes picking through the glare of the abuser's headlights, halos confusing his vision. He stepped back. Then thought better of it and got back into the car.
The drugs came back to him once the rain was gone. A rigidity set into his muscles that hadn't been there earlier, and he relished the near-pain. The horn sounded again, angrier. Coal put the car into gear, the starry light of the orange dials nestled against the fractured white and rain on the windscreen, and he moved slowly away. Drums, he thought, and bass. He slammed the Audi into second gear and screamed away from the person behind as the music rendered him deaf, too loud for thoughts of death.
Towers by the roadside and the sign for Worthing. A roundabout. He nearly lost the car in the wet. Fucking care. He pounded away from Patcham up onto the A27, the cocaine vastly subsided, his hair lank in the car's smoky interior, tears pricking his eyes. A tunnel, the music off through irritation, Shoreham's lights drab against a welt of grey sea as he descended over the Downs, the port's redly lit tower a bloody thorn in a muscle of cargo and crates. Into Worthing at over a hundred, dribble coating his lower lip, a near miss on the straight into Lancing, the first signs of true fatigue as he turned past the Half Brick and up into the estate past East Worthing station. He parked his car at an angle and got out, barely remembering to lock it. He slammed the house door and put the night at his back.
Coal climbed the worn green carpet, passed the door of the downstairs flat, and shook his keys away from the suit jacket. The door had been painted white, but not recently. Little light was afforded this part of the house from the hallway's forty-watt bulb, and the dimness gave the impression of the lock being smeared in oil or mud. Glass set in the door's front, wired with a grid and dimpled blind. Behind it Coal could make out the dirty curtain and the black gaps of the tiny landing. He caught his breath on the inward pull and his wide eye ticked in the silence after the rain. Water traced down his cheek and across his nostril. He pursed his lips together and eased the key into the lock, pushed it firmly up the the hilt. Deep green coloured his hand, grain blackening the wall. He turned the key and the door hushed open. The door ticked closed. Coal shook himself dry in the hallway and flicked on the light.
Walls were magnolia once, but showed dirt from kicks and stains from years of cigarettes. The carpet was a sturdy blue. All doors away from the hall were open. Coal moved into the kitchen, lighting another bulb. White tightened his gut, but he ignored the sensation and yanked on the fridge door, magicking Stella. His shirt was glued to his chest. Half the beer was gone by the time he'd turned on the light in his bedroom, and was finished before he'd cut lines on the back of a CD case. He did three, quickly. He went back for another beer, turned, turned back and pulled a bottle of vodka off a shelf. He left the kitchen and turned out the light.
Television blared before he'd hit the sofa. The Bill. He flicked. Sky News, and a bombing. Corpses on a road. He drank straight from the vodka bottle when the Stella had gone. More lines, finishing his last. He rummaged through discs on the floor in the front of the TV, nearly falling from his position on all fours, looking for porn. He found 101 Cumshots and managed to get the disc out of the yellow plastic case. He paused and took some more vodka, grimacing and nearly vomiting. Come on, he thought. Porn. The disc slid into the machine and he writhed around on the floor, wrestling with his belt as the film came to life. He spat vodka over his shirt as he dragged his cock free of his pants. Cumshot number one came. And went. The vodka tipped over a crunched newspaper as a weak erection began to fight its way through the alcohol. He arched his back and grunted and a teenager was glazed by three men on the screen. A black man fucked a white woman then put glue on her teeth. Coal turned his face to the carpet and spat bile, picking bits of dirt from his wet lips with his free hand. He threw up as a man with an exceptionally large penis jetted semen over the lip of a gaping anus. He spat again. The exceptionally large penis had been re-inserted into the anus and another, darker man was humping the girl's mouth. Coal grunted and looked down, moving his head into the pile of sick he'd just made. He opened his mouth in disgust, hissing through the stinking liquid, arching his back then bunching forwards into a ball, moving his head back before ejaculating up his nose. A primal groan was followed by spitting as he attempted to free regurgitated lumps from the sides of his lips. He wiped his hand on the carpet, his cock twitching. On the screen, a blond teenage wearing eyeliner and pop-socks pretended to enjoy herself as a fourth man wanked in her eyes while another fucked her arse.
Coal struggled to his feet, blowing his nose, one eye closed against the vomit, his glasses lying in the puddle on the carpet. The porn pumped the room. He stepped out of his jeans and washed himself in the dark bathroom using a cold shower head. He shivered, but was numb to it. His gut felt concave. The sound of splashing water was confusing, but he made a conscious effort not to fall. He pulled a towel across his face, and his head sang. Harder, fuck me, breathed a woman from the other room. Coal put his hand against the airtexed wall and took control of his erratic breathing. His heart crunched in his bulky chest. Looking down he found his feet bathed in a greenish light from the living room bulb bouncing off the hall's blue carpet. He looked up and pulled the hair from his eyes. He looked down again and pushed his weight away from the wall.
Vodka remains vanished through his red lips and he collapsed on the sofa, barely able to focus on the screen. The screeching in his ears tried valiantly to drown out the yeahs of the beefcake jocks and the rain on the window. Cars and a woman shouting about the Co-Op closing. Coal dropped the empty vodka bottle to the floor and heaved his weight upright. Teetering, he moved around a splintered coffee table, skirting the pile of sick, and punched at the power switch on the television. He steadied himself on the top of the box, his face close to the screen, some brunette milking two cocks onto her face. Moving himself around the front of the TV, he sat on the floor on the wet newspaper and began to masturbate again, one hand on the screen. His erection failed to materialise for some time, his penis becoming raw as his nails raked its head. Full concentration was needed to succeed, the vodka stinging his scrotum, the smell of undigested burgers mingled with the noise of women. He eventually came on his upper leg, the watery semen flecked with blood. Coal reached forwards and pressed a button on the DVD player, accidentally pausing the film. The image left on the screen as he hauled himself back to his feet was of a large, erect cock.
He kicked the newspaper into the table and fell against the door, slamming it shut. Pushing himself backwards, he tipped over the edge of the table and into the sofa, his weight dead and his arms moving little as he went over. Onto the edge of the cushions, he spilled onto the carpet. He settled and was asleep in seconds, pressed between the bits around the sofa legs and the rough edges of the Formica table. His naked form rose and fell, oranges and apples, while the room's electronics hummed and the space in front of the television twitched to the fixed image of an eternal penis.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
While the doorframe had succeeded in holding back the brambles, its step had lost the siege. Leaves swelled in the sun, granite face-up in thorns. Darkness swallowed light inside, over the threshold and the open door; paint outstretched from oak, motionless in its suicide. A mouse sat next to a trap baited with honey bread, its chest crushed, an eye staring at blood on the earth floor.
Shadow dulled a Ricard bottle on Marie-Pierre’s thin table, all outside light vertically down, errant rays trapped in dirty nets. Back from the window, in gloom, was a stove driven by gas bottles. Opposite, a shelf covered in flower-printed plastic supported a rusted coffee tin. Cobwebs and plaster shrouded a bulb hanging by a cloth flex.
Ants worked on the soil and up the walls, taking advantage of crumbled lime between the stone. Corrugated iron rusted and threatened to collapse into the house’s main room, struggling under the sun’s weight. Flies and ants provided the only sound; birds hid.
The lane had burst. Its banks were convex, flecked with blackberry flowers and green fruit heads. A throat-high field was jailed behind the house, imprisoned with grass and damsons. Hydrangea pom-poms signalled a failed garden border, blue and pink petals near-invisible against fried sky. Ash and oak tops along the path were crowned with white and, higher, leeched cobalt. The moon lay on its back and looked away, one eye closed.
Around the track stood a gate whose tubular frame refused to close, its surround eaten by rust and greenery. Gravel provided a weed-hold beyond, leading forward through hay fodder to a fruit garden. Marie-Pierre lay in the grass at the corner of her strawberry bed.
She was wearing a brown skirt, which had hitched up over her knee, and her black shoes had created dimples in the blades. A fly sat on her eyeball, licking it, and ants played in her hat. The myrtille bushes behind the strawberry plants bounced under the weight of two jackdaws. Marie-Pierre’s chair stood under a cherry tree. Its legs were bleaching.
Hard pears peaked through leaves and apple stems had begun to brown. Marie-Pierre’s raspberry bushes were still clean, and would manage no crop this year thanks to the birds. Thickets, now free, pushed forward and tested toes in slug traps. Purple flecks betrayed positions of fox glove holes.
Down the hill and perpendicular to the lane, a line of laurels masked pasture from the garden. Oaks stood behind them, annoying the field. EDF had carved a hole in the foliage for power lines, which cut shadows over the fruit.
A tractor started. It came closer.