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A Short Story
The streets are, likesay, all empty. Ah’m walkin doon them n thair’s a harsh wind blowin at us n ah’ve got ma hands shoved as far inta ma jaykit poakits as they’ll go, but it’s no much help. It also doesnae help us any that ah wis already shiverin before ah left ma flat, but despite that n the wind blowin in ma coupon, ah can still feel the sweat clingin ta ma brow like perspiration on a can a Coke.
Stevie’s gaff is no too far from where ah am, but ah’m thinkin that ah’m no gonna make it. Feels like at any moment ah’m either gonna keel over or, likesay, burst. Aye, this sickness is a bad one; no doubt aboot it.
It’s, likesay, some ten minutes later when, by some miracle, ah’ve somehow made it – ah turn a corner n, tae ma relief, ah see Stevie’s apartment buildin. Inside n at the foot a the stair’s leedin up tae his gaff ah have tae take a rest; take a wee breather tae catch ma breath, likes.
The lift tae Stevie’s apartment buildin never works, n today’s no different. Ah mind tellin Stevie one time that he should get on tae buildin maintenance or whoever tae come n fix the lift, but Stevie telt us there’d be no point cause the fuckin thing would only be broke again come a week’s time. Ah can understand that point of view, likesay, but all the same, ah woulda really liked that this’d be the one week when the thing’s actually workin cause ah’ve still got some seven flights a stairs tae make my way up tae before ah can get some gear off ay Stevie and put ma heebie-jeebies tae rest.
Ah make ma way up the stairs gradually like, takin it one small step at a time, but ah end up vomitin over the railin when ah’m like halfway up them. Thankfully, thair wasnae anyone at the bottom – or at least ah dinnae think thair was – so ah just goes n continues oan mountin the steps till ah finally get tae Stevie’s flat.
Ah knock at the door a couple of times and ah finally hear a chain bein loosed on the other side and then the door opens. Stevie lets us in and shows us inta the livin room which reeks a hash; the source of which seemingly comin from a wee lassie sat on the settee smokin a joint and whatchin a filum on the TV. Ah dinnae know which filum is on – some cheesy action flick from the looks a it – and ah dinnae know who the young lassie is, either. She doesnae look that old – no older than sixteen for sure, likes.
Ah’m standin tae one side and watin in a corner ay the livin room while Stevie’s off about doin somethin in the bedroom, and the lassie keeps taking her eyes off ay the TV screen an given us these quick looks which are, likesay, judgemental, or hostile even. Ah know that am no exactly lookin my best all things considered, but given that she’s shacked up wi Stevie, ah’d imagine that ah’m no exactly a sight she isnae un-familiar with. Ah mean, junkies knockin on Stevie’s door must be as common as pigeon shite on Trafalgar square, likes.
Ah suddenly feel a painful kick in the pit ay ma stomach that nearly causes us tae double over. Ah know exactly what’s happenin and, instinctively, ah feel ma arsehole tightenin. Withoot asking and with a straight back, ah walk on over and inta the bathroom, prayin the while that ah’m gonna make the short journey. The moment ah lock the door behind us ah practically whip ma keks and boxers off in one motion an then throw myself onta the toilet. The moment ma cheecks make contact wi the porcelain ah feel a hot stream a liquid shootin oot a ma arse like water from a crack in a dam. Ah feel the knot in ma stomach unwindin as a shite what feels like the entire contents a ma torso inta the bowl, but despite the notion that ah mibbie shitein oot all a ma insides inta Stevie’s bog, ah feel a brief sense a extasy wash over us like an appetizer to the main course which ah’ll soon get off a the man himself.
It takes us a couple a flushes to git rid ay what ah’ve deposited in the bowl, but just when ah think it’s no gonna flush and ah’m fucked, the thing thankfully does, and ma brief burst a anxiety disappears along wi ma runny shite doon the U-bend a the toilet.
Oot a shite, oot a mind, likesay.
Ah exit the bathroom n ah get this look a, like, shock and horror from the wee lassie on the settee who am guessin head some ah the sounds comin oota the bog, but ah’m thankfully no in the room alone wi her for more than a couple ay seconds before Stevie calls us over inta the bedroom. Once ah join him in thair and ah’ve closed the door behind us, he reaches under the bed and pulls out a wee baggie a skag.
‘Aw, Stevie, my man. You’re a lifesaver, likesay,’ ah sais n then reach into my jean poakit, pullin oot a few crumpled twenties. The transaction is quickly made.
‘You know that ah wouldnae mind you shootin up here, but, see, Catherine in thair isnae too fond a people shootin up at oor place, so would you no mind doin it somewhere else, pal?’ Stevie sais, lookin a us a bit apologetic.
The prospect a no shootin some skag inta one a ma veins as quickly as possible is not one that appeals to us, but this is his – an apparently Catherine’s – flat, ah suppose. Still, ah try to feebly argue my case.
‘Eh? What’s she got against us shootin up here? She’s back in thair suckin on a joint like its gonna vanish inta thin air at any moment, likesay.’
‘Yeah, yeah, ah know, ah know. She just— she just dinnae like people shootin up here is all, man. Ah mean, ah dinnae think you can argue the point that her smokin a wee bit a hash is like you shootin up some skag, mate. You know what ah mean, right?’
It didnae look exactly just like a “wee bit” a hash she was smoking ta me but ah can see that ah’m no gonna be able to shoot up as long as ah’m here in Stevie’s (and Catherine’s) gaff so ah jist sais ‘right’ n agrees with him n then ah makes ta leave, gettin one a them hostile looks from wee Catherine as a make ma exit.
Ah’m back oot in the cold and ah’m makin ma way with some speed to a spot where ah’m pretty sure ah can cook up and shoot up in relative peace. Ah’d shoot up back in my flat but it’s like twenty odd minutes away n ah cannae be fucked wi waitin on a bus to get us back thair.
Ah find the spot a wis thinkin of: a dingey alley between two buildins. It’s got two a they big bins in it, n they look like they huvnae been emptied in a while cause their overflowin n thair’s rubbish scattered aboot the ground everywhere. This just confirms tae us that ah was correct in thinkin that this was a place where ah wouldnae be bothered by any cunt, so ah makes ma way doon the alley and go behind one a they big bins.
Ah pull oot my works n get busy preparin ma shot. Ah dinnae really have tae think about what am doin as it’s kinda, likesay, muscle memory at this point, ken? Ah hold my tacky plastic lighter up under the spoon and watch as the broon powder bubbles n dissolver in the water that ah squirted inta the spoon first from an eye dropper. After that’s all well an done, ah add a few cotton buds into the concoction which ah then swill wi the point a the needle, then ah drive the point a the needle inta the cluster a cotton which has greedily absorbed the skag, n then, wi a push n pull a the plunger, the syringe fills full a the poison which will serve as the antidote to ma pain.
Ah’ve just about got ma belt wrapped aroond my arm when some movement in the corner a ma eye grabs ma attention away. For a moment ah freeze thinkin ah’m fucked – it’s either some labdick or schemie here to ruin ma day. But it’s no, it’s neither ay them – it’s just some wee dug.
‘Eh? Hiya, pal,’ ah sais to the dug.
He’s just standin thair lookin at us. He’s evidently a stray – overgrown and matted fur. No collar, likes.
‘Ah havnae set up in your home here, have ah, pal?’ I ask the dug. He jist continues on lookin at us. ‘Well, sorry if ah have, mate. Jist give us a moment here and ah’ll be oot your way pronto.’
Ah tighten the belt round ma arm, keepin an eye on the dug. Ah’ve never been one tae know the different types a dug breeds, but ah think this is mibbie one a they sheepdogs. A collie, likesay. Ah don’t know though. He’s a relatively big dug and he’s got black fur wi a bit a white in it.
The dug starts walkin over to us. Ah give um a wee tentative stroke round the jaw and on his head. He gies ma hand a wee lick in return n it tickles and ah let oot a wee laugh.
Tae ma surprise, the dug must really like us cause he goes n gets right up in ma coupon, lickin at it like it was some kind a dogfood lollipop.
‘Eh, come on now, mate. Come on the now… Come— ah get tae fuck!’ Ah sais, tryin to push the dog’s heid n lappin tongue aways from us wi ma one free hand.
Fucks sake. This isnae exactly the quiet environment ah thought it wis gonna be after all. Ah’m no gonna be able to take my shot in peace wi Fido here tryin tae give us a saliva facemask, likes. Ah looks round at the floor n finds some kinda plastic brush handle or somethin that’s fallen out one ay they big bins.
‘Here. You want the stick, boyo? Youse want the stick?’ Ah ask the dug, waving the piece a plastic in front a his face like ah’m tryin tae hypnotise him or somethin. He stops his lickin and his eyes start following the handle around as ah wave it tae n frow before him.
I leans forward roond the big bin n then, windin my arm back, ah throw the stick as far as it’ll go doon the end ay the alley. The dug happily chases after it, n ah get back to ma works, thinkin ah’ve got about mibbie thirty seconds tae myself to deliver the shot home. Ah can hear the sound of a car comin by n ah think that mibbie, hopefully, the dug will get distracted and follow it, givin us a lot more time to myself n in peace than the estimated thirty seconds.
It’s right aboot as I finish that thought n ah’m a second away from drivin the point ah the needle home inta one a ma veins when ah hears the screechin a car tires n then a high-pitched yelp.
Ma heid flips up an ah’m jist lookin straight ahead at the brick wall ahead ay us wi wide eyes in the momentary silence that follows. Ah stand up n peek round the side ay the big big, jist in time to see half of a car as it speeds off, revealin the dug lyin on his side on the road.
‘Nah, nah, nah,’ Ah sais repeatedly out loud as, before ah know it, ah’ve put aside ma gear n ah’m makin ma way towards the dug. It’s obvious he’s in a bad state. It’s obvious he’s no gonna make it. Ah lean down next to him, hearin him whimper n watchin as he struggles to breath wi his crushed stomach. Ah spot the plastic stick on the road next tae him.
‘Ah no no no… Ah’m sorry, mate. Ah’m so sorry,’ ah sais to him, then ah carefully bundle him up in ma arms. Ah stand up wi him n ah realize how ridiculous this scene must be – a junky wi his belt still wrapped round his arm cradling a dug like it wis his baby. Ah head back inta the alley, back behind the big bin, n ah sits doon n rest the dug on my lap. He’s shiverin like me, n ah can feel his panting breaths on ma hand as ah gently stroke his heid, tryin to comfort him. He’s no botherd in the slightest wi tryin to lick at us anymore.
‘Ah, mate,’ ah sais, feeling the rims round my eyes getting warm n moist, ‘ah, mate, ah’m so sorry likes… ah dinnae mean tae… ah jist…ah dinnae…’
As ah trail off ma glossy eyes wander, lookin round the alley in every direction but the dugs. They come to rest on my gear which ah’d put safe to one side. Ah swallow back an exhale a air n ah grab ma works. Ah want the pain to go away – all the pain – n ah raises ma arm up over the dug n get ready to shoot home, but the focus ay ma vision changes n instead my arm ah’m seeing past it at the dug. He’s no lookin at us, he’s lookin straight forward wi half closed eyes, a wet dampness in the corner ay them. Ah let ma arm go slack n fall to ma side. Ah’m lookin at this poor, sufferin wee dug on ma lap, knowin that ah may be of some help yet.
Ah unfasten the belt on ma arm n then start strokin the dug where ah don’t think it’ll hurt him, then ah part some of his fur n then ah carefully drive the needle into his flesh. Ah pull the plunger back n sees some ay the dug’s blood fill it, then ah press doon n drive the elixir inta the dug.
Aftir a while he stops shiverin n his breathin doesnae seem as laboured. Aftir a while he stops doin anythin altogetheir.
Feelin terrible in pretty much every regard, ah move him off ma lap n stand up. Lookin doon at him, ah dinnae much like the idea a leavin him hear in this alley full a litter at all. It wouldnae be too long till the rats got at him, likes. So, despite the awfay way in which ah feel (the cramp in ma stomach is back big time) ah bends over n picks him up n ah carry him. Ah check both ways at the end of the alley, checkin that ah’m in the clear, then ah walk carryin the dug for a bit till ah sees a patch a grass on an embankment. It’s no much, likes, but it’s better than that alleyway. Ah’m pretty sure someone will find him n contact the proper people tae take care a his body. Hopefully it won’t be any wee wains that find him.
‘Bye, mate,’ ah sais, then set off walkin towards the bus station that’ll take us home.
As ah’m sat on a bench waitin to hop on the first bus that comes along, ah cannae help but feel a growin sense a regret n self-hatred for givin the dug ma shot. This sense a self-loathing grows n grows in unison wi ma gowin sense a need.
Leanin forward on the bench, arms wrapped round n clutchin at ma stomach, ah keep tryin tae reassure myself. Aye, what’s done is done. It wis for the best that that shot wasnae used on this particular stray. Aye, what’s done is done.
A bus pulls up. Time tae go home.