And so it started better than usual since two bags of temporary relief arrived unexpectedly - the repayment of a debt - unheard of phenomena. Sure, it had been three years in the waiting, but you get quite good at waiting in the desperation game [You don’t. You devise strategies of acceptance, largely motivated by a general fatigue regarding time. In any real sense ‘quite good’ here is a monstrous exaggeration] so I readily accepted the bags and pushed them through scar tissue of reluctant dermis and into the suffering and weakened wall of the tunica adventitia of my femoral vein. Breakfast is the most important hit of the day.
As long as I could get Fredrick off the phone in quick time my day would have a sense of normality about it. Medication achieved, I could do normal things until early evening, when I’d have to set about achieving more. But until then, lovely. Well, apart from Fredrick, who like everyone who phoned me, needed something. “I’ll give em a proper iding, anyone - undred paand”, “Thanks Fredrick…”, “Freddy”, “…but I have no use for your violence right now. Although I will bear it in mind”, “fifty nicker for a sucker punch or summink”, “Great. Like I say, I’ll bear it in mind”, “Any chance of an advance?”, “Eh?’, “Well, I’m skint. If you ad a few quid naw, you can pay naw and when the time comes…”, “Fredrick…”, “Freddy”, “..I’m also skint, weirdly enough. But if I need some violence, you’ll be top of my list. I’ll even change your name in my phone to ‘Violence Fredrick’”, “Violence Freddy.”
I pulled my duvet from the floor and onto the mattress, before lifting the whole thing up and into the cupboard where it slept. I shut the cupboard doors and in an instant my bedroom was my front room. The May sun cut through my unclean windows and highlighted strips of dust in the air. Quite beautiful really, for detritus, or for anything. Just quite beautiful will do.
I put some music on, Tartini’s Violin Sonata in G Minor, or ‘The Devil’s Trill Sonata’ as it’s more often referred to. Or, ‘that one that sounds like The Godfather Soundtrack’ as it’s often called round here. And then my day was ruined by that increasingly infrequent but still somehow predictable occurrence of another human entering my space, my solitude. To be honest, Tartini wasn’t helping in the first place, damn racket - Devil’s trill indeed - but to add an actual, living, breathing human; balls. It came with spawn too. A mother and her children were at my door. It’s impossible to think of a situation where this could contribute positively to my day.
It was Jane and her twin girls, who had names I never remember because I do my best to ignore other people’s children. You’ve only got to lift one up and your neighbour rings the police. Maybe not that extreme, but maybe not not that extreme too. That’s the product of a broken culture right there. Intentional too - keep dividing; lonely people buy more. But- better safe than sorry - and children can’t understand why adults ignore them.
My mum said ‘children should be seen and not heard’, which I don’t think she ever thought about. I have though. It was originally recorded in a collection of homilies (The medieval version of a ‘life hack’ with a spiritual twist) by Augustinian man of the cloth John Mirk, about half way through the fourteenth century in his optimistically entitled ‘Mirk’s Festival’. ‘A mayde schuld be seen, but not herd’ was originally aimed at female children, and basically instructs silence. Not necessary in the case of Jane’s two quivering wrecks, who - at about four-years-old - each held onto one of Jane’s legs and hid behind it like everything was a threat. Having a junky prostitute for a mother and a string of less than useless men - an endless abandonment routine - as a father, had clearly taken its toll, so I guess everything - except mum - was a threat. These kids weren’t just scared, they were collateral damage made human, made child. Made maydes not herd and then some.
“Can I come in?”, “What, just you, what about them?”, “Well, obviously them as well you dolt!”, “Dolt? What?” Jane pushed past me, the feet of her spawn working double-time to keep up with that which might protect them. Jane sat down in my faux Chesterfield armchair, the girls attempting to press as much of their flesh on hers as they adapted to the new situation. “Have you got anything?”, “Ah, come on Jane, obviously I’ve got something or I would be out getting something. But…you know…”, “I’ve got money”, “Yes, but even money, I’ve still got to…”, “Stop being a cunt, I’m in a real mess here and I don’t need you and your fucking…..”, “Whoa! Alright. Have you got works?”, “No, I had to get out the house quickly, I grabbed my money, the kids, and well, here I am. I need somewhere to stay too. I need help.”
I grabbed my box of works; considering the reality of having a woman and her kids staying in my place for - well, it was already too long - put me in a kind of trance as I just let the box hang in the air at the end of my arm. One of her girls reached forward and snatched it, before snapping back to the safety of Mum. It contained everything she’d need. Spikes, citric, filters, usual capers. “Go and use the toilet, girls, Mummy has to talk about Mummy things.” Reluctantly, and with feet forwards but eyes backwards, the twins scuttled over to my bathroom. I took a rapid inventory of potentially child-unfriendly items that might put them at risk - including existentially - since it’s fair to say it wasn’t a catalog-cover example of the human at hygiene. And although I’d never seen Jane’s bathroom, I took a guess that the street-walking, freelance prostitute and junky that she was, a priority regarding time and money spent, her bathroom wasn’t. Yes, I had a crash helmet on the cistern, having gouched-out and fallen off the toilet one too many times; but as long as they didn’t touch anything, put anything in their mouths, or engage in a semiotic deconstruction of the material conditions of my decay-removal/disguise chamber, they’d be OK.
Nonetheless I wasn’t the man to help. Not because I don’t want to, I’m just not in a position to. My life itself is on a razors edge. It isn’t. But it doesn’t take too much input from the the outside world or other people to knock it off kilter and cause me all sorts of dramas. Practically, there isn’t even enough room for me in this flat, let alone four people, even if two are pint-sized. In their own way kids need more space than adults, and I knew they’d soon start taking it. I obsessively control my environment to counterbalance the dramas of my using. And a whore, her spawn, and her problems would - I think it’s fair to say - somewhat jeopardize that, and I wasn’t the type of person who had a lot of jeopardization left in him. My infrastructure was delicate, and a problem shared is a problem doubled. What happened to my day, ‘normal things’ and that?
Jane took a deep breath as she pulled down her jogging bottoms and pulled her gray knickers to one side. I usually let people do their thing without issue - without thought. But there was something unfamiliar and vulnerable about Jane today and I watched as she too battled with reluctant dermis and the like. Rare to find a woman with the bottle, resourcefulness, and sheer determination to survive against the odds like Jane, but as she pushed down the plunger our eyes met and she looked just like one of her twins, like a little girl, like someone who needed looking after. She pulled out the spike, wiped off the blood, and hitched up her joggers. “Thank you” she said, calling her girls back, both who seemed to appear instantly, one sitting either side of her, squashed into the room between their mother’s thin legs and the peeling plastic of the faux Chesterfield. I took my box of works back, and placed it under my coffee table, to the left and the long side parallel to the edge of the table. Because. That’s. Correct.
“OK, so you know Matt?” I did not know Matt. I knew it was her boyfriend. I knew he was a man who chose to live with a heroin-addicted, mother of two, working girl. I knew he didn’t work himself, and stayed at home playing Call of Duty. That’s all I’d gleaned from Jane over the last year or so, although that was largely supplemental, my relationship with Jane while slightly friendlier than most junkies, was still a junk relationship, so to speak, so ‘know Matt’, no. “Yes”, “Well, we’ve been together now for about a year and a half, and to be honest, for the last six or so months I was just using him as free childcare. We don’t fuck, we hardly talk, I don’t want to fuck him and I don’t want to talk to him, so no real loss, and it was just a question of time before I jogged him on. Anyway, I’ve been saving up so I don’t need him around. I declare about a third of my earnings to him and stash the rest. The prick thinks he’s my pimp.”, “Right”, “Right. Then today he gives me a bottle of vodka, wrapped up with a ribbon and a rose, and I’m shitting myself thinking he’s proposing or something…”, “Vodka? With a rose?”, “Yes, it was Tesco’s own brand vodka too, called fucking ‘Nikita’”, “Romantic stuff”, “Then he gave me this…” And Jane pulled an envelope out of the inside pocket of her coat and flicked it over to me. “Read that” she said, and I picked it up, removed the sheet of paper from the envelope, and read it I did….
“Dear Jane, Love Love Love. We’ve been together for over eighteen months now and I’ve been making plans behind the scenes to move our life together forward. Please don’t jump to conclusions before you finish reading this letter as some things will not make sense until the end so bear with me. Love Love Love. You know I love you, and I know you love me. And I love the girls, Tricia and Victoria. I thought it would be hard having someone else’s kids around, but it’s like they’re mine. We’ve built such a bond that I really can’t believe it. Because you’re out so much, I have built quite a strong relationship with them, and they feature in my plans for us. They asked me what I was doing one day when they walked in on me watching a porn video. I thought the best thing to do was be honest and I told them I was watching a video that adults watch. They were a bit scared at first but after I explained what mummy does for a job they were more interested. It took a few weeks getting them used to it but we’ve been watching about three hours of porn together every day, with them selecting which videos to watch next. For a couple of kids, it was amazing to see them choosing what they liked. We even have porn on in the background while they’re playing. I also dressed them up in some of your clothes and make-up which they really enjoyed. After a while I realised how I could make some money from their fun, and started taking photographs of them. Love Love Love. They had learned from the videos what to do and I am sure you will be so proud of them when you see them in action. They’re like a couple of real porn-stars! I have been selling the photos on some online forums and people are asking for more. They pay fifty pounds for one image and some customers are now making requests of what the girls should wear and what they should do. To them it’s just a bit of fun, I love them so much and would never let anything bad happen to them, but we can make so much money here. You could even get involved in the photos as mum and daughter photos make big money. With them being twins too, it’s a goldmine. Tricia is very keen, when I put videos on now she plays with herself. I didn’t have to ask her or anything like that, it came naturally to her. Love Love Love. Here’s where it gets really interesting. There’s a man on one of the forums called ‘The Senior’ and he knows a man who does plastic surgery on children. We could get them new lips, new noses, and big breasts, which a lot of young girls would die for these days, with Instagram and that. I know they’re very young but people want that. I’ve been talking to people who said they would pay real money to see that sort of thing. The Senior said he’d pay thousands for videos of the actual surgery. Imagine that, the girls would be earning while they’re asleep! You could stop working altogether, and between us, as a family, we could make a lot of money. Love Love Love. Believe me, with a bit more training and some surgery, we’ll be made for life. I know you might be a bit surprised, or even shocked. But think about it, loads of parents put their children into beauty pageants and things like that, it’s much the same really but we make more money. Love Love Love. We could take them to Disneyland, we could give them everything they want. I hope you care enough about them, and me, and most importantly yourself, to understand this is our way out. This is our future. The four of us together. I love you. Love Love Love.”
I went into my kitchen and put a hit together, as it washed over me I stood there, staring at the fat that had set hard and turned white around the edge of a frying pan on the hob. The hit didn’t [hit]. Once the initial fizz had died down I still felt empty, I still felt something, and that was too much to feel. “You got your money on you, Jane?”, “Yes, about four grand.”
I picked up my phone. “Fredrick?”, “Freddy!”, “I’ve got some work for you.”
Read PART TWO HERE.
Thank you for reading this. Please consider leaving a comment. A LIKE is always appreciated, and sharing it would be simply mind-blowing.
Fuck! Pure Darkness! I actually got a bit worried near the start as I also 'knew' a woman with that name, who had kids...
Thankfully, this ain't her. I'm not sure I could have just made the phone call, I would have had to rounded up a posey, with cutlery, and spent a few hours on that!
Another fantastic piece of writing, Sir. Big love!