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The Hand That Cradles The Rock
Here’s another short for you, just over three thousand words. As usual this has had neither eye nor hand of an editor anywhere near it, but I’ve done my best to iron out the lumps that usually punctuate my shorts. Let me know what you think. And if you’re not subscribed, you could do that. One more thing - a thumbs-up is all I really want - if you don’t include the other two things for which I asked. Oh and you could share it. There’s a button to do that at the end.
“Here we go, you streak of spunk in a nonce’s nappy!”
And that’s how Terry Rutter welcomes himself into the Parker household, kicking open the previously ajar door and swinging in with the remaining four cans of beer dangling from the six-pack plastic rings in his left hand and a pizza box in his right. Shaun Parker stirs from his sleepy adventure on the sofa, seemingly ignoring Terry and shouting over his shoulder…
“Who left the fucking door open? It’s a jungle out there, any reprobate could let themselves in.”
“Good day to you. Pizza? Beer? Penis?”
"Oh, hello, Terrence. What a pleasant surprise," says Shaun, as he returns to his previously untouched-by-the-hand-of-the-day, fetal position. "How about surprising me again by turning around and fucking off?" He makes a half-hearted attempt to locate a fallen blanket with his foot before giving up, closing his eyes, and effortlessly slipping back into the Land of Nod.
“What you shouting about … Oh, hello, Terry. What do you want? Is that Pizza? Actually, don’t answer; in fact, don’t say a thing. I need you like a hole in the head, right now.”
“Hello Lorraine, have you put on weight?”
“They kill seals,” says Shaun, fingering the plastic rings on the beer cans as Lorraine walks out of the room, picking up a basket of clothes on the way.
“Don’t go, Loz, I like fat birds. Gives me somewhere comfortable to sit when I’m finished.”
“They get stuck on their snouts, then they can’t eat, then they die. I think it’s seals, might be sea lions.”
Terry pulls two cans from their plastic rings, puts one in front of Shaun, sparks one open for himself, and takes a swig.
“Big day today, mate. Get some of that piss down your neck and rack ‘em up.”
“Shouldn’t you be there by now?” Shaun asks, looking over his shoulder to see his wife Lorraine walking back through the room carrying something else domestic that he doesn’t understand.
“Less mouth, more action,” says Terry, pushing Shaun’s legs out of the way, putting the pizza box on the table, and feeding Shaun beer from his can.
“You’ve got somewhere to be, haven’t you, Terry?” says Lorraine as she walks back into the room wearing bright yellow Marigold gloves and soap suds around her elbows.
“Can you smack my arse with those gloves on, Loz?”
“I’ll smack you in the fucking mouth with them on, Terry Rutter. How about that?”
“Where is it, Shaun? I ain’t got all day.”
“I haven’t got any powder; there are a few rocks there.”
“Come on, you two!” shouts Lorraine as she passes the stairs on her way into the kitchen. She picks up some clothes, throws them into the washing machine, kicks the door shut, and turns the dial. “If you’re not ready in five minutes, we’re not going. Now come on!” The sound of the washing machine kicking in kicks in.
“How you put up with her, I really don’t know. Fantastic tits, though, like … extravagant. I’ve always thought that.”
“Yep, and you always tell me.”
Shaun lifts up the plastic that holds the remaining two beers together and puts his mouth through one of the holes, trying to get it on so tight he can’t open his mouth.
“Who takes perfectly good cocaine and turns it into this shit?” says Terry, looking at the little bag of crack rocks that he finds on the table.
“Come on, you two! I ain’t got fucking all day. Two minutes, now COME. THE. FUCK. ON!” screams Lorraine up the stairs.
“So, you don’t want any? No problem, here, give me that pipe,” says Shaun, who sits up, rubs his face, sparks open his beer, swigs some, takes the rocks from Terry, and points to a little one-shot pipe leaning against an ashtray.
“If I have to come up there and get you two, you’ll fucking regret it. Now do what your mother says!” shouts Shaun over his shoulder, at a volume so low you’d think he was talking to himself, because he was. He then scoops up some cigarette ash and puts it on the gauze at the end of his pipe.
“How are the girls getting on, mate?”
“They’re little cunts; they’ve got to that age where I don’t exist unless they want something, like a fucking new phone every four months… one minute and I’m coming up there!” shouts Shaun over his shoulder, this time at a volume that might actually be heard outside of the front room.
“The problem with crack is … I always want a wank,” says Terry, passing Shaun a lighter.
“That, my friend, is because you are, a wanker.” And with that, Shaun sparks up his lighter and gently waves the flame over the rock on his pipe, going cross-eyed as he focuses on it melting and breathing in as much as he can. When he’s at breaking point, he quickly puts the bottom of his Clipper™ lighter over what’s left of the rock to stop it from melting further, and purses his lips tightly together, his eyes widening like they’re about to pop out of his head.
“Easy tiger! Jesus, you need air to live, you know?”
And Shaun, when something almost certainly reflex activated and existing deep down in the empty toolbox of his survival instincts reminds him that he indeed needs air to live, slowly exhales, and engages once again in the process of pulmonary ventilation, laying back on the sofa and looking at the ceiling, but like someone who is both extraordinarily alive and completely dead.
“Fuck it. It is a special occasion,” says Terry, taking the pipe from Shaun’s trembling hand and finishing off the rest of the rock.
“Do you fucking have to?” Says Lorraine walking back through the room, “It’s eight thirty in the morning.”
“The answer is yes,” says Terry.
"The answer is no, you twat," Lorraine says quietly, almost a whisper, as she walks out of the front room. "I've got a life, responsibilities, children," she continues. Terry mimicking her, tilting his head side to side as Lorraine picks up things that housewives pick up. And put down. And all manner of secret things, with which them they do.
“Dreams too, shattered fucking dreams,” says Lorraine, now to herself, as she walks back into the room with some boxes containing things that housewives put in boxes.
Terry swigs back his beer, emptying the can, before putting it down and nibbling and chewing at his lips like he’s teething, because in a way, he is.
“Second dibs on a pipe is always a letdown. Special day, special rock,” says Terry, taking the biggest of the rocks from the bag, and, after scooping up ash with the pipe as the contradictory, drug-induced adrenaline-like stimulant fatigue causes his hands to shake, it’s quite the silent moment for them both, as the blur of his also now trembling hand hovers over the shaking pipe, guided perhaps by the combined crack consciousness that emanates from the space between their focused stares like the Devil’s own fart. Yet, praise The Lord, he manages to time it right and synchronize the drop so it lands nicely in the center of the pile of ash in the pipe. Shaun leans forward, takes the lighter from Terry, and sparks it up.
Congratulations, son, we’ll make a failure of you yet,” says Shaun, and, learning from the previous early onset Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms they exhibited, they both set their elbows down onto the table, providing the necessary stability to lower the risk of a fuck-up to near zero.
As Shaun waves the flame over the rock, the pair of them are all cross-eyed, as all that exists is the Flame. And. The. Rock. And the end of Personal History®, and all those left for the living traumas that echo silently in the gut of Terry Rutters everywhere.
“I’ve got something for you,” says Shaun, leaping from the sofa as Terry falls onto his back, laid out all star-shaped on the carpet in such a way that anyone who wasn’t a crack user would be convinced they were witnessing a cardiac arrest. It’s not a heart attack, though; it’s a Love Surrender©. Boom!
Shaun opens a cupboard in the kitchen and starts feeling around among different bottles of spirits. You’d think he was setting the controls for the heart of the sun, though, judging by the intensity of his ocular slapsticity and labial wrangling.
“For fuck sake, Shaun, sort this cunt out,” says Lorraine, who’s standing there holding the tiny hands of her two girls, Maggie and May, six and eight, as Terry dances in the middle of the room to no music, with his eyes shut and his flaccid but surprisingly long penis hanging out of his jeans.
“Where’d she go?” asks Shaun as he wipes Absinthe from his chin, handing the bottle to Terry.
“Middle-Earth, where she belongs. The firm and furiously big-titted orc army of Mordor, if precision is your want.”
“I see you’ve got your cock out,” says Shaun
“It’s less ‘cock out’ and more..” You can almost see the sores forming, so fast is Terry’s tongue darting in, out, and shaking all about his trembling word-hole. “It’s a post-ironic, new penile sincerity. Everyone’s doing it,” says Terry, now impatiently gesturing to Shaun’s flies. Shaun pulls at the top of his jeans, popping all the buttons free before pulling out his cock, nodding his head, and now also dancing to no music, and now also penis a hangin’.
“You’re gonna be late son,” says Shaun, watching the Absinthe in the upended bottle in Terry’s mouth rapidly diminish.
“One more rock and I’ll be out of what’s left of your hair,” says Terry, passing the near empty bottle back to Shaun and putting together another pipe.
“You know that stuff isn’t free,” says Shaun, while inspecting the slightly discoloured underside of his penis.
“Is your cock slightly darker on the underside?”
Terry finally exhales, the smell of hospital floors once again filling the room, and the hit nearly flooring him, only the back of the sofa being conveniently under his outstretched arm to keep him on his feet.
“I’ll see you later, mate. Nice one,” says Terry, picking up his pizza box, the remaining two beers that swing on their plastic connector, and wobbling his way to the door. After leaning on the wall for a few seconds to make sure he’s still alive, he puts his cock away and leaves.
“Good luck!” shouts Shaun, before putting his cock away and somewhat confusedly surveying his front room, knowing quite a lot has just happened, but not sure exactly what. “You’re going to need it,” he says, before finishing off the last inch or two of Absinthe, slumping onto the sofa, and fetal once again he becomes.
Terry flicks his cigarette into the road in that strangely hateful and aggressive manner in which most smokers dispose of their snouts, and walks through the open door of the bookies.
“I could smell the squalor and laziness before you came in,” says Grace, the bottle-blonde anorexic girl who takes the bets, but has been knows to offer relief in the toilets if the price is right/wrong, the rent is due, or it’s just one of those days where the trauma’s so unbearable it needs repeating. Repeating. Resenting.
“If I was to tell your boss that’s how you treated one of your executive clients,” says Terry, his eyes automatically drawn to one, two, three, back to one, two, back to three, of the many eye-level Galmbledon Hypnagogic® screens, that in a gloopy and loopy, heavy red and green - almost Technicolor® - glare, give the place a really drowsy slo-mo discotheque vibe, “I think he’d have something to say to you, and since you obviously need the pathetic wages to pay for the one banana you eat every month, you should perhaps consider at least pretending to be nice to me. A bit of good manners goes a long way when genetics have been so clearly unkind.”
Terry scribbles his bet onto a slip and hands it to Grace with a five pound note.
“If I should fall from grace with God, where no doctor can relieve me, if I'm buried 'neath the sod, but the angels won't receive me…” Terry sings softly as Grace puts the money in the till and the slip through the machine.
“You're not just utterly disgusting, you’re weird, you’re a weirdo. You are a disgusting weirdo,” says Grace, and she hands Terry his receipt.
“Let me go, boys let me go, boys, let me go down in the mud, where the rivers all run dry,” sings Terry, as he stuffs his receipt into his pocket and picks up his beers and pizza. “I’ll cash-in that beauty tomorrow, and you never know, I might buy you something nice. But now, I’ve got somewhere I need to be,” and with that, Terry leaves the bookies.
Grace looks at Terry’s bet. It’s five to four on, meaning should Terry’s dog win, he’ll have won four whole pounds, plus his bet.
“Four quid, Jesus,” she says, and the toothless man who sits in the corner and never says anything, says nothing.
Knowing there would be a taxi outside the bookies because people who use bookies tend to be late for everything in life, Terry scans the locale, skips across the road, opens the back door, throws in his pizza and beers, and tells the driver to go to the hospital.
“Which hospital?” asks the driver, starting the meter and flicking his snout out of the window in an aggressive and hateful manner, hacking up a throat-oyster, and flobbing that out of the window with equal disdain.
“Up by the old loony bin,” says Terry, and the taxi pulls off and up the road, the sound of Chris Rea’s unlikely seasonal hit ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ playing on the taxi radio. Apparently, Chris Rea is a really nice bloke.
Terry lights up another snout as he walks through the sick and dying who crowd the smoking area outside of the hospital entrance. People with intravenous drips suspended on upright wheeled units sucking their toothless and skinny faces skinnier as they try to get a lungful of smoke. You’d be forgiven for assuming the accumulated cloud of sweet, circumferential swirls of nicotine smoke (you know, like in adverts from the good old days when smoking was excellent,) would drown out the ugly stench of human decay. Yet Terry - crack and booze notwithstanding - has an olfactory tremor as he sensed some poetic injustice. Because one aroma was potentiating the other, creating a kind of cologne de la mort, which, existing somewhere beyond the pleasure principle, gave him a little sexual hit; a Persephonean kick in the balls, as he would not summarize later.
Understandably, this little flutter didn’t last long, and left him feeling rather uneasy with the world. Un petit cologne de la mort, perhaps. People in wheelchairs who look like they died a good few months ago are being assisted with their smoking by a loved one, who holds their burning pleasure betwixt their pale and cracked lips as they muster up enough energy to get their diaphragm contracting so as to get some of that poison into them. Such sights are not going to maintain anything sexual to anyone except perhaps those performing said assistance, one of which, Terry was not.
Terry spits out his snout in an aggressive and hateful manner as the automatic doors automatically open too slowly for anyone who automatically walks faster than someone who needs assistance to smoke a cigarette. He’s got a spring in his step now, has our lad Terry, and it’s clear by the gusto with which he turns corners, glides along corridors, and, with beers in one hand and the pizza box in the other, arse-opens double doors, performing a surprisingly delicate pirouette to achieve the correct direction to continue this journey - to what we can only assume - is leading to the denouement of this day in the life of Terry Rutter. However. Everything. Stops. And Terry has a quick glance up and down the corridor, looking for people and finding none, before pulling Shaun’s pipe from his pocket, popping a rock on the crusty twice-used ash and quickly lighting it, inhaling furiously in such a way one would were they worried about being caught smoking crack in a hospital.
“Where’s my pipe?” says Shaun, surveying his table with just the one eye open.
Back to Terry’s spring in his step, previous enthusiasm, and crack inflated bravado, he walks into the last room on the left.
“Oi! Oi!” he says loudly, announcing his arrival, arms stretched out either side, pizza box in one, beers in the other. Several nurses, doctors, midwives and all that kind of thing wait for someone else to intervene.
‘Where’s the baby?” asks Terry, and his girlfriend, Jodie, who’s laying in bed, legs akimbo, with what he can only guess is the remains of giving birth all over the otherwise cleanest and crispiest cotton sheets he’s ever seen. Terry thinks they’d look good in their bedsit, on their bed that folds out of the cupboard. Even the faded and light blue ‘Dartford and Gravesham Trust’ prints here and there would add a touch of interest, ‘a talking point,’ is the phrase that appears briefly in his mind.
“You can’t bring pizza and alcohol in here,” says a nurse as Terry tosses a can of beer to Jodie, who just about manages to catch it before being knocked unconscious.
“Where’s the baby?” asks Terry
“She’s dead,” says Jodie.
“But I bought pizza,” says Terry, his eyebrows doing some kind of frantic dance because he doesn’t understand what’s happening, and although chemically suppressed, a small amount of anxiety is managing to find a way out. Terry opens the pizza box and a slosh of tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni circles, and pizza base pours out of the box and onto the floor, looking much like a placenta.
“Not really you dozy cunt, they’re cleaning her up,” says Jodie, sparking open her can and giving it a shake to create a celebratory booze fountain.
“You fucker!” says Terry, and nearly breaking his neck slipping in the pizza as he makes his way over to Jodie, sparks open his beer, has a swig, and kisses Jodie on the forehead.
“Cheers!” they both say, crunching cans together and taking a synchronized swig. Terry sits on the bed and cradles Jodie’s head in his arms.
“Can someone get that cleared up please?” says someone Terry and Jodie don’t know.
A lady wearing a blue outfit brings in their baby, wrapped in the softest cloth Terry’s ever seen, and he wonders if they’ll let them take it home as it would look good in the cot they don’t have for the little baby.
The lady in blue hands the baby to Terry, and he feels something he’s never felt before, something deep. Something. At. All.
Looking at her tiny face, her barely open eyes, and rose-red lips, Terry looks up to the heavens, takes a breath, and looks back at the baby.
“I love you,” he says.
Thank you for giving it a go. It really is appreciated
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