New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from Dive

Saturday mornings generally meant that Jack Thompson would wake late, usually in a state of delirium after a Friday night of heroic drinking. He would have hoped to have exorcised all the demons that had built up in him during his week at work at the university. His Friday nights had become a ritual, part of a routine that Jack saw as necessary in order to live as good a life as possible, one that was both tolerable and occasionally enjoyable. It would start at the bar nearest work where he would occasionally be joined by a colleague or two before setting home with a take-away on the train and the delights of his local pub mere yards from his front door. It was close enough to stagger home from no matter how drunk he had got and he invariably got very drunk. It also helped that there was a small shop in between as well that at weekends sold alcohol until deep in to the night.
This particular morning it was clear that Jack had enjoyed a pretty crazed night; there were beer cans and a bottle of whisky, all empty, sprawled over his living room floor. What came as even more of a shock was Jack waking on his armchair in his living room. His head was pounding and his gut felt terrible. Climbing out of his chair he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror; even he thought he looked bad. The night before they, whoever they were, had stayed up late, very, very late indeed and judging by the ash-tray a small forest of weed had been enjoyed too. It was inevitable that a woman would have had to be involved; Jack knew it was only on those rare occasions that him and his bunch of loser, middle-aged friends were enjoying the company of women that they ever ended up in the kind of situation that had clearly developed on this particular Friday night. Jack struggled through the debris to his kitchen where he knew he would either be sick in his sink or he would get a mug of tea. He felt his gut and knew that it would be OK to eat so he prepared a couple of slices of toast and his mug of tea. This was all part of the routine that was his life.
Jack often found that routine ruled his life; work was the same time everyday and his weekends generally followed a similar pattern. Saturdays were often the happiest time of his week as he had no work to go to, no one to see until he was ready and most importantly he got to smoke as much weed as he wanted. It was all a part of the routine that was his life and the reason his flat was his favourite place, even more so than his local pub.
His flat wasn’t much but it was better than any of the other places he had lived in since leaving home some twenty years before. It was a simple space, divided in to two rooms. His main living room was at the back with a pretty pleasant view of the garden and then there was the ‘weird’ one, being that it encapsulated his bedroom and kitchen with no natural light. It was always this room that people always seemed to comment on whenever they visited. He had always lived in places like this; they were the only kind of place he could afford and over the years he had grown used to the limited space and the problems that came with sharing a bath room with fifteen other flats. Jack didn’t mind being unhygienic as it limited his experience of having to deal with other people. He had never really been a people person and a life of isolation suited him. Even at work it had ceased being a problem; Jack was merely the strange working-class guy who seemed a bit shy and very occasionally smelt a bit fruity.
His living room was packed of shelving units full of books, records, CDs and films and in the little bit of space that was left there was just enough room for him to fit a two-seater sofa, an armchair and his dilapidated record player and TV set-up. It was regularly full of debris from his recreational pursuits; an over loaded ash tray that suggested he didn’t have long for this life as well as various empty bottles or cans if it had been one of those nights. He smoke and drank most days but still felt he had it under control to the degree that he wasn’t supporting a habit; he rarely got either very stoned or very drunk, he merely liked ticking over. If it didn’t become habitual he felt he was doing OK; there were times he over-did it on both counts but fortunately for his sanity and his money it was rare, at most twice a week. Now whilst that might sound quite excessive but it was a great improvement on the four or five times that he had subjected himself to during his teenage and twenty-something years. It was all about the ticking over, maintaining the routine that he had grown used too.
It then became clear what was going to happen that day; he would finish his breakfast of tea, toast and joint before clearing up all the debris from the night before. After that it was often time for the football coverage. Jack loved football, it was one of the things he shared with the masses, but his team always came as a shock to people when he told them.
“I’m a Millwall supporter,” he would tell whoever and they would look at him in shock as if he had just eaten a baby for breakfast. It was something he had got used to; now almost forty-years old he had enjoyed the inevitable shock of the hundreds of people he had ever talked to about football. Unfortunately he rarely had the money to attend games but he had little interest in doing what the rest of the country did on that day either; namely shop. He’d only ever enjoyed shopping for books, music and films that was enough for him; clothes to him were just something to keep him warm, he’d never cared about labels or fashions and with his jobs even if he had he could never have afforded such luxuries; Jack’s priorities lie elsewhere. During the summer months, when there was no football, he would occasionally end up in the pub in the afternoon with his group of weird friends and he could witness the full-blown consumerist frenzy from closer quarters. It was a terrifying scene. He would spend his time in the pub with the same group of weird, dysfunctional people who had over time become a very close-knit group of friends. They were his people and whilst not having much in common with any of them anymore he could at least trust them not to mess with his mind. After years of leading the kind of life Jack had chosen to follow he found himself pretty close to the edge a lot more than the average thirty-nine year old would.
Private time on a Saturday was one of the highlights of his week; away from the stupidity of most people and a time to just completely switch off. It was a time to forget everything; work, despite being at one of the top colleges of the University of London, often meant dealing with some of the most socially inept, publically schooled Home Counties types he had ever had the misfortune to have to deal with. They were the polar opposite of Jack and somehow their stupidity always seemed to demean Jack even further in their eyes. It was one of the reasons he preferred keeping himself isolated at work. Outside of a small group of people who he shared office space with he was generally ignored and that suited him.