by Georgina Rycyk
Setting: warm, dark emptiness
Time: out of time but somewhere in 2007
Character: JAMES MARSHALL; English, 27 years and 125 days old; formerly a contender for coolest man on the dole/musician
JAMES is carrying a plastic shopping bag and is dripping wet, bathed in a warm light, surrounded by darkness. His head is bleeding and his clothing stained red where his blood has coursed, mixed with dirty water and continued to run down his body.
If I hadn’t been so hungover, I think I would have been totally gutted to die. To be honest, as I wandered over Camden Lock I was actually thinking that this was the worst hangover I’d ever had and that I wished I would die. Well, not wished, but thought I could, or might.
I wouldn’t say I was happy to die, but I just wanted to go to sleep for a while and wake up on say, Tuesday, smelling of roses. Shelter in bed.
Tell you what though, my head don’t hurt anymore.
The last thing I saw was Vicky. Leaning over the low railings on the bridge, the Morrison’s bag flopped over the side. Raisins rained into the canal. The last thing I heard was laughter. She watched me fall.
I’m not that annoyed, it’s kind of cool that I died on Camden Lock. And I made it into the 27 Club. Rock and Roll death. The only thing is I think you’ve got to be pretty famous before it matters. I’m not getting on Wikipedia. Still, in my own way, I’m joining Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones. I think there’s one more. Probably a few more. They’re the ones I’m interested in keeping company with, though. Brian Jones, to the day. Twenty seven years and one hundred and twenty five days old.
On reflection, tripping on Camden Lock ain’t that rock and roll. Should have been heroin. All’s I’ve got on me is Viagra. Shit, that’s going to come up in my autopsy or something isn’t it? Are they gonna tell my mum? Are they gonna tell my mum that I tripped, drunk on Camden Lock (I reckon I was still over the limit) with Viagra in my pocket? Is she going to get that back in the pocket of my jacket?
“Sorry’s your son’s dead, Mrs. Marshall. He was pissed up and showing off to some bird. He fell over the railings on the bridge over Camden Lock. Here, have his leather jacket and Viagra and house keys.” She doesn’t even know who Brian Jones is.
Janis Joplin. Janis Joplin, she’s in the 27 Club too. I was hoping it was someone better looking. Like Vicky.
I met her on Holloway Road on Thursday night and invited her to our gig on Friday at The Enterprise. I thought I was Mick Jagger. Trying to play it cool and be the big dog. Gave her a flyer and everything, swaggered outside for a fag. What a dick. She followed me out though. And stood next to me, swaying in the cold, making smoke circles and red lipstick marks on the filters of her slims like some sexy girl from a French film I’ve never seen.
Through the murky water, I saw red spirals, and I thought of her lipstick and the smoke in the air. Then black. I didn’t “see” the black. There just was. Black.
I stood right next to her on the bridge and watched my body sink.
Your head bleeds quite alot. I cut my head once bouncing on a bed, hit a shelf. Got straight up, carried on bouncing. A bit dizzy. I collapsed out of tiredness more than anything and the next thing I know my mum is screaming and Paul is screaming and I wake up. Looked like someone had tried to brain me. Blood all over He Man’s face, blood all over my face. That was my favourite bed cover an’ all. No more bouncing on the bed after that. Paul wasn’t as keen to come over to play either. “Showing off will be the death of you, son.” Turns out she wasn’t wrong.
We had fought our way through the crowds of tourists on Camden High Street, spilling out into the road on a mission to Morrison’s. We made our way back through The Stables, it’s shit now they’ve started to “re-develop” it. Makes all the wankers happier to give their money to hippies for organic soap and bits of old tat when the shopping centre is full of glass and laminate flooring. Like Camden’s not full of wankers anyway.
You have to cross the bridge on the lock to get back to Jamestown Road, keep off the high street, out of the crowds. Vicky’s swinging the veg for the roast. This will be cool, I think, and I straddle the railings just behind some Japanese with a big camera, getting in their holiday shot of some hippy with a diabolo wearing clown pants. And I just slip. No gun, no heroin. Not even a fucking burger to choke on.
She’s laughing, holding the carrier bag to her belly with her eyes closed, like I’m the funniest guy in the world. Shoulders shaking. She opens her eyes and I’m gone. Her laughter dies with me as I hit the water, and my head.
How does it feel? Dark. I’m still wet but it’s warm.
Through the murky water, I saw red spirals, and I thought of her lipstick and the smoke in the freezing air. “Showing off will be the death of you, James.”
copyright © 2010 Georgina Rycyk. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Georgina Rycyk is a British writer residing near Liverpool. Her first play God’s Algorithm is currently being developed at Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres in Liverpool, UK. In addition, she has previously written for local radio in the UK.