Six in the morning.
Two hours before Soulless Boss comes in. Two hours to write.
I’m writing a book. My ticket to freedom. I need to write.
Stall set out, mug of tea, USB stick in the machine, blank page on the screen.
“I’ve still not got my voting card thing yet.”
Intense Ginger Bloke has a Vicks inhaler rammed so far up his nose it looks like it’s squashing his eye. He snorts, head vibrating with the exertion. He pulls it out and slides it, glistening, mercilessly deep into the other hole.
*SNORT* “I’m going to be fucking furious if my voting card thing don’t turn up, I tell you.”
I say, “Have you registered to vote then?”
He blinks, eyes watering from nose-raping himself with his Vicks dildo.
“Yes. Registered. You’ve got to be registered to vote.”
Intense Ginger Bloke looks puzzled. “I pay my council tax. They know where I live from that, don’t they?”
I say, “I don’t think that’s how it works. To vote you need to register yourself on the… well… the electoral register. If you don’t do that you don’t get a card thingy.”
I look at my screen, shoulders hunched.
*SNORT* “When do I need to be registered by then?”
I stop typing. I hit Google. “Monday the twentieth.”
He frowns. “That was last week!”
“Yes. You’re too late.”
“BASTARDS! It’s my right to vote! I… I pay my taxes! I tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m going down there on voting day anyway. I’ll wing it.”
I’m not typing.
“Wing it? How do you intend to do that then?”
“I’ll demand a fucking card there and then and I’ll vote! If you don’t ask you don’t get, Luci. I’ll tell them I weren’t told about the election in time. After all, there’s not been much on telly about it, has there?”
I’m definitely not typing now.
“Nothing on telly, Intense Ginger Bloke? Election fever is all there’s been on telly! It’s a fucking feeding frenzy! I’ve had more political leaflets through my door than pizza menus and that’s going some!”
Intense Ginger Bloke looks stubborn. “I’ve not seen owt. No, its all very underhand if you ask me. Very hush hush.”
“Mate, we printed the fucking voting forms! You did the repro! You’ve had more warning than just about anyone else in the country!”
Intense Ginger Bloke shakes his head. “Very hush hush.”
I shake my head too.
“Tell you who I’m voting for, Luci.”
I’m not typing.
“You’re not voting for anyone. You’re not registered to vote.”
“I’m either voting for UKIP…”
“…or Jeremy Clarkson.”
“What I’ll do is, I’ll go down the voting office, kick up a stink, get a voting card, draw my own box at the bottom with ‘Jeremy Clarkson’ next to it and I’ll tick that. That’ll show ‘em!”
Intense Ginger Bloke looks triumphant. I stare at him for a bit, then I stare at my screen.
I say, “Yes. It will show them.”
“I need to sort my caravan out but It’s a two man job really and I’d ask my dad to help but his girlfriend’s older brother has just died of cancer so I don’t want to disturb them at the moment, grief and all that.”
I’m not typing. I stay quiet for a bit. He doesn’t say anything.
“Did I tell you about that, Luci? Did I tell you about him dying of cancer?”
I’m not typing.
“Who’s died of cancer, Intense Ginger Bloke?”
“My dad’s girlfriend’s older brother. It’s a right shocker.”
“It gets me so fucking angry! Cancer is such a fucking bastard! We need to fight cancer like… like it’s a proper war or something!”
“Yes. Yes we do.”
“Doesn’t cancer get you angry?”
“I said no. It’s sad, people dying, and it’s horrible, but… I don’t know… it doesn’t make me angry. It’s like getting angry about the weather, or fire. It’s cancer. A disease. I mean, I don’t get angry about mosquitoes and they’ve killed way more people than cancer has.”
Intense Ginger Bloke is staring at me, eyes bulging, face red.
“Mosquitos? How have mosquitos killed anyone?? They’re just a buzzy fly! Don’t go comparing buzzy flies to cancer, Luci, just do not fucking go there!”
“Malaria, Intense Ginger Bloke. They give people malaria. It’s been happening for a million years.”
He blinks. He blinks again. Then he grabs his mug.
“I’m making a fucking brew.”
He stomps away.
I look at the screen for a while, then I’m typing.
There is a vigorous clattering of spoon upon mug. Intense Ginger Bloke is whipping up a miniature maelstrom in his mug. The writing on his mug says, ‘I HEART MY P.C.’
He is stirring like a motherfucker.
He rummages in his drawer, finds his sweetener dispenser. He clicks it over his mug.
Nothing comes out.
He mutters, clicks again, and three sweeteners fall into his tea.
He stomps away again, slings his tea down the sink, brews a fresh one.
Stir stir stir stir stir stir……*click*
His tea is boiling hot. He holds it to his face. His mouth sticks out, puckering, cautious, lips waggling, eyelids fluttering in the steam.
With a powerful sucking motion he sucks tea through the air, wincing with the heat.
I hunch my shoulders, feel my scrotum tightening, pulling my balls closer to my body. My fists are clenching, teeth grinding.
The cunt. The fucking, fucking cunt.
Intense Ginger Cunt sits back.
“He only went to the doctors ‘cause he had trouble swallowing and thought he had like a cyst in his throat or something, felt right as rain apart from swallowing.”
I’m not typing.
“My dad’s girlfriend’s older brother. You know, who died. Of cancer.”
“Oh yeah. Poor sod.”
“Yeah, he went in, had his throat checked out, they took blood tests, turns out he was riddled with it. Cancer. They gave him a few weeks to live. He died ten days later.”
“Jesus.” I shake my head. Not sure what to say. I try to type.
Intense Ginger Bloke lets out a huge sigh. “Yeah, if the poor bloke hadn’t gone to hospital he’d still be with us now.”
I keep typing for a bit before his words sink in.
Then I definitely stop typing.
“Sorry, Intense Ginger Bloke, I think I misheard you. I thought you just said, ‘if he hadn’t gone to hospital he’d still be with us’.
“Yeah. That’s what I said.”
“But he had cancer! You said yourself, he was riddled with it! If he was riddled with cancer, how would he still be here, alive?”
Intense Ginger Bloke pulls a skeptical expression, nods knowingly.
“Funny isn’t it, how people go to the docs with a sore throat, get told it’s cancer, then fall down dead. Ever wondered about that?”
“Well, no. They get told they have a fatal disease, they die of that fatal disease, that’s all there is to it. What’s there to wonder about?”
He leans over the desk towards me, whispers, “You know what I think? I think if he hadn’t been told it was terminal he wouldn’t have died. I thinks it’s telling him, “you’re gonna die’ that killed him. He gave up! No, I reckon he’d have kept chugging on if it weren’t for the doctor.”
“For how long though? The cancer was killing him – he can’t have had long left?”
“Ages. Years! Think about it! Do you know anyone who just died of cancer? No! It’s always the same. Feel a bit off it, go to the quack, told they have cancer, dead in a fortnight! NO-ONE DIES OF CANCER WITHOUT BEING TOLD THEY HAVE CANCER!”
I shake my head. “Wait a minute. If that’s the case, why get angry about cancer? Why not get angry about people telling other people that they have cancer? Why not start a campaign called, ‘Shut The Fuck Up About Cancer’? You’d save millions of lives!”
Intense Ginger Bloke frowns. “Hmm. I’ll have to have a think about that.”
“You do that.”
My neck is stiff with tension. I crack my knuckles. I start to type.
“I put a new screen protector on my phone.”
For fuck’s sake.
I’m not typing.
I say, “Well done. It must have been quite a moment.”
Intense Ginger Bloke looks smug. “It’s not a normal screen protector. It’s made of glass. A really, really thin layer of special toughened glass. It’s fucking tough stuff though. I dropped a pair of mole grips on my phone screen from about six feet up and there wasn’t a scratch! I tell you what, it would have fucked my phone without it. Destroyed. End of.”
“Why were you chucking mole grips at your phone?”
“I wasn’t chucking them at my phone. I accidentally dropped them and BOOM! That protector took the hit, no problem. Not a scratch, mate. Not. A. Scratch. BOOM!”
I flinch. The BOOM is a very big boom.
I say, “I can’t see the protector being the reason your phone survived. I reckon it’s the screen itself. What do they call it? Gorilla glass. Tough stuff. That glass screen protector will just stop scratches.”
Intense Ginger Bloke scowls. “No. The protector took the hit. Without it my phone would be toast. Toast.”
“It’s a sliver of glass. There’s not enough density to take the impact away from the screen… oh never mind.”
I try to type. Try.
There is silence for a while.
Then: “It was the protector. It took the hit. Boom. It would have been toast.”
“Mole grips, right on the glass. Dead center. The protector took the hit.”
I’m not typing.
I’m dying inside.
I say, “Right. Alright. The mole grips didn’t shatter the glass because you put a sheet of solid awesomeness on there, your dad’s sister’s older brother died because somebody told him to and nobody will mind if you turn up unannounced on election day to vote for Jeremy Clarkson. Now, please, pretty please, I just really need to concentrate on something I want to get done before Soulless Boss get’s in at eight so if you don’t mind, please, just be quiet. Thank you.”
Intense Ginger Bloke looks at his watch.
“It’s eight o’clock now.”
The door opens.
Soulless Boss walks in.
I look at what I’ve written and press ‘DELETE’.
Blog North Awards
The stories I hear.
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