The Big Issue : Edition 439
42 THE BIG ISSUE 16 -- 29 AUG 2013 she says it's her being ironic, like her boyfriend with his size 'small' tees, but I think it's laziness. Missing all those 'o's, and with extra 'f's and 'e's. I used to go out with her but I had to let her go because she didn't know what an adjective was. Seriously. That was it; she had to go. The others couldn't believe it was over something like that, so fnally I conceded it was because she couldn't come, which was also the case. "I was trying to be respectful," I said to them. "But you fuckers pushed." "What? Even when you rub her?" Mick came right out with it. He and me and the other guys were having a beer. "Yes, Mick. Even when I rub her." They tried to say it wasn't a good reason, that she could learn, but I just sighed and lit a smoke and said, "Whose turn for the round?" "What have you got milk for anyway?" On the picnic rug, Vista looked up at Suze. "Smells okay," she said to me. "When did you buy it?" "Um." Vista kept looking at me. She didn't know what to say, so I told them the truth. "We didn't buy it, Snooze." "What?" Everyone turned to look at me. They stopped talking for some reason, that was the moment when the layering monologues halted and my words fell into the silence. “Ah, affrmative. We didn’t purchase that milk.” Jeffy laughed but I shook my head at him. "Mate, we didn't nick it either." "Well, what then? Come on, Jaks. What's the story?" They were waiting and I didn't want to say it, not yet. I wanted them to see the cake and then give them the punchline. It'd be really funny. I got out my rolling machine again and started to line tobacco along the paper. I didn't look up. They all started talking again. Jeffy came and squatted next to me. "What's going on?" he said. He was smiling, his eyes uncertain but his mouth slick with spit and so wide that I could see his gums. Jeffy's got the most disgusting mouth I've ever known and I don't know how Kat can kiss him. It was always wet and ruby red and there was something repulsive in the way his two lips rested slug-like against each other when his mouth was closed. I looked back to my cigarette, which had emerged from the top of the roller. I lit it. "Listen, it's a surprise. It's got to do with the cake, alright?" "But what's that got to do with the milk? Jaks, I know you. Always something going on with you. Never clear and simple." "Just wait, it's worth it to be patient. Smoke? Just be careful when you're licking the paper." I don't want his lizard tongue to touch the canvas. I don't want his spit on my machine. "You're so touchy." "Yes, I am," I say. He moved away, frowning. I drank my beer and smoked my cigarette. It's always me, you know, watching them. Seeing where they're going about 10 steps ahead. I can see when they are going to let off a champagne cork, or when they're going to drop a sausage (Angus beef and black pepper) off their plate. I know when people are going to talk and half the time I even know what they're going to say. I think about everything too much and fnd it hard to sleep. I don’t touch drugs any more. I try to relax my body and do some deep breathing each night in bed. It's the only way I can stop myself sometimes from reaching over to the other side of the bed with a pillow in my hand. I love her, I do. Well, I care for her. Sometimes, when we've been fghting, which is usually me standing or sitting, saying nothing, just waiting for her to burn herself out, she yells at me, saying I'm not normal, I'm not human. I am, that's the thing. I'm more normal and human than anyone I know. Just because I think about things; just because there's a lot of stuff I don't like. Just because I don't say much of any of it. People always want to hear stuff, they want to get into your head. Want you to split it open like a melon in front of them so they can prod about, lifting this or that, asking questions. I could tell them right now that Vista wants a baby but I don't. That I want to get married, but she doesn't. That that morning, on the way to the supermarket we saw a car accident and stopped to help. That the two of us stood there, me and Vista, trying to ask what we could do to help. That Vista went around the other side and held the woman's hand. I looked at the birthday boy lying on the rug. Fi has her head on his groin and his eyes are closed. I knew what he was thinking. Tom has a dirtier mind even than Mick but pretends he doesn't. He likes to style himself as the gentleman -- soft and affectionate, sensitive and feeling. He lets Fi keep him up all night, talking about her feelings. He never gets angry with her, never shuts her down. He'll lie there in their bed and take it, or that’s what he’s told me. Tom’s the frst of us turning 29 and we all feel ancient about it. The road was clear, that's the funny thing. There was a heat haze, though, sunlight catching the windscreen. Maybe that's what made it happen. We arrived just afterwards, I guess. You could still smell the burnt rubber, see the steam rising in a column from the polished, gold 1992 Cressida folded skew- whiff around the pole. Vista went around to the passenger side, the window was open and the woman's head was at a funny angle on her neck. Grey soldierly hair, short-cut and severe, but her face was soft. The sunlight picked at some thick bristle hairs that lay across her chin. "LET'S STOP WITH THIS SHIT," I SAID, LOOKING AT VISTA WHO WAS HOLDING SOMETHING VACUUM PACKED IN ASPIC WITH A BAY LEAF AND MORE GREEN PEPPERCORNS. "LET'S GET THE GOOD OLD STUFF, LIKE WHEN WE WERE KIDS. LET'S GET TWISTIES."