Meanwhile in A&E – Damien Lethe
After a prompt for an online novella submission on the Modern World I chose to begin a new YA fiction novella. It is unlike anything I’ve tried before. I may post only the first few pieces to this as, should I get into the flow of it and finish it, I may choose to enter it into this competition. The style is completely different to my usual patterns, and I’ve tried studying other writers and emulating their styles. This first chapter on Damien Lethe was heavily influenced by a chapter in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. This is the first in a series of chapters surrounding my four main characters.
Bluebottle fuckers buzzing in his eyes. Treachery. Poison in his bloodstream. Their tiny feet of wire scuttled across his skin, made it crawl. This one looked at him. Eyes of jelly glittering in their deceitful sockets. The wings so thin like tissue paper lined with deep blue veins and peppered with cocaine. The little shits were stealing from his stash. They would be punished for their crimes against him. Nobody stole from Damien Lethe. Skinny fingers flexing in their joints, crack, ready for the pounce. It could not get away from him, would not if it was the last thing he did. He watched the wings vibrate in their trepidation. He followed the rapid flickering with his eyes. They hummed a mocking thrum in his brain while fingers outstretched and pointed sharp like daggers began to slice the air like butter on a hot day. The week old dust particles scattered before his swipe as the fly, twice the size of his yellowing thumbnail, attempted to take flight. Damien was too quick. He never lost a fight with anyone who messed with his medicine. Milliseconds to react and his forearms tensed and the tendons in his hands protruded with the strain. Then snap. Palm met palm and his prey was mincemeat. Blood and entrails spilled into his lifeline, a short journey. The shattered wing twitched a final time and then death took it. A deadly quiet descended on the room. Damien wiped his hand on his shirt and set up another line of the white powder; the colour of innocence, of snow, of magic.
Arch of the back. Hands braced at work. Brows furrowed in concentration. Emptying of the lungs and then, then, peace. Wind chimes of his solitude ringing out in the wave that went rolling through him. Morrissey crooned on the turntable: “Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head”. Eyelids fluttered to a close and he sunk back into nothing. This was his happy place. A smile played at his lips while fireworks behind his lids welcomed him home. His white embracing paradise.
When that Friday had started, he had £52.20 in his pocket. Then he met with Joey Stadeley. This left him with £2.20 in his pocket. He planned to head straight home and barricade himself back behind the grit encrusted walls of his self-destruction. But then he got hungry. He had cans upon cans of soup and all the bread and salsa dip he could want at home, but the thing was he didn’t want them. Besides, he would never make it through the weekend’s drug supply without them. So he went to McDonald’s. A special offer cheeseburger meal later, he went home with 21 pence to his name. That didn’t bother him. He wouldn’t need cash where he was going. 14 minutes and 1.1 miles brought him to his Barely Yellow front door. The cheeseburger was gone already. So were the fries. At least his coke was still cold. Damien sucked at the blue-striped straw and locked the door with his free hand. And then he began to systematically reconstruct the barricade.
First the glass cabinet, lengthwise on its side. On top of this, the television cabinet, solid oak, but still light enough for his sole pair of arms to lift. And then the television itself. X-Box on the left, Blue-ray player on the right. And then the sofa; polished black leather, ripped at almost every seam, but heavy. This went in front of the cabinet, the seats touching the smeary glass doors. The set was completed by what he liked to call his Medicine Table. Otherwise known as his Cocaine Table. Then he began to stock. Damien made trip after trip with load after load of supplies: Doritos, salsa dip, Hovis Best of Both, Coca Cola, Budweiser, baked beans, SuperNoodles (these he ate dry from the packet), cream crackers, and Kellog’s Crunchy Nut because the trouble was, they tasted too good. These were all piled into the television cabinet for ease of access.
With all the essential components in place, Damien vaulted the back of the couch, plastic zip-locks in hand, and settled in for the weekend. FIFA, Game of Thrones and line after meticulous line of his wonder drug. It hadn’t taken him long to return to the place of stoned contentment. This was how he planned to stay until Monday morning, when he would deconstruct his barricade, venture out of doors against his migraine’s better judgement for a packet of chewing gum and Joey Stadeley’s next weed instalment. Damien liked to take it easier on weekdays. But for now, he was content to pass the weekend in sparkling white bliss. So here he lay, the sounds of his destruction melting away as he floated into the warm embrace of his ashen coloured lover. And on crooned Morrissey: “Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head”.