Returning Home With the Wrong Jacket – PART TWO

Stepping into old man Gordon’s house was like entering into a temple of zealous relief. Protected from the maelstrom of rain and wind that battered the creaky walls of his house, I wheeled around for a few seconds before sitting down on a sofa that seemed to absorb the bottom half of my body, and all of my problems. Gordon pranced around for a few minutes, meandering in and out of rooms doing things I couldn’t even imagine. My brain was fried, and I could barely string a sentence together. Gordon’s living room seemed like the only important room in the house, with every other doorway barricaded with heaps of unwashed clothes, vinyl records and other undefinable clutter. It dawned on me that this exact room was where Gordon had spent most of his days – a sleeping bag and an electric blanket lay sprawled out over the other sofa and a mountain of greasy plates and cutlery sat stacked on a small wooden table adjacent to his make-do bed. The only other noticeable items in the room were the old-school TV in the corner, a stained mirror on the wall and a cabinet full of crockery that hadn’t been used in decades. All of these items seemed to freeze in time as I sat stoned and motionless on the sofa, awaiting the perfect moment to beckon Gordon’s armoury of drugs.

‘Do you not have a bed upstairs Gordon?’, I asked, confused about Gordon’s absurd sleeping arrangements. Gordon’s head sank slightly. ‘Aye ehhh, I don’t sleep upstairs anymore, too many bad memories’. Feeling slightly shameful that I’d asked, I nodded my head briefly and proceeded to pose the question that surrounded the real reason I was there. ‘Got any pollen, Gordon?’ Without a word, Gordon whirled away into the kitchen and returned with a chipped bowl full of crumbled up pollen. ‘Thanks Gordon, I really appreciate it, honestly’, I said, trying my best to justify my unexpected presence. ‘No problem at all like, really, it’s no problem at all’, Gordon replied with a noticeable sincerity in his tone, making me feel slightly less paranoid than before. Gordon pleasantly handed me a pipe and I began to load up it’s ashy chamber with pollen. ‘Do you use that old record player over in the corner there much?’, I asked. ‘Ehhhh aye, every night’. Without another word, Gordon took a few large steps over to the record player, pressed and twisted a few buttons and nozzles, and sat down on the opposite sofa to the magnetic sound of David Gilmour’s electric guitar.

My head still spinning, I felt a blanket of nausea creep over me as I pressed the pipe up to my lips and ignited the end with a lighter. Taking more drugs while you’re high is generally a terrible idea; you seem to lose touch with your senses and drinking and smoking becomes harmless in your own mind. You could be sitting there smoking cigarette after cigarette, joint after joint, one per minute, and you wouldn’t feel the effects until long after. As the pollen buried in the pipe’s chamber began to glow a deep muddy orange, I began to inhale the thick husky pollen through the thin brass tunnel of the pipe. Usually I’d only draw smoke from a pipe for less than two seconds, but the formidable effects of the drugs I’d had earlier rendered the senses in my mouth and throat useless and I drew on for more than seven seconds, stuffing my capacious lungs with drugs to the max. An amusing dizziness cascaded down through my body as I shakily passed the pipe over to the hands of Gordon for his turn on the draw.

It wasn’t long before the room was plunged into a thicket of silver smoke and the conversation between Gordon and I descended into an animalisitc notion of trash-talk, every sentence stumbling out of our mouths and blasting off all four walls of the room before finally hitting home. The harmonious sound of Pink Floyd glided dreamily through the background of our indechiperable antics as I slowly faded away from the reality of Gordon’s lethargic chatter and slipped into a magnificent trance conducted by the incredible symphonies echoing through the room.

This is a farce. A total fucking farce. Is there anybody in there? 

My thoughts rapidly began to circulate around a few wild conspiring theories before my head sank slowly into the smooth fabric of the abyss of Gordon’s sofa. I fell asleep, totally isolated from the whispers and threats of the outside world.

I awoke only a few times throughout the night to the abrupt sound of Gordon’s brutish snoring, the loudest I’d ever heard in my entire life. His lungs and vocal cords at full throttle, his heavy breathing would gradually emancipate into an unnatural wheezing similar to that of someone frenetically sawing dark, heavy timber. I would look over to the sofa where Gordon slumbered every time I awoke and would see nothing of him except the pathetic tuft of grey hair that stuck out the top of his sleeping bag, glowing in the shine of the street lamp outside his house. At times I was convinced he wasn’t there, but once the snoring began again, I wouldn’t question his presence. The wind and rain relentlessly thrashed against the window throughout the night but it seemed somewhat feeble in comparison to the noises Gordon was producing.

A crack of light attacking the gap in Gordon’s blinds awoke me at ten o’clock in the morning. It seemed early, Gordon still wrapped up like a burrito in his cocoon of endless sheets and blankets. Apprehensive about waking him, I rose from the sofa and crept over to the door, thriving to avoid the crunchy debris scattered unpredictably across the rough carpet of the room. I pulled down delicately on the rusty handle of the front door, one millimetre a second, audaciously trying to avoid disturbing the sleeping beast. Just before the door was ready to slide away from it’s stubborn frame, Gordon’s croaky voice frighteningly emerged from the room I thought I’d seen and heard enough of for the last 24 hours.

‘That you off, Frankie?’

‘Yeah, need to get home before my parents start wondering where I am!’, I proclaimed, trying my best to sound calm and unworried by his sudden awakening.

‘Ok, ehhh, do you want a jacket?’

‘Yes, yes I would, thanks Gordon.’

I flung on the large Russian jacket that Gordon had bestowed upon me and left without another whisper.

How to Become a Warehouse-smoking Junkie

“Happiness is the truth”

– Pharrel Williams

Blue cheese and Scrumpy Jack cider – an interesting combination of items that offers a night of unprecedented pleasure, tearful laughter and broken lighters. If you’re familiar with this combination then you’re likely on the same boat as me; a boat that is of a very old age, in dire need of a paint job, and possesses a gaping hole in the hull that’s causing the boat to sink rather expeditiously. However, if you’re not familiar with the two commodities above, and have no idea how these two items could possibly decipher a blissful Tuesday night in an abandoned warehouse with a friend, then you’re not only missing out, but you’re also probably not a junkie. Tuesday is the day of the week in which nothing significant ever seems to happen. It’s the day of the week that just seems to float by in the calendar without as much as a glint of purpose . Even Monday and Wednesday uphold more crucial purposes than Tuesday whereby Monday represents the beginning of another riveting week ahead and Wednesday signifies that there’s only half of the week left to endure before the next. But Tuesday however, only holds the purpose of informing everyone that there’s only three days left until Friday, nothing more. This is likely the reason that Jimmy and I received a lot of concerned looks last night in Asda as we where shockingly spotted by late-night shoppers attempting to drag two crates of Scrumpy Jack cider over to the check-out in the hopes that our Tuesday night would be considerably more eventful than that of any of the frowning onlookers. Perhaps another reason for the bewildered looks of passing shoppers was due to the fact that stuffed in Jimmy’s pocket was two grams of the most pungent, formidable blue cheese cannabis I’d ever had the pleasure of inhaling in my entire life. It’s eight o’clock on a Tuesday night, and Jimmy and I have decided to meet up at our usual spot in anticipation of our first smoke together in over a month. The rain is pathetically drizzling down and the crisp glacial air is fighting its way through the multiple layers of clothing that I had squeezed on just an hour before. Jimmy also looked the part. His shaggy brown cotton hat in partnership with his untamed patchy beard made him look like a drug-addicted serial killer, while I just appeared chubbier than usual due to the three jumpers and two pairs of trousers that I decided model upon meeting him. Due to not having a house to smoke in that night, we decided to rendezvous at the all too familiar abandoned warehouse just five minutes away from my house. After hastily dragging two crates of premium Scrumpy Jack cider we’d purchased just ten minutes before from our local superstore over to the entrance (gaping hole in the wall) of the derelict factory, we slowly began to trudge our way in. Directing ourselves through a pitch black warehouse on a Tuesday night in an ambitious attempt to the find the seating area we’d conjured up with a few planks of rotten wood and an ancient crate of beer the previous time we had smoked in there, was not a challenge for the faint of heart. The whole warehouse had been trashed by our junkie predecessors. Every inch of the floor was hidden by some form of rotten debris and the structure of the ceiling was bare and open. Sharp elements of splintered wood, shattered glass and twisted metal posed as common obstacles as we stumbled our way through the eerie corridors and rooms of the darkness. After taking a few frustrating wrong turns, we eventually managed to reach the pitch black room which we planned to reside in for the rest of the night. The room was stuffed with familiar aromas of corrosion, waste and smoked cannabis but our make-do seats still sat in the corner in immaculate condition, touched only by a few droplets of moisture since we’d last seen them. However, it was at this point that we realised a new challenge awaited us; the rolling of the joint. Of course, Jimmy had been rolling joints since his prepubescent days and had done so in almost every environment imaginable, but the ice-cold consistency of the night was clinging relentlessly to our numb fingers and the room lay in a thick blanket of darkness that not even a bat could survive in. The fiddly job of rolling the joint seemed impossible, even for the masterful joint-rolling abilities of Jimmy. There are three components required to roll a joint of cannabis: paper skins, marijuana (or pollen) and some form of ignition. Unfortunately, it came to light at this moment that not one us had remembered to bring any skins, adding to the impossible problem that faced us while we stood motionless in the centre of the visionless room. ‘Fuck! How did not one us remember to bring the skins!?’, Jimmy blared, enraged by our complacency. We began to recklessly hunt through the abundance of pockets that hung from our endless layers of clothing, digging up a Narnia’s worth of ancient receipts, empty cigarette packets and other pointless miscellaneous items that not even a homeless person could find a purpose for. To our own terror, not one of us had bothered to bring the first most essential item for any cannabis joint, the skins. A return to the superstore abruptly appeared back on the cards. One (or both) of us would have to trek all the back to Asda and purchase skins from the same woman who had reluctantly just sold us the cans of cider and cigarettes just twenty minutes previous to this dilemma. Jimmy hesitantly volunteered for the mission and I sat like a duck on the two corroding planks of wood, sipping away at a freezing can of Scrumpy Jack cider while he was destined to embarrass himself asking for one single packet of skins in the superstore at half past eight on a Tuesday night. I had an eternity to contemplate my life over the fifteen minutes that Jimmy was away. It was then that I stumbled upon a surprising revelation; that the only problems I really faced at this point in my life was the petty issues caused by a lack of money, such as that our lighter wasn’t working too well, or that we only had half a cigarette left to roll the last joint with, or that Jimmy didn’t have enough money for his taxi home. These are only problems fought by people who sit at the bottom of the chain of society, the bottom feeders. For normal people, if a lighter stops working or they lose a few cigarettes, the problem is swiftly resolved with a casual five-minute drive to the nearest store for a few cigarettes and a new lighter, but for Jimmy and I, it’s a night ruining experience that involves a panicked walk to Jimmy’s gran’s house in the hope that she’ll have a lighter that can be smuggled from the counter of her kitchen. Every time we venture out together, there’s always an issue, and it’s usually derived from some for financial trouble. This caused me to ponder about what the future holds, and if I’ll still be craving this lifestyle in the years to come. Jimmy returned with a full packet of skins and a look of despair on his face. He’d been questioned over the purpose of buying the skins and asked to present formal proof of age before being allowed to make the purchase. ‘I’m never doing that again you wee fuckin’ dick!’, Jimmy cursed, the embarrassment still evident on his blood-red cheeks. ‘Got asked loads of questions and the woman looked at me like I’m some kinda fuckin’ drug addict or something!’, he continued, fuming by what he’d just had to do. All I could do was apologise and excite over the fact that in five minutes, we would be igniting the strongest joint of weed I’d smoked in over a month. To our own amazement, the joint rolled beautifully, with the skins unwrapping smoother than a babies bottom into an immaculate rectangular shape and the miniscule beads of cannabis crumbling delicately into the bed of nicotine and paper which proceeded to roll elegantly into an impeccable cylinder. The joint was ready and all that awaited was ignition. Jimmy proceeded to pluck a lighter from his jacket pocket and held the mighty joint up to his frozen lips. Click, click, click–silence. Click, click, click–silence.  Not a single spark flew from the dark grey metals of the lighter, not a single hiss of flame. ‘Fuck! What we gonna do now!?’, Jimmy spurted, still incessantly trying to force any form of fire from the forsaken lighter. Subsequent to around ten minutes of frustration and discussion of our next move, Jimmy furiously asked me if I had any money so he could march all the way back to the store once again to purchase another lighter. We both began scouring through our pockets, digging out crumbs of nicotine and cannabis from the depths of our clothing until eventually Jimmy stumbled upon the skins he thought he never had before and I discovered just enough loose change to buy the cheapest plastic lighter. Jimmy snatched the money from my brisk dry palms and stormed off through the engulfing darkness of the warehouse, clattering into metal objects hanging down from the ceiling like bats as he did. Once again, I sat in the stingy room of the warehouse, contemplating the future and what it may hold. Jimmy returned with even more rage in his voice than when he’d left ten minutes ago. Jimmy returned with even more rage in his voice than when he’d left ten minutes ago. ‘I didn’t have enough fuckin’ money so I had to pay the rest with my card!’, Jimmy ranted. I couldn’t believe it, Jimmy had actually had to whip out his debit card in front of the woman he had already seen three times in the previous hour and pay for the rest of the lighter with the crummy change he had left over on his card. ‘How tragic is that?’, I whispered him nervously, to which I received a look of disgust from the ashamed man. Nevertheless, the only thing left to do now was pop open another can, and inflame the fetid joint that seemed to be crying out to be lit. We lit the joint, and the euphoric sensations and emotions commenced. After a couple of cans of cider and the first joint, I couldn’t even engage in human conversation – Jimmy would toss invoking conversations of deep meaning and sincerity towards me and I’d just laugh hysterically in his face or stare at him as if he’d just spoken to me in Mandarin. My altered brain could only concentrate on the tunes of happiness and truth echoing through the murky corridors and halls from the rusty speakers of my phone. It might sound crazy what I’m about to say, but what I felt at that moment was genuinely the most euphoric sensation I’d ever felt in my entire life. Feelings of absolute relaxation and elation slowly began to shiver down my addicted spine, alleviating every burden of stress and pressure as it did, leaving me in a floating state, away from the corruption and exploitation of Earth, placing me in a nirvana of freedom, truth and paradise. I think it’s safe to say I was quite out of it, untouchable by any external forces and unable to even think about the walk home. We triumphantly demolished both crates of cider, and that’s all my memory permits me to remember. I was awoken abruptly the next morning to the loud thud of my laptop crashing from my bed into a heap of dirty clothing, cigarette packets and crushed cider cans. I love my life. The only thing that seems to frighten me at this stage is the uncertainty of the future – but that’s everyone’s worry, right? I can only hope that in the years to come these will be the sort of tales that I can enlighten my grand children with on some cold Tuesday night in a hospital bed attached to a feeding tube while I ferociously battle my late eighties. Youth is what defines you as a person. Youth is your one opportunity as a human being to indulge in the sort of lifestyle you choose – whether it be studying every night for a business degree that will eventually see you work in an office run by some sanctimonious bitch that treats you like a scrunched up piece of paper, or whether it be taking a gamble every night and doing something that will ultimately lead you to crawling home in the freezing cold of the night praying that your has mum left the front door open so you can raid the fridges and tumble into your bed. Life is short, and I plan to make everyday as joyful an experience as possible. Even if I am junkie, I still love my life, and everything that it entails.