Tuesday, January 1

Californian Red Wine (or ‘My Last Day Of 2012’)

I WANTED TO feel how bad the rain was so I walked down to the offy for a bottle of wine. The wine, only a fiver, was called, simply, — ‘Red Wine,’ and it was from California. Californian red wine. A fiver well spent. I took my red wine back in the rain that did not stop. Only one other man passed me and he looked at me as I cradled the Californian red wine in my arms.
My family sat around the table, drank a pot of coffee and had hot mince pies, which we stole off of one another and then we scraped up the crumbs and ate those, too. There was the unsteady patter of rain.
I went for a walk with my mother, though I had damaged my hips and walking was difficult. Why, on the last day of the year, did I want to go for a walk more than anything else? But, I did. It was all I could think about. There was the craving to have achieved something, and a walk in the rain seemed, to me, to be it.
She led me. I slipped behind, limping. She said – ‘I’ll take you down my favourite road.’ I knew why it was her favourite road.
The rain rained.
The skies were grey and there was no-one else about. You could not see because the rain came down into your face and stung your cheeks. I zipped up my jacket, shielded my cigarette in my hand, turned up my collar and listened as my mother pointed out her favourite houses down her favourite road. They were mostly her favourite houses because they had verandas or monochromatic pathways leading up wide front doors; I agreed that each was beautiful, especially the one with the gargoyles on the eaves.
We wound down on to the prom’ and then down to the seafront where the waves built then collapsed in sticky throttles of white, hissing up down here there & everywhere and the ice-cream parlour was closed.
The wind was behind us now – ‘Shall we walk on?’
‘Yes. I was gonna say that.’
When we got far enough we turned back into the wind and struggled to see.
I got home, warmed up and hung some lights in my bedroom, then played guitar. Dinner was an understated feast of ham salad and boiled potatoes. I finished it with an espresso and a cigarette, which topped it off nicely. We watched some TV and I played some more guitar in my room very loudly. When I finished, I told myself – ‘You sounded shit hot today.’ I felt as if I had just performed the greatest gig of the year and was none too modest about it.
My brothers were out for the night; one of them in a club down town, the other at the social. They prepared themselves outside of my door; styling their hair, adjusting their clothes, spraying cologne. When I walked past they smiled at me because I had nothing to do and was brushing my teeth just for the hell of it. I was at home. I chose a comedy to put on. The film would have only to occupy my mind. My parents arranged a selection of sausage rolls, hummus, crisps, cheese & pineapple, pork pies and sausages. We ate them while the film played and, as I had hoped, we all laughed.
She tried to call me at twelve. I wanted to pick up, but I couldn’t. I don’t know why; there was nothing to say. Only to hear her voice! The more I thought about calling her back the more nervous I became until I started to perspire. Really, above all, I wanted to be beside her in a bar, feeling how she made me feel back in July, and then, days later when someone asked – ‘Who was your new year’s kiss?’ I could have said her and left out all the sentiment and blood rushes.
Fireworks went off and I saw the shadows of birds flurrying in the night sky.
There is no Californian red wine left now.

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