Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, yeah, nails drawing blood down to the bone, friend of mine. That’s the way it goes, you need to draw blood and I need to lose some, so scratch away. Scratch at my face until I scream, and I’ll scratch at yours until you’re half-blind, it’s the only way we’ll ever make progress. I’ve got your back, and you’ve got mine. I’ve got your head, too, in a vice-like grip and there’s no letting go, but that’s just the way things are so there’s no complaints here.
It’s a favour really, it’s something we don’t need to consider. It’s a weight off my mind and onto my shoulders, it’s a world away from anything I knew before.
Blud’s a coolie. He’s bitter and broken and barbaric. He’s got crazy eyes and sometimes he almost pirouettes as he turns to lift another load of masonry, turns back and places it down.
I am hypnotised by Blud’s work routine. He wipes his brow with no expression and returns to work. The sun burns out my eyes. I smell fire. Blud and I will soon be on the fire ourselves, when our bodies break from all of this endless tension.
I wonder if he ever had a family. I wonder if I did.
When I light a cigarette in summer, particularly a Camel, which is my preferred brand, I am often reminded of the first summers when I smoked.
Memories of those early, sneaked cigarettes on a Saturday afternoon in the park, the sun beating down while we, the tender age of fourteen, attempted to neck vodka while listening to Nirvana. Those later afternoons, aged sixteen or seventeen, in stolen moments with young ladies, in a derelict cottage in Alcester which Julia and I briefly called our own, or on steps beside the cinema.
I always feel impossibly happy that I am the way I am now, not the way I was then. I don’t know whether this is a good thing, or a smug, selfish denial of past sins. For the moment, stress and worries aside, impending house move and a visit to the doctor to have a long-standing cyst destroyed, casting all of that aside, I am happy.
It is summer and I am happy. This does not often happen. Maybe I should cherish it.