THE FIRST THING IS THE SMELL OF DOG SHIT

Second is the wine tastes of piss. Maybe the wine is piss? Either way, I’m not opening my eyes yet, and the bottle goes back to the floor… The clock ticks. The birds sing. The smell is too much and I sit up in bed. The dresser-chair is lying down on its side and I’m wearing yesterday’s clothes. There’s a trail of brown mush from the rug to the door. The dog has shit in the night… I let him out the front door and he wanders down the drive, pausing at the open gate to look back, once. I can’t be arsed to take him a walk anyway... In the living room is a broken glass. It sits under the table, jagged teeth skyward like a little crystal bear-trap. In the fridge sits two cans of Stella. I take them both upstairs and run a bath. Then I ring for a taxi. Twelve-thirty. That gives me forty minutes. The house is too quiet so I put some sounds on. Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash. Loud. The bath water is too hot so I toss off while the water cools. I think of the new neighbour bent over, me fucking her from behind. Her arse is small and firm, but wobbles ever so slightly. My hands grip her hipbones as I push into her. She looks over her shoulder at me as I come… I drink Grace’s Blue Nun while I watch through the kitchen window for the taxi. There’s a woman in some kind of uniform looking up the drive. She has something in her hand that looks like a dog lead. She takes a couple of steps up the drive and my dog appears around the gatepost. This is not something that makes sense so I open the door to sort it. I ask her, What you doing with my dog? My voice sounds strange and I realise I haven’t spoken today.  I found him wandering the street, she says... So?... I’m the dog warden. A neighbour said the dog lived here… So?... Your dog could have caused a road accident… What?... If you allow it to happen again, I’ll have to report it... The taxi pulls up behind her. My dog looks at me with his big sad eyes and I suddenly become aware of the bottle of Blue Nun in my hand. I put it down on the drive and walk towards the woman. The taxi-driver winds his window down and says my name with a question mark. I tell him Yeh, then grab the lead out of the woman’s hand, unnoosing my dog who wanders toward the house wagging his tail. I hand the lead back to the woman. I tell her to go away. The taxi-driver looks on. She says, You can be fined, you know. I tell her to get the fuck off my property, pushing her once, twice towards the street. She says something about assault, pulling a notebook from her pocket as she walks away. On the taxi ride in, the driver says Some women want to be men but are just lesbo cunts. Then he tells me Some women are just slags who use their cunts to make men stupid. He lets me drink Blue Nun and smoke. He’s alright is Brian, and we agree to go out for a jar sometime.

The cash machine says I can withdraw a maximum of seventy quid. My overdraft is seven hundred and stands at six-twenty-six. I walk across the square towards The Angel with a spring in my step. I haven’t been in here for years. As the barmaid pours my Guinness I add a Jameson to the order. I say Ta and smile at her. She doesn’t smile back. I take a seat by the window and look out to the market square. Some udder-titted mother squats down in front of a pushchair wagging a fat finger at her kid. The kid wriggles and kicks out. The mother slaps the kid across the legs, picks a pink dummy up from the pavement and sticks it in the kid’s gob. I go get another Jameson. The miserable cow behind the bar still won’t smile. I tell her to cheer up, that it might never happen. She just says One-eighty, putting the glass down on the bar with a clack. Must be rag week. I drink up and head next-door. The Anchor… My tongue feels dry and fuzzy so I ask for a Heineken. I sit near a fuddy-duddy forty-something couple who are eating steak and chips. I drink, then ask them if they’ve heard of The Pogues. The woman ignores me, but the man looks up and frowns. The Pogues, I say, Ever heard of them? The woman still doesn’t look up. The man looks back to his plate, starts sawing at his steak, mutters something about Fairytale of New York. I tell him I played rhythm guitar on that, and he looks back up at me, his skinny lips parted, a sliver of steak hanging off his paused fork. Really? he says. Yeh, I say, Really. I tell him how they’re a really good band to work with. Easy. Don’t give a fuck. The woman coughs a little when I say fuck. I say fuck every other word now, watching her eyes half-blink on the kick of the K. Her husband says something about trying to have a quiet meal. I pretend not to hear and tell him about the time me and Shane had a gang-bang with four Thai birds on the last tour. I bet him he’s never fucked a Thai girl up the arse while she’s licking out a slanty fanny, and he stands up quick with a scrape of chair legs, walks over to the bar. The woman puts her knife and fork down and stares at her plate while I tell her about how me and Shane nearly got shot by gangsters in Holland over a crack deal. Someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and it’s a pot-bellied dwarf who says he’s the landlord and can I please leave, NOW... I drink up steadily in one, eyeballing him the whole time over the glass. I reach over to the woman’s plate, grabbing a handful of chips as I leave. 

In The Crown I talk to a couple of gadges I used to half-know. They don’t seem to remember me too well. I tell them I used to hang around with Grady, Blue and Newt some years ago, and they both make noises like they remember me. I tell them that I’m a drug dealer now, that I can get them anything they want. They tell me they don’t take drugs. One of the gadges gets up to go to the bar and I try and sell the other some Prozac the doctor gave me. He says he’s not interested. I push three pills out of their little foil pockets and wash them down with barley wine. I drag a fingernail under the bold lettering on the packet that says DO NOT MIX WITH ALCOHOL. I laugh because it’s funny. The gadges are boring so I sup up and fuck off… The Bull is quite la-dee-daa, all green velvet and wood panels. I watch traffic for a while, counting how many cars are red. It seems to me that more cars are red than any other colour. I go to the bar and get another three barleys. When I get back to my table a girl in horse-riding gear is sat at the table opposite. The boy next to her looks like he’s just been on manoeuvres with the Territorial Army, all camouflage combat gear and big black boots. As he drinks his head twitches. It looks like he’s winking, but he’s not. I pour two barleys into my pint pot. The girl smiles at me. I smile back. Under the table I can see the bump of her fanny in her jodhpurs. I drink, feeling my guts tighten as I watch her legs part slightly, close, then part again. I look up. The girl smiles again, and I realise she’s watching me watching. He’s looking at me too, but as I catch his eye he twitches then looks down to his drink. The girl soft-coughs. Hello, she says, My name’s Eve, and this is Andy… I smile and nod, feeling strangely fucked and tongue-tied. My heart’s beating too fast and there’s a bumpbumpbump in my ears… Billy, I say… Hello Billy, says Eve, a curious grin creeping across her face. Andy nods. I nod back then realise he could be just twitching. I take another drink… That’s a good look, I say, nodding at Eve. Eve looks herself up and down, as though surprised to find herself dressed this way. Yeh, she says, still grinning that curious grin… Been riding… She reaches down to a carrier bag by her feet and pulls out a riding crop. She swishes it from side to side above the table. Me and Eve laugh, a laugh that feels loaded. Andy laughs too, but a join the dots kind of laugh, like someone who doesn’t quite get the joke. My mobile phone buzzes. I take it out of my pocket. It’s Grace. I turn it off. Eve puts her mouth near Andy’s ear, says something quiet. His face does half a dozen quick little twitches as she whispers. I drink and look out the window as another red car goes past. I hear Andy clear his throat. I look back to them both. Eve is grinning. Andy twitches then says something so fucked I cough some barley wine back into my pint pot… Say again?... Andy looks to his lap. Eve giggles. Andy takes another drink, puts his glass down, then glares at it… Twitch… I said. Me and Eve. Are getting married next week. But Eve. Wants a last shag. With someone else. First… I look from him to her and back again. I open my mouth to say something but I don’t know what to say so I just laugh. Andy scowls and takes another drink… Twitch... Eve leans over and kisses Andy’s cheek. It occurs to me that he looks a bit mental. She looks bladdered… Oh Andy, don’t be so miserable, she chirps, leaning into him. You can fuck someone else too, remember... I laugh. She laughs. It’s as though the whole fucking room laughs. All except for him. Eve sways a little as she gets to her feet. She picks her stool up and puts it beside me. My heart bangbangs so loud in my ears it sounds like someone’s playing a kick drum in the room upstairs. Eve sits down next to me. Well? she says. My cock stiffens in my jeans. Andy picks his stool up, plonks it down opposite me. He sits, pulling a pack of fags from his combat jacket pocket. Twitch… Well? says Eve again, her fingers tapping a horny Morse code on my leg. My gut fills with mercury. I take a drink, then another. Eve’s fingers tap higher up my thigh. My cock throbs in time to the kick drum. I glance at Eve. She’s quite fit. She smiles, and her left eyeball goes a bit bozzy. I tell myself not to be such a coward… I think it’s a good idea, I say, putting my glass down, feeling myself grin as I pour the last barley into it. Andy offers me a fag, does another half dozen quick twitches as he lights it for me. I take this as a good sign. I take a drag, then put my hand on Eve’s thigh as Andy flicks his ash, his eyebrows making a little V towards the bridge of his nose. He stares into the ashtray. Twitch… Are you sure you want to do this? he says to Eve, his eyes now watching my hand move between her legs. Oh Andy, she sings, curling her bottom lip down and pulling a sad pantomime face, You promised, remember?... He takes a drag on his fag, blowing the smoke out sharply towards his lap. Okay, he says, rubbing a hand across his forehead, As long as I’m there too. Twitch… Eve answers for me. No… Just me and him… Here… In the bog... He sits bolt upright, leans over the table grabbing her wrist. No, he says… This is stupid. Come on… We’re going… Twitch twitch... OH-WAN-DEE, she moans, in a weird baby voice that makes her sound retarded, now pulling back against his grip. WU PWOMISED! … I DON’T CARE! he says, twitch twitch, yanking at her wrist again and standing up. COME ON! WE’RE GOING! NOW!... This makes me angry. And I tell him so. I tell him he’s not her fucking owner, and if she wants to fuck, then she wants to fuck, and he can go fuck himself… HEY! she says, spinning around to face me, Andy still tugging at her wrist from across the table. DON’T YOU TALK TO MY ANDY LIKE THAT!... The next thirty-seconds are a little blurred. I know he shouts BACK OFF! and I chuck the rest of my drink at him. I also know she jumps on my back and starts scratching at my face like a psycho cat bitch as I land one on his nose. I also know the table turns over, and there’s a sound of breaking glass. But the thing I know most is that punching a girl in the face when you have a hard-on is like nothing I know of. They wouldn’t serve me in The Bell because my face was bleeding. So I turned my phone on, rang Grace to come and fetch me, and on the way home I told her all about the idiots you meet when you’re out for a pint, that I was sorry I buggered off, and that from now on we’d just have a quiet drink at home because I’m sick of it, sick to the back teeth of fucking idiots.