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Songs of Bliss


She rolls away and closes her eyes, trying to think herself into unconsciousness, as
if concentrating on a word will close her mind down. It usually works, but not tonight. In
her head Bex is grinning at her and turning over prompt cards, one after the other, all of
them showing the word 'Sleep' written in shaky black marker pen. A Dylan song starts to
play in the background. Carol knows this is basic thought association and tries to let the
image fade, but there is no chance of anything working so simply, so effortlessly, not
tonight. In the background Dave mutters good night and he is asleep before his head hits
the pillow.
Carol will look like the wreck of the Hesperus in the morning. She resigns herself to
the long hours of dead waking, and as she tries to settle, as she tries to find a position of
relative comfort, she asks herself a simple question; "Why, Billy, why can't you do
something useful for a bloody change?"
Ebb Tide
The corded tassel of an embroidered cushion is imprinted on Billy's cheek and his
ear lobe hurts where it has been bent back by the awkward angle that his head has been
lying at. The curtains are open and bright sunlight is crashing into the sitting room through
the conservatory. Pillars of dust rise on thermals. As Billy tries to sit up his temples start to
throb, joining a chorus of complaint from his joints and his stomach. He needs water and
the toilet.
Billy reaches behind his head, searching for the familiar comforts of home, for the
water bottle that he keeps by his bed, but his hand swings through cool, clear air. The room,
largely unnoticed in Billy's slow crawl back towards consciousness, suddenly spills out of
the night shadows into daylight. The pillows seem impossibly small and square. The duvet
is the wrong colour, the wrong pattern, and the space, the sheer openness of the room
makes him giddy. Billy is not at home.
It takes a moment or two for him to assemble his thoughts and turn the random
instructions flashing through his head into a coherent pattern of command. He props
himself up and swings his feet out from under the duvet so that he is sitting. His head
swims. Memories; the car, a passenger, sitting in the eye of the storm with a bottle, Jock's
face crumpling, Maggie taking his shoes off. The image of Jock's flattened skin under his
fist kicks the pain receptors in his hand back into life and Billy?s hand starts to ache. He
looks down at his grazed knuckles and tries to flex the joints. Stabbing pains ricochet
through his wrist and up his arm. The flesh wounds are clean and are starting to scab over
at the edges.
A movement to his left. A twitch and a low snore. Billy has to twist round in his
seat to find the source. He sees outstretched legs, red diamond pattern socks and a swollen
eye. Jock is asleep in a reclining armchair. Place and time coalesce and Billy remembers.
Bex and drugs and wild stories in a car park, but last night?s urge to hurt, to exact
vengeance in blood, has been replaced by a desperate urge to pee. Billy can't face the awful
prospect of waking the Cascarino household. Yesterday's conversation replays in his head
 
 
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