Saturday, April 18, 2009

Punctuated by violence

Somebody is prodding me in the back. I open my eyes. The world is buzzing like a TV without a channel. Full of static. Anything but still. Head pounding. Whole body ice cold. I’m lying face down on cement.

“Mate, mate, MATE!”
Somebody is kneeling next to me and screaming. I hate it when people scream at me! As I turn to face him, he begins to heave. There are bits of reality missing. I can’t tell if I’m having flash backs or just blacking out every few seconds. Seconds could be hours.

The stranger is still here. Now he’s standing next to a tree. I see vomit hitting his bright white shoes. The trail of vomit starts to wind its way to me. I feel the warmth on my legs. I’m cold, crusty and ambivalent.

Peeling myself from the concrete, I kneel to face him. He’s still vomiting.
“Stay there!“ he gurgles more vomit. I wish he’d stop doing that!
“Blood… Fuck!” he’s still screaming. This guy is nuts!

Then it registers. Blood. He said blood. With the help of a railing I stand. He must be hurt. Maybe he needs help? I try stepping towards him and stumble - grappling wildly with a slippery railing that's as dry as a desert.

I manage to catch some light from a far off streetlamp. Looking down, I notice that the front of my pale green shirt is drenched in shadow. My trousers are damp. In a moment of panic it registers. The blood isn’t his. Its mine! There’s blood everywhere! I’m bleeding!

“Help me”, I whimper, “I’m fucking bleeding!”
He’s wipes his face as I slide down the railing to sit. I pat wildly at my face. Feels OK. I pat my chest. OK. Legs? Check. Feet, belly, balls? Check, check, check. I run my tongue around my teeth. Teeth? Check.
“Lift your shirt”, he suggests.

I do. I hold my shirt and do my best to turn around so he can see my back. He nods. I’m fine. I drop my trousers. Nothing. There are a few small cuts, some juicy bruises and scrape or two, but nothing to explain the blood.

“What happened?” I ask him. He shrugs his shoulders. My hands hurt. Bad. He gestures towards them.
“Fucked if I know mate. I’d hate to be the other guy!”
I look down. My knuckles are bloody – white in places. I recognize this. I’ve been here before. I’ve been fighting. By the looks of my hands, I’d say quite a lot.

“Do you remember what happened here? That’s a bucket load of blood!” He’s still wiping vomit from the corners of his mouth with his shirt sleeve.
“I thought you were dead! Oh, thank fuck you’re not dead. Fucking hate dead geezers!”
He smiles big white teeth. Dark skin. I smile back as he puts his arm around me. I thank him. He supports my body weight.
“Need the ozzie?”
“No hospital. I think I’m fine thanks. Just bruises”
“K. Name’s Keith, we better get you home. Where do you live?”
I point down the hill and he takes me home.

The night started off with a friend stopping by for some drinks. We usually did this to save money. My Dad did a lot of those beer runs to France. I was always well stocked. Whiskey, vodka, beer, beer, and more beer. Because of this, my place was often first stop for a good night. I remember leaving home with Colin in Glen’s motor.

I remember sitting in the back seat of Glen’s car. Bass thumping. Lagered up – four of us spitting songs through open windows, the sun roof and at passing cars.

I remember it being Jack special night. I usually avoided liquor unless I was on my own. It made me more me. More aggressive, more outspoken and less restrained. But hell, for 50p a shot, it was the best bang for the buck in town! I didn’t really care about the taste. It was all about the alcohol. Jack was an easy choice. Bad friends always are.

My new friend, Keith, found me at around 4am. My last memories were around 10pm. I wracked my brain for answers but only found questions.

Keith helped me to my room. I thanked him profusely. He left, letting himself out. I turned on the TV and watched the news until it was dark again outside. I was worried sick: terrified that I’d hurt somebody. Killed them maybe? You don’t get that much blood from a fist fight. This was serious.

I cried a lot that night. I always cried after a fight. There was a fear of myself and of losing myself. More than this was nagging self-loathing. I was disgusted with myself. The very same stories that I bragged about often cried me to sleep. That night I knew that things had to change. It should have been the turning point. Sadly, it wasn’t. It’s just another story. I have years of stories. Many of which are just as punctuated by violence.


Debby said...

Speechless here. I know people like this. I was raised amongst them. So what was your turning point? There must have been one, because you don't strike me as that sort of person now.

*waits patiently, chin in hand*

Dean said...

Hi Debby. Thanks for leaving some comments. What did you think about the style of the post? I really struggled with this one. I'm not sure it flows well.

Anyway, there were a couple of small turning points for me. I found myself on the receiving end one night when I was sober. I was almost raped in a pub toilet by two very drunk guys. I also had my stomach pumped in Spain on vacation - forgetting a whole day due to the juice.

I think it's something that I grew out of really. Seeing an old school bully driving a beater and as miserable as sin also helped. I still have nightmares about him tho.

Hal Johnson said...


I thought the style had loads of punch, by the way.

Geez, I almost feel a hangover coming on just reading this.

What a powerful read.

Debby said...

I agree with Hal. Loads of punch. Did you grow up in an angry family?

Dean said...

Nah, my family wasn't angry in the least... Our house could have been framed with a white pickett fence - and people that knew us would have thought "how appropriate"...

I think the violence was just my way of getting back at the bullies that had plagued my childhood.