There you are, cycling into a 24 hour garage forecourt and theres this girl collapsed by the curb. To the curb, and everything seems so oddly paralysed here that it takes a second to realise your spendid sweep and perfectly judged braking into the forecourt is not the reason why you are being looked at. Something the fuck is going on.
Excuse my language. Its warranted once you know what happened before this, and thats my job to tell you, so here goes.
Nothing happens on a Wednesday. Its this wierd island between the weekends that floats in this dull sea, nothing happens.
This Wednesday, however, finds me bed-ridden. Flu of some particularly nasty strain is simultaneously turning my nostils into tubes to accomodate a persistant flow of fluid, as it grabs my bodies thermostat and randomally turns it from hot to cold whilst commisioning a ADHD-inflicted woodpecker to have a crack at penetrating my fastlyeroding skull. And through all this..i’m thirsty.
No, really thirsty. I know I mentioned that before, but I drifted off and now im really stupidly thirsty.
I NEED A COLD CAN OF POP.
. I try to ignore it. I had this blissfully stupid dream I was selected to be a moonwalker, but in a Ghostbusters uniform and having to do Ghostbuster stuff. But no, my beams are only directed to a glorious, glistening, can of tin-chilled glory. I must have it. M-U-S-T–H-A-V-E–IT
I straggle from the duvet, slip on jeans and an anonymous top, and after mumbling down the stairs, alight my bike and pedal into where Beestonia straggles, loses coherence, and blurs into everywhereelse. But there, on the dual carriageway. lies the GARAGE.
THE 24 HOUR GARAGE.
I ride in, and theres this girl hyperventilating. And I look at the first point of authority: the guy behind that misanthropic glass barrier, and his eyebrows are aloft, his seventeen year old brow as creased as a pre-war toilet roof, lost. I see shes breathing into a tiny plastic bag, her cheeks pulsating from blue to red, via a quite disturbing purple, and all i remember from some base first aid training is brown paper bag, brown paper bag. I dont have a brown paper bag, but within my over-shoulder man-bag,utilised to transport beverages home, has a day-oldcopy of Private Eye in it. I snatch it out, roll it into a wide cone, and tell her to breathe down it. Her eyes impulsively meet mine, and momentarily roll before she focuses to a point a foot from her face, and breathes deeply, deeper, till she hits the norm.
She looks terrified, then blinks and its calm, then a smile appears and shes back. She hurries to say thanks, but is paused by an insistent ringtone, its a holler of bass and clamour. She answers and its her boyfriend.
“Where tha fuk ar yer?’ he says, loud over the deep breaths and rush of traffic.
She explains that she got to the garage, made her purchase, and then had an asthma attack,; and Ventolin-free, had had to rely on a passing stranger to get her together again.
“Well fuck on back”
I instantly down my eyes, and then have to look up and ask ‘You ok?’
She looks at me then, and I see her for the first time, unstrained, un blue, and she has a beautiful face, freckled and trim, eyes wide and shining, but with defeat. And her ringtone rang, and she tried to smile before she hurried off,and I bought my drinks. Get back on my bike, and pedal off.
I get home, a nagging, biting thing in my head, and lie on my bed where I have been locked onto for far too long,groggily trying to fit life together inbetween blessed islands of dreams, and
that first sip is so heavenly, yet so sour.