Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #4 - Rue de L'espoir

Dear Button,

I think I am depressed. France in the summer seems duller than London in the winter and time has began to pass by at reduced speeds making me suffer every torturous second of it. My hotel room, a traditional piece, is almost bare but for a bed, a side table, a somewhat battered telephone, and a slow useless fan that turns on the ceiling. For my part of the emptiness there is one brown suitcase and the bits and pieces I make use of each day: a toothbrush, a pen, a notebook and a glass that perfumes the room with whiskey but never has a drop in it. I call it pain wash. Sometimes I'll turn a good measure into my mouth, hold it until the fumes curl up and vaporize my sinuses, and then swallow. It kinda acts like smelling salts and I stand looking out over the city through a watery haze. Maybe after six glasses like that I can lose most the pain and pass the evening in a stupor of misery. But at least misery doesn't hurt... it just makes the world look shit.

I spoke to Scott again yesterday and he offered to come and collect me but I told him there was nothing to collect. I tried to explain that the Enola he knew (everyone knew) had slipped into a reality void, was lost somewhere in the very recent past, and all that was left of me now was the hurt and it isn't a pretty sight. I told him that just the fibres from the seat on the plane would make me scream; I'm that raw. I don't think he understood. It still surprises him to hear me talking like that. I think it even embarrasses him to see it... to watch a man he thought was an emotional rock crumble to dust in front of him. I don't think I'll ever recover myself fully in his eyes. He'll always remember the me of today, the Enola who smashed an ashtray into his head because his lover left him... the Enola whose pillow muffled sobs depressed the dark... the Enola who cried the night to sleep. He's now even treating me like a baby: coming to collect me!

I'm not going to go on forever Button - I've not got much left in me. A sober reality has descended upon my hope and now when I throw one of these letters down it's changing into something else, like: “fucking take it then!” as if the streets are pulling something from me which I begrudgingly give so as not to be completely without hope. And so, as this french evening falls and shadows stretch so far they consume everything, I let this letter fall and land where it may. It will not get very far, so it's you who will have to come to it. The city smells of musk and dusk and dead flowers. From the south blows a light breeze and far over in the west is the faintest trace of bubblegum pink in the sky. As long as it's gone by morning that's supposed to be a good sign: “shepherds delight” as they say...

My Darling, the Hospital of God ('L'hôtel Dieu') is where I'm headed next...

Find me well or find me dead...

Yours regardless,

       Enola Gray. X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #3 - Rue Lafontaine

My Dear Lost Button,

I'm becoming impatient. I've been here loitering up and down Rue Lafontaine since before first light. I woke at just gone 3am with the terrifying thought of you leaving a reply and the street cleaners hosing it down the drain before I ever had chance of seeing it. That's how fragile this world is that I cling to. I've crawlen so near to the edge that the slightest thing may finally serve to put my balance on the wrong side. It's frightening. It reminds me of the time I stood watching a father and his two children having a picnic on the steps leading down to the river. The river was at full tide and slapped up to the step one below them. The youngest child, just a baby, was looking at the water when a polystyrene cup floated by. It stretched out to grab the cup and just rolled over, headfirst like babies do, into the deep murky water. The father saw it at the same moment I did, but could do nothing. There wasn't even anything for him to reach out and try to grab a hold of – his baby was gone, sucked down and rushed away by dark, dangerous currents which never give much back. Can you imagine that? Well, I'm that baby reaching out!

God, now I'm just writing any old crap, probably trying to impress you in some way with my sensibilities towards the suffering of others... tell you in one letter what I couldn't show you in two months. Though the real truth is more likely that I only care about others suffering now that it's happening to me. Finally I can understand and cry the same selfish tears as my close evolutionary cousin 'homo-fucked-up-sapien'! Shit, maybe I shouldn't have written that??? Maybe I shouldn't have written any of this!

Oh well. Damage done. No quick select and cut when you're writing by hand. No spellcheck either. It's either balling up paper all day long, scratching out words and scribbling away until your handwriting looks like a drunk's stagger or you have to hand yourself in: faults an' all. I've gone for the truth... or as near as I can get to the truth without it looking too bad.

Anyway, back to the street cleaners. They didn't hose your letter away. Firstly because there was no letter to hose away, and secondly because each street is only cleaned twice weekly and today wasn't Rue Lafontaine's turn. Still, I reckon I'd be doing well to find out more about this rota, just to ensure I set my broken heart down around their disinfectant spray and not in it.

Oh Button, Button, Button, Button, Button... won't you give me a sign? Even if it's just to tell me to “fuck off!” I could handle that. I could somehow lay it at the feet of the french and go home never to return to these cursed shores again. It's the not knowing which is the killer. Not knowing if you are fleeing me or seriously having some alone time to figure if US is what you want. Of course I know it's not the latter, I know. Not one thing points to that. By the time you had even considered booking a ticket to this place I was already a dead duck, the bullet just hadn't hit yet. Was I really such an impossible lover that you couldn't tell me? Were my tears really so intimidating? I know they were torrential and came out as a bit of a flash flood, but there were 28 years worth, and they had to be cried at sometime... to someone. If I'd have known they'd have flushed you out to sea I would have held back and cried them through the night.


I've just gotten through reading back what there is of this letter and it's a sorry-ass-piece of self-centered trash! No wonder you wanted water between us. Jesus, there's so many things I want to ask you, simple things, like: “how are you?” “Will you return to study at the end of summer?” “Did you think any more about your plans to travel Europe?”(stupid fucking question that is seeing's how you're already here!) So it's not I don't have things to ask, I do... lots, it's just that anything I ask even a mite above general chit chat you'll interpret as being too pressing or asked with ulterior motives in mind. So I don't ask questions. I just leave letters around - stupid, fucking, hopeless letters...

Button, the day is up proper and so I guess it's time to leave. But it's so hard. I feel I could write away to you all day, tell you magical things of skies and breezes and insects and skin and lazing around with nothing but love to waste our time on. I could tell you how sometimes I get caught up in thoughts of you and forget to blink and then I'm crying. I could tell you how if I close my eyes I can see orange and feel you besides me and how at such times I could just fall backwards and float away to another heaven. I could remind you of the first week we spent together and how you told me not to trust you, that you was a bad one, and when I said I didn't care and that I do trust you and we'd be like no others, how you broke down and the night fell with us in a frenzy of tears and ecstasy and wide saucer eyes full of orgasm and madness. I could tell you how when you left so hastily the city lost her stomach and beautiful memories then hurt my head and I saw ghosts of us running for buses, holding hands and jumping over garbage bags... your red summer dress in a twirl and london dirty upon bare feet. Oh, and how desperately I needed to contact you!!! But how??? How I staggered around with my palms upturned, showing the world the thin skin on my wrists which protected vital arteries, and how I wanted just one person to see my pain and somehow help. I could tell you all these things and more, but they'd surely only push you further away. It was that smothering which made you crave room in the first place. My uncontrollable need to be around you, to constantly need proof of your feelings... to give you proof of mine. God, no wonder you left! And now I'm saying I'm a changed man, then realize I'm writing you this letter sitting in the street, in a foreign country, ready to drop it in the gutter and insanely think you may somehow find it and reply! Hahaha... even I can see the craziness in that.

It won't stop me though... logic can go fuck itself. This is love and there's nothing logical about that. And so with everything from The Laws of Possibility to the City's street cleaners against me, I drop this letter and make a wish: Rue de l'Espoir... I wish to meet you there.... X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #2 - Café Bellecour

My Dearest Button,

I have passed and I have waited and I have even one day been moved along by the police, but all that I ever find under the 'lions left paw' is shadow. I think that will never change.

The police here are strange, and there's many different kinds. I don't understand much of that but I know that the one's who wear the black boots and carry guns mean business. I could tell that just by the way one of them snatched my passport from my hand as if it was a bad forgery and I was the only thing holding it together. To give an idea of the French police is to tell you this: they passed my passport around amongst themselves, pointing and laughing at my picture, always addressing me  as "Sir", wishing me a "Good day" and then telling me to "fuck off!" (in French of course). But maybe you know all this better than me?  These things may sound humorous, and maybe they would be if I had someone to laugh at them with, but I don't and I don't feel much like laughing anyway.

Button, it's now just gone 1 pm and I'm inside the cool of the Café Bellecour escaping the high sun. I'm not sure if you've ever visited this place, but if not you must... we must. It's like stepping back in time. The floor is tiled out white and heavy marble tables are set around in not much order. On the walls there are sketches and letters and line drawings on napkins, all from the local artists who have visited here over the years. At the far end of the bistro is a full length polished wooden bar, and up above that, past the rows of blue and turquoise Pernod bottles, are hung old street plaques, tins of rationed food, and signs telling people what not to do when they get drunk (especially to animals!) The smell of the place is another heaven entirely: dill, poached salmon and sweated shallots, drifting across the room at nose height and mingling with fresh filter coffee. It kinda allows you to suck in the years. The clientèle, well, they're still mostly artists, I think, sketching or writing away, all intent on capturing each others shit in their own medium! Oh, I'm sorry... I know such things annoy you, but some parts of me remain. I don't see art; I see through it. Uh oh, here she comes...

A young waitress with dark hair held in a French tail and with the most perfect slender frame has just given me a coffee and a smile. I'd pay for that. The waitresses here, at least in the traditional French bars, are all elegant and vulnerable looking things. When they leave they somehow make you want to follow. Though don't be fooled, they could snap most men in half just by holding out on a kiss. Sometimes they'll stand looking at you from over near the coffee machine while gently biting their lower lip. Some wear their pencils in their hair. It's not watery-piss tea and blowjobs under the table here, but intense and sensual longing, nipples and breasts, before waking in lonely sheets with nothing but the French air to cure you of your pain. When you're already lovesick, the last thing you need is to be served coffee by one of these temptresses... reminding you of every heartache you've ever had. Ok, so now you'll be shaking your head in knowing disappointment at "people changing", remarking that I've not changed at all and am doing it again: waiting for you while thinking of others. But that's not true. Sometimes my mind just wanders, and often I'm not here even when it looks like I am.

Ah, Button, I've got it! I will leave my letter here! Right here in the café... up on the wall like it's a part of the decor. If you do ever come I am hopeful that you'll see it as I know your eyes search out such things. It is Sunday the 19th of June and I am alone. If you find these words within the next few days leave me sign in the gutter of Rue Lafontaine.

With Love until I love no more,

The ever hopeful carrier of disaster that I am,

       Enola Gray. X

Love Letters from the Gutter

The Pink Collection #1 - L'hôtel Montesquieu

Dear Button,

It is now four weeks since I arrived in Lyon and despite my best efforts I have found very little trace of you. I've tried everything, from following the trail of bureaucracy you left behind, to passing hours sitting outside a certain café I was told you enjoyed, to climbing the eight hundred steps to the top of Fourviere and screaming your name out over the city. I am ashamed to say I even entered the basilica, offered up a candle to the Virgin Mary, and for the first time in my life I prayed. All I got for my troubles was a speck of hot wax in my eye, and  a waddle of worried looking Chinese tourists wondering if after I had finished screaming out your name would I throw myself a thousand feet down on top of my words. Maybe I wish I had... I do.  But there I go again! Saying the things which probably drove you away in the first place. God, is France really preferable to me? I must be a rotten soul.

I heard from Scott yesterday and he says that you are not lost but gone. Of course that hurt and I tried all morning to hate him for it but couldn't. I suppose that really I know he's right, but I so wanted him to tell me something else... even if it was just an outright lie - I wouldn't have minded. Why is the truth always so depressing? I think also that Scott is relieved I'm all the way over here. No more smokey drunken nights, him staying up babysitting me and desperately trying not to fall asleep to my pitiful sobbing and sudden fits of desperation. The night before leaving I actually smashed a glass ashtray right into the side of my head. I wanted to somehow show him the hurt that was on the other side of my skin. But rather than get his sympathy I think it gave him a secret thrill, seeing the 'man who doesn't believe in love' swallowed up in her jaws and crushed just below the point of death. That's the worst thing about it... living on in excruciating pain. Fuck, I don't know! I am confused. I've lost my bearings and all the stabilizing factors that were in my life now seem all wibbly wobbly. I'm no longer sure if the next footstep will tramp me on to better days or send me crashing through the floorboards??? I'm lost, Button... I'm so completely fucking lost. My days now have more tears than anything else.

And so, in a final desperate bid to reach you, I send out this SOS and hope that by some miracle of wind it finds its way to your feet. I lay it here, outside L'Hôtel Montesquieu, your last known place of stay. If ever you do return... and if ever you find this letter and would like to tell me something in return, leave me a reply under the lion's left paw at the base of the King Louis XIV statue at Place Bellecour. I will visit often and I will come with hope. And when all hope is gone, I'll cover my eyes and pray. Hail Mary.

The carrier of disaster that I am,

       Enola Gray. X

Homeward Bound

Although I hadn't been working there long it was my last day. Not that I had done anything terribly wrong like on the other jobs I had been laid off from, it was just the end of the contract.

'One month no chance of renewal' That's what it read.

Of course, being honest, I harboured secret hopes that they'd make me an exception to the rule and keep me on, say something like: "Mr Mills, your work here with us has been of an exemplary standard and your addition to the team, just your presence amongst it, has made it a pleasure for each man and woman to come in to work each morning. So, in an unprecedented step, we've decided to run slipshod over the rules, shit in the urinal, and offer you a permanent contract here with the City's Green Spaces. What d'ya say?"

As is obvious that didn't happen, and what's more, as I filled in my last work form, ticking off eight hours of watering flowers and picking dog-ends, beer cans and underwear out of rose bushes, not one of my colleagues even acknowledged it was my final shift and said goodbye or wished me luck. So on my last day, having knocked the mud from off my work boots before placing them dramatically outside my locker, I left the building in sad reflective thought, marking the experience down as another lesson learned in my crash course guide to surviving unskilled employment. With that passed, and less than five metres from stepping off the premises for good, you can imagine what a shock it was when Julian - the fat retard in charge of the City's sprinkler systems - pulled up besides me in his car and offered me a lift home. Well, almost home... at least as near to mine as he was going without going out his way, which wasn't very near at all. Looking into his fat, imbecilic face, his huge grinning mouth still showing traces of his lunch, I said "Oh, that'd be very kind... thank you Julian!"

Julian's hands are three times the size of mine. I noticed that as he beat away on the outside of his steering wheel to some shit awful compilation CD he had put together himself. All very modern commercial stuff, designed to show the world that underneath his 20cm of subcutaneous fat he is not a reclusive, babyish retard, but an outgoing man of the times. As I watched Julian beat and tap away I noticed he had this annoying habit of every few minutes running his hand backwards over his shaved head and then down over his face as if pulling off the dirt and exhaustion from a hard days work. Each time he did this I would hear the rub of skin on skin and the rough sound his palm made as it went down and over the prickly stubble which squatted around his mouth.

"So it's your last day, hey?" Julian said, tapping and moving away with ever greater rhythm, "more luck you mate, you won't miss working your death in that place!"

I made a small amused noise and then said, "I quite enjoyed working there actually, even had hopes of bein... "

That's when Julian's phone rang and without a second thought or any consideration for what I was saying he pressed a button and started chatting away into his hands-free headset, twice as loud as anyone would ever need to speak. I stared at him in disbelief, wondering if he was extremely ignorant or really just plain baked stupid.

"You're in the shower?!!" boomed Julian, thumping a powerful fist on his steering wheel and repeating word for word everything the incoming caller said: "Fixing it... there's a a big hole in the wall... the missus'll slice ya balls off... before killin' ya!" At that point he looked at me, pulling a weird face like it was something crazy and he was part of some insane afterwork shower smashing club. "Noooo!!! don't touch that mate, the whole fuckin' lot'll come down on ya! Just get out the shower and crack open a tin. I'll be there in twenty, just dropping a colleague off... ... ... no, not that far, the Jubilee Road.... nah, the top end, but won't be long.... yeah, yeah.. I'll bring the girls!

Crazy bastard!" Julian said turning to me, "knocked the fucking shower unit through he has! And that's only the ex-brother inlaw... not even inbred blood!"

I tried to laugh, once again couldn't, so instead smiled and then looked out the window at the latest set of lights we'd come to a stop at.

Julian is pretending to be driving with full concentration but looks very shifty with it. His eyes keep flitting down just under the dash onto his thumb which is pressing buttons on his phone. Every now and again Julian turns his cell my way and shows me either an obviously made-up name in his contact list or a common girls name alongside a picture of her half naked. After a moment he stops and looks like he's trying to listen to the sound of wind rushing through his own head. Then he lights up and without even bothering to introduce himself begins shooting it off. "You won't believe what he's done... The silly bastards only gone and put the fucking shower through, ha, can you believe that? Says there's a big hole in the wall an' it's not getting any smaller! Jesus!... .... What?... ... No, not Barry, Tez... ... yeah, Terry.... .... " Thankfully at that point my mind tailed off and Julian's idiotic loud booming words, saying nothing that ever needed saying, drifted off into some far away space that I couldn't pick up.

The CD player has been turned off and the names of pop songs have now been replaced by big green digits of time. It is 16:47:42 and ticking on. Julian's hand is tapping away again but no longer to happy rhythms. Tap... tap.... tap... tap..., a dull monotonous sound reminding me of the passing time. I look at Julian's knuckles. They are inverted, more like dimples than protruding bone. Julian pulls a slow hand down his face and lets a headful of air out his nostrils. He seems pissed off or bored. The latest light goes amber to green. I hear a clicking noise and the car turns right onto Jubilee Road. I straighten in my chair and loosen my seat belt.

"Don't think of making your escape just yet," says Julian, giving a slight nod up ahead, "it's a long road and we've got company." I follow Julian's directive, my eyes settling on the tailend of a huge line of mid-afternoon traffic. "And put it back on," Julian adds, giving a little tug to his seatbelt, "I don't want a £50 fine for doing someone a favour." I pull some length from the safety belt, clip myself back in, and sit looking at the huge trail of cars and lights and smoke and noise in front of us. I think how much I hate cars, and leg-room, and enclosed spaces that smell of dairy products and make you yawn. I unwind the window an inch and the world floats in. There is a beep from behind. Julian's fat calf makes a small movement. The car moves on a foot and then stops again.

In an attempt to stop thinking about time I close my eyes. Every few minuites I hear the rough sound of Julian's hand passing through his stubble. Thankfully he has stopped tapping, though only as a way to show me that he's ever more pissed off and angry. I sense him staring daggers at me. I don't think he likes the thought that I may be sleeping through his boredom.
"You'd have been better walking and taking the fucking underground," he suddenly says, his thick index finger prodding me in the arm, "it's taken four times longer, and will be ten times for me by the time I make it out and back home! I don't know what this shitting traffic is... it's not normally here. I'd apologize, but as it's me doing you a favour that'd be just stupid." I don't reply.

Through the sunroof the afternoon sky looks like night, only with the sun. I wonder how far it would open and if I could squeeze out. I imagine what Julian would think on seeing me raise up and slowly disappear out through the roof, jumping down and running off without looking back. I laugh, but am interrupted by the sudden thump of Julian smashing a fist into the centre of the steering wheel. My mind is back on traffic and it doesn't move.

Julian is rolling his head around as if doing neck exercises. Every now and then he lets out a huff of air. "Fucking traffic... you shoulda walked..." he says, "you shoulda refused my offer and just have fucking walked!" He then adjusts his hands free headset and presses a couple of buttons on his phone, shaking his head as if the ringing on the other end is just another thing in this world that is keeping him waiting. "Yeah it's me," he finally says with as little enthusiasm as he can get away with without seeming suicidal, "I'll be a big forty five minutes... yep, forty five! There's traffic something rotten on the Jubilee road... I can't fathom it."  Whoever he was speaking to must have asked what he was doing out this way as Julian then made a tiny effort to sound friendlier, "Oh, just dropping a work colleague off home, you know what I'm like for taxiing people around... doing kind turns, but this fucking traffic is unbelieveable, fuck! Yeah, well, I don't want to blame him but he coulda refused and walked, yeah... my own fault I suppose for being so generous. Ok, you make a start and I'll be there when I can. I'm gonna turn off this fucking hell-of-shit road at the first opportunity... fuck anyone else!" I was almost feeling sorry for him until those obvious allusions to me, even maybe insinuating that this was somehow my fault.

"Look, Julian, I'll jump here. It's kind you giving me a lift but you've things to do and I don't mind walking... I'd prefer it."

"No, stay," he says, a fat arm starting to move out to make sure I do not open the door and slip out, "we're almost there now and if you leave it'll really be for nothing, me sitting in fucking traffic, miles off route without even a reason for being here! No, stay, and I'll drop you at the top of the highstreet as agreed... it was your last day and I want to give you a nice final memory, and not be left sitting all alone in this shit-hole-traffic all afternoon. We're in this together."

I relax back into my seat and now it's my turn to huff. I stare out the window at the back of a bus. It makes me think of Julian's arse and I want to stick a knife or something into it. I take out my phone and go through old texts, deleting memory to pass the time.

Julian is looking at me in the car mirror. He doesn't know I realize but I do. He's doing a very friendly thing dropping me off, but he doesn't look very friendly. This time as he pulls his hand down his face I see his jaw muscles at work, tensing away as if there is something alive under his skin. The phone barely rings before Julian has pressed a button and is screaming, flecks of saliva spraying out his mouth. "No, I'm still fucking here!!!! Still sat shat splat in a trail of fucking traffic that ain't moving. Fuck, he'd have been better walking! Yes, he's still here... doing something on his fucking phone and the vibratinjg of the thing is driving me nuts. I Don't know... I offered him a fucking lift trying to save him time and money... you know what I'm like... not that I should've given a shit about him, no one else did and he was only a month temp. Why am I so fucking unselfish, why? If I'd have just listened to my instinct and drove on past him I wouldn't fucking be here, staring at the back traffic which could go on forever the little I can fucking see!"

Julian's head is down. He looks like he's sulking and his eyes are scrunched up with a cruel regard staring angrily out at a car that has just squeezed in between us and the bus. By the look on his face I think he is thinking about bombs and blowing things up.

"You know what that means?" he suddenly asks seeming lost for breath and pointing.
"Know what what means?" I ask back.
"That car, that fucking car there!!! It means that in real terms we are even further back in this fucking shitline of traffic than we was a moment ago! We are actually going the wrong fucking way! Jesus!!! What can you see from your side? Can you see ahead.?.. what's happening?"

I shake my head.

"What, you can't see anything? Not how many fucking cars there are, how long this may take? Nothing... you can't see a fucking thing?!?! Aaarghhh, FUCK!!! Useless!"

I was going to pull him up for that. He was now directly putting his frustrations over on me. Though just as I was about to say something beginning with "Now look here Julian..." I suddenly had a crisis of doubt and became completely unsure as to whether he was an obese lardarse or extremely well packed out. "Nah, it's fat!" I kept thinking to myself "blubber", but finally I didn't say anything, just stared ahead with him and prepared myself to leave if he insulted me one more time.

Julian is speaking into his headset again, only this time I don't think there is anyone on the other end. He's not directly insulting me but keeps alluding to the fact that if it wasn't for me he'd already be home and not sitting in traffic having his wages guzzled up in petrol and losing precious hours from his free time. Each time he speaks it is to let me know the full extent of the loss he has incurred on this brief journey. I listen waiting for the insult which will allow me to up and leave, slam the door and walk. But it doesn't come.

"What the fuck!!!!!!" Julian suddenly screams, both hands clenched and raised and rattling away in anger either side of his head. I stare quickly around at him, but we are just sitting in the same old traffic with nothing more happening. Julian looks at me. He pulls his hand through his face and stubble, but this time when he has finished it looks like he has changed his head. His face is now as red as boiled lobster and his eyes are circled with white stress-rings. "What the fuck is this traffic!!!" he screams, letting out a frenzy of beeps by smashing the bottoms of his clenched fists down on the steering wheel. "What the fuck is happening???"

We have not moved an inch in over fifteen minutes. The man in charge of the city's sprinkler system is now having what can only be described as a full blown stress-come-panic-attack. The car is shaking and bouncing around to his rage and he is fighting invisible forces in his seat, blowing hard from his overburdened lungs and now thumping and bashing his head off the steering wheel.

"Nah, not fucking moving... dunno what's happening on the fucking Jubilee road!!!" he is screaming, "well it won't be half an hour now, obviously! Fuck knows how long, just fuck fuck fuck knows!!!"

It was around that point when his hands free headset fell down and dangled somewhere near his groin. Not that Julian realized. He was in a frenzy, screaming away,  his anger and obscenities getting ever more furious each time he mentioned me and the favour he was doing. At that point it wasn't that I couldn't have left but that I decided to stay as I figured this guy needed help, that someone should be there to try and calm him, stop him doing damage to himself and even stop him driving. Though when he started calling me all the cunts under the sun, and directly blaming me for his being there, and criticizing everything from my workrate to the underpants I wore, and repeating things the others had said about me, and shouting off about how I was basically the worst worker the City had ever taken on, that even Gungi - the unpaid mentally ill weeder, employed on some government scheme - was better than me, and that if it wasn't for the fear of being found out he would've beaten the living crap outta me weeks ago, well, at that point, ill or not, Julian could go to hell... I didn't give a fuck. If the traffic was mine, he could fucking well have it! That's when the window went up and the door clicked locked.

I didn't feel feel Julian's first punch, and the second didn't seem real. The third, fourth and fifth came in a tremendous flurry knocking my head this way and that and rattling my brain about until I no longer knew which way was up. The last thing I remember before the onslaught was Julian looking the opposite way and the car feeling like some surreal pressure cooker. I don't know how Julian managed to get out his seat, but he did, as my next clear moment was of his bulk upon me, pummeling my nose flat by smashing the full sides of his forearms into my face. Held down by his massive bodyweight not only was I being beaten unconscious in my chair but was being crushed to boot. I tried struggling free but it was useless and with my head being knocked around my thoughts were no more than vague flashes of various parts of the cars interior.

It was a flat thump to my right ear which took my hearing and let a flash of blood shoot out my mouth and wash across the window. Thats also when things slowed down and I saw the full extent and fury of human rage and all the tiny adjustments that go on in a face beset by hate and anger. Soon after that the light went too, and the only colours I could see were black and red. I was just a plaything being smashed and flopped around by a 250lb wrecking ball.

I don't know how I finally got free, or whether Julian took pity on me or just punched out his rage and released me??? But suddenly I tasted air, tumbling out the passeger side door half naked and onto the Jubilee Road and having the weird sensation of rolling backwards. For some reason my mind was only thinking of my bag, which was still in Julian's car, and of trying to keep an eye on the coins which were spilling out my pockets and rolling around the pavement and road. In my daze I made a pitiful struggle to reach out for Julian's back bumper, to somehow cling on, pull myself up and retrieve my bag from inside. But as I crashed down in failure on the floor I realised that I'd never rolled backwards at all, but that it was in fact Julian's car moving forward, that the traffic had cleared and there was straight road ahead. With my head on the floor I followed Julian's car as it went off and turned left, getting one final glimpse through the blood strewn passenger window of his huge wide shoulders and fat head, staring forwards, homeward bound.

For a moment I remained where I was. I could feel my face pulsating and throbbing, and my upper body, which had somehow lost its shirt, was cut and scraped and red and burnt from the friction of the seats. I made an attempt at gathering a few coins together but finally gave up and struggled to my feet. I didn't want to look down but couldn't help it - my head was too heavy to look forward. And like that, my face smashed to pulp, my top half bare, dirty and bloody, and with only one shoe, I hobbled off down the Jubilee road, the world looking at me like I was giving it a whole lot of trouble.

(First post dedicated to Jim (Grouchy) without whom this project would never have existed.)

Bubble Gum - Coming Soon...

Short and mini-fiction covering the genres.

Everything from Horror to Sci-fi to Kitchen Sink drama...

My eternal thanks to all the great people in the sidebar who without even realizing it keep me out of trouble and possibly alive...

My words are for your eyes and may we have success together,

Shane. X