Even before I left the house a multitude of annoyances assailed me at the very point of waking. It started when a most pleasant and private dream was ripped from my skull by the torturous cacophony that is pop music. Bleary eyed I tried to make sense of the post-utopian state of affairs. The pre-dawn grey confused me for a moment then it hit home; what we had here was a time to get up situation. This realisation alone seemed reason enough to lash out at the radio alarm clock so I swung forth the weltering blow I saved up for Mondays.
Clearly there had been some collusion amongst the articles on my bedside table. Jealously was rife amongst my possessions and any new item had to be very wary indeed. Places had been swapped and the resulting thunderous strike missed it’s sturdily made target entirely and executed my brand new flimsily made mobile phone. I let out the most manly of shrieks and rushed to the bathroom to remove the errant shards of phone embedded in my fist.
A bad start to the day was compounded by the fact that, after applying the required bandages to my hand and exacting heavily booted revenge on my bedside belongings, I was running late for work. Being late for work appeared to be tantamount to clubbing seal cubs to death with a bag full of disabled kittens to my supervisors so I was forced to forego the obligatory, and deeply necessary, cup of tea and cigarette to get myself ready in time for the bus.
I quickly washed, dressed and presented myself to the front door to face the horrors of my journey into work. Thunder and lightning was showing off outside as I buttoned my trench coat, tugged on my baseball cap and pulled open the door… onto a visage of atmospheric jiggery pokery normally only visited upon the rain forests of Brazil. Lashing rain and gale force gusts buffeted me relentlessly and I was wet through by the time I had locked the door behind me.
Unimpressed by this latest form of irritation I hurried to the bus stop and its sheltered sanctuary. The peak of my cap blocked the pelting rain from my eyes but meant I could only see my feet and the current scrap of pavement I was walking on at any given moment. My struggle forward was abruptly hindered by the advent of a car wing mirror trying to castrate me. I lifted my head to get a good look at what I was about to smite and was just about to smite it thoroughly when someone started shouting at me.
“WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE TO MY CAR?” shouted the someone, emerging from the opposite side of same.
I took in the situation and found I had been attacked by the wing mirror of a car of the expensive sports genre. I also found that it was parked all over the pavement suggesting it deserved some form of extra advantage over the other proletariat vehicles parked thereabouts.
“THERE’D BETTER NOT BE ANY DAMAGE,” ranted the car’s owner, as he struggled with an over-sized umbrella.
“Oh, I do hope not,” exclaimed I, “Oh, deary me, this wing mirror looks a bit loose,” I gave it a bit of a waggle to demonstrate. Unfortunately it still seemed to be in perfect working order, “Hold on a second,” requested I.
I took one step back, centred myself, then let fly the kick Jackie Chan had taught me for this very occasion. The wing mirror was propelled high up into the air, arced majestically at its peak then plummeted into the windscreen it had nestled beside since birth. The mirror rested half in and half out of the shattered glass so I plucked it from its suspended position and gave it a bit of a waggle.
“Loose,” pointed out I, then feigned an attempt to reattach it. This went horribly wrong when I clumsily threw it through the passenger window.
“I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” roared the man whose car was now getting very wet inside.
It was clear to me, as my retracted testicles recovered from the shock of a near miss, that I was still the victim here and therefore should be the only one doing any shouting in the whole scenario. I had already been apportioned an unfair quantity of annoyance this particular morning so felt it was time to assert my considerable authority upon the situation.
“YOUR CAR NEARLY DEPRIVED THE WORLD OF MY FUTURE OFFSPRING, YOU FOOL,” asserted I, “THE PAVEMENT IS NOT YOUR PARKING SPACE, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I USED YOUR CAR AS A PAVEMENT?” and so saying I hopped onto the conveniently low, sporty bonnet and wandered up and down his car to show how annoying this would be. It was a bit slippery but I think I got the point across.
“GET OFF MY CAR, YOU CRAZY BASTARD!” screamed the man, close to some form of amusing premature heart failure.
“What was that?” queried I, from a buckling rooftop, “You want me to jump up and down?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” sobbed the desperate one.
“Very well, apologise for my near penile mutilation experience or bear witness to my trampolining expertise,” growled I, giving the man a look that made his umbrella turn inside out and fly up the road, though that might have been the wind. Whichever awesome force of nature was responsible it certainly seemed to help.
“ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT. I’M SORRY, OK? Please get down,” pleaded the thoroughly demoralised pavement parker.
“Well, OK, but only because you asked so nicely,” my dismount suffered a bit of a miscalculation and somehow resulted in the car’s spoiler being snapped in half. I still managed to make a three point landing worthy of gold in any self respecting Olympics though, which was the main thing.
It appeared that the man had run off until I found that he had fainted and was now lying in the middle of the road. He was probably very close to that spoiler, intimate even. I dragged the man on to the pavement and wasted precious seconds arranging his body into the ‘I’m a little teapot’ pose. I couldn’t hang about sniggering and so pressed on through the driving rain, still feeling a little sore about the nether regions and desperate for a cigarette. There was no point in even trying to light one up in the current weather conditions so I redoubled my efforts to get to the bus shelter where I could smoke to my lungs content.
I had just rounded the last corner when said bus rocketed past me in what appeared to be a land speed record attempt. Had I not been on the verge of a nicotine deficient coma I would have run back to batter the human teapot with a flooded car. The bus was long gone and I feared its sonic boom may have destroyed the bus shelter but thankfully this was not the case. I took my place alone under the cover of the swaying, corrugated death trap and searched my pockets for the now much required packet of cigarettes.
I eventually found them in the last patted pocket. My lung froze when I saw that the packet was in a very soggy state indeed. I gingerly peeked inside and barely contained a yelp of glee when it became clear the dampness without had not affected the cancerous jewels within. I applied one to my lips with haste and pulled out my saturated lighter.
“Schvit, schvit,” said the lighter, in a tone I found most antagonistic, “Schvit, schvit schvit!” it continued in a mocking and distinctly flame-less manner.
“GOD DAMN IT!” shouted I, rousing lucky bastards from their slumber.
I scanned the street for helpful passers-by with the gift of fire. The street was devoid of any such help. I realised that, had there been anyone about, they would now be ducking into side streets to avoid the scary shouting man at the bus stop.
Afraid that psychological damage may occur from pent up rage I lashed out an iron fist at the bus shelter. It skewed wildly in an attempt to decapitate me then shuddered back to a more normal level of instability. Pain became all the rage again as I nursed my now doubly afflicted mobile phone smashing hand. I calmed myself to a mere seething blood lust level of anger and thought through my options. Breathing deeply to quell the red mist I tried to make sense of my thoughts. My brain was trying to tell me something.
‘Shop’ said my brain.
I turned to look up the street and sure enough, a weak light shone through the still driving rain. The dependable corner shop. As I had just missed a bus it seemed the safest time to make a swift trip to the shop, buy fire, and return before the next one had time to sneak past. Notice that I ignored the timetable completely, it being a work of lies and disappointment. I decided to risk it and, bracing myself for a further soaking, I sprinted off shop-ward.
To my huge relief there was no one queuing at the counter when I burst through the door. Thanking fair-weather deities I promptly presented myself to the madly face-painted, teenage harpy serving.
“A box of your finest matches, please,” asked I, suppressing my disgust at the obese visage.
The youth scanned a box and chucked it in my general direction.
“No matter, manners cost nothing that’s all. Unlike make-up and food, which you seem to have some obsession with,” I was subjected to an upsetting vision of incomprehension that caused me to feel quite nauseous. I hastily averted my gaze, frisking my many pockets for some change.
“Thank you very much,” said I, slapping the only money I could find onto the counter. I figured it was pointless to expect any form of courtesy in return and so moved to pick up the matches. A stubby paw drew them from my reach.
“There’s only thirteen pee there, I said fourteen,” squeaked the harridan.
I pulled my stern gaze away from the with-holder of matches and down to the counter. Thirteen pence gazed back in an embarrassed kind of fashion.
“Hmm,” said I.
“I can’t let you off the one pee if that’s what you’re thinking, it’s against company policy.”
“Could you give me a match?”
“No. Company policy,” replied the one I had decided to name Bovina.
“It’s company policy to not give me a match?”
“Yes,” lied Bovina, rolling her eyes.
Luckily I had encountered this kind of ‘attitude’ from youthful fools in the past so knew that personal abuse was the only way to proceed.
“Is it company policy to employ devoid of personality oaf-esses who wear inch thick foundation that still doesn’t cover their grotesque acne? Obviously it is because you are beached right there offending my eyes with your fa…..!” I suddenly noticed that I was ranting to myself, the reason being that Bovina was completely oblivious to me as she typed out a message on her mobile phone.
I was restrained by an unknown force that turned out to be chivalry, which was a bit of a surprise. Calming myself I decided to make one more, less offensive, attempt before giving up and swearing bloody retribution. I leaned deeply over the counter, affected a cheery smile and shoved it in front of the still texting Bovina.
“‘scuse me,” I enthused in my most bright and breezy of tones.
There was eye contact and after a few moments I realised this was all the acknowledgement of my existence there was going to be.
“Hello,” I continued, “I can’t help but notice the vile deep orange-ness about the index and forefinger of your pudgy little right hand. Could it be possible that you are a smoker?”
“What are you on about?”
“Do you smoke?” my fake smile waned momentarily.
“Yeah, what of it?”
“What of it indeeed…,” said I, nearly lapsing into psychosis, “Could I trouble you for a light? It would be swift and painless much unlike your eventual demise.”
“No smoking on the premises.”
“You could escort me to the door, give me a light outside and we could all be happily celebrating one less senseless slaughter in the world?”
“I’m not allowed to leave the till unattended.”
“Right, I get the general idea,” I was getting nowhere and all this bickering was just making my craving worse. I shoved my hands deeply in my pockets lest they did something I might regret.
“Forget it,” said I, making to leave, “I shall sleep soundly with the knowledge that you will never know the touch of a man and will probably work here until the day you die.”
“I’m texting my boyfriend and I start a new job next week,” sneered the adolescent as the door closed behind me.
Breathing deeply to stem ‘the urge’ I took stock of the situation, which was basically this:
1. I was angry.
2. I really wanted a cigarette.
3. I didn’t have a light.
4. My only collateral was a packet of fags, a soon to be tortured lighter, thirteen pee and a bus pass.
5. I’d left the thirteen pee on the counter.
…whilst I was thinking about number six on the ‘situation’ list the second bus I was meant to be catching sped past at mach ten. I would have fainted with rage had I not been hit by the subsequent massive wave of water the bus had created as it. When my brain caught up with the fact that the bus had just fucking splashed me I collapsed with rage. I lay on the pavement twitching for an undetermined amount of time during which the rain and winds subsided and the sun came out.
I instantaneously became aware of a most annoying background noise; a whining chatter and nonsensical wittering that sent a shiver down my spine. Recognition of the foul squawking filtered into my brain… children! I jumped up from my foetal position and looked about me. I was fair distressed to find that the streets were suddenly teeming with the things. They must have all been waiting for the rain to subside before journeying to school and had now swarmed out in their dreaded hundreds.
Cruel Fate was having a right old laugh at me; surrounded by school-bound demons of all ages with not a hope for a cigarette to ease my pain, a desperate man was I. My brain tried to cope with the upsetting situation it had been presented with but in its weakened state the unthinkable happened. An evil Americanism barged its way through to the forefront of my mind demanding to be thought.
‘Think positive’ it drawled with a fake smile and a metaphysical tank.
No sooner had it annexed my attention than an idea popped into my head. I was instantly ashamed and about to contact the UN when I took a double check on the thought. You can not imagine how devastated I was upon realising it was a most brilliant and obvious idea. Children are probably the widest section of the populace to smoke cigarettes, ergo: practically every child walking past me had a lighter in their possession.
I walked along for a bit, keeping a look out for any likely looking specimens. It was not long before I noticed a group of rough looking youths heading in my direction on the opposite side of the road. Irritatingly enough it seems they spotted me first and one of the lovable tykes felt the urge to make a comment about my apparel.
“HEY, LANKY,” it shouted, “YOU AN UNDERTAKER OR SOMEFING?” I assumed it was making reference to my rather amazing black trench coat, something I took great exception to.
His friends were laughing and congratulating him on such a good put down apart from one who just stared at me with unhidden menace. I purposefully looked down at my trench coat then back to the group.
“I would certainly consider a brief change in occupation if it involved any of you,” commented I.
The group of five took this as an invitation to cross the road and continue the conversation. I noted that the menacing looking one kept silent while the others jeered and poked fun mainly from prompts given by the original piss taker. They took a defiant stand in front of me.
“Do you want anything in particular?” enquired I, “I’m afraid I don’t have any sweeties but you can come and have a look at my puppies if you want.”
“Think you’re funny do you, mister?” said the quiet one. I noted that he looked a bit older than the others but this was probably something to do with the tattoos and laughable stubble.
“I think your bum fluff is hilarious,” responded I, “But I suppose that’s not quite the same thing.”
There was a distinct change in mood as the others backed away slightly from the one who I had earmarked as their leader. I matched his intense stare with an impassive and uncaring one of my own invention.
“Got any money?” he asked.
“Lots thank you, and you?”
“Hand it over.”
“No, sorry, I forgot. I gave all my money to your Mum last night, even though she was rubbish. Actually, she paid me and I spent it all on a penny chew.”
“Mickey, check his pockets,” instructed the thug without a flicker in his unblinking stare.
“I dunno, Bob.”
“Just do it.”
One of the mob, Mickey I believe he was called, moved forward and received a back-hander to the face for his trouble. Bobs lip took to curling and in an impressively swift blur of movement Bob was suddenly holding a knife in front of my face.
Well this was unacceptable. I’d been sorely tried this day and now my pet hate, a teenager, was threatening me with a knife after one of his number taking the piss out of my amazing mono-coloured dream coat. Happily chivalry extended only to the female gender and young-ness was no excuse for knife wielding. Things were going to go very badly for someone very shortly.
Bob nodded for Mickey to check my pockets again. Mickey, coincidentally the one who had mocked my tremendous coat, received a much harder blow to the head for such foolish persistence.
“Do that again, mister, and I’m going slice you up. I ain’t afraid to use this knife,” snarled Bob.
“Call that a knife?” quoted I, “This is a knife,” and so saying whipped out my cigarettes.
Two of the boys ran away, presumably out of sheer confusion Bob, however, lunged for my face.
Before this act I was possibly willing to go easy on him. Now, though, it was clear the boy had no conscience and therefore deserved no mercy. And I really wanted to vent my considerable wrath on someone after the shop, bus and car episodes. I easily parried his lunge and in the same action swivelled Bob around with his arm twisted round behind him. He was still holding the knife, which jabbed lightly into his back.
A quick grin at the two remaining thugs was enough to see them off and I was left holding the still struggling attacker. Bob had still not cottoned on to the fact that the more he struggled the more jabs from his own knife he received. To save him from himself I savagely wrenched his arm to make him drop the knife. This may have seemed slightly merciful had I not clumsily dislocated his shoulder in the whole proceedings. Bob let out a cry of well-deserved pain and I let him sag to the pavement with a helpful knee to the back.
Whilst all the banter had been going on children and adults alike had been walking past ignoring the whole affair. Now there was a general air of approval from the passers-by, I was even given a few shouts of encouragement from some of the parents. It was obvious that Bob was a most unpopular young man and that I was doing the world a great service.
“How’s it hanging, Bob?” I enquired of the collapsed figure.
“Fuck you,” came the reply, quickly followed by, “AAAAAAHHHHHH!” which appeared to stem from the kick to the dislocated shoulder I gave him.
“Leave me alooooooone,” he wailed.
“Well, I wonder what would have happened if the boot was on the other foot,” I contemplated aloud, “I think perhaps by now my face would be a mess of cuts, scarring me for the rest of my life, my meagre possessions would be strangely absent and no doubt a slight kick in from your cowardly mates would have occurred. What would you do in my position do you think? Let me answer that. I think you would want to cause as much pain to the aggressor as possible. Whoops, sorry.”
I’d apologised for accidentally stepping on Bob’s groin. Well, it was more of a stamp actually, or possibly a stomp. Whatever it was it looked extremely painful, especially when his reflex action was to move his arms.
“The funny thing is,” I continued over the moans of agony, “that I only wanted to ask you for a light and our meeting would have been but a brief encounter without so much as a cross word exchanged. Funny how things work out isn’t it, Bob?” Bob didn’t think it was funny, I could tell.
“SOMEBODY HELP ME, FOR FUCKS SAKE,” he screamed.
Unfortunately for him the general feeling of the passing public was that a long overdue act of justice was being performed and he should think himself lucky they didn’t join in.
“You’re obviously a popular fellow, Bob, and I admire that in a piece of scum like you, I really do. However, I grow weary of our conversation and am concerned for your well being, what with me being devoid of nicotine and everything. So, that being said, make sharp with a lighter or fear the reaper.”
No comprehendible reply was forthcoming, just a kind of coughing and wheezing affair. Looking down I was very much surprised to find that I had been repeatedly kicking poor Bob in the stomach. I gave my trainers a severe look for acting on behalf of my subconscious again but they looked back at me with their wide, watery laces and I couldn’t help giving them a quick pat and promising them a treat later on.
It was going to be a while before Bob would catch his breath so I decided to have a bit of a rummage about his pockets. I felt sure that Bob appreciated the need for my remuneration after all the stress I had been put through. Being hip to the way of teenagers these days I checked his forearms for needle marks, not wanting to catch anything from an infected needle prick. Apart from anything else Bob had severe acne to rival that of Bovina herself.
His arms were free of any tell tale red dots so I expertly frisked his jacket pockets, apologised for the several elbows to the face he had caught during the search then stood back to examine the haul. And a bloody good haul it was as well: Fifty pounds in crispy ten pound notes, at least a quarter of some very fine smelling grass, a mobile phone, a packet of inferior cigarettes and a very nice looking Zippo lighter.
“Surely all these items are mine,” exclaimed I, popping the various items into specific pockets, “I’m sure I’ve owned all of them or similar at some point in my life. Except for the cigarettes which are scabby and vile, you can have them back,” I chucked the packet at Bob with power and it bounced off his forehead with a comical slapping sound.
An unrivalled display of bad timing saw Bob reach for his cigarettes just as I was about to accidentally jump up and down on them. Bobs hand was a bit of a state by the time I’d realised my error but we had a good laugh about it. Well I did, Bob was a bit preoccupied with his stump.
I stepped back from Bobs crumpled form, looked down upon my achievement and saw that it was good. Not only had I dished out some much-deserved punishment, I had improved my mood to almost jovial and completed my mission for a lighter. All was at one and righteous justice had been performed.
A familiar voice grated across my eardrums breaking the mood. A very familiar personage suddenly threw herself over Bob, flattening him slightly. She wailed unintelligibly before turning to me.
“Ah, Bovina,” greeted I. I was met with a perplexed expression, “Forget it, an affectionate nickname and no more. Know this unfortunate do you?”
“He’s my boyfriend,” she snivelled, “What happened?”
“Some dashing vigilante rightly pummelled him then relieved him of all worthwhile possessions,” advised I with supreme accuracy, “Bob agreed that it was fair enough what with him being a complete and utter bastard and everything. That’s right isn’t it, Bob?”
Bob let out a long whimper that I decided to interpret as agreement.
“This can’t be happening!” wailed the behemoth, “He was on his way to take me out for the night to celebrate my new job. He’d just got out some savings and was going to treat me to the works…,” she started to sob into her fallen beaus’ chest.
The heart-rending scene almost touched my heart but zipped past and attacked my amusement gland instead. I stifled my laughter, having to turn away to compose myself, then regarded the tragic twosome.
“I can not stand to see such awful sadness in ones so young, please get out of my sight before I am violently ill,” Bovina looked up at me with watery eyes as tears ploughed trenches through ample make up products.
“Ahhh, only joking,” continued I, “I wonder if there is anything I can do to help? I feel somehow… I don’t know… responsible,” I turned away again, reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the tenners I had acquired. Turning back I offered the note to the weeping one, “Here, think of it as charity.”
Bovina took the note before realising I had absent-mindedly set it alight with my new Zippo. A brief breeze caught the flame and she squealed, flinging the now blazing sterling to the floor. I crouched down, plucked the still burning currency from the pavement and proceeded to light the cigarette I had prepared earlier for this very occasion. Whilst taking a mighty drag I slipped the flame beneath my left foot and doused it thoroughly.
“My money not good enough for you again, eh?” I held up my hand to halt any further reply, “No, don’t worry, I can take a hint. It was a rhetorical question anyway,” I folded the remains of the scorched ten pounds then put it in my back pocket, “I’m sure it will come in handy for my next cigarette,” said I, with feeling.
Meanwhile, Bob seemed to be coming out of his state of shock and had the look of someone about to blab his interpretation of events to their girlfriend. Being a fool Bovina was bound to believe him so I felt it best to assert my farewells and remove myself from the situation.
“I fear it is time for us to part,” announced I, leaning over the wretched form of Bob who flinched wildly in a most satisfying manner. Grabbing his remaining complete hand I gave it a good shake to show there were no hard feelings. Bob let out a renewed cry of suffering as it became apparent that enthusiastic hand shaking was no remedy for a dislocated shoulder.
“Fare thee well and things of that nature,” said I, waving my goodbyes and as I did so a bus pulled up alongside me and its doors snapped open in the strangely violent way that they do.
I was no where near a bus stop but it seems the driver had found the complexities of his job beyond him and had stopped because my arm was outstretched and waving. I hopped on and handed over my bus pass, stealing one last glance at the most satisfying scene of carnage left in my wake.
“This pass is out of date, mate,” advised the driver passing the offending item back to me.
Checking the date it became clear I had picked up an old pass that I had failed to throw away. The irony of recent events hit home; if I had not been assaulted by the sports car, then forced to go to the shop and subsequently meet up with Bob I would not have been able to pay for my fare. Or have a replacement mobile and a smoke to chill me out. All I had endured had come full circle to allow me to get to work. Coincidence? Karma? Freaky JuJu? I didn’t know, nor did I care. To be honest I was a bit annoyed to have left the right bus pass at home.
“No matter,” said I to the gormless driver, proffering forth a newly acquired ten-pound note.
“Exact change only,” quoth the driver, mere moments before being knocked unconscious.
Monday, the devil’s day. This is an account of how Reginon G Bloke deals with a particularly fraught start to a Monday morning. All he’s trying to do is catch a bus to a hated job but lack of nicotine, teenagers, lighters, wing mirrors, the weather and more conspire to frustrate his efforts. With a mind already tenuously attached to reality something’s gonna give.