Spiral Out (an excerpt from the novel by u.v.ray)

In offbeat on September 18, 2009 at 8:42 am

Rap rap rap.

Rap rap rap rap.

Rap rap rap rap rap.

I had been numb for I don’t know how many weeks. No feelings left for anyone or anything: just a dead-eyed stare greeting me every morning in the bathroom mirror. I’d been running on a diet of whiskey and nicotine. Sometimes I’d spit blood in the basin but still didn’t feel anything stirring inside.  If I’d taken a kitchen knife and sliced my arm open with it I felt sure the wound wouldn’t have bled. Every day became the same. Each frozen hour slowly melted through my bones like mescaline, until finally, at that moment, the old clock on the wall suddenly stopped ticking and the stark discharge of silence roused my senses.

   I became aware of a dull thudding sound that gradually evolved into the realisation that someone was banging earnestly on the door. Glue had turned up at my place with a shit load of speed. “Jesus Christ!” Glue said when I opened the door. “I was knocking for ages.” He invited himself straight in, shouldered past me and slumped down heavily in the armchair I’d just vacated. He was called Glue because you could never get rid of him. I bought some gear off him and then, of course, he hung around. He laughed, flashing his rotten front tooth, as he slapped the two wraps in my palm and said, “If you wanna rocket ride you gotta put some fuel in the tank. Know wha’am sayin’?”

Yeah. I knew.

    Glue talked funny. He had an indecipherable accent. One you just couldn’t put a finger on. I put Joy Division on the stereo and we sat about for a while drinking wine. We twisted the speed up in Rizzla papers and bombed it down that way, swilling it down with the wine. 2 hours later and the pair of us were out of our skulls and rolling along the Aston Expressway in my car. Ahead of us the monochrome blast of Birmingham city lights strung out like diamonds, a swirling mass glittering on the apex of amphetamine charged night.  I was down to skin and bone. I hadn’t eaten a thing or slept in 48 hours and my jangling nerves were stripped to the bare wire. 

   I didn’t actually think much of Glue. But as long as he kept turning up with the gear, I tolerated him. Otherwise, he really was just an insufferable cunt. He was like toothache. He didn’t mean to be. He was simply one of those desperate people you wanted to get away from. Just like me, Glue hardly ate. I’d rarely seen him eat. But strangely he always remained quite bloated and had this ruddy complexion that a lot of people mistook for a healthy glow. But Glue used Skag. He was a junky and if you left any cash lying about, or anything else he could quickly have away in his pocket that he thought he might be able to offload at the flea-market, he’d steal it the minute your back was turned. He was just someone I’d met through somebody else sometime or other in a pub called The Black Horse. I’d become acquainted with him simply because he could supply speed and acid. When you do drugs you spend half your time trudging from place to place, hanging around trying to find someone to score off. A reliable source like Glue became a valuable semblance of friendship. And that was the thing with Glue; I always got the feeling there was something lost about him. He wasn’t like other dealers. I suspected he only did it because he wanted to be liked. He definitely didn’t make much money out of the game and what he did make simply fuelled his own compulsions. Since his personality type wasn’t particularly conducive to winning friends and influencing people – in fact he was more the kind of man who’d make even Dale Carnegie want to kick his head in – dealing drugs was the only thing that kept him popular around town. Maybe that was it. I didn’t really know.  What I did find out from him was that he never knew his parents.  He was discovered abandoned in a cardboard box. He grew up in various homes. Got shifted around a lot and hadn’t learned to form lasting friendships. I didn’t know much else about the rest of his life. I imagined that this start had probably compounded a life of alienation and rejection, which at least explained the reason why he was like he was. Myself, I didn’t have any such excuse. I’d actively subscribed to being a drop out.

   Class structures exist even amongst the homeless. “It depends where your cardboard box is,” I’d heard said.  When Glue was found in his, he was on a waste dump. He was 36 now – eight years older than me. His face was scarred and his dirty brown hair hung down past his shoulders. He looked quite a bit older than his years. But sometimes he’d show up looking considerably younger. This was on the rare occasions he’d bathed and scrubbed the grime out of the crevices and pockmarks that peppered his cheeks and forehead; making them less apparent. Glue drifted about, sleeping on people’s floors every now and then. Quite often he slept in bus shelters or down in New Street railway station. Usually they shifted him out of there well before the morning rush began and he’d sometimes go and freshen up in the fountain in Victoria Square. He almost always wore a Ramones tee shirt and when he hadn’t got his leather jacket on you could see the veins in his arms were shot to pieces. In cold weather he would instead wear a black sheepskin coat with a fur collar that he called The Gorilla. I always thought he had such very sad, brown eyes; they seemed to look right into you, begging for some sign of acceptance or recognition or something like that. They were painful eyes that I could hardly look at. The pleading eyes of an ill-treated dog.

    I shoved a Jesus & Mary Chain tape in the stereo and the familiar murderously heavy bass lines reverberated to the dazzling Expressway lights trailing in the rear view mirror. I floored it and the V8 purred as we hit 90 miles an hour. We were in my old ’79 Merc. It was all black except that it had green bonnet salvaged from the junk yard. There was a dent in the driver’s door and part of the front bumper was hanging off. But under the bonnet that engine was still sweet as a nut. I rolled down the window and let the wind blow through my hair. The car had been brand new when I got it. An 18th birthday gift from my parents. Glue was sprawled across the back seat with one booted foot stuffed up on the rear parcel shelf and the other down in the foot well, his back against the door. Cigarette ash and a myriad of other stains were ingrained into his black Ramones tee-shirt. Passing a bottle of Jameson’s back and forth between us, we travelled without conversation. There was just the scintillating mix of city lights, engine purr and music. I couldn’t stop grinding my teeth. My jaw ached. Glue’s brown eyes orbited mindlessly in their sockets, aimlessly tracking the cars to our left as they fell behind us one by one. I’d no idea where we were going. We were just driving. Burning off the tingling chemically induced energy. I turned off the Expressway and threaded the car around the inner city ring roads for a while before swinging down Colmore Row and pulling over and parking under an orange street lamp outside Steelhouse Lane police station.  I sparked up a cigarette and tossed one over to Glue. He snatched it out the air without a word of thanks and slotted it behind his ear like a carpenter’s pencil.  The speed and whiskey had dried my throat and I needed a drink. The hospital casualty department was right across the street.

   “There’ll be a Coke machine in the reception over there,” Glue motioned limply with his hand. I hated the way he spoke. It was a pained rasp and he had a habit of screwing up his face and rolling his tongue out as if he’d tasted some bitter pill.

And maybe he had.

The bitter pill of self-realisation, perhaps.

   I got out the car, making sure I’d taken the key from the ignition.  I finished my cigarette as I strolled over to the hospital. Inside, waiting on the rows of plastic chairs, was the usual Saturday night conglomerate of bloodied and bruised drunks. One of them had a ludicrous, makeshift bandage wrapped around his head. It was strapped under his chin and was secured with a huge bow on top of his head. I heard him complaining to whoever was sitting next to him that his bastard wife had stabbed him up and under the chin with a fork. I hid my laughter.

   I slotted in the coins and waited while the machine clattered and dispensed the can into the tray. I could only have been five minutes but by the time I rushed back outside, sure enough, Glue and my car were gone.

   I sauntered into the police station sipping my can of Coke trying to look as normal as possible. I knew my eyes were a dead giveaway. I couldn’t properly focus. The strip lighting in the place seemed excessively bright. My pupils were dilated, like a jammed camera lens. I leaned on the desk casually and said, “My car’s been nicked.” The short, bullish desk sergeant surveyed me knowingly but he just sighed and scribbled down the details saying, with what I thought was an air of nonchalance, they’d be looking for it. I had to get a taxi home. The black Merc with green bonnet was spotted two days later by the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, parked in a street in a place I’d never heard of called Heathfield or Hatfield or something like that. There was a twisted steel nail file in the ignition. The barrel was loose anyway, it could be jiggled, and Glue had almost certainly clocked that little detail at some point. There was no sign of Glue, not that I’d have shopped him anyway. But The Gorilla was left on the back seat. 

   It was still pretty early in the morning the day I was to drive the car back. The sun was still rising and was glinting off the slate rooftops. I’d got a full tank of fuel. Maybe I’d take a look around. I thought of staying in Devon. Or anywhere down south; somewhere warm where I could spend days doing nothing but throwing rocks in the sea and nights lying on the beach, shooting imaginary bullets at the stars. I thought about buying a light-house where I could simply live alone, allowing memories to peel away from me like dead skin cells. I thought of just about anywhere else that was far enough away from Birmingham. I fired up the engine and started driving.



  1. Sounds like one hell of a night… good bit of writing.

  2. Smita, Only the novel excerpt and the first top video clip is me. Yes that is my poem. The other readings are by Tony O’Neill. This isn’y my own site. I don’t have control over who else appears here.

  3. I apologise whole heartedly. I confess, I’m not a man who has in any way attempted to align himself with Angels. Rather, I reside amongst the beasts of the field. I remain, but a dirty little worm. This is just an excerpt from Spiral Out, Smita. The whole story will be in the book – if I find anyone who wants to publish it.

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