On Monday we buried my friend. Not much to say about that, other than that it meant I got Les Funerailles d’Antan stuck in my head all day, which is one of my favourite songs.
Very few people could carry off singing with a pipe like he does. And he has, like, the best face ever. Doesn’t he just have the best face? I love Georges Brassens.
Tuesday’s hangover sprang up and whacked me on the head as soon as I sat up in bed. What is it about funerals and drinking? Anyway, I spent the morning working on forensics stuff, then had a couple of potential client meetings, then sat down to write proposals for a few hours before heading out busking.
Busking went badly, but it didn’t matter because I watched movies instead, which was fun. And then I collapsed into bed and hoped Wednesday might be a bit easier. I’d written in my diary that I was supposed to be in a meeting at 10am, so I went to the meeting only to discover that no one else was there. Called one of the people I was meant to be with, and she informed me that I was a day early. Now, early is my forte, but this beat even my own records. I admitted defeat and came back home. Spent the day working on a variety of exciting projects instead. Still, the actual meeting the next day went well, which was good.
On Thursday I went for lunch with my librarian friends. When I was at school, they let me work in the library with them every day for five years, and we got to know each other well. We still stay in touch. When the new headteacher threatened to shut down the library a few years ago, I wrote a letter of protest to the school’s local paper, detailing exactly why it was so important that the library didn’t close. It helped a bit, I think. The library wasn’t entirely closed, just scaled back. And I finally got to thank my librarian friends in a public forum, which was nice.
It was good to see them. There’s that special kind of conversation you have with people who used to see you every day but who you haven’t seen for years: it kind of just picks up where it left off, no holds barred, with nothing really changing. They asked what I’d been up to over the past year and a half and I gave them a sort of potted version of the tumultuous events of the last 18 months of my life. They couldn’t stop laughing. Reminded me that my life has always resembled a novel more than it resembles anything remotely non-fictional. We spoke about books (I recommended The Rosie Project, they recommended a couple of things which I need to find and read soon). They asked when I was going to write a novel. I told them I’d already written several, I just needed to send them off. They told me I should really do that soon. I didn’t disagree.
The remainder of the day was taken up with Skype calls, as was the early part of Friday morning. And then I went to Brighton for a business meeting, which was fun; I really clicked with the guy I was talking to, and the company seemed cool. I enjoy doing business with people I actually like. It makes life so much easier. Currently I’m incredibly lucky: all of my clients are great, and I like them a lot. I’m dreading the day when I get shouty, horrible ones. But perhaps it’ll never come 😉
As soon as I left the meeting, I knew I should really get on a train and go home, because I have roughly three hundred pieces of work to do, and the journal has sent the final version of my paper, which I should read and edit and send back. But I was by the sea, and it was sunny, and also it’d been kind of a long, exhausting week, and I was tired. So I found a stretch of beach that had no people on it and flopped down with a book. Four hours later I finally decided to be good and go home to work.
By the time I’d got back I was still tired, so I ploughed through my inbox and then decided to spend some time on Buzzfeed. Halfway down the page, I found a reminder that The X Factor begins again today, and swiftly found myself on YouTube, reliving my favourite singing show moments. I watched The X Factor fairly religiously for years, mainly just because sometimes I need a bit of completely untaxing entertainment at the end of a busy week, but I stopped last year because I ran an ad campaign during the breaks for a few days, and it managed to suck all the fun out of the show for the rest of the season. But I got a bottle of champagne from my clients to say thank you, which made it all worthwhile. I still haven’t made up my mind about this year. I might give it a go and see whether I can make myself like it again. Plus, Top Gear’s just finished and I need something to replace it.
I went to bed late and slept fitfully, waking up every hour or so but always drifting back into the same dream, which was really long and rather odd. When I woke up I realised I’d basically dreamed a novel. Again.
Me and my ex lived in a house and I had a baby. We called him Ram. He was friends with next door’s child, who was called Lamb. Lamb also had an older brother called David Gabriel. The two younger children spent most of their time together.
One day I had to get rid of some concrete that was in the front garden, because it was ugly and it was taking up space. The only way of doing this apparently was to pour acid all over it. I did that, then got metal sort of chicken wire stuff (but stronger) and stretched it around the area so it was boxed in and no one could touch the acid. Then I put up those yellow “Danger – Corrosive” signs that you get if there’s an acid spill. We didn’t tell the children because they never played in the front garden anyway, only in the back, and we knew they’d see the signs and stay away.
A little while later I walked past the acid pit, and you know when your brain sees something and it sort of registers what it is but your conscious mind doesn’t so it ignores it? That happened.
A few hours after that, the next door neighbour Sue and I went to call in the children for dinner but they didn’t come. We started to look for them, and found them lying on the ground on top of a Psychology textbook, snuggled right up against the acid fence. We immediately rushed them both to hospital.
For some reason this was a special kind of hospital where instead of giving each family their diagnosis individually, the head doctor gave a Powerpoint presentation about them instead. We waited through all the other A&E diagnoses of broken legs and arms and stuff, and then he was like “Of course there is one child we haven’t covered… Jamie.” I remembered that Jamie was my child’s real name and Ram was his given name. The doctor flipped over to the next slide, and at the top was a Latin name: ‘Diacetylmorphinum Addictus’, which in the dream meant ‘heroin addict’.
I was like “Oh my god I’ve turned my child into a heroin addict” and my ex was being unusually strong and supportive, and then suddenly we realised that the doctor hadn’t read out Lamb’s name. We turned to the neighbour and she was looking resigned, then the doctor said “Of course there are some names I haven’t read out, those are the fatalities.”
A couple of weeks passed and naturally everything was shit, I was trying to wean my kid onto morphine instead but it wasn’t going very well, Sue’s son was dead. We all moved into a block of flats because we couldn’t deal with living in the same place but we couldn’t afford new houses.
My ex left me. My son became good friends with David Gabriel, the older brother of his dead friend Lamb, and I sort of sunk into depression. Sue and her husband basically took on my son and he lived with them and I barely saw him. I knew that they were just allowing him to take heroin but I couldn’t deal with living with an addict anymore.
Anyway, strange things started happening. Girls in the area started to disappear and Sue and I wanted to know what was going on.
For some reason the first step towards finding out was to get rid of the acid which I’d inexplicably been carting around with me since Lamb died. It was in a plastic tub, and Sue decided she was going to help me get rid of it. I suggested finding a tip or a quarry or something and dumping it there, but she said she had a better idea. She led me to the top of the building and stood at the edge of the roof leaning over the rail. I was like, “You can’t throw acid off the roof, you don’t know who might be below.” She insisted it’d be fine and threw it over without looking. We heard loads of screams and when we peered over the edge we discovered it’d hit a school bus. The bus had tipped to the side before righting itself again and all the children on the (roofless) top deck had spilled out onto the road in a pool of acid and were dying horribly. Sue was distraught and I was in shock.
Anyway, life carried on and no one knew what we’d done. And then I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I think we started to have this horrible suspicion that her son might know something about the killings. One day we were all in the living room when I suddenly remembered that when I’d been cleaning out my flat recently, I’d found a Bible. I remembered that in the Bible, David Gabriel was the name of an evil angel who killed people in the most horrific ways possible. (This isn’t actually true, it just was in the dream.) I suddenly realised that Sue’s husband had been training their son to be a killer since the day he was born. I said “David Gabriel…” in a sort of shocked voice and for some reason Sue caught on immediately and asked her husband how many women he’d killed so far. Her husband asked “Including the pregnant ones?” I said yes. “Forty-eight.” We asked what he did with the bodies and he told us he’d trained his son to eat them. I realised they’d probably been feeding my son humans for the past eight years as well.
We went upstairs to David Gabriel’s room and saw all this apparatus that we hadn’t known about: there was a meth lab and a load of cannabis plants, and a sort of party area. Apparently he lured them in and then killed them after the parties started.
Sue and I went off to tell the police about this discovery. While we were out the doorbell rang and a young Swedish girl with black curly hair and hoop earrings came inside. (I could see this even though I wasn’t there.) I think she might have been a prostitute. She didn’t seem capable of speaking English, but David Gabriel took her upstairs.
As soon as Sue and I got home we realised that her husband had disappeared and that there was a party going on upstairs. I raced up there while she called the police, and I found the girl almost dead, but not quite. I shouted at David Gabriel and Jamie until they left, then I managed to unhook the girl from the wall (she’d been attached to it with fish hooks), and tried to tell her it’d be OK. She kept saying “It won’t, it won’t be OK, I’m going to die,” but she couldn’t really talk because every time she tried her mouth filled with blood. I’d thought she was wearing a necklace, but then I realised it was actually a garotte made by David Gabriel and that it was slowly killing her. I tried to get it off but realised it was hopeless and thought that maybe if I just got her downstairs then the paramedics could save her when the ambulance arrived.
As I was running down the stairs I was holding her round the waist and I had one hand on her head to hold her to me, but then suddenly her head came off in my hand and I was standing there holding a head by its hair in my right hand and a headless body in my left. I started screaming. Then I woke up.
Needless to say, it wasn’t the most restful of nights, and by Saturday morning I ideally wanted to spend the day not doing anything taxing, but instead I went along to read Tarot cards at an event. Beth was also there, with a stall of bric-a-brac to help her raise money for her trip to Gambia. The event went well, and I enjoy doing the readings, but they’re kind of exhausting, mainly because people don’t generally go to Tarot readers because everything in their life is fantastic, and as soon as you give them an opening they tell you their entire life story. Which is fine, except that after five hours of that I was just about ready to sleep for a week. Instead I helped Beth pack up her stall and then went home to clean. Bought a bottle of wine on the way, and found The Body lying on my doormat when I got inside. It’s a film, guys, stop panicking. Anyway, I downed the wine and watched the movie, and still haven’t quite gotten around to writing the review.
And then this morning I woke up and met up with Aroon and Béatrice, and we hung out for most of the day, sitting around in Mexican restaurants, persuading B to spend all her money in clothes shops, catching up on life, etc. Got back home this evening, finished the book I’ve been reading all weekend and started writing the round-up. Now I might go and get in on some X Factor action. Who knows, it might even be good this year.
This week I read: The Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser; Sacrifice by Karin Alvtegen; Skin and Bones by Tom Bale.
This week I watched: The Killing, El Cuerpo.
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