The Boy Wonder

Act One

Burned out, lying in bed. He could be old, if it weren’t for the betrayal of his face. Under the dirty matted hair, he was quite young. Too young to be so fucking burned out and depressed. His curled posture and slithered shoulders contested this, as did his faded dressing gown, as withered across his body as he the bed, and the half empty whisky bottle, his pet, waiting for his fingers in the filth with canine-esque obedience.

The Boy hadn’t left his room for weeks, had barely left his head or lifted his cracked body from the stained sheets on his makeshift bed, which had sunk into the mire of shit accumulated during his decrepitude. Stale clothes, violated plates, congealed, scattered pill bottles, a once sticky stain on the bedside wall crusted with dust; a bog of yellowed newspapers, curled magazine clippings, shiny photographs. A telephone.

An amber hue assaulted his vision as he stretched his eyes open. The man was there, in the corner, faced away from him, brimmed hat shading his features. He was turning the pages of an old leather bound book, momentarily caught in a beam of light. He laughed; lifted his head right back and emitted a yawning gutterous chuckle, his body shaking, brimmed hat thrown back, revealing squared teeth behind thick, open-stretched lips. He turned towards The Boy and closed the book. Shaking his finger, he brought his lips together and lifted his eyes to The Boy’s. Ready son? he said. And again threw his head back, snorting and chuckling. We’d better get

Stop! The Boy’s head pounded as he was wrenched awake. The amber hue drained, leaving a blue cold and musty odor in its wake. The noise wouldn’t stop. He reached out for his pet and supped it up, stopping only to choke on the stuff as it sloshed roughly against his throat. Fuck. Make it stop! He blearily looked across the expanse, objects pushing their way into his focus. The sound located, his hand slithered out from under the greasy cover and sank into the media pit. The ringing stopped. He fell back and stared at the cracked ceiling mapped above him. He stroked his pet while the borders blended, merging into chaos and nonsense. It clanged against the side as he closed his eyes and rolled over, climbing back into the depths.

The ringing picked up again, god knows how long after. It wouldn’t stop! The Boy struggled to wake, pulled up at the last second, as he was about to be sucked into the tide, the deceiving drop at the edge catching him unawares and toppling him. His hand snaked out again and reached to the floor. His weight pushed him and he slipped forward. He fell against it, the receiver knocking free. Man! Where are you?! Hey! Get it the fuck Silence. His hand retracted and disappeared.

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When was the last time he’d showered? The Boy couldn’t remember. He didn’t feel clean, he knew that. Stepping under the water shocked him. He’d forgotten what it felt like. To feel his body as he soaped himself, to touch his hair and arms and thighs, cock, asshole. Dripping, slumped on the bed, eyes searched through the room, trying to locate his clothes: dark denim jeans, tucked into wrinkled denim shirt and cracked trainers. He didn’t even have a mirror anymore. The shiny pictures stared up at him.

The street was freezing, and dog shit, plastic wrappers and bare trees littered the decaying path. The smell of stale breath and flat beer greeted The Boy’s presence, driven by a monetary need. The place was practically deserted, dust smeared across every conceivable surface, hag of a barmaid, wrinkled tits squashed into tattooed tank top and chicken legs emerging from a torn lace mini skirt, heading up the bar, filled with cheap liquor and stale peanuts. Whad’ya want darlin’? she drawled at an old, alcohol soaked man holed up there, striped pyjama top suffocated by heavy tweed jacket and stained, black polyester trousers. Another half? Or summin stronger this time? She jiggled her tits, grabbed one from her top, shook it at him, whorishly, laughing. Looking down, the old man nodded and she went off for his half.

The Boy stepped round the cheap, fake wood tables and approached the bar. He saw the shiny poster, cigarette stained, pinned behind her.

She saw him as she slapped the old timers half down. Mhhmmm. Whad’we got here? A fresh one! Whad’dya fancy? Beer? Summin stronger? His voice cracked as he tried to get the words out. I should… I nee… I it’s … He stopped as her sunken eyes appraised him. Whad’ya sayin darlin?

The boy’s eyes bled hopelessness as he raked his hands through his matted hair and gestured behind her. Wha … Darlin’, that was supposed to be two weeks ago. A no show! First time in ages we had what can be called a decent crowd, waitin. Waitin to see the shiny boy wonder again. Bob, he was pissed. Had to refund the punter’s tickets and they all left. Right shat on our reputation. You better no let Bob catch you here.

The Boy looked at her, desperation filling every pore. But. But I need…

Look darlin, you messed up, not us. You’re lucky Bob doesn’t know where you live. I can’t give you any cash, but, look, d’ya wanna a drink? Bob won’t be here for another hour and you’re pulling at me heartstrings.

He looked down at her tits and ordered whisky.

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Headache pounding his eyes and shaking his vision, The Boy turned to his side. Alright lover. Wrinkled tits came into view; last night reared its ugly head. He looked down and saw it hanging wetly off his prick, pointed at a stringy haired cunt. Fuck. The pet came out and he drank it down, sucking on the heat.

A new morning broke. This time The Boy was alone. He rolled stiffly out of bed and, hunched against the stomach cramps, headed to the bathroom for a dry piss and to locate a new bottle of sweets. Fuck. He had to get it together. He needed to. He was almost out of cash, he’d be out soon. His home. He had to be here. There was nothing else. He crawled back into bed, pills jangling inside his empty shell, and sought to lose himself.

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From what The Boy could make out through his fug, this place wasn’t as bad, discounting the Rolex bearing twats preening themselves in the mirror behind the bar and feeding on the lady life like cattle. A crowd populated the space, mingling with itself, emitting chatter, supping alcohol; sizing itself up. A whirl of expensive bags and heels and lycra; a clusterfuck of styles desperately jostling to be noticed, to be the remarkable event of the evening. The hippest, the coolest; the most unironically ironic. DJ churning out tunes; pretty girls party pouting on the sidelines, heads held straight, robotically moving their shoulders and checking out the competition. Suited animals wildly searching for a mate – as time ticked on, any would do – mannishly laughing on the dance floor, trying in vain to attract the attention of the peacocks.

Alright mate? Go on over there. Ready in 20. Wanna drink? Some beer? Whisky. Ok. Ice? Anything else? Yeah, 500, like we said. At the end.

The Boy stood. Dripping hands clutched at the neck, shaking fingers, droplets hitting the metal rivets and sliding down the strings. The DJ faded the music and the crowd quietened, pulled together. Murmuring, its focus had shifted to the front; someone coughed, another exhaled smoke and cleared their throat.

Jeers began to rise up, taunting The Boy, demanding a fucking performance. He froze, stomach clenching, pain taking the same trajectory as the crowd’s impatience and insatiable lust to be entertained, to be provided with a night it wouldn’t forget. Which could be facebooked and twittered and instagrammed and pinterested to death, and which would trump all the other crowds’ nights out there. 1,799 likes, more than Tom’s cat, which managed to unload the washing machine and put a new cycle on; 762 retweets hashtag fuckin a. Pictured. Exclusive. Pictured. Like. 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He exited, knocking into the microphone, vision blurred by his salty tears, his shit, as he pushed past and ran through the door, hitting the frosty street.

Breathing heavily, he stood at the corner, drenched and heaving, eyes leaking. Fuck. It wasn’t. He couldn’t do it. Time to move on. Find somewhere smaller, colder, darker; a hole.

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This time, weeks passed before The Boy even remembered the existence of the outside world. He’d been dragged to waking a few times, when the balled up fists of his red-nosed landlord rained down on his door, stirring him. He sunk back though, the pills and his pet getting to work, consoling him, stroking him, allowing him peace and blankness.

When he next awoke, he really was empty, everything gone, down to the last pill and penny. He was harshly dragged onto the street, knowing he shouldn’t be doing this. That he shouldn’t be going to beg.

Act Two

The urine flavored bathrooms had soaked into the decor, permanently staining it. The people, distant, demented to the back teeth. Cheap floral wallpaper and soft armchairs infected with fear loomed up at him.

He searched her out. When was the last time he’d seen her? Three years ago, four? Guilt swept over him. She wasn’t even your grandmother, just some old lady who’d once looked after you.

The orderly, enquiring as to this dirty boy’s purpose, led him to the back room of a long corridor. The Boy walked in, not knocking, and saw her sitting there, cardigan and pleated skirt blending into the badly decorated surroundings, hair unkempt, wearing someone else’s glasses. She looked up, without seeing, and smiled. June, he croaked, I need your help. I don’t have anyone else. He moved over to the plastic covered chair opposite her, touched her knee. Hello dear. No, I don’t think I do today, thank you.

June, please help me. I need you to help. I don’t have anything and he’s going to throw me out. You have to help. This time, he grabbed her shoulders and shook her.

You know dear, I think I already went there before. I was travelling with Henry and we were on a train, just last week! It was marvellous you know and he brought me some flowers back from the restaurant cart, from the dining table they were! Such a sweet man, my Henry. And smart! Have you seen him, that sneaky rogue?! He was supposed to pick me up at 3. We have a tea date, you know.

June, Henry’s been dead for years. Killed. Robbed for a fucking pension book. God, don’t you remember even that? A cloud passed over June’s face. I must get ready. Out of my way now.

She shuffled off into the corridor. He lunged, but a dishevelled man fielded his vision, entered and sat down on the bedside table, pushing the telephone and faded Christmas cards out his way. He looked at The Boy. The orderly walked in. Come on now Eric, time for lunch! Forgotten your walking stick again. Don’t want another nasty fall now do we. Come along, with the others.

The Boy looked out after Eric and the orderly into the corridor and sure enough, there they were, being led in droves to the dining room in time for their slop. He sat alone in the room’s stifling heat. Fuck, what a fucking waste of time. He got up, desperate, in need of his pet. On the way to the door, he pulled up at the shelves, a book catching his eye. Sticking out of it were the corners’ of some notes. He looked quickly to the door, but could only hear the distant sounds of blunt knives on plates and clanging tin pans being washed. He grabbed them, she wouldn’t miss them, still thought Henry was alive, and stuffed them into the back pocket of his greasy jeans.

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Roused from his whisky-stained stasis, The Boy lay, face up. 65 fucking quid. That’s all there’d been. Where was that going to get him?

He had to, he realized. He had nothing else now, neither in him nor his place. Landlord was becoming more incensed, he had to do it. This, or suck cock in the apocalyptic back room of Checkpoint Charlies. He had to do it; he can’t do that.

Climbing through the mire, The Boy located the handles and pulled them towards him. He dragged the tattered holder onto his bed and breathed. Fingers, shaking equally from the sup as from the dull ache inside him, struggled with the metal clasps. At last exposed, it stared up, mocking him and all he’d lived for. Fuck. He grappled around in the shit some more and found the battered card. Keep it. I’ll wait. Just call. I’ll be there. He took a slug. He called. He was there. He took another slug.

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The rusty bell clanged jauntily, as The Boy, unjauntily, stepped into the musky shop and sought him out. Dust spores flecked his vision as it darted between the instruments, dangling from the beams, walls, in every corner and cranny. A scratching sound came from the record player to his left.

Mate! I fuckin knew you’d call! Shit, look at you man! Declining to add any further comment to his acquaintance’s welfare, Jack rubbed his skinny hands together, his greedy eyes gleefully alighting on the case and his tongue darting round his dried out lips. A grand. That’s all I can pop you mate. Yeah, I know who’s it is. Yeah, I know how you came about it. But fuck, sorry mate, I’m not rollin in it. Business sucks, no one’s buying anything now. Food and fuel too fucking consuming these days. Ok, ok, one five, final offer.

The Boy headed home, back facing the liquor store, brown paper bag clamped under his arm, dejection oozing from every pore. Landlord placated for a short while longer and stocks refilled, he went through the front door and dropped onto his bed. Knees pulled up, he rocked and drank, and rocked and drank some more. The darkness descended a while later.

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Yes you fucking pig, you’re out. Just look at you! Look at this place! D’you know how much I’m gonna have to pay to clear this shit up? I’m done, you’re done. Not out by 10 tomorrow and I’m gettin the boys. No more kiddin round. The landlord turned and stomped off, dirty white wife beater stretched across his swollen stomach, sweaty underarms chafing pustulating spots, worse than ever, gorilla arms and balled up fists wooden at his side.

The Boy sat back on his bed, shaking; whisky cold, propped on his naked thigh. Fuck. Cash gone, just like that, and now he was out of the last place he had refuge. Sucking the liquid down, he threw the glass against the wall and let out a gasping cry. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Act Three

The rusty door creaked shut as he lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke out of his polluted body and submerging himself in it. The radio tuned to local, he hit the gas and pulled out of the overgrown driveway. He didn’t look to the direction he was driving or take in the frost ridden haar, which hung low over the concrete boxes and automatic cars, shrouding the city.

A while later, he noticed the scenery, blurred, was no longer consumed by buildings, but rather filled with fields of lost looking sheep and barren earth and frozen water troughs, and vast expanses of dark trees and forest. The mountains loomed in the distance, and not a soul could be seen. Dylan, crackled and faded, interrupted by the noise, floated up from the radio. He reached into the bag lying to his left. Stained fingers rummaged among the books and papers and bottles and shiny photographs. Located, he tipped his head back and dropped the pills, the delicious chestnuts, washed down with a slug from his pet. Dylan’s voice pierced the smoke, clearly this time, swam round the car, clashing with the coloured lights. Two eyes took the aim, Behind a man’s brain, But he can’t be blamed, He’s only a pawn in their game. The lights grew gradually brighter and fuzzier before going out.

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Swerving, screeching; his body was jolted. He stretched his eyes, head snapped back, dark tree caught in headlights, gravel spinning under wheel, flying in through the window, impaling his face, darkness rushing up in slow motion; the silence, the impact, the dull thud and splintered glass, torso wrenched forward and neck yanked back. He could hear the laughter, smell the leather bound book.

Droplets dripping down his face, body contorted and packed in like shrink wrapped chicken. Slowly his fingers reached for the door, which groaned open. Pitching sideways, he freed himself from the steering wheel and slid towards the exit, bag clutched in his bunched up, bruised hand. Naked trees surrounded him, leered up from the ground, ganglike and sinister. He slithered out the car, hit the gravel. Fingers clawed, he edged forward into the darkness. Bleeding knees and blanched face, he staggered through the weeds, up some stone steps, pushing a door closed behind him. He squinted his eyes to make out the features, lurched before falling face down, splitting teeth on flagstones. The freezing floor pierced his body.

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Breath and blood had formed a popsicle crust around his scarf, pushed up against his bottom lip from when he fell. Fuck it was cold, and his body, wretched, still in shock from the night before. He turned his head and saw his bag, abandoned a short stretch away to his right. Groaning, he reached and hooked a broken finger through the handle, and dragged it towards him in the half light of the morning. Pain momentarily forgotten, he grabbed at his pet, sucking it back, relishing the harsh burn as the liquid slid down his throat and hit his stomach, sending out a shot of warmth. Knocking back the rest, he slumped over, laying his pet to rest, liquid spilling out, glass shattering; and entered oblivion once more.

A plastic paradise, filled to the rafters with bleached wonders and ghoulish fashionistas, surrounded him. He twisted as he made his way through the dim corridor, pushing his body forward and his mind awake. The man was there, standing to his right, just outside, sadness mocking his face, hat pulled low. His meaty hands were holding a rolled up newspaper. He looked at him and shook his head. It’s a bit late now son, don’t you think? Gasping with wheezed laughter, he doubled up, further crumpling the paper. You’re a bit bloody late now. A tidal wave washed him away and, although the man had been swamped in the amber liquid, his laughter could still be heard rolling through the room. The Boy ducked down and moved on, pushing past the poisoned skeletons and boned faces dripping with fake jewels, into the space before the bright lights. Stars penetrated his eye balls, pushing at the pupils, piercing him.

He’d pissed himself, frost had already formed at the seams, and under his arms, where he had just moments ago been sweating. He reached for his pet, forgetting, cutting his hand before reaching into his bag for another. He washed in some pills and sloshed back the warmth, waiting for darkness. A lone, so lonely.

Outside the rain crashed down and thunder rolled in the tremendous black sky. He stood, naked, outstretched against the downpour, under an element of life, rivulets of dirt running down his battered body, cleansing. The wetness penetrated his body, licked its way up his cheeks, entered another

What the fu. Get off The Boy rasped, fighting his way up against the hairy Hound, which was presently licking his face with its rough tongue. His hand sought its pet, but the creature had knocked it over, batting it out the way. Watery eyes regarded him, hairy head cocked to one side, giant balls hanging below the fur, padded paws resting on his ribcage. The Boy struggled up, reached a half way compromise and stopped, surveying his surroundings. Bottles, broken and rolled littered the floor; a pill bottle lay to his side, empty bar the two congealing at the cap. The rain was still falling as he strained his eyes against the light shining through the dust smeared windows, scattering shadows in its wake.

The Hound loped off to the right, wet nose pushing through the rubbish, tongue lapping at the spilled whisky, hunting. The Boy watched it, temples pulsing in the flared light; tried to make sense of his surroundings. Where was he? Why was he in this broken pit, lounging in a mire of rubbish?

Heavy footsteps sounded on the stone steps. Boots, sturdy, stomped towards him. The Boy looked up. The man was there, standing over him, brimmed hat blocking the light, features concealed. He lay back. Fuck. Hadn’t he just drowned in the amber swill?

What are you doing? a rough voice demanded. That crushed car yours? Back on the road?

I … What do you want from me? I can’t give you anything. Sucked dry. What d’you want from me? Done. You have everything. You He stopped, unable to go on. Whatever little had been left in him a moment ago, every drop had been squeezed out and he lay there, exhausted.

The Hunter looked on.

 

Image Credit: Mo

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