My life is hell.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been looking for something. I hated my mum and dad, who pissed off when I was five. Mum was always yelling at me, so I ran away from home at ten, then when she got me back she started yelling even more, so I yelled back. She hit me and I hit her back.
‘Course I hated school. Bunked off most days, smoked skunk with my mates in the park. Then everyone had to leave school to what’s laughingly called in our town ‘trying to get a job’—what it means really is sorting out the best way to get your benefit allowance without too much messing about, and maybe having to do one of them government ‘courses’ that you don’t even have to turn up for.
When I left home the next time I was sixteen, no one could do nothing about it, no one blimmin’ well cared, and I bunked down in squats, in mates’ gaffs, sometimes in the park in summer. Course I needed money for skunk, and I scored coke whenever I could. The easiest way to get money was to what we called ‘scamming the bums’. A group of us would go down under the railway arches, where the tramps would gather, and nick the ‘pot’ of money they’d been begging for during the day. Sometimes you could get ten quid, twenty quid, easy.
Religion? Don’t get me started. Them church goers are all middle-class wankers, with their snotty attitudes their self-righteous hymn signing and preaching. And Muslims and jews and all the rest? I really dunno mate. I seen a telly programme, where this Muslim fella was saying that nearly all Muslims are peace loving and hate killings and such. I dunno, maybe it’s true, but just like Christianity I reckon it’s all rubbish, not for the likes of me or my mates.
It happened one night late when I was on my own in the underpass down by the station. I was hoping to scam a bum down there, and I had high hopes—I knew of a couple of rough sleepers who’d no doubt be in a drunken coma right now, and I could scam their pot easy—if they woke up a kick to their face would finish them off good, know what I mean?
As I turned the corner in the underground passage I saw an old guy kneeling down beside this wino. There was a couple of flies buzzing around, sure enough the fella on the ground was obviously dead, I got a whiff of him—corpses got a special smell, I smelt it a few times now.
And then as I looked on, the kneeling guy turns and stares at me.
He was me!
I’m not joking. You know how a person whether they’re 4, 44, or 88, however much their face has changed there’s something, I dunno what it is, maybe an expression in their eyes, maybe something about their features that doesn’t change: you know it’s them.
So it was with this guy.
He was me.
At least not me as I am now, but me as I guessed I’d probably look like forty years on. He hadn’t got much hair, had a short white beard.
But I knew that he was me.
I even caught sight of the last bits of the tat on the back of my hand: 81—the one on my arm and hand, saying ‘made in 1981’. Only the skin around it was more wrinkled and puffy like, not like it is now.
Walking across my grave? I tell you, my insides went to jelly!
My heart was beating like fuck, I was sweating and scared. Yet as I looked again at the man that was me, I noticed he had a vicar’s white collar on, he was crossing himself and muttering something over the dead guy, saying something, I dunno, maybe a prayer, like vicars must do I guess.
So I ran.
I ran like fuck for what seemed like hours.
Then, when I stopped running and was panting with the effort, cramped, bent double and sobbing my heart out, I felt as if I wanted to go on crying for ever.
But after that, do you know a funny thing? I felt better. I felt better and happier than I’ve felt for years.
I was a long way outside town on the open moors. I walked back.
Once I was back in town I saw this church. The light was on inside.
I got closer. I walked up the steps.
And I pushed open the door and went inside.
(image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay)