“We’re already dead,” spoke Bob Who Always Wore Sunglasses, sipping whiskey from a placid corner. “We just don’t know it yet.”
The bar shifted two degrees one way and one degree the next thanks to these final but boring words. The bar itself was mainly beige - several paintings were pinned to walls too cool to accept them without a certain degree of resentment; consequently, every painting failed to adhere to Euclidian angles, and as a result each picture’s crookedness caused one to look away in order to avoid the possibility of an impending migraine.
I personally found the man’s gravitas detestable:
- Assumption of his own inherent interest
- Constant sneer, owing to the above
- Talent in every single occupation his fortunate hands laid themselves upon
- The fact he had caused the break-up of my last relationship.
The final reason was, of course, the most painful one of all; for, in my mind, Bob Who Always Wore Sunglasses had stolen away my now ex-girlfriend Tricia.
Tricia replied to what he said:
“That’s pretty cool, Bob,” she said.
So yeah, that was her reply. But I sat there all the while trying to paint the backstory in my mind, ignoring all the conversations going on in and around my spectrum, for my illicit and over-frazzled mind fancied nothing more than a pack of Frazzles from the barman behind me. Not from the bar, by the way - from the actual barman. They did not sell Frazzles in this bar (Frazzles had been made illegal several years before) but the barman himself had a secret stash that was rumoured to be in the dozens.
“Imagine that. Dozens of Frazzles.”
The table turned their faces to me. Shit.
“What are you talking about?” said Excellent Hair Peter, apparently one of my closest friends (according to a drunk Heather who, a couple of weeks ago, had said ‘you two are like so gay’ to which I had replied ‘I barely know the man, and find nothing about him interesting, save his hair’ to which she had hit me on the arm until I had stopped talking about his hair) and a bit of a cunt,
“I didn’t mean to say what I said out loud. This is now awkward.”
“No it isn’t,” replied Bob Who Always Wore Sunglasses.
“No it’s not,” I said, feeling the urge to correct what I perceived as irregular grammar even though I knew there was nothing inherently wrong in his word usage, but I just wanted to correct the fucker.
“I know, that’s what I said,” said Bob Who Always Wore Sunglasses, but before the words could leave his mouth, Tricia leaned over practically spilling onto his lap and leaned into his face until all I could see of Bob’s face was actually the back of Tricia’s head (oh that red hair, that always smelt like coconuts) and so I found myself wanting to talk to Bob through the medium of Tricia’s hair, except I knew that Tricia was now placing her tongue in and around Bob’s stupid mouth in order to cause me not only to shut up but to make me so monumentally jealous that I would not be able to formulate a witty reply.
“Well, bollocks,” I said, folding my arms intentionally before realising it was unintentionally and unfolding my arms intentionally and realising that in the space of two seconds my arms had folded and unfolded making me look like an angry crazy person trying not to look angry and so I decided it might be better simply to look angry and be honest with myself because of course you need to be honest about your emotions so I sat and folded my arms and brooded, letting the blushes fill my cheeks, blooming them into crimson roses of unrestricted hate (well not unrestricted - that would be rude).
Someone coughed to let me know I could stop feeling awkward now. Of course them acknowledging that I was quite obviously feeling awkward and angry and angry and awkward made me feel more angry and awkward and so I walked away for a cigarette.
The sort of smoke where you can’t tell whether the smoke emerging from your mouth is caused by the cold or by the cigarette. Then you remember you haven’t even lit the thing and so you light it and listen to the frazzling noise.
I stood and watched as an advert drone flew by overhead and landed on the prone body of a nearby homeless man. It advertised cheap, affordable flats available on the 8th April on Bushey Road. He snored until it slammed into his forehead five times. Then he snored louder.
Sort of hour of the night where you hope for an explosion just to make sense of things. Never felt lonelier than when talking to these people, who were meant to be my friends. No more than signifiers. A status indicator of my social points pinged up; I had achieved ten social points today. Soon I would be registered as a level 2 humanoid. All that malarkey - you know the type. Nothing of value lost or gained. Originality Warnings appeared at the edge of my vision; some of my thoughts had been thought before, and I needed to refrain from such thoughts lest my month’s credits exceed their monthly allowance meaning an overcharge of five pounds per clichéd moan.
A presence to my right.
“Hello, stranger,” said Heather.
“Got a light?”
One of those conversations where I couldn’t be bothered to produce anything beyond the most minimal of words. Sometimes it felt better that way - like I was a more efficient version of people. No point wasting breath with meaningless shit. Then someone might tell me that perhaps what I was saying wasn’t necessarily productive - that it is the excess and surplus that defines our use, and at those moments I might feel my mind starting to come away from its source, like scaffolding leaning away from the skyscraper of the ego, and nothing would matter anymore, and death’s claw would come tapping on my shoulder and so on.
“Can I have it then?”
“You don’t know.”
“I know I don’t know.”
I then sighed, because being as I am a semi-coherently mostly mute underling of a being, my only mode of accurately linking my mind to my body was through occasional subtle outliers of emotion such as the sigh.
“You’re mad because I kissed Bob, obviously.”
“You can’t be mad. Not anymore. It’s been two months. We’re done. We’re friends. You said so. That’s just the way it is now.”
I said nothing.
“Don’t try that stuff with me. You know it’s over. You’re creeping me out.”
I said nothing.
“Say something, then!”
“Like something showing you care.”
“You’re a robot.”
“You always say you know but you don’t know.”
“You know you and I always communicated so much better when neither of us spoke.”
I refrained the urge to tell her I knew that, and nodded instead. Then my mouth opened itself and I spoke without meaning to. “Sometimes I can’t make my mouth say what my mind means.”
Even in the dark, I knew she smiled.
We stood for a while. The night smelled like cooking. A town devising cauldron-based plots for luring in unsuspecting night-time wanderers devoid of anything spiritual save a fiver. A wrinkled green gesture, emblazoned with allegiances and promises of token authenticity. At this moment I felt something akin to happiness but in acknowledging the moment I had deprived the moment of any actual meaning, thus robbing it of that quality. So, had I not ruined the moment, perhaps the moment would have been some kind of enlightenment into the meaningless of most things and people and places and occurrences, pointing only to the strength of the essential unchanged Self. But nothing of the sort happened. Instead, locked inside my own head, I lost myself inside spirals, descending into a black hole of absolute naval-gazing (perhaps black holes were simply God’s naval, and all of the universe reflected moments of God’s doubts and eccentricities - how else to explain quarks?) but then again that might have all been bollocks,
“What are you thinking about?” she said, a spear piercing the thought bubble.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said, meaning it.
Her eyes were huge and dark, like a cat’s when faced with a new toy, secretly knowing all the while it was nothing more than a plaything destined for a future under a sofa or a bin or on top of a dusty shelf, never finding its rightful place - for the only time it was ever used was when it was being abused. “My thoughts go round and round and nothing of value is created.”
It was then she pushed me.
Actually pushed me.
My body stumbled - it regained its footing, but the adrenaline surge would never be taken back.
I stared at her - or at least the formulation of her that punched a black bullet into the grey murk.
“What was that for?”
“No, just surprised.”
“At least you felt something.”
“I didn’t feel anything.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
She strode towards me and jabbed a finger at my forehead. “What’s going on in there?” She cupped her hands around her mouth and called into my ear. “Hello? Anyone home?”
The smoke ended, and the vision faded, and it was me left out there on the street, so I went back in.