There is a warm buzz of contentment closely followed by a sick sensation, and that’s the best it gets. The truth is as I lie here I’m angry at Katherine. After years of all her promises to kill me, she finally has.
A million Gin and lemons or Rum and Cokes, Tequila and Oranges, she’s made me so many drinks in the past. And… more than one she’s joked had Cyanide in it. She used to joke that she put a bottle of sleeping pills into my night-time coffee with a couple of extra sugars to hide the bitter taste.
I’m already talking as if my end is up, using the past tense. The last time she made that joke was yesterday evening. We’d had our Brandies as usual. And… after a vigorous game of Dominoes – as vigorous as a man of my age can get – there were the coffees on the tray with the cows in a field on. My mug with the picture of Susie on the beach at Sandown with the pier in the background and the tiny sail boat with a huge blue sail, it perfectly matched her eyes.
My… our Susie. Grown-up and moved away, living with a man who works in advertising in London. In their tiny one bed flat, with the wind whistling through either side of the double panes. Her, sat cross-stitching, watching a soppy drama, and him… Greg, sat working on the latest buzz phrase on a million household goods and services. He’s very good. The ad for Emperor Cars… his. The guy with his shirt off and the girls rubbing him with suds for..? His.
They never have any money. He was out of work sick for six years and couldn’t return to work in the public sector, so he took a class online, gained a degree and now, the money has just started rolling.
My throat is drying and I cannot produce enough phlegm to coat it. This is how it starts I guess. First a dry hoarse throat and then… I hope it doesn’t hurt, but it’s bound too. Stomach cramps no doubt. I bet Katherine will look at me bent over holding my belly and a smirk will appear on her vile face and every time I have ever told her PMT was nothing will fill her evil thoughts.
She wasn’t always nasty. Beautiful from the first moment we met. She was waitressing in a grubby little café on Stepney Road. Next door was a dry cleaners and the smell of chemicals was overpowering. As I slump here, gradually feeling an unpleasant sensation pouring through my body I’m reminded of that little dry cleaners and the stench and the café with grease spread on the walls. Nicotine stains on the ceiling and chip fat, two to three days past needing changing.
It’s strange how moments of clarity can make reminiscence indifferent to how it really was. The café was dirty and disgusting and over-priced, yet as I rock here. Using the arms of the chair to hold me upright as my back loses rigidity, I feel euphoria for that flea pit. But then as I said already, is where I met Katherine.
God she was beautiful. She owned every man in the café. One word from her and married men would trip over their wives to get to her. She wasn’t easy; no she was much sassier than that. In a time with free love and experimentation with sex, she held all the cards. A genius, the very essence of a Goddess.
I don’t want to die face down and I know Katherine wants to see into my eyes as I go, she will enjoy that. She hasn’t moved from her chair to sit me upright. She’s probably worried that I might lash out at her. She needn’t be concerned, I’m too long in the tooth and I’m clearly fading fast. What there was of me is being lost as much as 1% a minute. Actually that is statistically inaccurate. I probably only have ten minutes left. What bothers me most is I’ll never see Susie again. I always thought I’d see her have kids and them jump all over me with Clive Dunn singing in his cloth cap, that’s what I thought. Now in my final minutes I just have to hope that the church is right.
When is too late to confess your sins? It seems to me that God might see it as last minute and not take it seriously and put my name to the bottom of the pile of good men, below the vile dictators, rapists and child molesters, I’m screwed.
I’m not usually one for swearing, for years I tried to use any other word than a curse but it’s getting late and I’m feeling the pain. Oh Katherine, why did you have to give me pain? We’ve still got the hunting rifle in the hall cabinet. One shot or two and it would’ve been seconds, not agonising minutes. Maybe it is a spiteful reaction, maybe childish but I feel I should be sick on Katherine. In my final seconds I’d like her to appreciate what she has done by reeking of my stomach’s lining. If I had the energy I’d pull myself up from this floor, climb the stairs go into our bedroom, climb onto the bed and defecate on her pillow. I’d throw up in her mini. Pushing the driver’s seat as far as it will go, vomiting and then sliding the chair back to her driving position. I’d urinate over her shoes and hand bags, and… I don’t know what else.
As my eyes roll backwards, I can see inside my skull, my head twists round to the right hard like a punch and grazes my nose across the hard carpet fibres. The floor burns with cold, my hands feel hot, yet clammy. My body has sensitised itself in places I do not feel necessary. I need a shave. The bristles are tugging within the carpet fibres and tug at my face, it hurts. Words become shallow as I fight with my voice. Her name… I want to yell her name, over as my throat bleeds and I’m submerged. The light comes in flickers, bright then dark. Confused as to where in the room I am, has she moved me? I cannot see anymore and noises are exploding my ears. I can smell leather. I want a…….
Loads of free-writes tonight, pretty much as I write them. Short with room for improvement on every one. Leave comments if you want, will be appreciated.
Wadda I know about car sales? My answer, two words… absolutely fuck all.
Dave’s Merc and the sticky leather, that’s what I know. So great, until needing to get out. Then… Elastoplast. I got railway tracks from me knees, across me bum and right up to my… Warned, I was, about him, but Becky… she dared me din’t she?
Five Bacardi Breezers that’s my limit, an’… I can still get ‘ome. Dave, in his kill or be killed nice blue shirt, me at eight BB’s and… well, my knickers were down, I was bent double, greasy fingers pushing mi bits, gagging as he rams it in mi mouth. I had to din’t I. ‘S what I always do, what I always done. Gluey sludge is all I remember. ‘Bout the car, the night, the afters.
Filly’s smart girl suit is making mi arse proper itchy and this ‘orrible crimpolene, shite blouse is making me all sweaty. I feel like a right mong.
The phone call had been a dare and so had been the park and that wanker Dave; shouldn’ expect much else should I?
Mercedes Benz. Vorsprung Durch Technik. Int that their logo?. What d’ fuck does that all mean? Aint gonna be questioned on that I ‘ope.
Urgh, my ed is proper thumpin’, there’s a ringin’ in me ears; an’ I got a bad belly, gurgling.
More, even more.
Things will be changed for the better
The empty streets of the city held the mystery of the previous years, ever since the public revolt.
Murkiness flooded from overflowing bins to the river, long empty of life. It’d been many years since the wild had been seen, nowadays not a swan, a duck or even a fish was seen inside the confines of the city, unless of course inside a sesame seeded bun and squirted with a tomato substitute sauce. The only things that could be seen in the refuse of the streets were all the propaganda. Forming new layers across the top of the pavements were all the empty promises emblazoned underneath the smiling, twinkle in eye liars, all promising a greater future that never happened.
There’d been a downturn in financial politics and after many months of deliberation it was decided that a new government for Britain was needed.
There were several candidates! Some- the more obscure, had promised ludicrous stratagems the likes of, all tax would be abolished, the exclusion of foreign immigrants, and another party promised free fuel. Due to the increase in prices at the pumps a great many thousands of people had voted on this zany campaign, they had not won.
George Delfont had taken over the parliament with an avalanche of victory; from his first steps onto the vertiginous glass podium that proudly sat above the river he had delivered a speech so ingenious that any confidence man in the world would take pride in repeating. His obligation to the public, he swore would be of fiscal and physical advantage. He had promised greater services, which instead of running like private sector businesses would be controlled primarily by his specially groomed ministers in the cabinet.
In the months before the emergency election had been demanded by the public, the state of the nation’s public sector resources had reached critical. Patients in emergency situations, bleeding or vomiting, were returned to their homes and placed on a database which informed them by email as when they could expect to be treated by a doctor. Many had died! The other public funded institutions collapsed in a financial free fall. The number of school leavers who achieved an exam grade pass was 1 in 175. The prisons were filled to bursting and the police spread so thinly that criminals could wage war against them; the news fraught with images of riots. There were many battles, many the law lost. The environment was almost destroyed, with public funding cut too minimum, rubbish collection diminished. Weekly pickups turned into fortnightly and then monthly until every corner of this once beautiful land was smeared with the grease strewn from non biodegradable effluent with the biggest capitalist images drawn across. The countryside stank as the sick poured into the hospitals. Disease enveloped the populous affecting not only the poor but the rich to.
The few days before Christmas, when the streets should be filled with a happy red faced bustle, were silent. Few ventured out into the cold to the horrors and it had seemed as if the great holiday would be cancelled, but what happened was equally more alarming.
A group of young ‘freedom fighters’ had entered the city and lit the fuse (metaphorically). With several hundred thousand angry followers the men had stormed Downing Street and even after several casualties had covered the front pages, the Prime Minister’s security had been unable to keep from the masses from attacking the sovereign head of state. It was a dark day for world politics. The main structure of the Prime Minister’s offices and London residence were destroyed, the south wing collapsed under the assault, this fuelled the protesters/freedom fighters/anarchists. There was dancing in the streets and the police were powerless to help, although it had been rumoured that some had joined the charge.
Across every breakfast table in the world were pictures of the ruined home of the prime minister, still smouldering from the assault. The Prime Minister himself fled to a secret location fearing for his life. The celebrations had started there on the street outside no. 10 and spread faster than the internet even faster than phones to every home in the land. Bells were rung in the chapels and a throng took to the streets in celebration. The four men who instigated the revolution were branded national heroes.
Christmas passed smoothly and even though the hospitals were over run and the streets were strewn with litter, optimism was the buzz word. In a reversal of fortune the Prime Minister went from head of state to the enemy of the British public, several vigilante groups swore vengeance. It was publicly announced at a huge open air concert on behalf of the Health Service (all profits to go towards) that a new government must be implemented and a change must be installed. March 12th would be the date of the election. Online sign up registers were inundated with new voters, people who never cared before gained a voice and chose.
Knock, knock, knock.
The tapping on his door awoke Patrick from a restless sleep as in walked Helga with his morning cup of coffee. He’d been there all night again. Around his desk and across the floor were balled up paper notes and on his screen in front of him a layout of his interview with the man himself George Delfont! He’d been very careful to make the facts unbiased; he did not want to be seen as a disciple of the criminal who laughingly still called himself Prime Minister. He wasn’t! Officially he was the President of England and its colonies, since the removal of the royal family, ally to the worlds most wretched leaders and as a result opted out of the European community. How could he say anything decent about the man?
Helga unaware, bounced joyfully across the threadbare carpet passed the wind whistling through the shattered window and placed his coffee in front of him. She smiled infectiously, yet Patrick had worked with her for 2 years and so just scowled.
‘Morning Mr Stressy, how are you today?’ Her insolence annoyed him greatly, here he was a thirty something successful journalist honoured with writing a report on the man in charge and she belittled him, he guessed she was too young to understand.
‘Good morning Helga and how are you?’ Fakely smiling he looked upon her.
‘Great thanks boss. I went out last night with my girls and did we tear this town apart. I mean we got wrecked, and you know I didn’t vomit once!’ She stood beaming proudly, awaiting a reply with eagerness.
‘ That’s great! Now perhaps if you can get on with your work. I’ve got the Prime Minister’s press secretary calling to arrange a meeting around ten so I need you focused.’
‘Will do chief.’ Standing erect she snapped her heels together winked and stretched into a poor imitation salute. With that she walked back to her desk and began the work he’d asked her to complete yesterday.
She made a great cup of coffee and always wore cute little outfits; this was enough for Patrick not to dismiss her, shallow as he was, plus he hated interviewing new applicants.
Since the unemployment figures had hit 6,000,000, anyone who entered his office was potentially likely to rob him. His wallet hidden beneath the floor in the corner of the room, so he never carried his identity or more money than he needed and he never made cash withdrawals from machines with less than six CCTV cameras adjacent. Unfortunately this would sometimes mean he would have to go several days without money because someone had ripped a machine from the wall.
Ten o’clock came and passed and there was no call. At 12.45 Patrick rose from his desk and made his way towards the door. He looked dreadful, unshaven, greasy hair moulded to his face, with the look of too many nights spent at his desk evident. Not a small man he squeezed clumsily through the door and into the hall, his body constantly moving as he stood awaiting the lift. He could if he’d wanted, walked down the stairs he could even run if he wanted but he was far too busy to be exercising so he shuffled his feet across the street into the bakery/supermarket/vetinarians/estate agents and ordered his lunchtime special. There was nothing special about it. Always the same tuna and rocket salad, double chips and ice cold milk. Although they didn’t look it these were luxury items! There were no more independent businesses, only multi nationals. Since the destruction, the country had been swooped up by the large chains and now, they controlled everything. Fresh produce was unheard of and everything was branded, even chew sweets had advertising on them now. Patrick sat in the window next to the line for the opticians department and ate his almost flavourless tuna drenched in a salad dressing not dissimilar to oven cleaner. He would always tell himself it was the healthy option. At least he didn’t opt for the artery clogging monster burgers with all the trimmings. So he had the chips, but there was no alternative, it was either chips or cake.
Finishing his meal he picked up two custard filled donuts, paid and made his way back. As he entered his office he could see Helga talking into the phone using her most alluring voice, she practically growled her message. It was of course the press secretary. Having waited at his desk all morning he’d got the call whilst he was out, cursing himself for not eating at his desk he picked up the extension and spoke.
‘ Yes Minister this is Patrick Randolph.’ The Minister after a second in silence, coughed and spoke.
‘Oh good. It’s a terrible annoyance but most people don’t seem to have working phones anymore, except the one they keep glued to their ear everywhere they walk.’ He chuckled to himself then re-coughed as if to reconfirm his importance.
‘Well…quite Minister. I personally, rarely use my mobile or carry it on me for fear of a mugging.’
‘ Yes indeed. There certainly are a lot of unsavoury characters around.’ Patrick moved the receiver away from his ear to avoid screaming back at him ‘yes and it’s all your fault, thanks to the new government the streets are never safe, vandalism and theft are commonplace.’ He didn’t, he quietly composed himself before continuing. The Minister, quite unaware of the other man’s disdain, could be heard muttering to someone in the background ‘I think we’ve been cut off, it’s gone silent.’
‘Hello Minister.’ Patrick continued.
‘Oh there you are. The PM wants to talk to you about this article you’re writing about him and make sure that you discuss your findings with him. He wishes for you to interview him tomorrow as he has important business with all the EU lot over on Friday.’
‘Yes sure Minister, erm what time?’
‘Be in Parliament approach at eleven am.’ With that he hung up the phone. Patrick was quite shaken by the call and more than a little angry. How this man, a glorified secretary could dismiss the European summit as un-important. Placing the box of Donuts in front of Helga he took two for himself and walked back into his desk and slammed the door. Unsure what to do, he swayed in front of his desk. Nothing more important would happen this week, month or year, unless there were a revolution. From the back of the door he gathered his coat and made his way home to his dilapidated flat for a shower and some rest.
Patrick’s successes had not been fruitful over the last few years. His expulsion from the tight knitted ‘England News Supplement’ had been messy, after his vicious attack on the winner of the ridiculous winner of the grossly over popularized ‘No. 1’, the latest reality talent contest. It was of course his own fault; he hated the programme and naively believed his readers would agree with his scarring article. His feet had not touched as he was thrown, quite literally onto the floor outside the offices. However the greatest of mistakes that can one day cover the pages of the tabloids can lead to a 5pm phone call the next day for a mean spirited, vicious reporter to publicly and when possible privately destroy the speaker of the House of Commons. One article led to a column in a much respected newspaper and from there the final ever report with the Queen. The world had been stunned, how could this nothing man who spent his working days abusing the glitterati been offered such an amazing opportunity. The truth had nothing to do with luck or talent, just blackmail. Patrick had information including pictures of the President of ‘British News and Advertising’ who owned twelve of the national papers and controlled fourteen of the satellite channels including the highly controversial, but innocent sounding, smut ridden, Brit one – pronounced Briton.
The phone was ringing. This was surprising, no one rang at… Patrick rubbed his eyes and let them focus on his clock which woke him every day in a variety of different ways with different bells and chimes, and each way would annoy him. He hated getting out of bed at all and to be woken at three thirty six was infuriating. Sleep was a luxury he did not usually have, never had. Every night the worries of the world invaded his thoughts and… every night his thoughts always turned to Sally and her trial.
For months during Sally’s trial he’d been by her side. She had said she was innocent and he had believed her. Things had been going fine, and then she no longer appeared in the court-room. Her cries of fear 2 am calls had stopped. She no longer attended the common and her car had stayed outside her home. Both the car and the flat now residence of someone new. There were so many stories of where she went, where they all went. Not on the news of course, in the whisperings of the public. No one knew, she disappeared.
Patrick lifted the receiver preparing himself for a rant, he was going to make this person pay. Before he had a chance to speak, a voice said in a hushed voice as if whispering ‘Mr Randolph, I suggest you turn on channel 164.’ Then there was silence, no hello or sorry to wake you, just that.
Fumbling for the remote he switched the set on and made his way arduously through all the channels, first it was entertainment with the usual concoction of useless cretins desperate for fame and fortune, then lifestyle with shows with debt advice and how to make a pound feed a family of four, music, oh how he hated the music, talentless nobodies with no musical talent who couldn’t even play one note and finally 164 Urban News. On screen was the interview he’d recorded with the American Minister for International Affairs, or MIA as he was unofficially called, over three weeks ago. He let out a little chuckle as on the screen it had in bold LIVE.