…barged into the science wing, threw his bag on the floor of the chemistry lab and started chatting shit to Noddy, and Mrs Fryn said I don’t think I like your attitude and he said I don’t think I like your face and she told him to leave and see the head immediately and he said Actually fuck you and as he walked out he dragged an arm along and brought one, two, three, four, five whole chemistry kits smashing down, glass flasks and pots of acid and metal clamps and Bunsen burners, and there was nothing but gasps and giggles from his lab-coated classmates and he walked straight out of school, lit a fag on his way across the playground, guessed today was probably the last straw as far as the school was concerned and knew he’d have to sit and listen to his mum’s snotty repetitive questions all evening, But why, but what possessed you, are you hearing me, what’s going on with you, why are you doing this to me, speak to me, to us, his stepdad leaning in the door giving him judge-eyes, fucking self-important twat, so he headed for Gill and Michael’s house, they left a key under the mat for him and if things ever got too much he was allowed to sit in their smart kitchen and decompress, friends of his mum and stepdad, never had kids of their own, maybe Gill’s his godmother, he can’t remember, he lets himself in, paces around their kitchen for a bit muttering, eats a load of custard creams, looks at their stuff, Gill and Michael in Paris, Gill and Michael in Corfu, a framed poster saying 99% CHANCE OF WINE, a calendar with garden birds, he opens their drinks cabinet and has a swig of Gordon’s, then he smokes a fag on their patio, pacing, wishes he still had that whizz from Fantazia, then he has a glass of vodders, then he finds some cans of Kronenbourg in the fridge and glugs one down, then he has some more vodka and lies on the sofa in the conservatory, then he has another can of beer and smokes a fag, then he hears the front door open so he slams the door to the kitchen shut, wonders what to do, hear Gill make a scared little oh sound, picks up a chair, smashes the glass cabinet with all the fancy wine glasses in, hears Gill shriek, hears the front door slam, starts on the photos, punching glass, Gill and Michael at Avebury hugging a stone, Young Gill on a balcony looking sunburnt, punches the whole wall of pictures fast and hard like the game at the fair whacking pop-up heads, knuckles bleeding, one deep cut with a tiny cube of glass embedded, smashes the wine poster, yanks the microwave out of the socket and chucks it on the floor, smashes the bottle of vodka against the wall, wallops the conservatory door with the chair but it’s reinforced glass so the leg of the chair just breaks, he screams once, a loud crackled yelp, drops the broken chair, sits on the sofa and starts crying, hiccupping, shit, grrrrr, fuck, starts to feel a little bit better and by the time the sirens come he’s feeling calm, and sort of sorry.


He stops on the edge of the lawn, where Jamie kicked Nick Fulshaw’s head in last term and the police kept asking why nobody saw him lying there bleeding and everyone said again and again Because of the ha-ha.

Shy’s mum phoned and said they were worried about him and he should be careful, smoking so much, perhaps it’s stunting his growth, can’t be good staying indoors all day, sitting around listening to his drums and bass, and he told her he loved drum n bass much more than he’d ever loved her and then he hung up.

The memory is camouflaged with other shitty things.

He called her back.

Nice chat, you fucking whiny old bint. Don’t bother next time. Just leave me alone. Tell Iain Piss off from me.

He hung up again, leaving the sound of her sob in the handset.

He looks back and the house is like a fuzzy old photo with all the colours drained. He half expects to see a pale face at the window.

Good riddance, boys.

Peace out, ghosts.

Bm-psh – bm-psh

bm-psh – bm-psh

his spitty internal beatbox,

walking in time,

step by darkstep nod and step,

one, two, gumf, click,

palate snare,

throat kick, sneaking away from the Last Chance.