Elijah was staying at a halfway house beside the racecourse. It was arranged by a charity called Changing Lanes. You fill out an A4 sheet with hobbies and rental history and recent mental illnesses. A few weeks later they e-mail you a shopping list of houses and housemates and all their dumb thumbnails of suffering. Read the rest of this entry »
The doctor said his heart was defective. I didn’t know hearts could defect. Wikipedia said it was a death wish. The doctor called it a genetic recurrence. Someone sent a fruit dish. I chose the least ripe looking peach, some kind of exercise in self-denial.
My father – strong-willed, hard-bodied – excused himself to the men’s room. There were teeth marks on his arm where he bit down to hide the noise.
The nurse said, ‘Preparations.’
He was led into an unlit room. A voice over the loud speaker said, ‘Lunch will be served late. Spam and devilled eggs on bread.’
Camera flashes went off like gunfire. I asked the nurse what was going on. ‘We’re freezing his expression,’ she said, ‘so you can remember what his disappointment looks like.’ I asked her if that was really necessary.
She said, ‘Necessary? Nothing in life is necessary.’
Read the rest of this entry »
I never told anyone about the second time I watched a person die.
I was working at a bottle shop on Old Cleveland Road. The manager looked like a short, fat Gene Hackman. His name was Greg. He had the weary anger of a returned serviceman. Far as I could tell, the furthest he’d been was Phuket.
He always asked me things I had no way of knowing.
He said, ‘What the hell is wrong with young people these days?’
I said, ‘No idea, Greg.’
The underfed fled home on summer holidays. Invitations leaked out on Facebook. Boosters used words like shindig and soirée. This was a less obvious way of saying party. We were trained to overstate the hint and underestimate the open gesture. Obscurity was in vogue. The truth was yesterday’s newspaper.
I cut my losses and stayed inside. ‘I have too much on my many plates,’ I lied.
One night I came back to life. The air was warm and the sky was dark. Emily Clyde was having a party. Her place was an architect’s vague idea of a French château. I entered through the sliding gates, went around the side.
There was a well-lit crowd beneath a Bali hut in the backyard. I approached discreetly, found everyone how I’d left them. Tanned skin, teeth gleaming.
‘Surprise!’ I screamed.
I’ll reserve the right to reduce my caloric intake. I’m a recovering fat child! White bread will kill you. 28% of the girls I’ve slept with were in a relationship. 18% were paid. I didn’t sign the petition for equal rights, but I did inhale. I’ve tasted three kinds of whale. Karaoke is for reactionaries. Various critics have described me as sexually lackluster. Diana was an inside job. I never got over the divorce. My bar mitzvah was a hoax. Life doesn’t live up to the hype. Death is better than a sharp poke in the eye. The gist is the bit that’s missing. I’m caught in the lens, bent out of shape, lent to your interpretation. Everybody sees me and nobody gets close. I am undisclosed.