MY TROUBLED MIND

confessions are self-serving

Category: Prose Fiction

Consider

I sit in the same room with rabbit hay strewn round – ale in hand. Shit – many years, n many beers too, much nonsense spouted n more to come. These hops give life to some quiet part of a dream inaccessible otherwise buried under dry (wine) humour and foul cynicism. A nudging, feeble recollection of forgotten quotings, grumbled – downcast already defeated eyes lunar slit – unearthed by proof and burning windpipes.

The confidence is gone hours hence, replaced by an unsettling feeling in the gut and a soul that is raw to the touch. Consider the subtleness of the red sea, as you tinker your tea. Morning. Window. Rain.

Consider a snail crushed, something as common as war.

 

Void [extract]

She felt like she was mourning over something, but she didn’t know what. She was gripped by a terrible nostalgia that refused to pass. What now huh? It’s so hard to face another day, so hard, and I can’t even get a good night’s sleep… And the tears they threatened, they welled, behind her now tightly shut eyes. She could see the darkening shades of brick – red – as the kitchen light hit her eye lids, she could feel her hands clasped in her lap, feel the material of her favourite dressing gown brushing against her lower thigh and as she tangibly registered her surroundings she, in growing exasperation, pursued and chased and grasped why – how – suddenly she was feeling like this.

There was a click, and the kettle was boiled for a second time. She opened her eyes, dabbing the wetness with the sleeve of her gown, and poured the water into the waiting cup. I’ve still got Amber, she’s a good kid. Her other children, grown now, had moved out. And the house had quietened, the dinner table had shrunk to three, and where there was once noise, and laughter, and mess, there was now something of a void.

Job Seeker’s Trousers

I got nothing to get up for in the morning, so I get up in the afternoon boom bow, there’s the September sun. No, curtain close it, hrumph I’m going back to sleep. Fine – I’m up finally, stretchy yawn still eyes are baggy sad at noon. See Dad’s old record player (tho new record player, old records) that I’ve hooked up in my room, and Bob’s Desire (Dylan I mean). The record is held in a sleeve within a sleeve within a sleeve, the first weakest as a withering sneeze, the second sideways like a crooked grin, the third a collage of Dylan et al, 1975. My 90s eyes can’t comprehend the amount of work that is put into such a piece, now no longer – I guess because no market – no money – and as we all know, money over everything (that is a Danny Brown ref.). Still, something nice about seeing it spin, and scratchy needle right place, see in Dad’s eyes yes, his memories are with these records, when he bought em, times he played um. Ahh I remember back in 2014 ‘Chill’ playlist on Spotify….that’s something no one will be saying ever, tho I guess nostalgia is condemned anyhow. Hurricane plays….

Down I go, dink donk dank Dad’s got wooden stairs the same I remember falling down in my dressing gown as a kid, navy blue and kinda felt feeling. Mum tried to kiss it better but it didn’t work, I got trashed down them stairs. Other times tryna run up – slip – BANG there goes your shin scraped dark birthmark all on it, dangerous. Still got the same shins now tho, but smarter so I don’t get smacked (smarter or slower?). There’s that brown carpet with patterns that I always thought looked like what are those things called underwater but like tornadoes? cyclones? And the sofa, or settee should I say and did say, back when I was sprinting towards it in slippy socks (thinking back I was a pretty dangerous idiot bull in a china shop kinda swagger) for my 50p pocket money for tidying my room. A pretty good wage now I think about it…

And there’s the kitchen door mostly glass ready to rattle and CRASH into apocalypse hooves as quickly as a little wind will say ‘hello’. There I go running again, now fresh grass smelling summer, SHUT THE DOOR – SLAM – SORRY MUM – I think tryna get the last hour of sun brown arms on my bike, looking down and feel the path underneath me pebbles and such. No aims, or means, but to feel them pebbles and cracks with wicked weeds creeping, and ants in their safety thousands tryna make a house a home, tho aren’t we all. (I always remember red ants, tho haven’t seen them in years). I guess it’s coffee time and open up the doors while I wait for it to brew, squint light and green square, all there, another day. 

 

Diary of a Biscuit Kid

Dear Diary, I’m a biscuit kid.

My mum smokes and constantly cooks roast dinners with poor quality meat. She has a series of temporary boyfriends that I’m not introduced to, but I see leaving some mornings as I get ready for school. Sometimes at school people call me ‘Biscuit’ for short. I have two sisters and one brother. We live in a house that the council gave us. It has blue carpet with gold diamonds on it. The carpet is the same everywhere, even in the bathroom. Our house smells of ash, roasts and biscuits. In my lunchbox is one jam sandwich, one packet of crisps and two rich teas. I heard my maths teacher say to my English teacher that for some people they should be called ‘poor teas’. Then they laughed. I like to have my hair in a pony tail, or in clips. Last week we all went to the boot sale and I got some Minnie Mouse clips for 25p. I washed them off in the sink when we got home and they were as good as new. My brother is older than me (I’m 11) and is often in trouble at school. Teachers pull him out of lesson because he talks too much and makes jokes, so he learns very little. He gets in arguments with mum a lot and steals her cigarettes. He is never at home and I ask mum ‘where is Daniel?’ and she says ‘I don’t care’. He calls her names and she calls him a little worthless shit. Mum likes to put on a big bad front but I always hear her crying at night when she thinks we are all asleep. Sometimes I wonder whether I will always be a biscuit kid. My two sisters are younger than me and don’t know that they are biscuit kids yet. I hope I can grow up to be smart and a doctor so I can have a lot of money and buy nice biscuits and my own house where my mum and brother and sisters can all live. I will look after all of them and if they get sick it will be okay, because I will be the best doctor in England.

Some Sad Sunday Sounds

Searching for a way out (of what?) – away from screens screams and LED lights that lit blue faces and grey from never seen the sun… brows and scowls – but can get hardly further than imagining myself (future self stroking a never-grow beard and thinking, looking pensive in frames) in the quiet shade of bush, tickle grass torn up in school-field handfuls, the smell of the rich earth ever growing, complacently cut down and grown again careless, merely a spreading of seed with such nonchalance as if to say ‘I was here before you and I’ll be here when you’ve destroyed yourself too’. In shade of bush with head in lap of an ever-caring lady, few can put up with rantings or drunken ravings and whats and whys that come gushing forth as I drink sloe gin, confused, growing older and more disorientated…

Watching dumbfounded at people always buying…rushing and buying and spending…everyone bombarded and stuffed, expanding and just stuffing in as much as possible until you just think you’re going to blow then…the cycle begins again, the bullshit, endless and paradoxical, sleep, routine, eat, buy save spend until finally you’re just so sick of it you can hardly focus, or breathe. The inevitability of the season’s change, when winter is so deep the husk of flowers have even been blown away or buried under thick frost, when your tires are bald and the road is slick and the heater is blown huffy puff breath to your fingers then back to the wheel, squinting in the dark morning, pre-dawn frown and headache and cold cereal sitting uneasily in your stomach. This is when you need the tin teapot (I think to myself, I saw one for two dollars) green tea eating grains and fruit and feeling your body’s raised eyebrows in surprise, outside, in new shoes (buying selling spending saving scraping…but who cares) in tan leather, in quality items, in sticking your legs out in front of you in marvel, in numb bums and laughs and trivial conversation and finding the time to read, because there actually is so much time, time for a lot of things, though no one admits it…

Thinking in a doubtful and disgusted way sat on Sunday unable to keep awake quite all the afternoon, am I actually mad? With spider hands on very thin wrists? My friend had an acid induced vision (though I was too afraid to take any) of his fears and doubts being sucked onto the train that roars by our room at five am, rattling the frosted thin one pane glass that provides little protection from outside, that you can feel the cold snap, on your head… as he feels this (he swears he felt it like a physical sucking from his body, a rushing) I am below bunk, restless slumber, having dreams of my own, the natural kind. Dreaming of a hateful and malicious character I have had the displeasure of meeting recently, an epitome of emptiness bouncing around a beast skull, lacking even loyalty, a pathetic worm like no other I’ve ever met, shocking in his rot. Bah. And these nylon strings don’t sound so great at all, though mustn’t complain, some poor fool got it way worse…

Ah yes, and soon Sam says ta-ra, bye bye black balloon, see you real soon…

A year gone [Cormac]

I sat upon a steel fence stained with algae and mottled with pockets of rust. Next to me was Jones. He stood squinting into the quiet waters as if through exertion of will alone he could excavate some answer from those calamitous depths. Above us the sun hung bloated and teetering on its meridian and at our feet the crabs we had caught popped and crackled in the heat as they fought like packs of wild dogs for scraps of raw meat.
“Everything will be fine” I said.
He answered simply by raising his gaze to look straight at me with his big sad eyes like two perfect pebbles of understanding. A westerly wind goaded the reeds that surrounded us into a melancholic chorus of sorts and we soon left that place knowing that we would never return, and if we did we would be changed and different men. I did look once back at that scene as we quietly stepped away but saw nothing that brought any comfort and I understood why Jones never looked back at all.

A Snapshot

I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe the cheek- I know. I know.

I know.

Sarah, you won’t believe it, if I told you you simply could not believe it /beginning to raise her voice/ and I swear, I feel violated I…I

Just tell me exactly how it started

I’m coming home from work, and I know he’s meant to be staying here, but I thought ‘he’s a friend of Liam’s, so just give him a chance’ because I’m a liberal person, I’m accepting – Yeah, uhuh – So I get home and what do I see – what? – a fuckin’ huge van right in my driveway leaking oil all over the place /pauses for effect/ – No-o way – Yep, I mean the real deal; no hubcaps, pillowcases up against the windows, books all over the dash, I swear I even saw dirty plates in there – Jesus – Okay so this has just set me up like really got my blood boiling already but I compose myself, all smiles. I get through the door, tensed and ready to greet one of them and what do I see? Three! / voice raised to a metal tea kettle squeal / – Unbel- I know right so for a second I’m taken aback, like, uh he-elo? And this one kind of shifts his feet like shit wouldn’t melt in his mouth before Matt introduces them. They’re friends of his and they actually live in that thing outside! So I say to myself ‘buckle up baby this is going to be a bumpy ride’ and show my teeth to them, show them the whites of my teeth and the whites of my eyes so they know who’s boss around here – Of course – Anyway, I’m on my phone messaging Liam because he is going to get it when I see him at tennis and Matt is running my fuckin’ ear off about something unimportant India or something I dunno – ha ha – and I’m barely listening when I spot it – what?- A wet towel on my carpet. / And the thought of this memory even now months later it seems too much for her, she can feel the rage bubbling upwards threatening to wet her eyes and loosen her throat to a terrible scream / A wet towel are you KIDDING me! Been here two minutes and look what he’s done to the place! So, still ignoring Matt and his yadeyadeda I climbed a mountain whogivesashit but responding in grunts and nods because I will always give people common decency I’m like that – Yeah, yup – I go to pick up the towel. And ho-oly Father in heaven the smell. It made me want to retch! One of these filthy urchins, these dogs these these / Her knuckles white with a brittle grip her frame shuddering / I honestly…on my cream carpet! So very calmly I place it outside all the while messaging Liam like : “These idiot friends of yours these pig idiots this is what happens this is what happens” but you can understand? – Of course, I would have done the same thing – But my patience does know bounds and I finally spit out at Matt saying we all have to pull our weight if we’re going to get along and I can see him and his friends his pig idiot friends glancing to each other like I’m friggin’ mental but I’ve got my eyes on my phone I won’t have it I just keep my eyes on my phone and I get out of there. – Unbelieveable, absolutely indignant – It’s like at work, the Maori girl that works there is so lazy so inherently lazy it’s the same principle these extended adolescents want to live in a van and eat beans from a can whatever I don’t care but don’t bring that hippy shit to me and my life don’t get me involved / Why did Liam leave her everything was perfect everything had it’s place but she mustn’t tell Sarah that she must… /

/The conversation ended, rang short by the arm of the clock making its way around to six, signalling the end of lunch. She flicked the butt of her cigarette onto the pavement and exhaled the last string of smoke into the air. She turned back into the building, where she would wrestle with the remains of the workday until such a time as she could be at home, in her cold, tidy apartment/

Captain 5

Some said he reigned from somewhere in the South Pacific, though none knew definitely, as he never spoke. His only verbal expulsion came in the early hours, when squirming atop thin embalmed sheets, he groaned incoherently as he thrashed fitfully in the grip of night terrors. None knew his name, though many experienced his smell, a pungent odor that mewled through the thick ever-closed door to his chambers. When I myself was led to this hovel I strained against the ever increasing urge to retch, I swallowed through gritted teeth, my nostrils flared and my eyes balled and rolled. This was my room for the night, and my travelling companion’s too. We could hear the rhythmic rolling of insects’ scurrying legs as we sat, almost in shock, on our appropriately bald and stained mattresses. The window could not be opened, no, for his bed lay underneath it – I say bed, though nest would probably be more fitting- and there was an animosity in the air that one feels when confronted with a dog that is reared to bite. For a second I studied him; I saw the droplets of oil on his dark arm, the long, wiry black locks made heavy and shapely with human grease, the blemished face, the dull black eyes. I was afraid.

We left our bags in that stagnant pit and stumbled to the street, hands clutched to our throats whispering ‘Wine…wine…please…the horror…’, and I say I didn’t really regain consciousness fully until I felt the warm slug of Merlot pushing the bile that lay in my throat back into the confines of my stomach. I only had thirty dollars left, of which the wine had cost seven, but I regretted nothing. We sat in a dark corner of a cathedral courtyard and drank in near silence, occasionally glancing up at the sky-lit clock face and murmuring, spluttering through wine stained teeth ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ spitefully and ironically. The dark presence in room five of our lodgings epitomized the past few days of struggle; our increasingly desperate attempts to find work, our vanishing funds, the seedy comfort of drink and bad food, the discontent of dirty clothes and dirty bodies, a crushing fatigue embodied by our heavy packs, the sadness in our eyes that stared back, rueful, from each public bathroom’s cracked and misted mirror.

Not for the first time I asked myself how I had warped and buckled the ideal of backpacking in New Zealand so thoroughly and with such finality. Though, (clutching my almost finished bottle tight, and smiling) a word pushed itself from my red lips – sui generis

Wharf Meat

High tide lapped six inches shy of the short pier that often docked boats (fishermen’s barnacled boats bringing mussels and crayfish and other wares, where fishermen whistled in white Wellington boots crispy with salt, with thick fingers that wrestled with thicker rope) when we noticed it. There hung a crowd of gulls, a screeching shitting flock of them, near the end of the pier. Hung from a weathered wooden post was the thrashing object of all concern. A gull was truss to the post by means of a fishing wire that entered in his beak and exited nowhere. A lure in the gullet and blood on the beak.

“E-easy buddy”. I tried to cut the line with my car key, but the blunt shined gunmetal rubbed helplessly against the wire. His glass gull eye reproached me. He thrashed again. I held my left hand on his back for support, and found his pelt unexpectedly soft, like a kind word from a stranger. “Naw it’s not going to cut it.” Mike made his way over with a fish knife. “He’s going to drop”. “Yep”. And he did. Into the grey green blue sea, taken by the current, drifting under the pier. He was on his back, his wings partially spread, the tips submerged to take a grey green tinge. His glass gull eyes looked upwards, helpless heartbreak eyes that shuddered right into you. I bent and lifted him gently from the water like an avian Moses from the reeds. I lay him in the recovery position as he gagged and balled like a common drunk. That’s where we left him. With his wet glass gull eyes inquisitive, and his retching swallowing soft downy useless throat skyward, as if in prayer. I pulled once more on the line that dribbled from his beak, which snagged and became taut. A hook hooked in a soft gull gut (a prize catch). A slow agonizing death for a sad, soft feathered friend.

Later, impromptu, I kill three ants as I lie on my back, thinking. A forth ant becomes panicked, and darts to-and-fro in a feverish search for his mates, causing me to swell unhesitatingly with remorse. The sound of birdcall intermittently floats through the open window of the cabin, like a baseless, nasty rumour.

Hill

I indicated left, and pulled over. The van came to a rumbling halt on the gravel side-road. When I killed the ignition I could hear the soft bubbling of boiling rusted water in the tank. Habitually I pulled the lever that opens the bonnet. On stepping out I saw a broad scope of green cloven mountains to my right. The sun was setting, blushing the partially clouded sky a deep roseate. The mountains regarded me pensively; I sighed and looked down at the sad wreck of engine. The water tank was fogged, steaming and spluttering her familiar siren’s call. I waited. When the tank quietened, I felt the lid cautiously.

Next thing I know I’m hollering on the way to the floor. My glasses had abandoned me, my knees were blooded and grazed, my hands numb. I’m in the road. I’m covered in boiling water. My face is covered in boiling water. I grope around, blindly, staggering about in the gravel. I felt my face, it felt numb, prosthetic, alien.

I was covered in a base brick silt. I put my head on the wheel and breathed quietly as darkness, in his true tomb gloom, sheepishly intruded on the scene. I took water to the engine and refilled the tank. As I did so I steadied a sober gaze on the paling dusk. The moon talked gloatingly of my misfortune to the possums who grinned – in pairs and groups of three – revealing gristle grey teeth yellowed with hot yolk.