Stephen When I was seventeen I had already tried fourteen different jobs, married twice, fathered many many many children, eaten a perfectly enormous quantity of food over a long time period, been weaned off six types of class A dangerous drugs, given up smoking, taken it up again, given it up again, taken it up again, given taking it up and taken giving it up again and again and again. By the time I was twenty, alcohol had never passed my lips, yet I was a reckless and predatory alcoholic: my life was in pieces, my marriages were shattered, my children lay in ruins, my coffee was tasting incredibily bitter, I was paying alimony along the sinuses, behind the dark interior passages of the skull and through the nose. Nothing smelt felt dealt me right. My friends, ha! Friends? Friends, more like. My friends shunned me as you might shun a cigarette lighter or a brown caravan. In my twenty-fourth year I had increasing problems coping with live music. I lost my sense of utterness, and all feeling and movement in both testicles. Testicles? Did I say testicles? Testicles, more like. Rashes came and went: more wives, more children. My first daughter was severalteen by this time and inclined to chat. Nothing, nothing had prepared me for this. Life, they call it. Life? Life? Life? A living life, I called it. Desire, mood, memory, heat, sweat, effort, power, diction and a great quadratic equation of violent wanting, needing and rinsing. Words tumbled from me then as I knew that the answer lay, not in poetry, not in music, art, sculpture, drama, dance or investment analysis. The answer lay in a new way. A new way on. Some infection gripped me by the kidneys and said "a new way, Randall, a new way". So still barely twenty-five and three-quarters I rode that mountain, I trod that vineyard, I slept that great sleep of destiny, I danced to that music of memory and pogoed my soul to the insane rhythms of the heart's mind's vapid texture of journeys. Journeys? Gurneys more like. No, journeys, I was right. Still the fat gathered to my sinews and the corpuscles sang in my veins. Answers? No answers: fate had dealt me a dog turd and I read it as a full house. No answers, just the dead timing of those twin tomb-black, doom-muffled husbands of decay, Bitterness and Rice. But then, then: opportunity knocked once for no, twice for yes. The labial seam of lead-grey cloud opened its fiery slit and showed me one glimpse, one escape, one chance to cut and run and never look back, no not once, just run, dead-run, blind-run. Fortune shat gold and told me under whose pillow to hide it. No wives now, no children, they had all grown up, got married themselves, got safe oh-so- spittingly-secure jobs and retired to golf-villas in the Algarve with beige cardigans, Beefeater and slimline and heavily descended testicles. But at thirty, that chance, that chance to ... is "redeem" the right word? That chance to redeem a bin-liner of broken shards and sworn devices. If I didn't take that chance what would I be? What would I become? Just another friendless acid spot on the back buttock of a weeping society. So I took it, took the chance, picked up the ball and ran, went for it, threw caution to the teeth of the gale, never look back, just keep running, I did it. Forget the past, there's nothing there, not even memories, just a road you never travelled unwinding backwards to a place you never came from... Hugh enters behind Stephen, looking worried. ... where fruit grows on trees you never climbed, in an orchard where you lost your virginity to a boy called Timothy who died of Horlicks poisoning before you were born. No answers there. I went on. I ...
Hugh Lie down for a while.
Hugh (as a woman) I've got three. Amanda, Lucy and little Emma. Just the three: I'm a busy woman, I think three lesbian lovers is plenty.
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