Where did it all go wrong?

The alarm screeches like flock of hungry seagulls pecking at what was left of his tender mind, he runs a callused hand across the five o’clock shadow on his tanned bald head, reverberating through this self-inflicted mother of a migraine. Throwing back the covers ready for his usual sprint down the hall for the Guinness Trots, he notes the frigid air that envelops his aching limbs.

It was the same rigmarole as every other day lately, roll out of bed in to his slippers, grab the dressing gown off the back of the bedroom door, and enrobe whilst running the twenty feet to the bathroom, and no sooner had his arse hit the ice cold seat, an involuntary gasp and little shriek would escape him. The closer it came to that dreaded day at the end of October, his birthday, the louder a quicker the shriek and gasp became. His own personal thermometer, his arse cheeks hitting the ever colder toilet seat.

Grabbing a ciggerettes from the golden packet on the window sill, he loved the way that packet glinted in the early morning sun. That first drag of his chosen blend hit his lungs with its usual thud. Now as he sits there, his nicotine hit complete, he surveys the cerebral damage of last night’s celebration of it just being Monday 20th October, and tonight he will celebrate the fact that it’s Tuesday 21st October.

His head had a road gang on pneumatic drills playing the William Tell overture on every brain cell. He had only himself to blame, he had forgotten his golden hang over rule number one, three paracetamol before bed, and a can of coke for hydration during the night. Ten minutes later or so, he would emerge to gasp at the first, fresh and breathable air since dashing across the landing, as he exhaled his warm breath left a trail on this cottages ice cold air, and then he wondered on the sanity behind lighting a cigarette in a small gas filled room like that, and gave himself a wince-full smile.

Purple Heart picture frame with Hints of Ebony

Every step crashed through his mind, now to be found lying in tatters at the base of his skull. He knew he would live to rue that bottle of red wine after he got home from the pub, and had a good idea he ended up wearing some of it, as he catches hints of it on the warm air rising over his chest. The last few moments of clarity he had were of writing his melancholia on the laptop and waking up with a start at four o’clock this morning in the wicker chair. His slow decent of the stairs were partly pain avoidance and partly his limbs just refused to work like they once did, too much working hard and playing far too hard. Last step, and down, he did envisage giving the landing from the bottom stair a full gymnastic dismount, but he really didn’t have it in him this morning. Now on from the stairs and straight in to the hang over shuffle, using the floor space well and….. Through the door to his cottages small but adequate living room. A cold, harsh divorced man’s abode. Empty cans litter every available surface, passed the shattered wine glass at the foot of the wicker chair, claret splashed across the floor up the chair leg and in the exposed V shape left on the seat of the chair where he had been sitting.

He shuffled to the mirror and jumped in fright at the face horrified and staring back. No, that could not be me, as he gawped and prodded his face. These last few years have taken their tolls on him, every line, scar and thread vein told a story that he will not be sharing any time soon. His body gasped for coffee, and as he wandered to the kitchen, he was guessing this was going to be a three narcotic morning as he eyed the half an ounce of resin sat proudly a top of the stash tray, he managed a second almost smile. With the kettle on, French press ready, it was time for his second smoke and three Paracetamol. He sat on his little sofa with a pint of fresh coffee, TV on, and smoking, he settled back in to this once repossessed grotty sofa, the master of all he surveyed. Mentally sizing up this free day ahead, sort this room, then depending on the battle between pain killers, coffee and nicotine verses the hang over, maybe a round of golf with a beer and bourbon run on my way home.

As he sat and watched the blur on TV, his mind looked back over the last few years, from family man to divorce and subsequent alcoholism and drug abuse. He told himself that the freedom that this life brings and all its dabbles with this, that and the other were his just reward for all the hells he had gone through.

Sitting there, he thought what his life may be like if he cleaned up his act, went straight, come home straight from work, cuppa coffee and then watch drivel telly about people locked in a house together or the skillful opening of random boxes to win money, and wondered how long it would be until he started inserting red hot needles under his finger nails, just to relieve the tedium. Anyway, how would he get out of this whirlwind that had sucked him up, he remembers as a kid when with his mates on the estate, they would get that roundabout flying just to see who had the stones to jump first as it decelerated, that painted a good enough picture for his mind to grasp at such an early hour. He knew, as the sunlight danced through clouds of slivered smoke, the will was missing, he could not envisage drinking coco at bedtime, while his mind wandered back to the aforementioned ounce of resin.

This is me all over, he thought as he measured the length of the hemp rip, before gripping the box tight and ripping the paper. Almost without thinking he had located the rips sticky gum edge, folded the paper exactly down the middle for the perfect V for the paper holder. The thought zoomed through his head that this was not right, skinning up within forty five minutes of getting up, but it was gone again before he reached for the candle and matches. As he gently warmed the resin that old familiar odour that he can’t place, Drambuie? No, but the pleasant herbal tones are ringing a bell well back in the dark of his mind. He gently rubbed the soft resin up and down the length of the tobacco stuffed paper, licked his dry and gnarled fingers and let rolling commence. In no way what so ever did he expect to roll the perfect joint while in this state, but he would rather avoid the joint that falls apart dropping hot rocks on to his chest, so the upmost attention was taken and the gum not licked until the roll was right.

This time of the morning his action was all wrist, elbows and shoulder, a real all over work out, rather than a roll, lick, tap, twizzle, shake, re-twizzle and smoke. At this point he looked more like he was landing a fighter jet on the deck of a carrier in high seas, than that of a competent drug user banging out a quick one skin. As he sat back and took in a lung full of hot and heady smoke, almost catching at the back of his throat causing a little splutter and a trail of smoke, he thought to himself that if life throws you lemons, like it had at him, fuck it, get baked. “Make lemonade? I ask you, get bent” he muttered to an empty room, “make lemonade! You can when you finish picking your teeth of the floor” he muttered further, but with more aggressive tones, almost loud enough to be repeated on echoes.

He was sick to the back teeth of all these happy-crappy-shitty-ditty’s people post on myspacebook, or whatever. We all knew people who had nothing better to do in their lives but scour the internet for one wit wonders to post and “just jolly” us along. If we were honest, he though, we only use social media to keep track of how we are doing compared to our peer group. The meaningless drivel was a subject he could rant on for hours, and to the despair of others, did.

His chosen narcotics of the morning were flowing through his blood stream just lovely now; he had been warned it was good, so he was careful; a whitie was not the way he wanted his morning to go. “Mellow” he muttered, and leaned forward for a slurp of his morning miracle brew, his mind wobbled slightly under movement. He promised himself at the next advert break he would grab a black sack and start to tidy, but he was sure he made the same promise to himself before the previous advert break, but never mind, it’s early yet.

He places the last empty can in to the black sack he had finally got around to grabbing from the under sink cupboard. Marvelling at every can being empty, it had been many months since he had found a can with any life left in it, but papering over the fact the quantity of cans had vastly increased. Yes, he knew he was an alcoholic, functioning, but still an alcoholic. This was not how he had envisaged his life going, single white alcoholic. Most days followed the same plan, get up hung over, and go to work pushing through the painful tender head and limbs, working around the Delirium tremens that shook his body like an epileptic on a night club dance floor. It was not easy to keep people from gas bagging about how hard he has fallen or how quick. No one from this part of his life knew him in his late teens and early twenties, drinking binges that would see him still drinking as the rest of the world would be just waking up. His insomnia would have him awake all night and sleeping the afternoon away. He missed the intimacy of having a plus one, missed the conversation and planning the future. He was now his own boss, for the first time in all his years there was no one there to condemn his lifestyle or control his monsters inside, but he told himself on a daily basis he was having fun.

With the living room tidy, the broken glass well wrapped and the red wine mopped up he sat back down on old lumpy, scanned the TV channels of dross and promptly killed the TV set. He pondered whether it was too early at ten in the morning to have a beer, or wait until eleven when the pub down the road opens and then he could leave there at three, go home and sleep it off until six, before a shower, shit ‘n’ shave and back out on the pop for the evening. Done, sold to the man on the dirty sofa. Time for the next joint, rolled with a little more dignity than the earlier one, deep drag and exhale, “Buzzin’” he purred blissfully across the silenced room. Life in this moment was idyllic he thought, he got up and grabbed a cold beer, flopped back down, now this is heaven. Finishing the can and the joint at roughly the same point he settled back for a power nap, and noted that this is the first time today he had felt human, warm, relaxed and comfortable, he drifted off to sleep.

Somewhere deep beneath blood, bone and brains, slap bang in the middle, unseen and un-noticed, a defect from birth with no prior symptoms, just flicks the off switch and all goes dark. Painless and instantaneous, he never knew a thing. In the blink of an eye it all comes to an end, no time to plan, to tie up loose ends or to pass poetic prows unto death. He unwittingly reaches journeys end.

Olive Wood picture frame
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