Sunday, March 3

How This Brat Got Blood On His Clean Jeans





AT A COUPLE MINUTES past ten I awoke. I had stirred many times during the night – at one point even believing that it was a weekday – only this time being awake enough to look at the light coming through my blinds and trying to gauge what kind of day it was going to be, as I had done many times before. After twenty minutes or so I went downstairs to get the ache out of my back and have a fag.
My parents were at the table with my brother, the crumbs and empty coffee cups of breakfast in front of them, discussing something serious. I rolled a cigarette, put my coat on and went outside. When I came back in they were still talking and my brother was including me in whatever he was talking about; I didn’t want to be grouped with him, nor my other brother. I went back to bed. I put a comedy on and lay there to watch it, then I turned my attention to an Italian porno and masturbated. Afterwards I just lay there staring into space, aware that time was passing. Without meaning to, I fell asleep again…
A knock at the door seemed louder than it was, as if it were a trigger, causing me to bolt up in bed. My brother asked me a question; when I answered, he left. The clock told me it was gone half-twelve. I was disappointed to sleep in so late, frustrated as I had considered plans. I leapt out of bed and hurried downstairs where I poured a drink and had another cigarette. There were not many people about. Another of my brothers wanted to talk to me but I didn’t want to, so I turned my back to him.
Another sickening day. The clouds separated the sunlight behind it so that nothing in this flat, impressionless county possessed a shadow.
‘Corn flakes with a big spoon of sugar and a cup of coffee might cheer me up,’ I thought. They were pleasant. Then I trimmed my nails while having a shit; showered; brushed my teeth, and got dressed listening to some new CD. I even put on clean jeans, despite knowing I was not going to leave the house.
Around that time I felt my mood begin to deflate. No, it did not deflate, it plummeted, struck the turf with a thud, squeezed out some pathetic last words and died.
I was angry again. Thinking it had passed – that awful period – I was anticipating the weekend, but, no, it was back. It had gone to make tea but now it was back. Now I felt its full weight again. ‘I must stay away from others,’ I said to myself, closing my bedroom door. ‘I’ll wait it out.’
I picked up my guitar and sat in front of the amp. Melodies would not come. Everything I tried to play sounded terrible. Of course! My arms were weak! If you had asked me to hold a baby I would have dropped it! I was very weak, but without reason. I held up my arm to study its weaknesses; it trembled pitifully. ‘I’ve eaten and hardly drank anything last night – so why am I shaking?’ In the end my anger grew and grew. It bellowed in me like a house fire, with the front doors recently opened and the upstairs windows smashed. Furious at everything I started to smash my hand into the strings. I was saying quietly – ‘you fucking cunt you fucking cunt you fucking cunt’ – and striking it. I struck until I drew blood. All the strings were out of tune. I grabbed the strings in my feeble hand and ripped them; only one snapped; the other five held strong. I had cut my palm now, too.
Then I was very sad, because my mum had bought me those strings for Christmas. My eyes started to run. The blood on my knuckles blurred and stung.
I plugged in some pedals to make the guitar sound as angry and as dirty as I could, then I turned the amp right up. I strangled every sound I could out of that five-stringed piece-of-shit. I was sat next to the amp and I vibrated in the low notes. It was useless. I knew that it was useless. I was very sick in my stomach – or maybe an adjacent organ I was less familiar with.
In the garden I slouched and smoked. Visions of my suicide came thick and fast. I had every chance in the west, chances of a white man in the west, but I was nothing because I was so angry and so sad and so miserable and so greedy for the end.
I returned to my room and put on some music [Greed/Holy Money Swans, 1986] then collapsed on my bed. The music was loud enough to nauseate me; my position was uncomfortable. I was torturing myself: I wanted to sleep the day away but would not let myself; I had to do nothing but think. I bit the dried blood off of my knuckles. I contemplated going and unscrewing the blade from my sharpener and cutting my arms with it. Self-harm had never appealed to me, but I remembered the Romans doing it in baths. I wanted to do it in a nice hot bath, not my grey Saturday bedroom. Everything would probably be better in the bath.
An hour passed. My body hurt from the position I had been in for so long.
Suddenly, from nowhere, I remembered the smell of my knees.
As a child I had loved the smell of my knees. Back then my knees were exposed often. I would smell them when I was waiting for someone, when I was sulking, when I was punished, when I was in the dentist’s waiting room. The skin on them was different to the skin on the rest of my body. There were little blonde hairs nodding at the sun. I would curl myself up and smell my knees. I remembered the smell of my knees.
Sitting on the edge of my bed I stared at my rug and thought of the smell of my knees, how they had smelled decades ago.

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