I woke up in the streets again. It was becoming a common occurrence for me, blacking out and waking up in trash, in doorways, in rooms I didn’t know. I’d been doing this for what seemed like months now. I did terrible things with my friends. We were marauders. We kept secrets between us.
I felt my head and looked at my hands. Blood. This was, I believed, a normal thing but as I tipped my head forward, it poured out like cranberry juice into my hands.
Wow, I said.
I stood up, unsteady from a night of drinking what felt like hot tar in my stomach, and stumbled over to the nearest person.
Hey you, I said. Looky here. I pointed at my head. What do you see?
You’ve got a hole in your head, the person said.
I should say this person was in fact a lady, and a fine lady at that. She wore a bonnet and a large dress that concealed several giggling children and there they peeked at me and pointed and filled me with shame.
Thank you, madam, I said, and curtsied. The blood sloshed around like the sea in a tempest and splashed out over her large child-hiding dress. Apologies I said as I righted myself, pretending my spine was a pole in the ground and walked off stiff-like, trying not to spill any more of my blood anywhere.
I walked the city carefully thinking of what to do. I wasn’t near any mirrors so I couldn’t judge how big the hole was and I was hungry too. Food, I thought, let me eat food. I followed my stomach through the twisty streets of the city, past the beggars with their strawberry noses, their pissed-on shirts and called them dropsy-legged bitches, kicked dirt in their faces. I didn’t care. I had a hole in my head, so I could do what I wanted.
I came upon a café and waltzed in, a one and a two and a one and I was clicking my fingers in time to the sound in my head, the sound of skull and brain and blood beating and pulsing.
I pirouetted over to the bar and slammed my hand on it. Good sir! What sandwiches do you have?
All sorts. Tell me what you’d like.
Cheese! Lettuce! And a gherkin. Do you sell gherkins? And gin?
I slammed my money down and a bit of blood spilled over. Bring it to my table, I screamed.
And I went over and sat down with my gin in hand and saw my two dirty rotten friends. I wondered if we’d agreed to meet here or if it was just chance.
Good morning Toby and Jonesy, how the devil are you?
They were two pig faced fellows, yes, but friends, good friends, and we had made a pact long ago to keep each other’s secrets. I knew, for example, that Toby once buggered Jonsey when he was drunk and planted his seed in his anal cavity. Jonsey, too, had murdered a child and stole a bottle of milk from it. But what did they know about me?
Bloody hell, what have you done to your head Mister Peacock?
I don’t know. I have a hole in it, though.
Well that’s quite clear, yes, yes, yes, said Jonsey. He was drinking milk. Silly Jonsey and his obsession with milk…
Can we hide some bad thoughts in there, Mister Peacock?
I said I don’t see why not. I tilted my head and let Jonsey put a few bad thoughts in the hole.
You promise you won’t say anything about any of that, right Peacock?
Cross my heart.
And how about me? I’ve got a few things that, uh, need concealing, said Toby.
Toby, pop them in, but please – please – can you check how much room is in there?
He dipped a finger in my head and peered in.
Looks pretty roomy in there. I’ve got a sexual perversion for a married woman that would fit quite snugly by your brain.
Then pop ‘er in!
And he did. By the end of the morning, my hole was filled with the perversions and crimes and secrets of my two pig-faced chums and it weighed on me terribly.
I’d eaten my sandwich by this point and had several gins, so I stood up, wobbled slightly and held my head with both hands. It felt like it was about to fall off and break. A tiny piece of Jonsey’s buggering had lodged itself behind my eye, but I didn’t mind.
The weight, however, was unbelievable. What else had they put in there?
I asked them and they both said nothing, nothing that they hadn’t told me already.
Well okay then, I said. I have no other choice but to believe you…
But there were some images in my hole that were unfamiliar, that didn’t sound like anything I’d agreed to store for Jonsey and Toby.
There was a pause. A long silence. And then there were goodbyes and handshakes, kisses on the cheek, Toby’s buttocks, a head, a sword, ducks and ponds, flickering past my eyes.
As I left, they waved me off, grinning and laughing at me and I wondered if they were perhaps in on a big joke I didn’t know about.
Oliver Zarandi is a writer and editor. His work has appeared in Hobart, Hotel, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Little White Lies, FANZINE and X-Ray. You can follow him on Twitter: @zarandi