Please Turn My Life Switch Off

 

There was a man once; he was in so much agony from his illness, when he died, while that was sad, it was also a relief. His suffering was over, his eyes closed and for the first time in a long while, he looked truly at peace.

He’d spent so long fighting. He had taken all the drugs and treatments going and fought with every breath he had just to get through the day and the pain he suffered. He held on every minute of his life, even though, some days the pain was so excruciating, he would curl up on the floor crying, begging someone to please take it away and no one could. 1385972_257464541068177_1105653773_n

Occasionally the pain was so bad, he couldn’t even speak or think, all he could do was roll around in silent agony, waiting for sleep to take him and the torture to stop, just for a slight reprieve, but those reprieves weren’t long. The pain would be back, it would keep him awake through the night and he would lie in the darkness, alone, with no one who could make it better.

What a tragic, horrible way for someone to have to live, that death is the only mercy. Often we would say, this person is in a better place now, their suffering is over. And yes, while the family is upset for their loss and they would give anything to have this man back, they never want to watch someone have to live in such a way again. It is a sight that they will probably never get over.

Perhaps you think this man had cancer, HIV/AIDS or some other kind of debilitating cruel illness.

What if this was inside?

Why do people’s view change? Mental pain is just as bad as physical pain. The suffering is the same.

I see so many posts on suicide today and this last week. In September it was national suicide prevention day. Sometimes I think those posts should be labelled, keep the person alive to suffer day.

People who commit suicide are sometimes called selfish or a coward, but go back and read the above. Imagine keeping that inside and smiling outside.

I talked to a friend last night and tried to explain how it is for me. That from the moment I open my eyes, to the moment they close again, I am in such pain inside, a pain so deep and big I can’t even find the words to explain it. I wish there was a way to show people, but I there isn’t. Every moment of every day it hurts. Sometimes sleep doesn’t even let me escape and I am woken with nightmares and suffering.

As I explained this to my friend, I wish with every part of me that I could make it all go away. I wished that I could go back to a time when I was a teenager and make it over then, when it wouldn’t matter to the people it would now. I wished so hard it felt as if I could almost make it real, but I can’t.

And I know, many will tell me to look at what I have to live for, all the good things in my life, but tell that to the man above. Whatever illness you thought he had.

 

I know what I have to live for. That is why I am here typing this, because I can never give to my children the pain of losing me, but it doesn’t mean tomorrow I won’t think or fantasise about being able to turn my life switch off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Alley Kid Fifteen

The moment before I open my eyes is the most peaceful. It’s when I don’t remember. It’s when I am awake for the first time, and everything feels right. But it is nothing more than a fleeting moment until my mind does remember, and everything crashes through my head. I am awake, and I am alive. Why am I alive? I don’t understand. I don’t want to be. I want to be gone forever where nothing can hurt any more. I don’t want to feel anything.

I curl myself up onto my side, wrapping my arms around my shoulders in the only comfort I know. In a childish move that I taught myself, I hook my feet around each other, and without thinking, I rock myself and push away the tears. I’m not supposed to be here. My chest heaves from the effort of not sobbing, but in a split second, my stomachs flips and my throat contracts; I realise I am going to vomit.

I scramble from the bed, almost falling as the sheets tangle between my feet and I half slip, half run, from the bedroom to the bathroom, as my body heaves and the contents of my stomach rises into my mouth. I try to keep my mouth closed and not let it out onto the floor. I can’t even think as I launch myself into the bathroom, and over the sink, and let everything out until I can’t breathe.

I turn the cold tap on in an effort to clean the stinking mess away, but my body has more. It retches and turns my insides upside down until there is nothing left to come out. I know this. I have been here before, with my mother and her vomit-inducing medication. She made me ill even though I had nothing to bring up other than the burning bile and stomach lining inside. But, she isn’t here. I grasp at the running water with cupped hands and shove it into my mouth, and down my throat, so there is something to bring back up.

I’m cold and shivering as I collapse on the floor of the bathroom, panting from the strain of so much vomiting. I grab one of the t-shirts from the washing pile. I don’t care if it is clean or dirty. It’s an effort to put it on; each movement causes my head to ache and my stomach to threaten another round of trying to escape. I have no idea what time it is or for how long I slept. I don’t even know why I am not dead. I drag myself backwards and manage to sit up and lean against the bath. I can’t stop the shaking, and my body is clammy and tired. I wish I could close my eyes and go away. Why do I never go away?

Joanne comes to the doorway with Colin and Angela behind her. I guess they heard me being ill. I try to look away from them. I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want them to see me, not like this. I’m such a failure in all ways. I can’t even end my own life. I should be dead, not here, and I can’t keep my bottom lip from quivering. I’m so disgusting I don’t understand why they don’t see it. It’s all over my skin. I try to make it go, but it never does. I can’t even make me gone.

“Are you sick?” Joanne asks me, keeping her distance.

I would too if I was her. I don’t answer her though, not that I can. As I try to nod my head, my body crumbles at the movement, and everything spins again inside. I hold my breath, wondering if I should try to get to the sink, to the toilet, or if it will pass.

Colin gets passed Joanne and comes to me. I wipe my watering eyes and mouth. He shouldn’t see me this way. No one should.

“Shall I call work for you?” Joanne asks.

I work behind the bar at a nightclub in town on the weekends.

“What time is it?” I ask her. Perhaps I will make it.

She tells me it is 5 p.m, and I know they I won’t be alright in five hours, not like this, but I hate to lose money. Its two days worth of phet money, but I don’t have a choice. I just nod and ask for my cigarettes. Colin goes to get them, and when he comes back, he takes one from my pack, lights it, and gives it to me to smoke. How pathetic I am, that a seven-year-old boy must light my cigarette for me.

I take it from him, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. The action of inhaling threatens to make me gag once more, but I persist. I hold it all in and keep myself still. I don’t say anything as Colin takes a cigarette for himself from my pack. I don’t approve of him smoking, and he might not be my son, but he is still a child. Unfortunately, I don’t have the energy to argue with him.

“Leave me alone,” I say to them.

They stand, gawping; there is nothing they can do for me. Joanne takes Colin and Angela. She shuts the door behind them and leaves me to it. I lean against the side of the bath as my head swims between awake and asleep. I try to tell myself to get up and secure the bathroom door so no one else can come in.

I click the lock over eventually, but I can’t make it back to the bath. I just lie where I am. I can hear them in the other room, laughing, joking and watching television. I let myself sleep on the bathroom floor until someone knocks on the main door. My heart sinks as I listen Joanne greet my father and invites him in.

I cover my ears with my hands. Perhaps, if I can’t hear him, it is not real, and he is not here. But, Joanne knocks on the bathroom door and tells me my father is here. I mutter something, but I don’t think she hears it. She tells my father I have a stomach virus and have been in there all day.

“I have to nip and get some milk and bread,” she says to him. “Do you mind staying here while I go in case he needs anything?”

My father, the fake Samaritan, says yes, and I try to curl myself into the corner away from him, even though there is a door between us. I wish he would just leave.

Joanne leaves and takes Colin and Angela with her; a chance to stock up on alcohol and cigarettes for them, to. I listen as they all leave and the front door locks behind them, leaving me with my father. I know he is on the other side of the door. I feel him, but he doesn’t move. Maybe he is waiting until he is sure they are gone.

He knocks on the door as I expected him to, and calls my name.

“What are you doing?” He asks me.

I wrap my arms around my head and pull my knees up to my chest. I don’t want to see him.

“I’m sick,” I say, but he tries the handle.

I peek out between my arms, watching it. I hope that it stays, but it’s nothing more than a hook and a loop pushed into rotten wood.

“Open the door,” he tells me, and I am grateful the lock holds.

“I can’t move,” I respond in the hope that it is a strong enough answer and he will leave me alone.

It isn’t. He pushes against the door. Perhaps he will break the lock. It’s small, and if he wants in, he will get in. I try to slide myself back to the door and lie in front of it, but the movement, and the fear of my father causes my stomach to twist in agony. I crawl to the toilet bowl and let out what’s in my stomach once more.

The bathroom door opens, and I swallow like when I was a child, and had to push the vomit back down, or be beaten. I can’t breathe from the effort of it. Vomit stings the inside of my nose and the back of my throat. My eyes water and I cough as my father’s hands grasp onto the back of my t-shirt and pull me away from where I am kneeling. He flings me into the hallway, and my head cracks off a wooden box where we keep the shoes and coats. I don’t know what I have done wrong. It will be something, it always is. I don’t ever do things right. I make everyone hurt me.

He storms out of the bathroom, his heavy feet crashing on the floor. He comes over to me and slams his hand against my already bruised chest. I try not to say anything as he winds me and with no effort, pulls me to standing. He is big and strong, built for the bikes he rides, and I am nothing more than his half-starved junkie son. My legs are weak and don’t want to take my weight; my entire body shakes from the effort and I lean against my father without thinking for support. He pushes me away, making me stumble. The wall catches me, and I let myself sink down and rest on the floor. I know he is going to hurt me. He is angry with me and won’t stop until his temper is satisfied. This is always how it is. His blows will come until his anger is gone. When I was a child, I would pray that I would pass out just so I didn’t feel it any longer.

“Just do it,” I tell him.

I am tired of this game. I want him to hit me and get it over with; my words seem to fuel his anger towards me. He crouches next to me, takes my jaw between his fingers, and digs them in. For a second, I am sure he’s going to punch me in the face. Instead, he grips my jaw tighter to the point it might break. Pain shoots up the side of my face.

“You’re not worth it,” he tells me.

 

Alley Kid Twelve.

I don’t normally post warnings on my posts. Especially not Alley Kid, but I think the contents of this I should. If you have read my books, you’ll know what to expect, except. this isn’t so graphic, but there are details of abuse.

 

I don’t know how much time has passed. It feels like hours. My head is heavy inside, and it’s still daylight. I’m laid on a makeshift bed on the floor with my mattress from my room. Maz is laid with me. She is asleep. I don’t know what woke me. I look around and try not to wake her too. The place seems quiet. It takes me a moment to realise he is still here.

I can see the door. He’s waiting. Hiding.  I see shadows and darkness; it’s where he likes to hide. I see his eyes in my mind. The wide open discoloured whites of them. The way his skin wrinkles underneath. The dark spots on his cheeks. I can see them like he is right in front of me.

Something touches my foot. It’s soft, like a feather.  I don’t know what it is, I have a cover on me. I lift it and look down, but there is nothing there. I put my foot back down, but it’s there again and I move my foot, reach down and brush off whatever invisible thing it is. I close my eyes and then open them again. I can’t keep them closed. He’s going to come at any moment. Maz is asleep, she won’t know and no one will hear me, no one will help, just like always.

Maybe it’s his hand on my foot. Maybe he’s about to grab me. I can feel it. Next will be his nails in my legs like when I was little and he would drag me down and claw at me. I try to move and get away. I can’t. Inside I feel dead and heavy. My mouth is dry and I can’t take in enough air. My throat feels constricted; my lungs won’t go deep enough. I start to gasp and Maz wakes and sits.

“What’s wrong?” she asks me.

I try to talk. I say the words. I hear them perfectly, but Maz doesn’t understand. She asks me to repeat them and I do, but still she doesn’t know what I am saying.

“You’re slurring,” she tells me.

I try to speak clear. I try and tell her that he’s there. I try and move back and get away. I’m shaking and crying because I can’t tell her, all I can do is make sounds that aren’t even words. I try and push myself back, but just hit the front of the sofa. I am trapped.

“There’s nothing there,” she says to me. “It’s just the phet, you took too much.”

Joanne comes into the room. She must have heard me. She has a bag and Froggy is with her.

“Is he okay?” She asks Maz.

Maz nods. “He needs to sleep it off, but he won’t.”

Joanne has cans in her bag. She pulls one out and passes it to Maz, Maz offers it to me, but I don’t want it. Maz tries to put it to my mouth and I try and push it away.

“You need to drink,” says Joanne. “It’s been days you haven’t eaten or drunk at all.”

“If you don’t drink something your body is going to shut down,” says Maz.

I take the can from Maz, but she holds it with me. My hands are unsteady. I put it to my mouth and as the drink hits my mouth I realise how thirsty I am. I don’t waste time. I don’t sip it. One gulp becomes another and another, each one is not enough. I can’t take enough to make the thirst go away and within seconds, the can is empty. I need more. I hold my hand out and try and say the words, but I can’t. Joanne knows what I want though and she reaches in her bag for another. She passes it to Maz and Maz opens it, but my stomach flips over. I feel the heat of it inside as it sloshes the juice I have just ingested. I retch but nothing comes out.  Maz gets off the mattress fast and I try to move.

She tries to help me get up, but in her position she can’t. Joanne tries to help, but its Froggy that gets me to my feet and I know that any moment the drink is going to come right out. I can hardly move. I try and steady myself on all of them and in a rush, they manage to get me to the bathroom. I vomit in the sink and collapse on the floor. My body hasn’t finished though, but I don’t have the energy to get up and vomit in the sink or the toilet. It’s down my clothes. I can smell it.

Joanne runs out of the bathroom and comes back seconds later with a bowl. I ask her for a cigarette, only managing to get the word smoke out. She reaches in her pocket for her pack and gives me one, but I can’t even light it. Maybe this is death.

My mind wants to sleep. It wants to shut down. I feel it pressing on the inside making my skull ache. My eyes try to close but I fight them. I smoke my cigarette and sit forwards to wake myself up, but then he is there. I see his shadow out in the hallway. I lean back and he moves too. I lean forward and so does his shadow. I do it over and over.

“What are you doing?” asks Maz.

I try to talk but say nothing.

“You’re rocking.”

I still don’t say anything. I stop rocking, but I don’t take my eyes off the shadow. Maz has the shower running. For me I guess. I just keep my eyes focused on him, but they keep closing. They close for minutes at a time and I don’t realise. I don’t want to sleep. Maz and Joanne are there. They take my top off and I don’t stop them. Joanne tells me to stand and I have to lean on them and she tries to unfasten my jeans, but I don’t want her to, not with him out there.drug

Somehow I am in the shower and I don’t know how I got there. I’m leaning against the wall and sat in the base. Time slips in and out and I don’t see it. I try to ask, but they don’t understand and my words won’t come out. I keep still as they clean me up, get me out of the shower and put me back in bed.

I try to protest at being in just my underwear. I am cold. But Maz gets in with me again. They throw more covers over me and I can’t fight it. Sleep takes me away and I am gone.

I see flashes of moments. I open my eyes and people are in different places. Joanne on the chair watching the television. Maz on the chair. Froggy sat playing my games console. I don’t speak, just reach for a drink each time. The bowl is next to me just in case, but I don’t drink so much.

Someone is shaking me. I feel them and tell them to stop it.

“Wake up,” he says and I realise it’s my father. I didn’t know he is here, I didn’t remember. Did I let him in? I don’t know. No one else is there.

“Do you have the money you owe me?” he asks.

“In my wallet,” I try and say, but my words don’t come out.

“What?” he asks me to repeat and I try. “I can’t understand what you’re saying,” he tells me.

He kneels down to me and I try and tell him again. He grabs my hair in his fist, pulls my head up to him, I can’t move. I try and get out of his grip but I can’t.

“You’re such a waste of space,” he tells me. He clutches tighter, pulling my hair and I can’t fight him off. “You’re nothing to me.”

There isn’t anything I can do. It all goes dark and I fall asleep again. I forget my father is there and when I open my eyes he is gone. It is dark again and Joanne is watching the television with Angela and Colin.

I need the bathroom. Something feels wrong. It feels like I got turned off for a few hours as though I were a machine. I didn’t dream. Just darkness. I ask Joanne what time it is, she tells me. It’s been hours and I don’t remember them.

I try to stand, but my legs are shaky. They haven’t stood for I don’t know how long. My underwear feels wet. I look at Joanne and Angela and Colin, but they aren’t looking at me. They have a film on and I wonder if somehow I managed to wet myself. I don’t want them to know I slept so much I wet the bed.

I pick up a towel that’s laid on the arm of the sofa and wrap it around my waist so I can go to the bathroom.

In the bathroom I take the towel off and then my underwear. I just stare at it. My mind expected just to see wet clothes, but the red glares at me and I stare at it as though I have never seen blood before.

I feel nothing. No pain, no bruises. I don’t know why it’s there. I don’t feel ill. I feel panic inside. Fear. I don’t want Joanne to see. I don’t want to know where it came from.  I get in the shower instead. I don’t care that it isn’t heated yet. I want to hide from my blood soaked shorts. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe they aren’t there. Maybe it’s from the phet. I shower, but I can see them through the door. I have to get rid of them.

They are still there when I finish showering. Part of me wonders why. Why didn’t they just vanish? I can’t sneak them out. I’m sure that Joanne will see them. She’ll come out of the lounge the moment I come out of the bathroom with them in my hand. I get the envelope that holds my needles instead. I tip those into Joanne’s makeup bag and then I put my shorts in the envelope.

The blood is wet, it marks my hands and I just stare at it. I don’t know where it’s from. I don’t understand why I am bleeding.

 

Alley Kid 10

I follow the police into my lounge, the anxiety in my chest feels almost too much. I’m sure the moment they walk in they will see the phet like and hone in on it. I promise myself no more. Just this last one and if they don’t see it, no more. I’ll be done with the drugs. I realise what I’ll lose if they find them. I think about Will and him at his mothers, I can’t give him up for the drugs; I’d have nothing left at all. I think about Maz’s words, what I promised her. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it to my son and let him suffer for my choices. That would make me no better than my own parents.BaseballBat

I look down and the phet is gone. I’m relieved but I’m afraid Joanne has it on her and they will search us. The police look everywhere. They lift up the cushions off the sofa, take out drawers, I have no real clue what they thing they are going to find, but it isn’t anything I have that they would want. The police finish, but they don’t clean up and the flat is a mess.

They leave but don’t really say anything to me and I sigh at yet another invasion from them. Its beginning to get to the point that I fear each time I open the door it will be them, many times it is, mostly they are looking for Mark, and usually they have just missed him. I am glad of that, but I know if he is there and he is caught, I’ll hand him over, maybe that makes me a coward. But I don’t care. I put my child before Mark and if that means I become a grass I don’t care.

I asked Joanne where she put the phet and she gives me a smile like she knew I was worried. She reaches down into the box that holds Wills toys and pulls out one of his bears, such a classic place for drugs but the police didn’t look there. I guessed they weren’t looking for those.

We all clean up when the police leave and in a way the place looks better than it did before. Maz comes back with the phet and my earlier promise is soon out of the window. I have every intention of not taking more, but it’s just this time, while I have the money. I have to be ready to quit I tell myself. A fake promise I know, but I still believe it. I have to quit, but not today.

I take the phet to the bedroom. Maz comes too. It’s not a big room; it fits the double bed and a single bedside table, that’s it. The window has a large crack through it, but it has tape across it, not that its much use, it still lets in a draft. We don’t have curtains, we can’t afford them. Joanne has tacked an old towel across the window to keep the privacy, but it doesn’t bother me. I feel better when the window is open and the curtains aren’t back. I don’t feel trapped when it’s like that, but she likes it dark.

Maz sits on the bed, but she doesn’t say anything as I prepare the phet and inject it. She does the same with her own concoction of things. She gets onto the bed properly and leans against the wall, crossing her legs at the ankle. I put the things away, light a cigarette and give it to her and then light one for myself. She doesn’t say anything when I climb on the bed with her and lay my head down on her legs.

She runs her fingers through my hair and sometimes I think I could stay there forever when she does that. We talk about the baby, about Froggy, about me working for Lorraine and a million other things that I can hardly remember, but we just talk. Putting the world to rights in our own little ways, with dreams of what we could do if we were able. And when it reaches midnight I wonder where the time has gone, me and Maz have hardly moved and save for a few disturbances from the others mostly we were alone.

I tell Maz I have to go out.

“Karla?” she asks.

I nod my head and smile.

“I’m surprised Joanne hasn’t caught you yet,” she says.

“I’m sure she doesn’t give a shit.”

“If you were mine I’d kick your arse,” she tells me and I laugh.

“If I was yours, I’d be dead.”  I sit up properly and lean to her and kiss her. It’s what we do. We don’t even hide it. Froggy and Joanne never seem to complain, they do similar. I wouldn’t care what Joanne did with Froggy.

“I love you, you little shit,” she says to me and I grin and put my arms around her to say goodbye.

“I love you too,” I tell her. She’s the only one I can say it too and feel happy about it. I hold onto her for just a second. “I’ll be back soon.”

I don’t tell Joanne as I leave the flat and race down the steps, I’m not even sure she is in herself. Colin is in bed I noticed though.

Karla is already finished when I get there. She’s sat on the counter with her small black coat on, hair done and a smile on her face. She jumps down and wave’s goodnight to her colleagues. She comes outside and flings her arms around my neck.

I take her hand and lace my fingers through hers. “Where are we going?” she asks me.

“I have something to take care of,” I tell her and then she starts to tell me about her day. I’m not listening so much, my mind is racing and alive. Most people bore me, Karla is one of them, but for some reason I keep her in my life. I’d say it was for the sex, but I can get that anywhere and most of the time, I’m on the phet, it makes the sex part hard.

I walk us all the way to Phil’s house. Not where he lives with Sarah, but where he keeps his car. Silly idiot keeps it at his other place in case Becci ever drives passed. I know where he keeps his bat too. I give Karla and cigarette and tell her to wait there.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“You’ll see,” I tell her, then I duck down the side of the building that Phil pretends to live at, go into his shed and pull out his baseball bat. I’m hardly thinking as I do it, it’s been cooking in my mind since the moment I realised who had called the police.

I don’t feel bad as I charge back to where his car is and launch the bat into the driver’s side window.

“What the hell are you doing?” asks Karla, startled at my attack on his car, but he deserves it.

“Pay back,” I tell her and then I knock out the back window on the same side.

Karla comes at me; she grabs my wrists of the hand that holds the bat. “Someone’s going to come and hear you,” she says.

I shrug. “What are they going to do?”

“Call the police.”

I raise the bat to take out the rear window, slipping my wrist from her reach; she folds her arms and stares at me, waiting for me to make my decision.  I pause with the bat ready to strike. A light comes on in a house over the road. “Fine,” I say and then I throw the bat into the car through one of the already smashed windows. “We’ll go.”

 

 

 

Alley Kid Part Nine

 

Colin eats his breakfast as though he hasn’t eaten for a week. I wish Will was with me. I wish I could shower him this way, with food and the things he needs instead of starving, and the deprivation he receives being my son. I chase away the pangs of guilt. I tell myself I am doing my best, but I know I am not. I’m failing him. He just doesn’t know any better and doesn’t complain.

Joanne eats her food, too. I smile at her enthusiasm over the money and what we can do with it. She runs off all her excitements in such fast succession that I am not sure I can keep up. I know her though; these are nothing more than pipe dreams.  She, too, has thought about filling the cupboards but, of course, our first thoughts are going to Froggy and scoring for the weekend. What a great time we will have. I agree, I can hardly wait. Anything to take away the inner gloom that plagues me constantly.

The time ticks by and I wait for Phil to come back. I know he will come back. I trust him that much, but not much else. Even so, some part of me is relieved when I see his car approaching and then he pulls onto the forecourt to the café and comes in. the hammering in my chest threatens to break my ribs and I let out my relief.

Phil comes in and his grin is huge. He sits himself down and orders too, for him and Becci. I want to ask for my money. I can feel myself reaching out for it and being able to touch it, but he doesn’t say anything. I am waiting with baited breath for him to put it in my hands and relieve the anxiety I didn’t know existed.

I know he’s teasing me. He knows I want the cash and is waiting for me to ask on purpose. I’m thankful when it’s Joanne who asks him.

“What makes you think I have it?” He tells her, and Joanne doesn’t believe him. She holds her hand out waiting for it.

“You have the money?” I ask him myself, in the end, he keeps grinning as if he is debating on what to say and then he laughs.

“Look at the scared look on both your faces.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out some cash. I take it from him before he has chance to take it back and tease me some more. I can hardly believe it’s there.

We finish our food off and then Phil says he’ll give us a lift back to our flat, but he can’t stay. He is on curfew and wants to be home. Poor Becci thinks he means home to his place, but he means his other girlfriend, Sarah, and I wonder how he keeps up with it. Sarah has a daughter and Becci is pregnant.

Sometimes, I have been with Phil and Sarah and if we go to see Becci, I slip up and Becci scowls at me. Part of me thinks she must know, maybe she just doesn’t want to see it.

We go back to my place and Joanne says she needs to go out and get some smokes. She’s going to get them cheap from her mate. “I’ll be a couple of hours,” she says, “Are you going to Maz’s?”

“Yes,” I say. “I promised her I would do.”

There’s a figure sat on the steps leading up to our door when we get there. Colin recognises him right away and  is over everyone and out of the car so fast  to go into his older brother’s arms.

“Do they know you are here?” I ask.

Mark smiles and shrugs. That means no, I guess. I don’t say anything, but I wish he would stop it. He’s going to get me caught and I have no desire to end up behind bars.

“I thought I’d take Colin out for something to eat,” he tells me.

“He’s just eaten.”

“No worries, we’ll find something to do.”

“Can I? Asks Colin and there isn’t a way I can say no, not that I think he would listen to me even if I did refuse and I would have no grounds to stop him. I nod my head and Colin forgets himself for a moment and hugs me too. I watch as they walk off down the alley way together.

Joanne leaves too and I tell Phil and Becci thanks and then go to see Froggy and Maz.

Maz is sat on the step in the hallway of the building her flat is in. She’s been crying. She is smoking a cigarette.

She starts rambling and I don’t really know what she is saying. Mikey and Froggy. How she hates the drugs but she took them anyway. She shows me her arm, swears at it, shouts and tells me how bad she is, and that she won’t ever get her son back. Soon, she’s going to lose this baby too. She points to her stomach. There isn’t anything I can say. I put my arms around her and we just stand there for as long as she needs while she cries.

“Promise me something,” she says.

I nod my head.

“Don’t ever let them get Will. Pick him first.”

That’s easy. “I won’t,” I tell her.

She pulls back a little to look up at me. I wipe her face dry and kiss her as she wraps her arms inside my shirt. In that moment I feel at peace.

The door opens and Froggy comes out.

“I thought I heard your voice,” he says to me and tells me to come in.

Maz doesn’t move, but I put my hand round hers and drag her behind me.

Froggy already has my phet ready and good to go. Seems he knows me too well. I take the bag and hand him over, one hundred pounds. Froggy gives me one of his needles and I use their bedroom to take it. Although, it’s only been hours, as the phet takes hold, it feels as though everything gets washed clean away and I can live.

Joanne pops in for a moment to tell me her and her mate are going back to our house. I figure I need to go too. Colin will be back soon and, no doubt, Mark would have to get back to the farms.

Maz comes with us. Joanne has two girls with her. Lauren doesn’t stay so long. Her boyfriend comes and picks her up, but the other girl, Angela, who doesn’t look more than fifteen, I have never met

“Angela needs some where to stay,” Joanne tells me when she takes me into another room.

“We already have Colin,” I say.

“Exactly, so we can have Angela too. She’s fourteen and she won’t be a problem.”

“How come?” I ask.

Joanne tells me Angela’s parents don’t want her. They live the other side of the country and have thrown Angela out. Angela, who has clearly been listening, knocks and comes into the room.

“You can call and ask if you want.”

I look at Joanne and she nods at me. It doesn’t look like I have much of a choice other than to take another in. I can’t exactly turn a young girl out onto the street now can I?

The rest of the night goes fast. Colin comes home and goes straight to bed. His brother stays only long enough to steal a cigarette while Joanne shares her phet with Angela and I sit and talk with Maz.

Daylight creeps in the next day and the phet is almost gone. “Can I get some more from Froggy?” I ask Maz. We haven’t seen him since the day before.

“Sure,” she says. “If not, I’ll ask Woody,” she says before she leaves.

Woody lives next door to them; he deals too.

Joanne has just set Angela up on a spare mattress in Will’s room with Colin, when someone knocks on the door. I think its Maz again, but Joanne answers it and its the familiar sound of the police.

“We have a warrant to search the premises.” It reads.

One of the officers hands me a copy and I hardly have time to read it before they begin to look inside everywhere and turn everything upside down.

I don’t care about the warrant. My mind is at the bag of phet in the lounge and how I will get to it before they see it. Joanne has the same idea. She gets there and removes it before they see it.

The officer says they were told Mark had been here. I deny it of course, but I don’t need to ask who told them. I already know it was Phil. I’ve seen him play these tricks a dozen times, perhaps, this was karma for the times I have laughed when he has called the police out in jest on another friend.

Alley Kid Six

20121018-222740.jpg

I can see Froggy in the distance, stood waiting for me where we agreed. He leans against the wall, cigarette in his mouth, as he watches the world like he has no cares. I wish I was like that. I wish I could just stand and watch and not feel anything.

The dull heaviness I feel inside is a constant battle. Life seems like one long sigh and getting to tomorrow feels impossible. I wish there was a way to induce the simplicity that some people seem to have. That zest for life, like they can’t wait for a new day, yet I wonder why they don’t see the truth like I do. Why are they happy? I don’t really understand it let alone know how to feel it.

Maybe they are fortunate enough to experience the highs without medicated help, or perhaps, they take the health service’s offer of wonderful happy pills. Perhaps that’s it; prescribed happiness.

I drop the piece of metal from my father’s garage over a wall, and into someone’s front garden. The evidence of my shame is discarded and hidden behind the picket fence of someone else’s happy life. I push everything aside the same way I pull the sleeve of my coat down over my physical self-inflicted wound. I pull the inside sleeve down as well and cover everything with a smile.

I hold up my twenty pound note and nod at Froggy to show him my victory. He smiles back as I pocket it again and offers me a cigarette.

We walk back to my place and Froggy tells me about the phet he just scored. It’s like music to my insides that I can’t quite hear, but the desperation of it has me straining my ears until, not only can I hear the words, but I can feel them, too.

“Do you want some?” He asks me.
Every part of me screams yes. Yes, I want some but, I can’t even bring myself to turn him down. I can’t make the words come out. I force my head to shake from side to side and that’s about all I can manage. Pathetic, but it’s one of the hardest things I ever had to communicate to anyone.

“I can’t afford it,” I say.

“You’ve got that twenty,” he says, and nods in the direction of my pocket.

I’m grasping for breath on the edge of what’s right and what I want to do. Colin isn’t my child. Why should I care? Why is it my problem to feed him? I want to reach into my own mind and break up the war that reigns within. I can’t make either side shut up. I want what Froggy offers. I want it so bad; perhaps even more than I want to be able to live in happiness. Its right here being offered right in front of me and all I have to do is say yes. Just three letters and its mine, but I can’t. I can’t do it. My guilt worms its way through me. Torturing me.

“What’ll I tell Joanne and Maz?” I ask him.

I’m not really asking, I’m just saying my thoughts out loud. I can see their faces. Maz’s in particular with the look of disappointment on her face when I tell her.

“F**k ‘em,” he says. “They don’t have to know. Tell you what. Split that twenty with me and I’ll sub you the phet. Some for Joanne too, then she won’t moan about it.”

It’s possible. My mind gets excited at the thought of it.

Yes, yes. I can. I tell Froggy okay. I’m getting the television tomorrow. Easy money. I can pay him back then.

I smoke a cigarette and drink a coffee while I wait for Froggy to cut the phet. He does it with heroin, not glucose, but I don’t care. He can cut it with mud and I’d still want it. My mind can’t say no now, not now that it has a way. That would be worse than anything.

It takes everything I have not to snap Froggy’s hand off as he offers me the wraps for Joanne and I. I give him the twenty to change.

“I’m just going over the road to buy cigs, you want some?”

I nod and he leaves.

I light another cigarette and grab the envelope of needles from my bathroom. I sit with my back against the door in my bedroom and roll my sleeve up. I stop and look at the wound on my arm. I guess it’s my own fault. Its scabbed over, but the blood that was there is dry and smeared along my arm. I look at it and remember the disgust at myself, hours before. I pick at it, reciting each word my father said, in my mind; one at a time, spitting them with my thoughts as I pick and make it bleed once again.
Failure. That’s what it amounts to. That’s what I am and always will be. I prove it each time.

I grind my teeth. My breathing is harsh as I look at the phet and my needles.
I am nothing. I know this. I am useless and worthless. I can’t even put a child’s needs before my own. No better than my own father, I am sure.

I get the cigarette from my mouth and the urge to run the hot end along my skin is almost too great. I could take the phet and do it wrong. If there’s air in a syringe, won’t it cause a heart attack? I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere. I wonder if it’s fast; If it hurts. Do I even deserve such merciless things as time and pain free?

I’d be gone in an hour. That’s it. Sixty minutes and it would all be over. No one would know.

But I can’t. I think about Will alone without me. What would he do? Would he end up like Colin? Or like me even. I can’t do anything. I can’t leave.

I cry at the unfairness of it. I want to hold it in but tears of frustration roll down my face and I clutch my head to try and make them go away.

I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to exist. I wish someone would just kill me and get it over with. I curl up in the corner. The pain in my head bangs with my heartbeat. I wish it would all just go away.

I close my eyes, pick up the needle, and plunge it into my arm. I don’t care. I don’t pull it out when the contents are gone. What’s the point? I open my eyes and stare at it. This is me. All I have to offer. Colin needs better than me. Will needs better. I spent their food money on my hit, again.

As each thought of pitiful self-hatred begins to fall away, the euphoric release of adrenaline rises up my spine and I can breathe again.

I stand. The person I was, moments before, is gone; nothing but a laughable memory as I clean everything away before leaving the house to acquire food for Colin.

Once again, I am happy.

Alley Kid Part Four

The days crawl by; each breath I take feels laboured. Each minute is unbearable. The thought of another twenty four hours like this one, has me chomping at the bit in desperation to make it go faster. I’m not sure how I’m going to last. I take a breath and let it out slow; something to calm me, but it does little except to give me something to do for a couple of seconds.

There isn’t any food in the house.  My stomach growls. Even that cannot wait until the next day. But that’s just a false promise. Food will not be the first thing I reach for.

Cigarettes are about all I have and those are on a limited supply; each one like a check point for another hour passing, signalling that it’s time to smoke my next one.

I’m thankful I don’t have Will. A slight lie to his mother and grandmother that he wanted to stay over and well, we just didn’t have time to make any breakfast, he wanted to get there so fast. At least he can have food and more warmth than I can offer him here; my failings, once more, as his father.  Course, he’s so easy to agree to those things. I know how his little mind works. It’s simple and limited. Special, I tell him.  Some days, I hate that he has special needs. I curse myself for my part in the fact that he isn’t like other children his age. Other times, his mind is so unique, I love him just the way he is.

I wonder what that says about me as a person. Wishing that my son was normal. Shouldn’t I be happy that he’s alive and that I have him? I wonder if all parents of children with special needs think this way. Maybe it’s one of those things that are unsaid.

Colin, on the other hand, doesn’t have a choice. There isn’t anyone I can fob him off to and get his belly filled. He hasn’t complained yet, but it doesn’t stop me feeling bad about it.

I have no money to turn on the gas meter, nothing to fill the fridge. My last meal was a bowl of frozen peas that I couldn’t afford to cook on the stove. I used boiled water from the kettle. All I had was pepper to flavour them. The boys had eaten of course. Some fish fingers and oven chips I had used up on them with the last of the bread we had. At least they had gone to bed with somewhat full stomach.

It feels like a never ending cycle.

I envy people who can feed their kids and take them out and give them treats. They have no idea how lucky they are.

Neither Colin nor I have eaten since last night. My stomach growls its aggravation at the situation. Colin is sat on the chair watching cartoons. I try not to feel guilty. I tell myself he isn’t my responsibility, but I can’t help it.

Joanne comes home. I’m not sure where she has been and I don’t ask. I don’t care so much. A friend of mine is with her. Maz and her son Mikey. More like a sister than a friend; Maria is her real name, but a long affair with Temazepam earned her the nickname.

She sits next to me and puts her arm around me. Joanne never bothers when we do this. I often wonder if she cares as little as I do. Sometimes it feels like Maz is the only one who understands. She doesn’t have to say a thing. It’s unspoken in a way. I lie here and feel calm.

I playfully poke her rounded belly and tell the baby to move up because it’s in the way and I need to lie down. Maz laughs and jabs me in the arm.

She knows I’m kidding.

Mikey sits with Colin and they get out my old games console. Mikey isn’t much older than Colin, perhaps just a few months. They sit and chat like they have known each other forever and Colin resembles the child he’s supposed to be. Mikey turns and smiles up at me.

“We’re going to the cinema later,” he tells me, and I can hear the unasked question in his voice.

Its Maz’s day to visit with Mikey. Four days a month she gets him. He’s in the system. His foster parents are great and she has that to be thankful for. They seem to care about Mikey and his mother reuniting eventually. Of course, she has to give up the heroin for that to happen. She’s trying, but it’s a cycle that’s hard to break. Tomorrow will be the usual. The sorrow in her eyes as she leaves him  with a family that’s better for him. People that can offer more than she ever can. Just as I know with Will, she knows with Mikey There are people far better equipped to take care of our children than us.

Maybe I’m selfish that I don’t let him go but, his mother can’t take him fulltime. She can’t cope with how he is. She wants him to be normal as much as I do, but for her, a cheap bottle of cider seems easier to deal with than a son with Aspergers.

Maz has already decided that she’s going to have the baby at home. As soon as it comes into the world the authorities will have it, then what does she have to live for?

“Do you want to come with us?” Maz asks me and Colin’s eyes light up for a fraction of a second with hope until reality sets in.

I don’t have to say anything. He gives a sigh and, like me, knows that we can’t.

I shake my head at Max. “I don’t have the money.”

“You’ve necked it all?” She asks me.

“I haven’t had any phet for days.”

. She sits up and forces me to sit up myself. She’s mad at me. I can feel her mood change like the snapping of a band.

“Have you eaten today?”

I don’t answer her and Joanne doesn’t say anything.

“God  damnit James,” she says and gets off the sofa. “You’ve got no food, no money. What about Will and Colin?”

“Will is at his mothers,” I tell her, but I can hear how pathetic I sound.

Someone bangs on the front door and I jump at it. So many visitors and each one  makes me anxious.

“It’ll be Froggy,” Maz says.

Her boyfriend. His real name’s Pete. Tall and lanky with long black hair. I’m not sure why we call him Froggy, but we do.

“It might be the police,” I say. “They’ve been here three times this week looking for Mark.”

“What are you doing James? You’re going to wind up losing these boys.”