I am electric. I am alive with the static kick of feedback buzzing on my brain as I walk home through the sodium lit city streets back home. My mind awash with a night of cheap guitar tracks and cheaper wine on the wrong side of town. A night of conversation as thick as tar, and just as transparent – meaningless. The vaulted sky seems higher than normal, and the dry nor-west wind adds to this. A snapshot of invincible summer1, when “songs will sing themselves”2. We walk down the City Mall and back towards Colombo, spirits high. The streets of daytime commerce are alive with the sound of big-exhaust cars, people and humming neon signs. I walk with Dave and Chris, thoughts elsewhere.
“Hey you fucking faggots” yells a guy in a polo shirt that is (by statistical probability, rather than memory) striped salmon pink, interrupting. I wish Dave wasn't here. Then we might be able to avoid a fight. Stupid violent bastards.
There are five of them. We're going to get Fucked Up. I've never even seen Chris fight before. Dave, many times. Oh fuck. The urge to run is overwhelming but I don't. Could never live that shit down.
“Yeah, you fucking faggot. Why don't you get a haircut?” another of Salmon Shirt's companions.
“Fucking metros, you're all pussies anyway. Why don't you fucking come here and say that” spits Dave. This was avoidable, but now, necessary.
“Look at those gay fucking faggots” yells another guy (maybe the same as before). This is an insult that has me puzzled. Does “gay faggot” create a double negative? Fuck it.
“Honestly, you guys are fucking pussies. Come say that over here or fuck off back to your ugly two-bit whores”. Dave again. He can't let it go.
The group approaches, menacing. Original Salmon Shirt Guy pushes Dave, who pushes him back. They're all big guys, but are just standing back while the two of them go at it. And Salmon looks pretty drunk. A messy fight, like twelve year olds at intermediate – more time spent wrestling on the ground then actually connecting with any solid blows. His friends and us standing round, not really knowing what to do. Should we be fighting too? Is that how these things are meant to go? You can tell Dave's getting fucked off with this, and he's pretty sober. And so he gets up off the ground, quick, and kicks the fucker in the head. We all see it, and see he's still wearing his work boots. That'll fuck a guy up.
'”Holy shit” says one of the Salmon Crew.
“Fucking run man” yells Dave, and we take off down the alleyway from High Street onto Lichfield.
And keep on going past the new bars on His Lordships, almost overwhelmed by people wearing clothes worth more than my rent for two months. I look back and no one's chasing, but still I can't slow my heart and still I feel fucking sick for the whole situation.
“Man, that was FUCKED”.
“Nah man, he deserved that. Fucking metro's. I hate this town.”
“I don't mean what you did was fucked. Just the whole situation. I mean what the fuck, aren't those sorts of guys meant to be the ones we don't worry about? Don't we worry about the ones in the baggy jeans and polyester shirts? The ones with bandanas under their caps and shit?”
“Dude, what? That's like the second time we've been hassled in a few weeks by polo-shirt assholes.”
“I guess I'm struggling to adjust. I mean, do I need to be scared of everyone when I'm walking home now?”
“Nah. You need to be ready for everyone though.”
“What? Where did you get that man? Sounds like some cliché shit”
“I guess dude”.
“But seriously. That's never happened to me before. Not once. In my whole life, that's the closest thing to a fight I've ever been in. What about you?”
“I've been hassled in town before, but never like that. Mostly I just ignore them and nothing happens.”
“I just can't ignore that shit. Fucking metros. Fucking gangsters.”
“Dave, you need to chill the fuck out.”
“I can't man. Something just happens when people talk shit and I can't let it go”.
There is a violence inside all of us, and this is the sort that ruins any night out. I decide to head home alone in a taxi. Paranoia.
Walking up the driveway, the traffic noise subsides. This is my house. This is where I come back to every day after my 9 hour shift at the video store, plus whatever else I've been doing. I don't usually do a whole bunch – I'd say I'm kinda socially retarded, especially sober. So I don't leave the house much. But if these walls could talk... if these walls could talk they'd probably tell me to shut the fuck up and stop talking to myself. They'd tell me to get a real job, and stop jerking off so god-damn much. I forgot to mention – my dad built these walls. I'm 23 years old, and in none of those years have I owned a television to do that weird thing where the wall behind gets discoloured. I can watch all the movies I want at work, and everyone knows that network television is for chumps. But tonight, instead of going for the easy distraction of reading, I think about the day ahead.
Tomorrow, I will serve fake smiles and b-grade movies to the drooling and infantile sycophants who seem to infest the Mall my work is attached to. A whole room full of Godard and the most popular hire is 2 Fast 2 Furious or Wrestlemania XVI. From the ivory tower of my checkout counter, my unjustified sense of superiority will rage. After the days work I will walk to the supermarket, buy some easy food and catch the bus home, the whole time avoiding eye contact with anyone lest, they take offence and stab me. It's that kind of neighbourhood – paranoia abounds. On the bus home I will listen to music which is totally original and cool, and I would start namedropping right now if you were a pretty girl and there was a chance you would sleep with me. 4/4 timing and distortion pedals have come to define my personality – it's an easy fit. At some stage I'll probably call my mother, just to talk. It's nice to catch up some times. I know this is how my day will likely turn out because it's how most other weekdays of my life turn out.
1 Albert Camus - “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. “
2William Carlos Williams - “In summer, the song sings itself. “