Flash Ed & the Xmas Bash


Met Flash Ed last night.  Naturally, he filled me in.  The fast bucks, the flash pad, the drugs, the women.  The list goes on and on.  If he hadn't bought the drinks I would have fucked off as soon as I saw him.  The man's too much.  You can get away with that in London but not here.  I would've told him that but I was too busy looking at his girlfriend.  You should see his girlfriend.  She looks like Debbie Harry.  Or the way Debbie Harry used to look.  Fuck knows what she looks like now.  Probably she's fat and hairy, like my mum.
      It's hard living alone.  All I do is watch TV.  The only person I know here now is Mark Peterson and there's no way I'm seeing Mark Peterson.  The last time I saw Mark Peterson he dropped his kecks in Flannagan's.  That wouldn't've been so bad but then he dropped his trolleys and started shaking his dick.  I tried to distance myself from him but you know what bouncers are like.  The last thing I remember is hitting the pavement.  The nurse said I was lucky to be alive.  You should have seen her!  I didn't want to leave.
      Then again maybe I'm being too hard on Ed.  The man started with nothing, you know.  It's amazing really.

Where I live.
      I don't have any heating.  I don't even have a bed.  I sleep on coats, jumpers, jeans, shirts, newspapers, magazines, all manner of things.  All I have to speak of is a chair and a TV.
      I live on chips and beer.  Probably that's why I'm fat now.  I caught myself in a shop window the other day and I was amazed.  Incredible how you change!  Take your eye off things and before you know it you're fucked.  I understand how people lose it now.
      Christmas, though.  Christmas was brilliant.  I nipped into the pub for a slash and spotted Hibbert.  I went straight over to him and the next thing I knew I was in a party.

It was like a hotel.  Maybe it was a hotel.  There was a bar, a karaoke room and even a pool table.  Student life has changed.  Students now are rich and drive BMWs and own big fuck off houses.  They even have cleaners.  Probably gardeners too.
      Someone passed a joint to me.  I pulled on it a couple of times, went to give it back then changed my mind and walked over to the far side of the room where people were playing pool.
      Then this bloke's in my face, saying things.  I think he's asking for the joint back but he doesn't look like the same person.
      —What's that?
      —D'you want a game? he says.
      He leans closer and this time he spits in my face.  Not on purpose.  It was the way he talked.  Some people don't know how to swallow their saliva.
      —Pool.  Do you want a game of POOL? he says and laughs.
      I haven't played pool for years but I'm confident.  I'm always confident when it comes to pool.  Each time I play pool I believe I am going to sink every ball.  Sometimes I do sink every ball.  Well, I have once.  Usually I pot one or two then miss the next by a mile and my confidence is shattered.

So I'm in a foursome now with three dickhead students half my age.  Politely, they ask me to break.  I break and the balls spread nicely.  A stripe drops in the top left corner.  There's a stripe hanging over the middle pocket and another two stripes close to the bottom right corner.  I nominate stripes.
      The thing is, though, I don't just want to win.  I want to win in style.  There are women watching and they're very attractive.  If I perform well anything can happen.
      I miss the ball completely, sending the white straight into the middle pocket
      I lift my bottle off the table and look at the women.  The redhead's pretending she hasn't noticed me but I know she has.  I have years on her.  Reading people is easy now.  When I was her age I knew nothing about anything.  I was a right idiot.
      Fuck it.  I can't be bothered.
      I walk away, pushing my way through the room and down the stairs.

I go into town and meet a woman called Jean.
      Jean takes her dressing gown off and slides in next to me.  I fuck her and she falls asleep.
      I get dressed and go into the kitchen and open the fridge.
      No food, nothing.  Just five bottles of Irn-Bru.  I take a bottle and leave.
      Near the top of the street I throw the bottle into an alleyway.  I hate Irn-Bru.  I remember trying it once when I was a kid and throwing up.  It's vile.  It should be taken off the market.  There should be a law against it.  There should be a law against lots of things.  There should be a law against getting old.  There's no fun in getting old.  Ask Jean.  That's why she gets pissed every night and has bottles of Irn-Bru in her fridge.  That's why I stay at home and watch TV.  That's why I can't play pool anymore.    
Excerpted from Alan Stokes's finished novel, News from the Icebox.

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