You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
All the coke is gone and Jimbo T and Timmy J are bug-‐eyed restless, are now arm-‐ wrestling on the low coffee table with the whirling oriental dragon carved into its middle by Mildred, third-‐year Fine Arts St Martins. Their equally puny biceps strain but neither arm moves. Instead, their entire bodies vibrate like two opposing magnets. Leo watches the arms for a long time, registers the face of each participant as his teeth grind out a displaced rhythm against the wobbling vibrations of what is, like it or not, exertion. Mildred has her hand placed loosely on Leo’s thigh, is stroking it like you would a volatile kitty. Gradually her fingertips are getting higher up on his thigh, and Leo thinks absently that her arm is the only limb making progress in the entire room.
Baz and Shazza are splayed out in a swastika-‐looking shape across the plastic, Sambuca-‐splashed Twister mat. They have been lying there for what could be hours and neither Leo nor anyone else can remember the moment when they had been playing the game as it is meant to be played. Twister, twisting.
Perhaps there will be an orgy somewhere in the future, Leo thinks, his mind a blank trap, a smile lilting at the edges of his clenched jaw as Mildred’s black-‐painted fingers reach that point at where his penis might be hiding.
Leo feels nothing and then it occurs that Mildred is saying something to him in her deep-‐throated, husky well-‐bred voice.
What are you saying to me? I don’t understand… is what Leo telepathises because he’s decided to keep his jaw shut tight clamped until it’s stopped beating out the graceless rhythm that is not music but is hailstones on some metallic kinda roof.
‘You feeling horny too?” Mildred’s voice rings out clear in the stilted room and both Baz and Shazza’s eyes half-‐open collectively and Jimbo T lets out a sudden hyena laugh causing him to lose the arm-‐wrestling contest with a knuckle-‐dented impact, causing Timmy J to stand up on shit-‐faced centric on the ash burnt-‐out sofa and pound his pigeon chest as if he were Tarzan or something. That noise Tarzan makes on the films, and Timmy J’s Jane is Alicia and she is in another corner of the room rolling a spliff and her eyes and looking out a window that is not really a window but is an empty frame with cardboard masking taped around its edges, letting in no morning light.
Mildred is not to be put off by the hyena laugh or the swivelling eyes of Baz and Shazza or the rest of it and she asks Leo the same question again, even louder than the first time, so that he has no choice but to look up from her fingernail polish and stare straight into her dripping face and say yeah, I guess that’s something like I’m feeling right now… and Mildred is not to be put off by this total lack of any evident charisma or forethought or enthusiasm and she tugs at Leo’s pale wrist, pulls him up right there and out of that room where there is a nightmare occurring independent of its inhabitants.
Somewhere in the not-‐too-‐distant future there comes a time when Leo is roused from his bug-‐infested slumber by three apparitions of various heights yelling something akin to Crumble Tower and leaping onto his smoke-‐deflated oesophagus.
I could possibly die right now, Leo is thinking to himself as the pain reaches crescendo and Baz and Timmy J thrust their knees into any concave opportunities available as Shazza and Jimbo T squeal gleefully somewhere up above, higher, ceiling-‐bound like two delirious bats, and Mildred rolls out from Ground Zero and sits up with her small breasts lit in early-‐afternoon sepia light because there’s glass in these windows, and Mildred is lighting a caricature of a spliff that has been rolled somewhere in between or possibly by Alicia but Alicia is not in the room, nowhere to be seen, is a ghost, spectral, almost.
Zoom out. Swype left left left, zoom in. No, swype a bit more. Or is it swipe? Top of a black Goth head walking down a quiet suburban street in same sepia afternoon, trailed by a fag-‐end of smoke. Chem trails. Head bowed into spidery crack of iPhone. Face lit up in effervescent glow of social media whore you know what we mean.
When she gets home she is accosted by various brothers of various sizes. They want money for sweets. They want sweets. They want money. But where is mum she’s not here she’s round at Billy’s and Billy isn’t even the same age as Alicia yet, still a toddler that old wench of a fucking cradle-‐snatcher but if you’ve got it flaunt it, is what Alicia senior says when any nosey parkers ask her business.
Timmy J’s eyes, all swollen and two black holes in a face that was undeniably handsome at one point, way back when.
‘She’s just fucking moody like that I told you but it’s not like she’s stuck-‐up or nothing she just doesn’t like all these things we get up to when all we’re trying to do is have a laugh with it and she’s talking about peace and quiet and all that and some kinda escape ha ha how cheesy and I love her but y’know what can you do when you just wanna go offa one with mates and that is all I mean to say.’
Leo is holding Timmy J in his arms. He is puzzled at how anyone can say ‘ha ha’ with no laughter. He is nuzzling Timmy J’s neck and making small baby cooing noises like he has seen some animals do on Bill Oddie’s Animal Watch or whatever it is and he’s pretty sure that old Bill Oddie is still decent and not been tarred with that Yewtree brush but then who’s to know really and what a laugh that your childhood can become such a clutterfuck of pederasts before you’ve even had time to digest the whole Saville debacle. But then really, who could digest such a fucking heinous thing even if they were one month, six month sober?
‘We need to score again I reckon,’ Leo coos softly into the sweating nape of poor heartbroken Timmy J.
Above them come the screams and thumps of Baz and Shazza, fighting or fucking or both. Mildred died a long time ago but she’s sitting opposite Lo and Timmy and she’s got her black fingernail pushed into the V for volume of the control as hard as it will go so’s the button be deeply imbedded in the plastic casket and the telly is screaming uselessly into distortion and somewhere that is possibly the sign of a neighbour banging on their floor or their wall, or else it is Baz and Shazza still going at it now hell for leather.
So Mildred only died a long time ago in the metaphysical sense, but now she goes and does it physically because off she pops to the toilet and she’s got something they’re out there calling DMZ even though her best friend Alfredo (who couldn’t attend because he’s currently incarcerated until the next party yo) reliably informs her that this drug doesn’t exist and it’s totally made up from Infinite Jest but yeah, Blinky the dealer is even more reliable cause he turns up on time and isn’t locked away in some madhouse for trying to kill himself for like, the trillionth time or whatever, so there’s Mildred bored on the telly no matter how loud she can turn it up, sneak sneak sneaking back up to the toilet with Leo’s sperm dried now around the edges of her you-‐know-‐what and a big whole fat whale of a line on that beauty of the ceramic, the porcelain stained indifferent shades of white, fifty shades of grey no thank you , sniff sniff…? No, SNORT fully with your whole being, your soul a vacuum, until it’s all sucked up there the one nostril-‐ deafening roar and she, Mildred, she doesn’t even get to experience that much talked about near-‐death bliss because then is when the aneurysm splits into her brain like a cancerous axe, knocking her quietly stone dead and suddenly curdled up already almost blue on the bathroom floor. And who will find her there? She’s only one month left of her St Martins degree. Shazza will find her, and she’ll lift up her corpse tank top and her bra stained with Leo’s shaking fingertips and she’ll lay beside her like that, half-‐ undresses, and she’ll do the same to herself and try to compare and see what it is that all the lads go on about Mildred being such a hottie and that Shazza is sure she’s fitter if you just put it into perspective like right now.
There was a small matter of them getting puppies. A communal thing, like, they saw them in Battersea’s Dog Home what, three, four months ago. It never went anywhere. Mildred was the productive one.
They’re a gang. They were a gang. In fifty years they have all grown up and stopped believing in ghosts. Spectral is a nice word, though. Leo is an advertising executive. Married, four kids, his hair the colour of wet concrete. He earns more money than you would believe. He cannot remember the time he fucked Mildred. He cannot even remember the face or where she was studying or the fact that she is, quite unmistakeably, no longer one of the gang.