Loud Smoke

Author’s Note: This small piece was one of two for my Creative Writing Seminar, with the aim of exploring monologues given by a single character. Written while still a little bit drunk, I still consider this part of the learning experience and may (or may not) be interesting to read. 

There was something strange about where I found myself now, sitting in my underwear in front of the TV. I took another toke and idly waved my finger through the smoke trail it left. It made fantastic patterns in front of my eyes, following the path of my hand through the cloud. Jason fiddled slowly with the laptop connected to the big screen and as I watched, the mouse moved slowly across the screen to put on some hip-hop. Some droney hip-hop that would zone us out enough to pass the time.

That’s all it came down to. Passing the time. As much as we dressed it up with fanciful words like ‘adventures’ or ‘fun’, what it came down to was a few kids without anything else to do in their lives.

But it did have its moments when the kind of shit that only happened in movies or transgressive novels happened to us.

I remember one time I was back home, driving through the estate with Bill and Tom at stupid ‘o’ clock, coked off our heads, weed smoke twisting our words and minds as we looked for somewhere to park up for an hour or two. Safer, right? Far better than three minor leaguers of the drug taking public being in charge of a motor vehicle. At least we were careful about it. Seven out of ten drunk drivers don’t consider themselves drunk while behind the wheel. We were aware of our shortcomings and were careful with limiting the damage done.

Anyway, this time, we were forced to stop when some guy in a hoodie stepped out in front of us. Sitting in the back of Bill’s Ford Ka, I could feel some tension in the air, which turned to panic as more guys poured out of the woodwork. One of them reached through Bill’s window and grabbed at his collar, screaming something aggressive. I was set to panic, this shit was crazy, but Tom was acting already.

The door was open. And the guy with his hand around Bill’s throat was backing away.

I’m going to take a moment here to point out that Tom is not a small guy. He’s a bricklayer during the day, and on the weekends he takes steroids to the gym. There’s not an ounce of fat on the guy. The incredible Hulk would think twice about squaring up to Tom.

So when I say that he lifted the guy at Bill’s window above his head and threw him over the pavement into the wall, I want you to understand the power behind it, and the injuries the poor fucker took when bone splintered against cement. And when his friends saw the knife appear in Tom’s hand, I saw fear like I’ve never seen before. Here was this big gorilla of a man, carved from marble. And they must have seen the hunting knife in his hand like a fucking chainsaw. Tom himself looked like the spirit of motherfucking justice.

I bailed out of the car behind Tom and peeked out from behind the bonnet as he squared up to one of the braver guys in hoods. But as Tom stepped into the light, the guy bottled it, and ran. And so did Tom, knife glinting in the street light.

Eyes wild, I looked at Bill who was still sitting in the driver’s seat. Hands shaking, the guy lifted the Fight Club DVD case we were using to line up on. He laid it on his lap and tipped a small mound of white powder onto it, before scraping it together with a twitching credit card into two pretty lines. He handed me the rolled tenner, smooth to the touch, and looked me in the eye with those massive pupils of his. “Another line?”

The bell was going. I was aware of it before the others on the couch, but how long had it been going? Was that the first ring? Or the fifth? It was a struggle to rise, but I managed it despite the floor tilting beneath me, the couch whispering to me, trying to coax me back to its warm loving embrace. But I ignored it. The door was still calling to me.

Who could it be?

I sidestepped the couch Ozzie was spaced out on, and made it through the door. Only to realise I had to conquer the stairs.

Two flights down to the corridor to the door. Take each step one at a time. Steady yourself on the bannister. Take another step. One hand on the bannister, one hand on the wall. Another and another and another. Before you know it, you’re running. Then stumbling. Then stepping again.

After a while I got to the corridor, and I could see the shape through our frosted glass pane. Not enough detail for me to know who it was. And I began to wonder, something I should have started on upstairs because now it made me hesitate as I got to the door. Did we order food? Or was this Jason come to try to pick up off me. It was a little money making scheme, since I could get drugs without too much hassle, I could sell em on for just enough profit to keep myself solvent. So I sold to friends or people I knew. People who weren’t going to kill themselves with it, or try to get more than they paid for.

 

I realised I was stalling. It looked dodgy. I took a deep breath to sober up, try and make it so I was able to string a coherent sentence together. I wiped my nose on the back of my hand just in case, before stepping forwards to grasp the door handle and twisting it open…