I spin the old man around so that he’s facing me and punch him in the face. After so many hours spent doing press ups on concrete I barely notice that one of his teeth is imbedded in my fist. He’s crying and I think to myself, look at the hippie crying, boo hoo hoo.
Physical abuse is always emotional, emotional abuse is not always physical. That’s why it’s best to keep them mixed up. That’s what the Allies understood when they bombed Dresden. Suffocation is the perfect balance between emotional and physical pain. I release the choke. The hippie spits blood all over the floor.
I make a point of laughing at him. I make a laugh out of pointing at him. To be dominated physically is to be crushed emotionally.
I read to the hippie from the bible for an hour because, loathe as he is to admit it, his whole world is built on it. I ask him about his job and he tells me in words smothered by phlegm and bile that he’s a primary school teacher. Jackpot, I think. Habitual Labour voter too I bet, community volunteer and weekend smiler, committed recycler and denim wearing cheese enthusiast. Sickening isn’t it? How cocky can you get? I stamp on his fingers and then with added vigour on his knuckles. I feel his hand snap somewhere in the middle. Won’t be helping any old ladies across the road will you now? Cunt. I hang myself in front of him and go out knowing that no one will ever find him in time. As it fades to gasping black I am assured of one last victory, even as the aggressor I died first.
These are the kind of fantasies I’ve been having my whole life. I could be sitting on a wall reading a free daily paper well stomped on by commuters' Third World factory produced work shoes and be having these type of thoughts Until I was twenty I was convinced that somehow people would be able to read it in my face but eventually I realised that nobody has any idea what’s going on inside my head. Nowadays I can be having a staring contest with a four year old while thinking about bludgeoning a neighbour to death with his own elbow and not even break a sweat.
My problems start with the fact that the sky is up and the ground is down. They start with 1+1 = 2 and continue throughout the many strains of our so-called society. Sanity is sickness perpetuated by the criminally insane. Maths is a form of black magic. Regression and progression are two sides of the same coin, spinning in a pool of spilt beer and spit. Inevitably the whole world is moving closer to an absence of anything. The human who has the pleasure of witnessing the Apocalypse will most likely be an imbecile who has spent his short life amusing himself by sticking his finger in his own shit and then sucking his finger. How can I go to shopping centres with thoughts like that? It’s indecent, it makes me feel like I’m walking around naked with a an erection, out of place, on edge, like I said - indecent.
The doctor is giving me a kind of test. He hits each of my kneecaps with a cricket bat and makes me drink milky tea while reciting the National Anthem. I don’t know the words to the National Anthem and I’m lactose intolerant. This is a dream that it took me a week of trying to have.
I’m a bit older now and all that hate (see above) has been tempered by long shifts and blisters. Nowadays I think there is the possibility that pick 'n' mix politics can change the consistency of the soil and the rain flow. No, wait, what was it? The icecaps melting. Yeah, that's right, you know when you need to defrost your freezer and you have to eat everything, yeah ? Think about that next time you want to vote Green.
So what's all this shit about sex being less sad and lonely than masturbation? Did you hear the one about the two people who spend their whole time exalting friction and sweat? Fucking is asking, wanking is answering. Spinning on a merry-go-round, driving in endless circles at a roundabout reciting your shopping list, overthrowing your government.
Somewhere in an industrial estate on the edge of a town long since forgotten but not a stone’s throw from the motorway services, the one with the Burger King staffed by Chinese immigrants, a man absentmindedly strums at a guitar. He’s got a headache and he wants to go to sleep. He was up all night reading Aleister Crowley and learning the riffs to Sabbath songs. He’s got a spot on the end of his nose and he will never doing anything unique in his entire life because everything of any interest has already happened. This is the comedown. We are living in the comedown after the great orgy of fucking and killing and moral certainty that came before. Feeling unsure of what you think, eating a takeaway.
“Did you ever consider the horror of hereditary muscle memory?”
“Shit, sorry, did I say all that out loud? Does it cost more if I get two more chicken wings instead of the fries? No? Great then, yeah. Sorry, mate, it’s been a long day."
"Can I ask you a question, mate?"
"How do you feel when you see the pigeons outside your shop nibbling on the discarded bones?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you're like enabling cannibalism aren’t you, kind of?"
"I don’t get your point."
"Sorry, did I offend you?"
"No, mate, I just don’t get your point."
"Well, I was just saying, like, don’t you ever get a strange feeling when you look outside the front of your chicken shop and see all the pigeons eating discarded fried chicken?"
"Get out of my shop, mate."
It’s the first week of November and the Christmas lights have gone up and me and the homeless man who used to live in the public toilets are both throwing up in the multi storey car park. He’s throwing up because he had two cans of Special Brew for breakfast. I’m throwing up because I find the way the Christmas lights hang from lamp post to lamp post, guilt tripping you into smiling. It's somewhat obscene and I don’t like the anxious sound of money. In fact to make it so cerebral is a lie. It’s more like an allergy. My whole life I’ve found things like Christmas lights nauseating. Things like Christmas lights and wedding dresses and freshly cut lawns and small brown bowls of potpourri and legislation and tourist attractions and phone-in TV shows and romantic comedies and elections and the list goes on. I feel it coming up my throat again and I bend over. The homeless man is patting me on the back, his breath smells like sick and synthesised spirits, I hear him say, “I’ve got a son and a daughter I haven’t seen for thirteen years”.
My grandfather passed away. I felt sad, even though he was old and by all measurements lived a pretty OK life. I’m walking around the garden with his second wife, she’s pointing out flowers to me and telling me the latin names. The lawn is very carefully trimmed. She’s telling me that towards the end my Grandfather worried that the world wasn’t getting any better, that for most of his life he’d felt like the human race was moving forward but towards the end he felt the opposite. I said he was probably right. What I thought really was he was probably wrong all along, the human race was never getting better. Better implies a capacity for individual change of which humans are not capable. The only real power is structure. A re-jigging is in order. Get the guillotine back out. Under the paving stones more paving stones but this time made from compressed bone. The second wife of my grandfather turns to me and says, "Aren’t the flowers pretty. It’s a shame that they have to exist in such a ugly world." I nod my head and I think to myself, just imagine if you didn’t even find flowers pretty.
Two men are standing under a lamp post. The light doesn’t flicker like in the movies. One of the men smokes and the other one bites his nails and spits the bits of skin and nail onto the street. The man who’s smoking takes a plastic bag out of his inside pocket and unwraps it. Inside the bag is a gun.
It looks old.
It is old.
"Does it work?"
"Did you try it?"
"No, but trust me it works."
"Trust me is the type of thing people say when they aren’t to be trusted."
"So we’re going to do this?"
"Yeah, we are."
"Does it matter?"
"Yes, it matters."
"It only matters that he dies."
It took the professor’s wife a while to recognise her husband. The bullet had made a hole in his face where most of his recognisable features used to be. She nodded and the policeman put the sheet back over her husband's body.
"We think that one of the attackers was injured in the attack."
"We believe that the weapon exploded in the attacker's hand when he tried to fire a second shot. We’ve identified blood and matter that doesn’t belong to your husband."
"Does that mean you’ll find him?"
"If we have his DNA on file we’ll be able to identify the perpetrator. Did your husband have any enemies?"
"He’d received threats recently. We contacted the police."
"What type of threats?"
"Relating to his work, they were strange letters, almost like stories."
"What was your husband's job?"
"He was a professor of economics."
I lie down in the bath and watch the water becoming cloudy. Underwater the damage isn’t so easy to see, it almost looks deliberate, the two fingers missing like that. He’s standing in the doorway smoking.
"I’m going to leave now."
"Do you think it was worth it?"
"These things are hard to quantify. History only goes in one direction. Who can say? Maybe the Allies could’ve won the war without destroying Dresden but we’ll never know, so we just keep acting like it was necessary."
"I feel faint."
"I’ll call an ambulance."
He finishes his cigarette.
"Can you turn on the TV? I want to hear the news."
After he left I lay there and listened to them say my name over and over again on the television. They said my name and then they said "murderer".