Mercer's Poems
The Drunk

The Drunk 

Too many times this has happened. Waking up in a piss stinking room, somewhere I don’t know, surrounded by empty bottles and empty morals. If you were to ask me to draw a picture of my head it would be ten foot in diameter and pulsating like a kid breathing in and out of a fucking balloon. Some people feel gifted to never have known what it’s like on the bottom rung; I dream of the bottom rung, my sunken drunken dreams are of my fingertips meeting the splintering wood of that ladder, because right now I’m in the gutter, with the shit, the spittle, and the decaying matter. No piece of shit worth their weight in drunken tales of woe can really tell you how they got there; usually because they don’t realise yet that it’s their own fault. The truth is that drugs, alcohol, gambling, working too hard, going to the gym a lot…all flipsides of the same coin. All fragile little threads weaved into an intricate web of filling the hollows left behind in an unjust world. Why is it that you have to work a deskjob 9-5 for shit pay, barely having ends, let alone the ability to make them meet; while your hard work pays massive dividends to some over-privileged cunt who, to his credit, is always on the job 9-5, but generally his job involves having an impromptu work chat over a round of golf and a bottle of scotch. Your discomfort, every sweaty arsecrack on a hot summer’s day when you pricks in the pig-pen can’t use the air-con because you’re having a ‘eco week’ trying to save a fucking rainforest, that your grotesque drooling caricature of a boss has mowed down to wipe his arse with.

“That’s Capitalism!” says a man with a fake smile and a prescription drug habit. Welcome to the land of dope and glory. It’s all about taking your opportunities, they’ll tell you. Or even worse, they’ll claim that God was on their side…Why the fuck is God on their side exactly? The kid who grew up wiping his feet on his parents before he came home; whose time at school was spent, in the most part, picking out the faults in others whilst ignoring the blatant character flaws in himself, who grew up to drink a vat of ‘shots’ every weekend, spew racist hatred at the vendor of the nearest kebab joint, and vomiting on a hooker after him and his friends just took turns…Yeah…God’s on YOUR fucking side. Nobody ever admits it was a combination of privileged birth, money, contacts, and straight up dumb luck.

Luck evidently wasn’t dumb enough to smile on me and so, here I find myself; Lowest of the low; third day in this same scruffy suit, empty half of brandy in one pocket, crushed fags in the other. But, wait, what was this!?

That day was like any other had been for years, the same hooch, the same hangover and the same lack of remorse. My flat looked the same, like Picasso had an epi with my rubbish bag and constructed a cubist masterpiece on my floor, and the realisation that actually, it was me that put the eggshells next to the chicken carcass, and far from being a deep, meaningful message, I just threw them there. What could I say? I knew I was a piece of shit. I lived in a shithole coastal town that had been killed by the red menace of the Labour party during the 90’s, and was being gradually rebuilt into some arty-farty town, unfortunately meaning that the place is packed to the rafters with ponces, swanning about talking about how fucking quaint everything is, oblivious to the fact that the same neighbourhood they’re mentally having sex with has been the location of eight prior murders, twelve rapes, numerous serious assaults, several thousand bog-standard punch-ups and a vicious stabbing. It doesn’t matter that the same perpetrators live five minutes away and still hang around; it’s all so lovely and quaint, daaaaahling. Fuck ‘em.

And what the fuck was this? An empty vodka bottle? rather than brandy? I prefer brandy. Vodka is for pissants, the same grubby, toothless mother fuckers who’d drink meths if it was offered. Let’s face it; if you’re going to be a disgusting drunk, you want to be the most sophisticated scumbag you can. If I had one I’d smoke my tabs through a cigarette holder.

What had happened last night? What was this key? Where did it come from? Fucking hell, I sometimes wish I wasn’t so hopeless. I’d been reflecting a lot before that night. Where had it all gone wrong? I had such promise. Every new day was a new opportunity for brilliance, I was a shining star as a child, and God knows they were fucked up but I couldn’t blame my parents. They may have gone at each other a lot of the time, but they did a damn good job trying to keep me floating on clouds. So how the hell did I end up so rooted to ground? What happened to my ambition? What happened to my joy, that I had as a boy, looking on the world everyday as if everything was new. Now I wake up in the morning and brace myself with a stiff glass to prepare for the same shit in a different branded wrapper. How did I get so tired? I used to have energy in leaps and bounds. Sunshine used to raise a smile rather than raise my hand to my eyes before deciding not to leave the house because it’s too damn hot. When did every other person become a chore to me? I’ve never had the looks but damn I had the charm. I could make people laugh, and not just those shitty false giggles you get; full on, bent double laughing. But other people’s joy started to wear me thin. I lost patience with it. I stopped trying. I stopped trying.

I hated these kinds of moods. There’s a fucking catch in being so depressed you don’t even feel like drinking, when you use alcohol to self-medicate. In those situations I do what any self respecting housewife dissatisfied with her position in life would do…I tidied the fuck out of everything bar my head. The desk got a clean sweep, by which I mean I swept whatever shit was on it into the bin. Bill’s, cheques, an invitation to the classiest prozzies in town at Fuckingham Palace; I didn’t care, it went in the bin. So did the bottles and cans, memoirs of a hazier time, when the world really did revolve around me, or at least, my sense of balance had me believe so. There was a stinking bin-bag in the swing bin in the kitchen, God knows what I’d been eating but my stomach told me it wasn’t good and the stench of the bin agreed, so I slung that out into the wheelie bin quick as you like before the beating wings of the butterflies in my stomach casued a tsunami of vomit out of my mouth. That’s chaos theory; and so, apparently, is the floor of my flat.

I suppose it’s probably time for a bit of background. After all, based on my introductory thoughts you’ve probably got this protagonist pencilled in as a cunt already. I don’t blame you. I think I’m a cunt too. A gloomy looking tubby fucker, imagine slimer from Ghostbusters with long hair and the beard of a Special Brew swilling tramp and you can’t go far wrong, except I’ve got broader shoulders, and glassy, hollow eyes. How I got into this state is obvious for a guy who can neck as many calories on a pure liquid diet as arctic explorers do chowing down on packs of butter like they were apples. And when you’re pissed you don’t much give a fuck what you eat as long as a) it’s greasy, b) you don’t have to chew it too much and c) you can’t choke on it when it comes back up and you’re fucked-up unconscious.

 

I wasn’t always a cunt. It is difficult to believe to see me now, but it is true. I used to be slimmer, with whiter teeth that were often on show, as I used to smile more. I used to shave, and have hairstyles, and fashion. My now spindly, bedraggled, greasy locks used to be trimmed to perfection and slicked into place with brylcreem. My now zombified eyes, with painfully red-rings, swollen, world-weary bags and bloodshot with fatigue and alcohol once twinkled with a cheeky joy that only a happy young man would know. It was easy to be happy then. Before she left.

 

It must have been, what, seven…maybe eight years ago now. Me and her. Usual story, we met through friends of friends, we grew to like each other, maybe even love each other and yet it all went horrifically sour within a disproportionately short time compared to the length of the relationship , my heart saved itself from breaking by turning cold, and hard, like granite, and I’ve been a cunt ever since.

I can still remember that night. The moonlight rippled across the waves looking like silk sheets in a breeze. It was parky. Late October. She had an important meeting in this crusty old seaside town, quite a way away from me. The car was knackered at the time, so I had to walk for nigh on an hour to get there. The crisp air tickled my nostrils as I took breath, and a sting in my lungs let me know to zip my coat up and keep my chest warm. Every step was a labour of love and one, in my opinion, at the time, well worth taking. When I arrived she looked the picture of health. She skipped her meeting and met me, her voluptuous figure cutting a perfect form beneath an orange-red street lamp. Her blonde hair wafting in the slight breeze like the beating wings of a beautiful forest nymph. She had her arms wrapped around herself, and I remember thinking, as I approached, how she must have felt so warm and comfortable with her arms around her, and how I was closer to that same feeling with every step. She had eyes that screamed ‘love me’ and I had a heart all too happy to oblige. Her cute little nose was rosy with cold and she gave a smile and a sniff as I got closer. We spent the entire night sat on a rock, overlooking that silk-touched sea and talking. She seemed to casually reach into my chest and stroke the very heart of my existence, of my being; blissfully unaware that she would just as casually neglect, and reject it.

Before that. Before her, I was a standard being. I had a good upbringing, I had friends, I had potential, I had hope. Before her I had the world at my feet, after her I had the liquor of the devil in my hand. Any relationship I suffered after her was a minefield of mindfuckery, mainly due to my own insecurity and rejection. I loved that woman, and hated myself; and that continued to this day.

 

Fact is I never understood why we finished. I reject that fact, I reject my fate, I reject my present. I cannot accept that she left me. We were young, virile, happy, full of joy, full of happiness, every touch from her was like a thunderbolt from Zeus, and every kiss was as though from Aphrodite. In her presence I felt immortal and without her I just felt weak, I just feel weak. I think a thousand times over, what would have happened, what could have happened. When I’m alone at night and I feel lonely I think of her, and when those thoughts turn hurtful I only hate and reject myself more. She hurts me just to think of her, she’s a harbinger of woe and pain, and yet I want her still.

 

So here I am. My dustbin’s full to bursting, like my eyes. It comes with the territory of self-loathing. The biggest, baddest, hardest motherfucker in this world would still bawl his eyes out if he hated himself as much as I do, and if he was on the comedown from a four-to-six-month pissup. Alcohol is annoying like that, it helps ease the pain of your problems in that when you’ve had enough of it you don’t care about them and when you’ve had too much you remember them, but you’re too pissed to know what you’re remembering. Problem is, when it all wears off they’re still buried deep in your head, and, with an efficiency that can only lead me to the medical conclusion that your tearducts are directly affected by blood alcohol levels, tears come pouring out.
The other problem with being a miserable cunt is that the behaviour becomes so deeply ingrained that you think it’s a character trait rather than a problem. People would ask if I was a depressive and I would say no, and yet I was an insecure, insular introvert, with a habit for being alone and drinking too much. Every bit the opposite of the jovial individual that I once was, and yet, despite such a sudden change I just thought “Maybe it’s just me…Maybe I’m just a miserable twat!”

I had a pounding head, physically and mentally. Many a year had been wasted in this loath, slothful state. But today I had a minor curio to distract my attention. All thoughts of past heartaches, of joylessness and misery were pushed back by confusion. I figured I’d have to leave the familiar comfort of my hovel and retrace my steps. I find it tough to leave my house sobre. The world is always full of colour, and smiles; I feel out of place. Besides, shithole or not, a comfortable flat is like an old dressing-gown, it could be patched up beyond recognition of the original garment, it can have stains on all sides, and it can stink to high-heaven, it’s still damn comfy.

As I shut my door behind me a fear overwhelmed me. This is where isolation has got me. I’m scared of nothing in particular. I’m scared of just leaving my house. I’m scared of living for fear that I may just live. Fucking anxiety attacks plagued me since I was a late teen. Maybe I’m just not cut out for adult life, I don’t know, all I know is my body sure as hell doesn’t like it when no intoxicants are present, and I can see why. My flat was on a dreary red brick sea of late Victorian terraces. An imposing, industrial taint to the air makes every shade of beige, orange, red, white and black fade into a dirty grey; not helped by the angry lingering cloud cover that left a damp, earthy stench in the air that said to me that no matter where I went or how long I was out, when I get back I’ll be soggy.

My first port of call was to be The George; a small, but usually busy, pub just down the road. It had a wooden exterior that make it look coastal and picnic benches outside in the summer, where idle drinking minutes, wasted youths, or devoted lovers would often carve graffiti. Some generic, some corny, some downright weird. What the hell does “Dock my Chode!” mean anyways? I visited this pub quite regularly, and felt certain it was the first place I had popped into the previous night. Pubs always fascinated me. The reek in the air of stale ale that draws wasters like me in without fail, the fact that, throughout history pubs have been the scenes of gossip and rumour, of revolution, of rejection, or falling ins and outs of love, celebrating birth, life, marriage, death all in one nucleated locale. The local. Who the hell needs to watch soaps on telly when you could just nip out to your pub to see real life drama. It may not be as extreme, but it’s real, and it’s fascinating.