By way of a sneak peak for Reader Group members at my current work in progress here's an extract from the draft of Roadrash:
Wake him up!
What the fuck? Jesus. Get him up!
I’m a middle aged bloke. Before I was here I drank, sure.
The wife and I had a regime before we split up. It was supposed to be nothing during the week, and then we’d allow ourselves a night in with a bottle at dinner on a Friday, then the same again on Saturday. On Sunday it was usually two, one before dinner over Scrabble, and then another at the table, before it was off again for the week until the following Friday. It was all part of my vain attempts to try and keep the weight off.
We’d cheat a bit every so often, when it had been a shit day or whatever, but generally we’d been quite good, we’d got into the habit when we were at home, but it tended to fall down a bit to be honest when I was staying away mid-week with work like I did. Eating out in the evening just doesn’t seem right without a pint or two does it?
But back then I didn’t drink. Back then I had a drink problem. Going out drinking with my mates wasn’t about having a good time. It was about getting drunk, pure and simple. Blindly, shitfaced, paralytic, dead, drunk.
It was about oblivion.
It was about stupid stunts like climbing out of a third floor window at a party.
It was about jumping out of a moving car.
It was about being found crawling home along the white line in the middle of the road.
It was until the night I couldn’t remember.
It was the night of a barbie down at the tumbledown abandoned cottage we’d squatted just off the beach. People milling, some I knew, most I didn’t. Loud music. Fractured images, mostly from being in the kitchen, staying close to the booze. And gradually it fades.
To an out of body experience, as in my memory I see myself.
It was early morning. Cold. Still dark.
I was being shaken roughly awake, hands on my shoulders.
The morning I was feeling like shit, foetal on the floor’s bare boards against the wall.
Cumm’on mate! Wakey wakey!
The morning I was hearing the voices above me.
What the fuck have you done?
Registering something strange in the tone as I began to surface out of the blackness. That momentary feeling of panic, of not knowing where I was. Registering there was something wrong with that crusty scabbed sensation of my hands as I put them to my face.
Get up you bastard.
Registering my fingers stuck together as my eyelids opened a crack and the world seeped in in confusion.
There were boots. Boots with legs.
Blokes standing around me.
Around and over me. And before them, closer to my face as I struggled to focus, were my hands.
With clotted blood. And my mind a complete blank about the night before.
My lost night.
What the fuck had I done?
We watched the place begin to burn. A chip pan fire had been Jez’s idea.
They’d bundled me out to the bikes as they got it organised. I was still staggering and trying to get my bearings, bone chilled from the booze and the cold pre-dawn air, all sea mist and raw, but slowly becoming compos mentis enough to wipe the sodden dew off the seat with my arm before I swung my leg over the bike and pulled my lid on, numb fingers struggling with the clip.
I still didn’t know what had happened. The lads were too busy getting sorted and no one was really talking to me, other than to make it plain that my presence wasn’t wanted or needed in the house, so all I was expected to do was get the fuck out of there and out of the way before I did any more damage.
So struggling into my jacket I’d just stumbled straight outside, not stopping to look around me until I felt the damp of the air on my face.
‘We need to clean this place up,’ I’d heard Crunchie say. ‘Sort something so there’s nothing left.’
‘Chip pan, that’ll look right. Got pissed and stoned, had the munchies and wanted some scoff so shoved the pan on but then left it.’
‘Let’s do it.’
Around me outside now the others were firing up their bikes so I folded out the starter and standing up on the pegs, instinctively I eased it over until I felt the tension of TDC, then kicked it down hard, hearing the lump catch immediately as I slumped back down into the saddle.
We all sat there for a moment, engines revving on the chokes as we warmed them up, while through the window we watched the flames take hold.
Then without a word, we pulled away into the darkness between the dunes.
Nobody mentioned it ever again.
Not my mates to rib me, not me, not nobody.
It was as though it had never happened. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop; but time ticked away, day after day, week after week, month after month, and no one ever said anything or came looking.
But it was
never the same afterwards.