Part One of a longer story.
Two boys on the tube are talking.
“So bro would you?”
“How can you even ask me that?”
“Answer the question”
“Bruvs she’s your sister”
“I know who she is, now answer the question”
“Bruvs I’ve known her since she was seven”
“That don’t answer the question”
“Bruvs she’s your sister”
“You bastard. You would wouldn’t you”
“You’re a sick fucker”
“Of course I would”
“That’s it, you’re not coming round mine anymore. All them times you said she’s was like your little sister. Pervert.”
“Me a pervert. I’m not going round asking people if they would or not about my own sister”
“The reason I’m asking is so I can keep her way from dirty sex fiends like you fam. Intelligence gathering innit” .
It is my stop. I get off the train and onto a crowded platfrom. I need to change lines. Suddenly I find myself seated on another carriage. I don’t remember how I got here. I wonder if I’m on the right train. As it moves away I realise that I am. It is early morning. There is a Metro on the seat next to me but I lack the will to read it. I am still tired.
The train stops. I get off and make my way out of the station. The homeless person, who I think is a crack addict, is waiting in his usual spot jabbering to himself accompanied by his sign and his dog. I hate him. Not just that but he disgusts me. Something should be done to help homeless people like him. I walk past him doing my best to ignore him.
Again my brain switches off and I find myself at work with no memory of how exactly I got there. I walk into the reception area and exchange “Good Mornings” with with the receptionist. I do not mean mine. I get into the life. Really I should be taking the stairs. Cardio, saving the planet and conserving energy and all that. Not this morning though. I cannot care less. I live in a perpetual cycle of self-loathing and apathy.
It is my floor. I walk in. I see my boss. I want to fuck her. Before I can say hello she asks “Is the Pekar presentation ready?”. Yes it is. I hate her. Where is the courtesy? The good morning? The hello. Where are your manners? Steady yourself.
“I put it on your desk before I left last night” I reply holding in the rage and pain behind it with a toothy insincere smile. I wait to see if she has anything else to say. She looks unsure. I walk away after a few seconds pass. I bet she didn’t even look for it. My cubicle. Whatever evil American or possibly German efficiency expert should suffer in their own special hell. Cubicles should only be places where you get changed or take a dump. They are not places of work. Still they are better than those open plan offices where there is no privacy and some bastard is always starring over your shoulder.
I sit at my desk. I read through my letters and memos sent from up high. I feel tired. It is not yet 11am but I am ready for bed. I’d have a coffee but I quit it. I drop a herbal remedy effervescent into a glass of water. I watch it bubble and dissolve like a witches brew. It taste crappy. Want to be happy. I just don’t know how to go about it. I’m lazy but not feckless. I’m smart enough to know I’m that I’m not too stupid but too stupid to be considered smart. I grab the fleshy parts of my belly, my love handles and muffin top, I lift them and feel them drop. I hate the gym. I want to be something else. Thats not really true though. Because if it was then. Because if it was then if I did want to be something better, I mean really wanted it, then I’d be doing something about it.
I sip the herbs potion, I retch with every gulp, yuck, I do not think it has effected my chi yet. I reluctantly start doing my job. What I do is not important and is in fact so banal I’ll only give you my job description: I’m an office worker.
Nominally I am a muslim. Like everything else I am I am not a very good one. The black sheep, the shame of and the stain upon the family name.
It is only 12:30. My in tray is empty. I have been working solid for 30 minutes without break. I decide I need to scratch my groin. It is a risk. The footy is on tonight. I need a walk.
I go to the water cooler. No one is there. I decide to visit Macy on my way back to my desk. Macy is fat and quite possibly the ugliest person ever to gain employment outside of those genetic aberrations put on display in the circus freakshow. She dresses like a librarian from the ‘80s and vaguely smells of something. Not perfume. Just some unknown odour. I love Macy. She is happy, one of there very people I know that are, and it radiates off her. It feels pleasant and life affirming to be around someone happy, someone content with the direction their life had taken. Macy is nice. She is nice to me. she is nice to everyone.
“Hey” I say.
“Hi ya” Macy is glad to see me.
“Busy?” I ask
“Nah” she replies.
We chat for bit about things at work and in the news. “What are your plans for tonight?” I ask.
“Not much” she says “Probably just go home. Hopefully in time to help Kev put the kids to bed”.
I nod. Kev is wonderful. He’s a stay at home dad and despite the fact he looks like a one of those genetically engineered hairless cats designed for people with pet allergies I envy him.
“What about you?” she asks. I lie and say something about staying in and watching the footy. My cup is empty.
“Did you see that thing on the telly last night? About those migrants forced to work in sweatshops?” Macy says.
“Yeah terrible, shocking” I reply having not seen it I assume it must be terrible and shocking.
“It was so sad. Especially that 10 year old girl’s story. All that pain for £5 t-shirts “
“Oh it was heart breaking.” I can tell it was heart breaking by the way Macy is emoting. Quite frankly I do not care what happened to the poor little dear. In my opinion a little misery of some third world tyke is a price worth paying for clothes that I look good in and that are affordable. But. But I can’t say that. TV shows like that are not going to stop me buying gear from Nike, Gap and Primark and all the other exploiters of the youth in the developing world. It does make me feel bad but not bad enough to put my hand in my pocket and spend more money on ethical goods. Guilt of this kind no longer weighs heavily on me. I don’t feel it much, I don’t feel much of anything anymore. I say what I think I right minded person would say “ These companies are evil aren’t they? Theres no justification for treating children like that” Except for a line of eager consumers waiting to buy their goods.
“It just made me think about my little ones, if they were in that situation, having to work like that. Makes you realise how lucky we are to be where we are”
I’m desperate to change the subject. “Did you see Lost?” I say. Crisis averted. We talk about how good it is and how it annoys us how fabulous all the actors look even though they are you know lost on a island and should look half starved. They should look like survivors from a gulag instead of like models from a sun cream advert. I see our boss approaching. “Princess is making her rounds” I whisper to Macy “See you later”
I scurry back to my cubicle like mouse fleeing to the safety of it’s den from the flight of bird of prey. Seeing my boss just makes me angry. Back to work. I am not very productive. I am slacking today I have decided. I spend my time day dreaming and reading wikipedia. I also watch the clock on my monitor screen. 1.14pm time to get some lunch. I say lunch but I am starving myself on some diet I saw in a magazine.
I make my way outside to meet Macy and Brook. She is a stupid skinny bitch. She eats whats she likes and never puts any weight on. Her hair is horrible though. I cannot understand why Macy likes her. They are deep in conversation when I arrive. I feel like I’m intruding. I stand there self-conscious trying to think of something to say. I never feel relaxed around Brook. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because I might accidentally reveal my unjustified hostility towards her with a slip of the tongue or maybe it is because I’m always comparing myself to her. I decide to leave them to it. I make my excuses and leave. Some lie about forgetting something upstairs. Doubt they believed me. I go back into the building and hide in the toilets for five minutes and hope they have gone by the time I have come out.
I exit the building. Relief. They have gone. I decide to go to the deli. Fuck the diet. I get a parma ham and lettuce baguette. I eat it greedily. I feel the carbs. My blood sugar levels rising, it is like shooting up heroin, pure pleasure. I drink a coke and grab and guzzle down a slice of peach cobbler from the bakery. Only a few hours of work left. I try not to count the minutes till aI return to my empty home.
I’m back at my cubicle and I looking at my monitor. I can’t remember how I got here. I feel suddenly full of anger. I want to explode. I can barely contain it. I can’t conceal it. I want them all to fucking know. I want them to all know what I think of them. How much I want to hurt them. It is all their fault. I realise that it is a good thing that I am alone.
My ears are buzzing. They are red hot. There is a thumping at the back of my head. Faster and harder with every breath, with every beat of my heart it jolts me, theres something inside there trying to smash through my skull. “Bastards, Fucking Bastards” I want to scream. I want yell out a shriek like a banshee. There air should be filled with all the expletives and insults that they deserve. I’m tempted to fall. The moment passes. I get back to work.
It is knocking off time. I make my weary way to Macy’s to say good bye. She’s there still working. She should be running the place. “I’m off” I say and walk.
She calls me back. I turn. I see a face full of concern. “Kay are you alright ?” she says. “Yep” I try to act surprise, like why would I not be alright, thats what people do. She persists “You sure?”. I lie again “Yeah, I’m fine”. She looks for another angle “It’s just, I don’t know, it seemed like there was something wrong, you know at lunch today”. I feel my hackles stand on edge. Let rip. No. Not on her. Never on her. “No, I’m fine” I am so desperate to tell her. To let her know how angry I am all the time. How I’m on the brink on rage at this very moment. “You sure?” she relents. I nod. “Course I am” I say “See you tomorrow” I say. “See you tomorrow babe” she says. I walk away.
I feel shame. I disappointed her. She reached out to me and I shut her down again. I panicked and did what comes naturally and ran away to find a place to hide.
It is not yet dark.