Red Tubes

Everyone on the tube is looking at me; I can feel the stares burning into me.  The sweat is slowly starting to fall down my face.  My arm is shaking, I am trying to control it but I know it’s not worth the effort, there’s nothing I can do at this point.  I’m in the limbo between paranoia and not caring.  The bottle of wine in my plastic bag falls onto the floor as the train jolts.  They all stare at me.  I pick it up and read the adverts above their heads.  Adverts for holidays, I wish I could go on holiday, maybe next year when I sort myself out.

The train pulls into the final station and I walk quickly to the escalator, bounding up the steps with a newly found energy.  Out onto Brixton High Street.  It’s early in the morning, I’m not sure exactly what time it is, but it’s before 9.  I’m on auto pilot, I know where I am going and don’t need to pay attention.  I just hope he is there.  If he’s not I’m not sure what I will do.  I’ll just have to find somewhere to plot up and drink.  I’ve only got a bottle of wine though, that’s not going to get me far.

I walk down the leafy backstreets trying to remember which door it is.  I’ve not said I’m coming.  I don’t have a phone, I don’t even know his phone number.  There are people hanging around outside the door.  I recognise one of them, it’s that Australian prick, at least he knows Jay, he lives there too, hopefully he’ll let me in if he’s not there.

He sees me coming and I can see the contempt in his eyes.  I don’t really know the guy, I am not sure why he doesn’t like me.  To me he’s just some dude who thinks he’s hardcore, who’s living in a house in Brixton, smokes weed, takes drugs, drinks a lot but he’ll grow out of that and get himself a job.  This is just a phase for him.  Like most people, they think it’s cool, they think that they are hardcore, that no one can take as many drugs as them, no one can drink as much as them.  They stop though, they have days off, they have weeks off.  For me this is my life, I don’t have days off, I can’t have days off, not anymore.  There’s too much to blot out, there’s too much to feel if I stop.

He greets me with a stupid smirk on his face.  I need to be friendly because I need to find out where Jay is or get into the house.  I ask him where Jay is, he says he’s out.  I ask him if I can wait for him inside.  He doesn’t seem too happy but says okay.  I don’t know any of the people that he’s with but they all look the same, all on the same vibe.  I couldn’t give two fucks what they think about me, I’m numb and I just want to open this bottle of wine.

We sit in his room.  I don’t even know what his name is.  He thinks he’s a DJ.  He puts records on then starts talking about music, I haven’t drunk enough to want to talk.  I listen to them talking but I can’t take it all in.  It’s just a blur of words.  He occasionally looks over at me, I know he doesn’t want me here but I am not going anywhere.  He phones Jay and they exchange what terse words.  I know it’s because I am here.

Jay arrives 10 minutes later.  No greeting, just “what are you doing here?”,

“Just thought I’d come and see you, man.” He knows I need somewhere to go to drink.

“You’ve already drank a bottle of wine,”

“I’m okay, honestly, you know that.”

“Why did you go to his room, he doesn’t like you.”

I can’t be bothered with this, what’s the point in having friends if you can’t even turn up their house when you need a drink.  It was the only place that I could think of going to.

The house was a Victorian terraced house.  People seemed to live in every room, I’d been there a few times before but I didn’t know most people’s names.  They all took drugs and drank, so I thought no one would be bothered.  It seems they were.  I wasn’t that cool wasted, I was that no hope waster.  The one that doesn’t stop when everyone else does.  I wasn’t the one that looked forward to the weekend.  What day it was was of no relevance to me.

I opened a can of Strongbow Super.  I hated the stuff.  That smell of chemical apples, it was dry, the taste lingers, when you sweat it seeps out of every pore.  I hate the taste of most of the things I drink.  Aftershave was the worst.  It doesn’t matter though, as long as it does what is required.  Jay took the can from my hands.

“For fucks sake, you don’t need this.”

“You know I need it Jay, I am an alcoholic for fucks sake.”

“You’re not a fucking alcoholic”.

I’d had this argument with everyone I knew.  I wake up after a few hours of not drinking needing a drink, if I don’t drink I sweat, shake, hallucinate, vomit, freak out, become consumed by a fear that can’t be described in words.  How the fuck can’t these people see I’m an alcoholic?

I follow him out to the garden.

“Just give me one more sip, just one more, that’s all I need.”

“I ain’t going to pour it out, you are,” he said handing the can over to me.  I look into his eyes, pinholes from a few days on it.  I’m being lectured and forced to stop drinking by someone that has what he wants, what he needs.  I hesitate.  I’m tired, I have nowhere to go.  I’ve drank enough that my body feels sleepy, it doesn’t need alcohol.  I just want to sleep.  I drink another two mouthfuls and pour out the last couple of drops.  That’s when the fear starts.  I have no money and I have no drink.  I want to sleep but I know when I sleep I’ll wake up, and when I wake up that’s when it’s at its worst.

Jay takes me up to a room.  There’s someone asleep in there.  I collapse on to a beanbag.  I can’t fight the sleep anymore, my body has what it needs and now it needs to sleep.  My eyelids slowly close as I hear the noise of people laughing.  I’ll be awake in a few hours and it’ll all begin again.  The whole fucking process.  This isn’t hardcore, it’s a monotonous process of pain, sickness, numbness, nightmares that will only end when I’m dead.

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