Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Chapter 15

I got the Wartburg late October, down the auctions in Bournemouth. Me dad took me. He knew people, knew which were straight and which were dodgy.
I loved that car. Jet black it was. It had this freewheeling pedal where you could disengage the engine going downhill. Didn’t save you much on petrol but it felt fucking fantastic. As soon as I got the Wartburg home I put a sunstrip on it. Where other people would’ve had Terry and Sharon or something, I had ‘Nowhere’ and ‘Boredom’, like on the picture sleeve of ‘Pretty Vacant’.
Dad supposedly taught me. He was a nightmare. Even then I was catching on to what it was with him. If he’d been more of a straight it would’ve been easier to stand up to him, to mark meself off from him. It was like he didn’t have to go by other people’s rules, but I had to go by his.
He taught me all wrong. He never put it in neutral. He always crossed his hands over on the steering wheel. Plus he left stuff out. You’re meant to do reversing round corners but he said why bother when you can just go round the block again. In the end I got a book and taught myself the things he missed.
I passed my test the Friday before Christmas. Dad drove me up the test centre. He said that way I’d get there relaxed. Didn’t work. I wanted to drive so I’d be warmed up but he wouldn’t have it. He started throwing all this last minute advice at me once we arrived. I just wanted him to say good luck, then fuck off. He couldn’t do it. Whatever you wanted off him, he couldn’t bring himself to give you it.
The examiner was like something off the telly. Glasses and a trilby and a moustache and this gaberdine mac like a big version of the ones you got at primary. Even his voice was a joke, like he was making an announcement all the time.
I just relaxed into it, dawdling round Weymouth, thinking about all the happy shopping sheep and their poxy lives. I thought, not for me, pissing your life away like that. The only bit I was worried about was the reversing. Something about going backwards always did make me nervous. It was bumpy but I got away with it.
I knew I’d passed even before the bloke shook me hand. I felt like nothing could stop me. Everything was spread out in front of me like a meal. I felt like Superman. I could go anywhere I wanted, do anything I wanted, it was all ahead of me.
Me dad was in the far corner of the carpark, having a fag. I got out of the Wartburg and took off the L plates. Then I got back in and drove away. Going up the slope of the centre I looked in the rear-view mirror. I could see me dad with his mouth hanging open, too surprised to move. It felt brilliant, leaving him behind.
We were due up Dunmore that evening, and seeing as I was driving I thought it’d be an excuse to drag Christy back into circulation. He’d been doing his Howard Hughes thing ever since the C.N.D. gig. Patrick wanted to leave things like that because Christy was so shit at shifting gear. But I talked him round by saying we could fix it with Dennis and Binny that we’d make out to Christy the price of the gear was higher than it actually was. That way we’d get something back for the fact we were carrying him.
He was just too shy to deal, that was the truth of it. Dealing’s not like in the Sunday papers; it’s all mates, and mates of mates. And mates of mates of mates, if you’re careful and they’re sound. Christy only knew about eight people to speak to, including us lot and his mum and Kev. He hardly shifted anything at all.
That night at Dunmore was the time we got the dexies. I remember that really clearly. Patrick always said that I remembered the first time I took a new drug like other people remembered the first time they saw someone they fancied.
I’d run out of rizlas so I asked Binny for some. He handed me his Golden Virginia tin. Tucked in the corner were these little pills, pale yellow like pollen, with letters on one side.
I said, ‘What’s these?’
Binny looked like he’d forgotten they were there. ‘Dexedrine. Speed, basically.’
People’s faces lit up like Christmas. Animal asked if they were into flogging any. Binny looked over at Dennis. ‘How are we fixed?’
Dennis said, ‘Alrightish. We’ve got those blues as well.’ Then he turned to me. ‘Have some of both,’ he said. ‘Three for a quid. Not much between them really.’
We got thirty between us to start with and dropped the lot. Dennis did his the same time, rubbed his hands and said, ‘Just like waiting for Christmas now.’
That was the first time we’d all done something where you actually had to wait to come up. I loved that about it, the waiting to feel different. We sat there saying how we weren’t getting anything off it. Then people started talking their arses off.
It’s hard describing what speed’s like. The only way I can say it, is I was more like myself on it than off it. Like the proper me, the way I should’ve felt. I wanted to be up and doing the second I come up but there wasn’t nothing to do. We were just sat talking bollocks really. Even Christy was talking; not loads, just the amount someone normal would talk if they were straight, but he was so quiet usually, it really noticed.
Then Phil started one of those conversations. Him and Patrick and Animal started talking about schooldays, about who beat up who, and who shat themselves in assembly, and what teacher got who pregnant. But there wasn’t anything there for me.
They kept going back further. Animal said, ‘Miss Roach was best. All I had to do was draw her a picture of a bird and she’d let me off anything.’
‘Friday afternoons I liked with her,’ Patrick said. ‘You had to rest your head on your arms and she read you a story.’
‘Yeah. What was that one? “Don Quixote”? Went on forever.’
‘I thought it was about a donkey. Sat there thinking, when’s the fucking donkey turning up?’
Phil started on about some story Mrs Carter had read them at Underhill, about a town on the coast that broke loose and floated away. Said he used to wake up every morning disappointed that Portland hadn’t floated away in the night.
I was bored. Suddenly I didn’t want to be there. But I don’t suppose I was ever that keen on the Dorchester lot. Binny was a laugh, but Dennis I’d gone right off by then. He was one of those wankers who do gear because they think it makes them seem interesting. He liked people knowing. Always had half an un-smoked Silk Cut tucked behind his ear. Plus the way he told you things about gear, always got on my tits. Whenever we got hold of something for the first time, he’d go on about how you could tell if it was the proper tackle: black looks like liquorice, red leb looks like Oxo, the softer the fresher, dexedrine’s got the letters s k and f on one side, and blues should be almost royal blue but not quite, and black bombers have got durophet m11 on the side and inside it’s more like tiny granules than powder. It took me a while to sus what it was he was like exactly. Then it clicked. He was like a stamp collector showing you his collection. He’d sit there, hovering over the goods, rattling on, sometimes picking up a bit of the gear to show you something you were supposed to be interested in.
So I just stayed quiet, daydreaming at two hundred miles an hour, with me mind belting around all over the place. I was already thinking ahead to what I could do now I’d passed me test. I knew it’d give me more pull with bands; anybody who had transport was in demand. Sooner or later I was bound to get in with someone who was going somewhere, somebody who’d get me out.
I thought about that with John and them; how I should’ve played it different. Me and Pete from The Bad Detectives started practising with John behind Donald’s back. We called ourselves Christ On A Bike. Only got one song done; this piss-take of biker heavy-metal called ‘Christ Stopped At Eboli Because His Bonneville Was Leaking Oil’. But John got into this guilty Catholic thing about Donald, so they roped him in. Then they changed their name to Hairshirt Boutique. Next thing they turned round and said Andy was joining because they wanted a permanent drummer and I was out on my arse.
Patrick give me a nudge and passed me a J. He said, ‘Looks like Christy’s had a personality transplant. And you’re the donor.’
Christy smiled and looked pleased. To stop meself wanting to smack Patrick I suggested we went for a drive. We bowled out into the car and I just drove without thinking. It was like I was in a trance, watching the hedges roll past like the rollers in a carwash. At Holywell I sort of snapped awake and realised I’d been heading towards Yeovil. I stalled the motor at the cross-roads.
Animal piped up. ‘Monks!’ he said. ‘I want to see some monks.’ He said how his dad took him up Batcombe Friary once to see the fish farm they ran. ‘They train the trout to suck them off.’
‘Neat trick if you can do it,’ Phil said.
Soon everybody was going mental for the idea. Everyone started chanting, ‘Monks! Monks! Monks!’
I did a right, then a left, and headed for the monks. We pulled into a lay-by and started walking up a track to the Friary. It was really dark, proper dark like it gets in the country.
Animal whispered so we could all hear. ‘Look! It’s a monk! With his chopper out!’
I told him to fuck off and stop trying to freak everyone out.
He said, ‘It is! It fucking is! He’s got his todger out and he’s giving it the five finger shuffle. They’ll find us in the morning with our arses wide open.’
Everybody was pissing themselves, but trying to do it quietly. Then, on the horizon, something moved. I seen it but I didn’t say anything. Then it happened again and everyone seen it. You don’t often hear blokes screaming, but we ran like fuck down the hill towards the car, screaming all the way.
We piled into the car. I floored it with the back doors still swinging open. I checked the rear-view mirror. Patrick was kicking his legs in the air trying to get upright.
And we’d forgotten Christy. He was running after us, waving and shouting, ‘Don’t leave me with the mad monks!’
I slowed down. He launched himself at the back of the car and clung on to the roof rack until we got round the corner. It was like Starsky and Hutch. When we stopped to let him in he was white as fuck but laughing too.
We took the A352 towards home. Everyone was quiet on the way back, like when kids get hysterical and wear themselves out. The sun was coming up when we took the hairpin bend outside Weymouth. I could tell the others were coming down like fuck. Christy was whimpering on about having to go straight into work without a tie. At the top of Animal’s road there was a G.P.O van. This bloke our age was stood looking into the wing mirror, squeezing his spots. I pointed him out to Phil and said, ‘Oh well. Back to reality.’
Phil looked sad as fuck and said, ‘Yeah. Teabreak over.’
They all went round Animal’s for breakfast but I wanted to keep moving on. I was different like that. I never really got a come-down so as you’d notice. The worst I ever got with speed was getting blocked. Dennis said it was where you’d done too much speed and you got this feeling like you’re trying to remember something that hasn’t happened yet; the usual sort of Dennis bollocks. It’s more like your brain chasing round in circles like a greyhound after a rabbit, and never catching it, or revving an engine and never letting the clutch out.
I got like that coming back from Weymouth; me mind chewing something over but not properly knowing what. I only knew it was something to do with Christy, and how he reminded me of someone. There was something there I couldn’t work out. I kept on driving, along the Weymouth Road to the island. The sky was the colour of semolina, the sea either side was like tarmac. I felt like the only person in the world. I wanted the road to go on forever, never stop.

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