Daylight. Staring into the bathroom mirror. Your eyes, look at them. The fear in them. And your hands, they’re shaking; you’re trembling all over. Stop this, right now, go back to bed. But you can’t. You’ve got to work. Get to the office and work. Things to do, out there in the real world, away from all this. Got to remind yourself it’s just a morning thing; same rush of fear, rush of panic. Everything magnified. All your mistakes, all the damage you’ve done. Your whole world ready to crash in, drill a hole through your brain, up against the wall, raped, mutilated, flayed alive, you’re coming to hell you bastard.
No. Snap out of it. Turn away. And you do. Pissing into the toilet now. But look at yourself. The things you’ve done. You’re evil, do you know that? But of course you do. Can feel it pulsing through your system like a curse. Every morning shivering, sweating, stinking of last night’s drink. Go on, get it out, rid yourself of that poison. But you can’t, can you. The sickness deep within, etched there like a rot, a deep putrid stink.
No wonder Carolyn left you in the lurch. Wife, two kids – then suddenly nothing. You in this family home all by yourself. Just you and the memories. Remember the time in the kitchen you grabbed her by the hair. Do you remember that? Really went for her that time, didn’t you. Carolyn clutching her head where it had smacked against the sharp edge of the cupboard. What a bastard. Gushing out apologies, swearing you were sorry, it would never happen again. But it did though, didn’t it.
And look at yourself, brushing your teeth now, terrified of facing the light of day. Not surprising really… She’s not coming back you know. I mean, you do know that don’t you? Forget what she said about thinking it over, those were just words. You’re alone now. This is it. This is how it’s going to be from now on. Carolyn, the kids – they hate you. Your own children – frightened of you. Feel pain, fear, every time they think of you. Your own kids.
Remember the football incident. No? Of course you fucking do. Comes out to bite pretty often that one doesn’t it. Carolyn out shopping and you in with the kids watching the football. It was the Saturday after you lost out on the promotion, wasn’t it. Day after the night before. Let him relax, go on, let Daddy sit and watch his football – delicate Daddy with his sensitive eyes, ears, his pounding head. But Amy, 2, and Jack, 4, running around making a right racket. Jack especially. Jack who you had told two, three, four times already. Head thumping with pain after having drunk yourself into a stupor, in the pub throwing back shorts long after your workmates had left, trying to initiate conversations with strangers and nobody interested, then staggering home and puking into the neighbour’s front garden, and look at you now, the state of you, and the kids running and tearing, every sound cutting through your skull, and Jack Jesus Christ if I have to tell you again, and he kicks a toy that goes flying, the screams going right through you, and you grab him, shake him, roar your frustration into his face, then you push him and he goes flying, crashing into his toys. Suddenly looking at you, in shock, in fear, then running crying out of the room, Amy following – Jack, I’m sorry, Jack – and Carolyn appearing at the door, dropping her bags and clutching the children close to her, and you saying it was an accident, you were sorry, you never meant it, you
You make me sick.
And look at you, shaving now, scraping that thing across your neck. Why don’t you put that razor to some proper use, stop kidding yourself, living in a fucking fantasy. No-ones stopping you, you know. Think of it. Not going into work, not today, not ever, and the police coming round to break the door down. Or maybe Carolyn herself, suddenly wondering, sudddenly caring, coming home atlast. And you there hanging from the ceiling with your wrists all slashed and a smile carved across your face, a sad happy clown, a dead fucking carcass, all you’ve ever deserved, everyone out of their misery.
But it’s not going to happen, is it. Too much of a coward for that kind of thing, aren’t you. In fact you’re too much of a coward for a lot of things. Take the other evening for example, coming out of the tube. Bloke asks you for a cigarette, a teenager, and you give him one, but the next minute he’s strutting next to you down the sidestreet, asking for money, needs it for a travelcard, what about a pound then, a fucking pound, what do you mean you haven’t got it? Commenting on your suit and tie, telling you you’re lying man, look fucking loaded. But you insist, tell him you’re skint, and he gives up, lets you walk on. Tutting at you. Goading you. Fuckin prick. Come round your yard and rob the place, ya fuckin pussy.
But what did you do, what did you even say? Nothing. Just walked. Heart beating. Kept moving. Bastard shouting at you. You, who had spent twelve hours sweating over that sale, sweating, fretting, stressed to the hilt, with your wife gone, your kids gone, your debts, your bills, your mortgage, knowing if this sale doesn’t go through you might as well be dead – with some total stranger, some ignorant fucking retard, threatening you, goading you on the street?
Why didn’t you do something? Turn round and charge him, knock him into next week. You could have you know. In truth, he was nothing but a mouthy little runt. You could have done anything, gone fucking wild, left him battered and bruised. Go round insulting strangers and you’re taking a big risk. Don’t these people realize that?
Maybe they do. And that’s when he would have pulled his knife out, plunged it in without a care. You there fighting with your fists and him stabbing away like nobody’s business. Alone on the street, clutching your stomach, blood running through your fingers. Man stabbed. Killed. All you ever hear about.
But what would you care? What have you got to protect now anyway? It’s all gone. Disappeared.
But you don’t want to hear that, do you? Of course you don’t. You’d run a mile rather than hear the truth. Run to the ends of the earth. Head in the sand. A beach somewhere. Black, polluted. Body dead. Writhing with maggots. Fuck’s sake. You splash your face with water. Go on, get out of here.
Coffee. Now. You head to the kitchen in your boxers, watching the kettle as it heats. Body exhausted, mind alive. Flashing back to last night’s dream. Down in the tracks, running from the trains, the dream relentless, neverending. Maybe it’s time you saw the doctor about all this. Take a morning off, a couple hours even. Maybe next week. But so little time. Fuck it anyway. You bring the cup to the bedroom, start to get dressed. Almost toppling as you pull on your trousers and cursing every cunt and bastard to hell. Jesus. Hands shaking as you fix your tie. Fuck this, you bring your coffee out to the cabinet and in goes a measure of vodka, a generous one, because God if you don’t calm your nerves you’re going to throw something against the wall. Fucking kill somebody. Serious. You can see it. Donaldson at work, nothing ever good enough, jump over the desk, strangle the bastard to death on the floor.
But you’ve got to cool it. Get a move on. You down the coffee/vodka and collect up everything you need. Check yourself in the hallway mirror, make sure you’ve got everything, patting yourself down… phone, wallet, fags, keys, check your breath, your armpits, run back to the bathroom, more spray, back to the room, double check. Go on, fuck off, get to work.
You head for the door. And you can forget about drinks with McCluskey and Logan tonight as well – they’re earning alot more money than you, in a different league, stop embarrassing yourself. I mean, standing there with a pint in your hand laughing and joking, pretending everything’s normal? That’s you all over, isn’t it. Just not getting it.
Go on, fuck off, get out of here. You move, heading out the door and down the path. And no pubs I mean it, I want you straight home. Me and you, nice little chat. Are you listening to me? Fucking better be. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Prick. Door slams and you shudder. Up your pace.