As Westway headlights scythe over this cold bus shelter, Jake continually blinks, each brilliant flare drawing tears. His eyes slither over the timetable, attempting to decipher when the next night bus is due. He vaguely recalls a stag night: guys from his school, people he hadn’t seen for five years and hardly recognised. He got pressganged into a drinking game which involved making arbitrary choices from a constellation of glasses sprawling over a table. His random selections had got him so smashed he alone had been barred from some night club. Absurdly, the crowd had a dummy with them, discovered by one of them nipping behind a store for a leak. This was eventually dressed in an overcoat and ski hat purloined from a coat stand. When Jake was refused admittance this mannequin, who they christened Wayne, was handed over to his responsibility.
Jake recalls a newspaper story about a binge drinker discovered frozen to death on Hampstead Heath. Shivering, he huddles closer to Wayne, asking him if he caught the Arsenal game the night before. Propped against the shelter, his monologue fades. Instead he becomes locked in a struggle to keep his eyelids open. He pictures himself as a weightlifter pushing against dumbbells. This becomes his sole focus, willing this weight from clamping down against his body.
A sudden bang jolts him to attention. The perspex behind him has cracked. His initial thought is that the temperature has done this. He glimpses tail-lights hurtling towards the next traffic lights, sailing through on amber. He has a fleeting impression of a window shutting, sealing away thundering hip-hop. Jake turns to the dummy. He has to squint. Not just because of how drunk he is, but because Wayne’s fibre-glass head has been inexplicably shattered.
I am a writer from Edinburgh. Although I have had a novel published, ‘BrainBomb’ (Chipmunka Publishing), my greatest thrill is to write much shorter fiction.
My most recent publication is entitled ‘Dogs’. This is available to download from Amazon Kindle Direct for £2.89.
My own website gives further information about my influences and bugbears. http://www.markjfleming.co.uk