vendredi 1 mai 2009

Poor List Ch.9 - Teabag's first appearance in the order of events

The door closed behind him and he looked at the car park up front from under the glass roof. The rain was falling steadily but he didn’t have a coat. Two doctors walked past and a man in a wheelchair wheelied down the ramp. A helicopter clattered somewhere above the low cloud. He leant a railing and searched his pockets, took out a plastic bag and some papers and started to roll a cigarette. He lit the bent twig of a thing and looked up and, summoned by the hum of the traffic up outside the hospital wall slouched down the steps and trudged off. Outside the main gate a red Cortina was waiting. Somebody was lowering the driver’s side window.
‘Kieron,’ the man said.
‘Connor?’ He flashed a hideous smile and walked over to the kerb.
The man in the car winced slightly, over the lip of the glass, and took a long drag from a carton of milk. He motioned with his head.
‘Get in.’
Kieron went round the back of the car and jumped in. They sped off down the flat grey unmarked road towards the town.
‘So how are you feeling?’
Keiron threw his rucksack down at his feet. The engine rattled hoarsely.
‘Ok. You know?’
‘Your mum was worried. What with all that happened and that.’
Keiron grunted and stared out of the front passenger side window at the hills and fields as they flitted by. They swung too fast round a bend in the road. He looked up and saw the estate, near the huge embankment, wheel slowly by in the distance.
‘Is she ok?’
‘Oh yes. Don’t you worry about your mum. Everything’s going to be alright now.' His face gave the appearance of a smile. 'There’s a paper down there if you want to catch up on the footie.’
‘Is there any music like?’
‘There’s some CD’s in the glove compartment’, he gestured with his left hand at the space in front of his passenger, ‘and there’s some food and that in the bag down there.’
‘Maybe later.’
They re-accelrated up a steep hill and vivd landscape burst from behind a moor top. The wind blew away some blue smoke that snorted out of the bonnet. Connor managed the gears.
‘Are you sure you’re ok Keiron? You’ve been shaking like a shitting dog.’
‘I’ll be right when I get home.’
'Only don't be blowing your chunks in here or anything.'
They drove on in silence after that. The car crawled through gentle folds in the earth. A huge mass of grey cloud was being buffeted in from over the hills. Over the other side the sunlight made the other clouds look like rock around a flat sea.
Keiron leant back in his seat and closed his eyes. Then as they got into the outskirts,
'Your life Keiron. I mean it can't go on. Can it? What.' He carried on. '...What do you think Keiron?'
‘Feels like we're travelling backward,’ Keiron said.
Connor glanced at the reclining figure and sniffed.
They drove through the half empty streets towards the centre. The rain re-intensified and Connor flicked the control. The wipers’ rubbery wheeze speeded up. At the ring road, Connor took a left towards the gas works. Keiron opened his eyes and blinked. His face registered a quick series of expressions, yawnings and looks of suprise as if trying to find a default face.
‘Where we going?’
‘Oh you’ll see.’
‘But this not the way back like.’
Keiron finally picked up the bag and rummaged through its contents, took something out and bit into it.
'Scenic route.'
‘It’s a surprise Keiron.’
‘Don’t like surprises,’ Keiron said, his voice muffled by a piece of sandwich.
‘Holiday time.' Connor was saying. ‘You’re going on holiday, Keiron. Our treat, you’ve, deserved it.’
‘Yep. You get to do whatever you want whenever you want. All the money you need, your own place. Magic.’
‘Kidding? Ace. Where?’
‘Not far Keiron, really. Not far at all. Nearly there in fact.’
‘What, seaside like?’ Keiron asked. He scrunched up a paper bag and looked at Connor, jowly and balding. 'Fucking love the seaside.' He threw the paper ball at his feet then started to roll another cigarette. Connor turned the radio on.
‘You’re always smoking Keiron. Either smoking or rolling. You should stop. Especially with that stuff.’
‘So like Scarborough or something? Got a light?' Keiron searched all his pockets and said out the corner of his mouth,
'Nah I'll just use end of this.’
‘Scarborough? No, not quite. Good views though.’
They had started to drive through smaller streets in the gathering gloom. Keiron stared through the window across the valley to the strange stacked oblong lights of the two emmense grey towers below and in front of them. Connor drove faster. They crossed a small humped bridge over shining rail track and then through an industrial estate and up and down row after row of sandy coloured houses, slowly, geologically, dissolving back into the ground.
‘Seriously, are you sure you ok Keiron, only youdon’ look well.’
Keiron frowned and nodded.
‘Yeah I’ll be right.’
The front tyres screeched faintly as they turned into a twisting side road, with vegetation growing as high as the railings, that then plunged down a steep winding slope and round and into a car park.
‘Well. Here we are.’
‘But this…’
They pulled next to some other cars up in front of three enormous steel waste bins at the nearest of two tower blocks. Some children played football nearby.
‘The fuck’s this?’
‘Prince of Wales Towers.’ Connor wiped milk from his mouth with the cuff of his jacket.
‘I fucking know that. Bwhat are we doing here?’
Connor switched the engine off and sighed. He threw the empy milk carton out of the window.
‘When I said “Holiday.” I meant a holiday for your mum, me and the rest of us. From you.’
‘But, where’s the seaside?’
‘Fuck’s sake Keiron,’ Connor sighed taking his seat belt off. He opened the driver’s side door. Car doors slammed further away. Connor twisted himself out and looked back in and down. ‘Come on, out you get.’ he said to Keiron, but whose eyes now had gone glassy. Connor ran round the front of the car and flung open the passenger side door.
‘No you don’t. Out. Don’t puke in the fucking…’
Keiron hunched with a wretching sound and vomited over the dashboard.

Under a flickered light in the lift up to the penultimate floor, Connor tilted his head towards Keiron and said, ‘Slapping his mother about this cunt.’ His voice echoed down the concrete corridor. The other two men each carrying a bin bag full of Keiron’s clothes and clutter, shook their heads. The lift’s mechanisms creaked into life.
Keiron stared at the gigantic meticulously sprayed cartoon head with a mobile against its ear that had drawn itself together on the doors. He closed his eyes and steadied himself against a mirrored wall. Unobserved in the corner, the tiny grey camera’s giant eye captured their reflected light.
‘Whose place is it again?’ Connor asked. The taller of the two gentlemen said , ‘Bronny Taylor’s. But he’s . . . away, shall we say?’
The lift lurched and picked up speed.
'He? I thought it was a she.' the other smaller man said.

Keiron carried the suitcase with both hands and wobbled down the dimly lit corridor after the other three men. A woman stood in the doorway at the end of the doored tunnel, in front of a patch of hall light.
Connor shouted over his shoulder at the floundering figure behind him, ‘Come on Keiron, you’ve got fifteen years on me. What’s up with you?.’
Connor caught the keys the smaller man had thrown and opened the door. Inside, the curtains were drawn and the lights hadn't come on.
‘Stinks a bit in here,’ one of the men said, putting his bag down next to the sofa chair. They all looked around the main room for a second. Connor opened the curtains.
‘Oh no way. You’re fucking joking aren’t you?’ Keiron said as he put the half-busted suitcase down in the doorway.
‘‘Coily go see if you can get the power on. ' and threw an envelope on the table.
'It’s not the Ritz, Keiron but what the fuck do you expect?’ Connor said and sat down heavily on the green sofa chair and a mushroom cloud of dust, caught in a shank of dusked sunlight, bloomed around him. He ran his hand over the chair's frayed arm. .
‘I want to go back home.’
‘You can’t.’
'You just, can't.'
Connor leant up and took a framed photo from the sideboard and studied it. The lights came on and the telivision fizzed into some sort of life.
‘Thing is, Keiron, there’s an injunction out on you.'
There was a pause.
'Do you know what an injunction is?’
‘It’s a pub up Grome int it?’ Coyly said coming back in, wiping his hands.
‘What?’ Keiron said.
The other man laughed. Connor passed them a tin of Sparks each.
‘Sometimes, Keiron. An injunction means you can’t come near a place or someone for like months. In your case, you can’t come near Dowley estate until August. Or rozzer’ll have you’ Connor said.
The small man leant himself up against the window pane and looked out across the strange expanse. The other man, Coyly, sipped his beer and lifted a plate from the table slightly.
‘Right fucking view though. Is that Molyth tower over there yonder?’ the other man said.
‘Even better when it stops raining,’ Connor said and smiled. ‘If it stops raining.’
‘But this place is shit, Connor. I can’t stay here. Look at it. I want me room back.’
‘Like I said. Not possible I’m afraid.’
Connor opened the can of Spark’s.
‘Look around. You’ve got tables, chairs, bit of carpet, telly - ok a portable one - computer over there though, shithouse, kitchen, bedroom. What more d’you want?’ Connor said.
The other man came back into the room and said,
'Packet pasta, instant soup, Instant Whip and all that in here. Sorted, really.’
‘The wallpaper’s coming off, it reeks of cabbage and you can see the fucking floorboards for fuck’s sake,’
Connor frowned and looked out of the window.
‘Look, stop whingeing Kieron. You’ve got a roof over your swede, haven’t you? More than many a poor fucker has, this day and age. Ah,' he gestured towrds the table. 'Before I forget, there’s a letter there for you over there.’
The taller man ran his finger over marks on the top of the table by the wall . ‘What’s all this writing?’
Keiron slowly shook his head.
'Could be worse fella. You could be in one of them village things,' the smaller man said.
Keiron looked at Connor.
‘You always wanted something like this to happen, Connor didn’t you?’
‘Look don’t raise your voice at me, Keiron. And what d'you mean wanted this? You hit your own bloody mother remember.’
One of the two men looked over.
‘As it happens, and lucky it is for you, this is the way your soft deluded mother wanted it. If I’d have had my way, I’d have just slung you out fucking ages a go. Anyway stand over there, I’ve got to take a picture.’
‘Does this twat never say anything other than “What”?’ Coyly said.
‘Just stand where you where Keiron, before.’
Keiron, look round, took a few steps back and stood, crooked, in the doorway. Connor pointed his mobile at him.
‘But who’s going to cook?’ Keiron said.
‘Smile for fuck’s sake, Keiron. It’s for your mum.’

After they’d gone, he kicked his suitcase and bin bags and the tables and chairs about for a minute or so. Then, while he calmed down, he stood next to the window, arms outstretched, head bowed against the glass. The room had slowly filled with flickering static and thirty nine floors and over two hundred feet of twilight below him, orange pools of light had switched on one by one. He watched a smart black car follow Connor's cortina as it kangarooed up the hill and then the motorway traffic through an extensive spider’s web in the corner. Far away in the distance on the other side of the valley, he could now just make out individual fires.
He opened the window and smoked a cigarette. He flicked the last of it as hard as he could out into the air and watched the tiny red light helter skelter down towards the ground. After, he rooted through the flat. He opened drawers, looked for money then knelt down to see if the fire worked. After a while he got it going the ate some soup. There on the wall by the bookcase, in strange little capitals, just below chair level someone had written “Nothing happens in a world of nothing.” He scratched another hole in the wallpaper. Then he dumped his clothes into the bedroom and collapsed onto the unmade bed. The room was large, the bedside light worked, the bed was springy and the walls weren’t as bad as the other rooms. He picked up the radio alarm that flashed twelve hundred and selected a channel. He frowned, or a thought passed over him. He perched himself up on his side, winced, and reached under the mattress, half crushing his fist as he did so. He rummaged around, but, finding nothing, rolled back onto the bed, wiped some blood from under his nose, swore loudly and stared at the flaked ceiling through freshly bruised eyes.