I lost everything yesterday. Fevered dreams, I don’t know where they ended and the day started. I slept until three, but I don’t remember waking.
When I looked out of the window, everything was covered in snow. The cars parked outside looked like lumps. The whole world was an unmade bed. The light was still there slightly. Fading fast. I walked up to Superdrug. As much as I could walk. I damn near burnt a hole through my leg in the night. I didn’t take a sleeping tablet, I wasn’t drunk or high. I just needed sleep that badly, I suppose. I don’t know how it happened, but I slept right through it. I bought some cream that’s meant to heal burns. They didn’t have the right thing. The first place. I had to walk to Boots. The concrete felt like slow, thick liquid. I was on the deck of a ship. Everyone’s face was one I recognised but didn’t know why. I should see a doctor.
That night a fox darted across my path. I had left the house again for something I felt I needed. It shot out of the darkness of the park by my house. I had to jump to a stop and I held my breath as it ran across the main road. Nearly dying. But the cars didn’t even come close. A dog, a pitbull was chasing foxes in the pitch black. I couldn’t see an owner I couldn’t see much at all. Just orange flashes. The dark white of the dog’s body in the moonlight. Blotted patches that bled into stripes. Maybe there was someone there, maybe it had just run off. Should I do something? Who do you call for something like this? I was too scared to look. What if it was dangerous? Or its owner was nearby?
I’ve never trusted pitbull owners. Not in a city. I let them keep running and walked on home.
When I was 16, my friends and I went to an alley by our school to smoke weed. I don’t know where I got it from, but I was the one with the connect. It was pretty nice. Buds, thick with pollen, but before the days when skunk had saturated the market and overcome everyone’s senses. Dry and fluffy shit. The doritos of cannabis.
Mersh. Commercial. High grade. Weed. None of that cracked out bullshit.
We’d gone to an alley to smoke it. Roy had said it was ok. He said he knew it. Barely on a cycle of the joint, a man came up to us. He was walking with his girlfriend, their infant in a pram and their pitbull on a chain. He didn’t think twice. She took the pram and faced the other way and he took the dogs chain and moved closer. I wouldn’t give it to him, even though he demanded. At first we all stood and bullshitted. “Some guy gave it to us” “What do you mean some guy?” “We just bought a joint” “Gimme the weed”. He kept demanding. The knees of my friends caved, but I decided for the first time in my life to say ‘no’. I was angry and tired of being bullied and I had paid for this weed with my pocket money. So I said ‘no’. Even when my friends pleaded with me. He made the woman hold the dog’s chain as she continued to look the other way and he walked close to me. Firmly. Without raising his fists. And I caved along with the rest of them. I gave him the ten draw. Nothing, even then. The woman had taken the pram and faced the other way as he mugged me. Mugged a child. Apart from the hot anger and embarrassment and the feeling as if I’d once again finished last, the confirmation of every shit thing I felt about myself, I thought about the kid in the pram. What kind of hope did it have?
So I left it alone. The dog. I left it alone. I didn’t call anyone or tell anyone or think about it again that evening.
The next morning I found its body in the snow. Grey and soft and muscular. Stiff and limp. Frozen, the muscles had started to seize. I was walking through the park. I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been waking up at around half past five every morning. Not gradually, because I need a drink or a piss, slowly pulled out of deep sleep by an encroaching physical urgency. I wake with a gunshot. Every morning at half past five. I don’t sit up, like they do on tv. My eyes are just suddenly open, as certainly as they were closed before, and I am interpreting life anew. As similar as the day before, but every day a new reality. A new existence. It always took me longer than I felt it should to ground myself. My grandmother used to suffer from micro strokes. One aspect of senility, the horror of living as your brain begins to die. The short term memory is the first thing to go. Failing synapses forcing a brutal Taoist or Zen interpretation of reality. The moment is the only existence that can be understood. I often wonder if this is not what is happening to me.
Sometimes I can manage to return to sleep after half an hour or so. Sometimes I read or make half hearted attempt at masturbation and I realise sleep is lost to me. I had already decided I wouldn’t be going into work again. I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to work or to sleep or to do any of the things I probably should be doing, from reading to getting myself wed ha ha ha.
I pulled on clothes from the floor. I gingerly put trousers on, wincing as it went over the burn. My hip feels like it’s out. Or. Not right. My hip. Like it needs to click. My hip and my arm. My shoulder. Needs to break. They don’t hurt. But they need to break. To be ok.
The burn on my leg. It’s getting worse. The blister is about the size of half a golf ball. I thought a burn this bad would feel hot, but my body feels cold. Not because of the cold! No! From the inside. Spreading from the burn on my leg, up and inside and seeping. I imagined the blue liquid from a tampon advert taking over my body.
How are you! How are you!
I am fine! Ha ha ha! Yes! Thank you!
The half light. It is still the evening to everyone but me and milkmen and the animals and the traffic that never stops. There are no footprints, except paws. Dead air. The gulls that had been brought into the park along with the brand new lake. A living feature. Crows. Squirrels. Foxes. And somewhere, that dog.
The blues began to leave, taking with it the colour of the night. Whites, blacks and browns were all that remained. I walked, marking the ground for as ever as I could. It was ok. I wasn’t really here. I hadn’t opened my eyes yet. This part wasn’t real.
I stopped at the bridge. The white and the ever shifting light. The canvas onto which I painted imagined memories of the long dead Grand Surrey canal. The dull grey green of the weed choked waters, further discoloured by the perpetual traffic of industry. They formed in the haze I painted onto the world. I climbed onto the bridge and watched the boats pass under. I nodded and waved at the old canal workers in an assumed camaraderie that the water encouraged.
I stepped off the bridge.
With no hesitation.
I floated above the surface of the water by barges and tugs. I cleared the water and watched the pikes and the minnows and the eels jittering and dancing under my feet. The pond skaters flew around my feet. Lines and lines of them, firing off over the curve of the earth, from a lump on the equator, obscuring what would be the rising sun, were it visible. I floated towards it.
The dog’s head was cocked slightly, first above the water, then above the ground as if waiting to hear a command from beneath the earth. Its tongue had lolled out of its mouth. The sharp pink against monochrome. Whites and mottled greys. Slowly becoming grey itself as the physical memory of life became more and more distant, as the matter, the corporal pieces that had made up this animal entered a new stage of its existence.
It just looked like meat with the skin on.
“Shame, that. Must have slipped his leash”
I couldn’t place him, the boat-less man. Standing on the waterless ground. His high-visibility vest shone out against what was now the endless white. Saying nothing, he picked the dog from the ground with both hands and put it in the back of his small, green, off-road vehicle. He took a moment to brush the snow from the body before driving away.