A helluva day
By Parson Thru
Well it’s been a helluva day. Woke at 5 a.m. needing the toilet and emptied my entire gut in four successive sessions, reminiscent of my visit to Malawi. Maybe there’s something in there that will never go away.
I dragged myself to work because – well – I have to. Didn’t eat anything except a small chocolate bar and a stale cookie. All day long I’ve felt like throwing-up – through meeting after meeting, writing emails, making calls and processing some poor bastard’s job application. Oh man, I’m so sick.
N is in Zambia – God knows where – chasing down African wildlife. My friend hundreds of miles across Europe is worrying me sick. I’m sitting in this cold, dark little country on a late-running train home that keeps stopping for no reason then crawling slower than a snail.
Now and again, through music playing in my earphones, I overhear an automated announcement asking the Train Manager to contact the driver. Maybe the fucker’s lost.
“Follow the track, mate, you can’t miss it.”
I could turn my iPod off and listen, but I’m not doing that for anyone at the minute – it’s about all I’ve got left.
I took some money out of the ATM for a cab before getting on the train. I can’t face the walk up the hill tonight. I think I’d die.
I wonder if it’s the vodka that’s caused the stomach trouble. Maybe. Maybe I should try cutting it out again. Maybe. Maybe not.
I’m trying not to let this train get to me. I’ve got a horrible feeling we’ll all have to get off at some God-forsaken halt and wait for ages in the cold to squeeze onto a tiny replacement unit. Please don’t let that happen tonight.
I should Skype my friend later if she wants to – if I ever get back in time. Maybe she won’t want to. That’s ok – I can be a total nuisance at times. Just too full-on. Too full of affection. Over-emotional. It’s just how I am. Too much going on – hence the vodka. A calming influence.
Holy shit! When will this fucker move? I’m feeling damaged and this is finishing me off. I curl into the two seats – making myself small. My guts are burning. I wish I could eat. The truth is I don’t trust my bowel. It’s coming out like water – just as it did in Africa.
I can’t even use my phone to keep in touch. It just has a stupid circle going round all the time. It’s really getting on my tits. Over-promise, under-deliver. How do these people get away with it? I got a message from my friend and I really want to text her back – arrange to Skype later. But the fucking thing just sits there with the stupid circle going round and round.
Is this progress? An improvement on the egg-timer? Focus-groups probably fed back that the most annoying thing about the software was having to sit watching an egg-timer for hours. Someone really earned their money there – “Replace the egg-timer with a circle that goes round and round.”
Take a fucking pay-rise!
A pen and paper are so much more reliable – as long as you always carry a collection of pens (which I do). I never travel without pens and paper, except for one day last week when I dashed out of the house running down the street for the train and forgot my notebook. I had to run into the supermarket and grab another. They’re all over the goddam flat.
Where would I be without notebook and friends? Looks like we’re coming into the station – I recognise the telephone exchange and the lorry park.
So I drag myself off the train and out to the taxi-rank. There’s only one taxi and no driver in it. I’ll have to walk to the next rank by the supermarket, but I’m late home tonight. Chances are there’ll be no taxis there.
Ah! This looks like him, coming out of the café-cum-pub-cum-alcoholic den.
He gestures me to jump in and I give the usual directions – “…the one by the park”.
We head off and he takes me an unusual way round. That’s ok though – more than one way to skin a cat and all that. Start a conversation. He’s just back from holiday – The Gambia. We get to chatting. “I like getting away, too”. He tells me about Mexico, the Caribbean, Portugal. Soon we’re back to The Gambia and I’m looking around thinking “Where the fuck are we?”
“Here we are mate. That’s four-twenty.”
“Where are we? I said St. David’s Road – by the park.”
“Oh, sorry mate. I thought you said the St. David’s Hotel. I was so busy talking.”
He thoughtfully cancels the meter and drives the mile or so to the flat. I just want to get inside and turn the laptop on, but we're in full swing with the holiday. Sometimes I’m just too nice. I hand him a fiver.
“I’ve got to go – I’ve got a friend waiting”. I could add that I'm feeling like shit.
I keep looking up at the flat. It's a full five minutes before I get out of that cab. He doesn’t need the money – just an audience.
I switch the laptop on and toast two slices of bread. There’s a fine balance between starvation and bowel-control. The laptop boots and I sign into Skype. My friend’s features appear out of the resolving pixels like a face coming up from the deep.
“Hola, Kevin! Que tal?”
“Don’t ask, amiga. Don’t ask.”