Flaming paced up and down his landing excitedly. His dad was out and whenever he had the house to himself he liked to imagine it was his own, walking about in his underwear freely. He laid out his outfits next to each other examining them closely. Each shirt and jeans had been washed and ironed to perfection. He couldn't decide what to wear despite trying them both on independently. After close scrutiny he decided to lay them back on the bed and wait for a second opinion. He lit a cigarette and tried to slow his mind while changing music channels as indecisively as his outfit selection. It was no use; three times he got up and walked to the window to check if his friend had pulled up yet. Then at the moment of his impatient breaking point he heard the familiar engine sound and raced to the door to unlock it.
'Come on man you've been ages' he whined as I climbed out the car slower than he would’ve desired.
'I'm coming I’m coming chill' I said through a smile.
Flaming lived near Southend airport, about a five minute car journey from town. His house was more practical than homely. You could see the lack of female influence in its decor.
I wasn't even in the door yet when he said excitedly
'Help me choose what to wear I don't know what's best'
I smiled at his alarm of the situation.
'Ok, cool what you workin with?'
He led me up the stairs skipping every other stair almost clearing the whole staircase.
He led me to his dad’s room, where the large mirror was.
'It's either this shirt or this t-shirt with skinny jeans, what do you think? Is it too much?'
His words seemed to trip over each other in an attempt to express them in speed.
'The T shirt, were only going talk'
Flaming picked them up instantly trusting the perception completely.
'Tonight's the night man, i can feel it'
I couldn't help but laugh at the statement.
'You always say that man'
Flaming’s eyes gleamed with excitement under the landings light showing the lines around them.
'You just wait and see I'm not even going to talk about it you just see.'
I simply held my hands up while raising my eyebrows smiling comically.
'Come on then I don't want to be waiting for you all night'
Flaming always seemed to carry this manic energy before a night out. It seemed to form a pattern, it would grow and grow during the day, mature while getting ready enter a restless state upon the entering of an establishment and suddenly crash at a pivotal moment then he would spiral downwards and suddenly leave not saying goodbye to anyone. It's like getting a present for Christmas; the desire of the object always seems to contain more pleasure than the realisation, upon receiving the gift the joy would instantly diminish. The next day he would proclaim never to venture out again and after some weeks this promise would be forgotten as the desire to go out would return. This pattern would routinely repeat. I sat downstairs watching the superficial music videos, rapping about having money bitches ect. This was always a point of conjecture for flaming; not having enough while others had plenty. While this was indeed an amoral subject it seemed that dwelling on this point brought no happiness only contempt for others and sorrow for your own condition. It's just so hard to see the things that make you unhappy, in his mind music was enjoyment, but you couldn't help but see the subtle layers of frustration that grew like cancer in his mind from the subconscious audible waves of hip hop. I could smell the overpowering smell of aftershave from upstairs and knew he was in store for a letdown. Going for a night out with high expectations was an exercise in futility. Of course going out in itself was not the goal. Perhaps too many movies or music videos has led some to believe that meeting someone in a club was the most common way to start courting. This was not the case in reality.
'Let’s got man before my old man comes back' flaming said partly out of breath from collecting all the items he needed for the night. Flaming looked in the mirror one last time, tilting his head in scrutiny. Despite clearly not being happy he regardlessly accepted that he was paradoxically ready. We both went to leave when his brother fletcher opened the front door to enter.
'oohhhhhhh shiiit, yes bill! What you saying!'
Fletcher always carried a great enthusiasm and energy to the room you couldn't help but smile in his presence. The kind of person that seemed to be born in a party. It's almost as if genetics play ying and yang with temperaments.
'What’s going on dude' i said while shaking his hand.
'ohh okay i see you boys getting ready and that, okay, okay!' nodding his head encouragingly.
We both laughed. Before leaving he shook my hand again leaving two small pills in my hand.
‘I got you man'
I just laughed while placing them in my pocket.
'Hey flaming you got that money you owe me?' fletcher said abruptly.
Flaming’s frustration showed in his brow.
'Yeah soon man I promise'
We both left and made our way through town, there where alleyways and shortcuts and it felt like we was in a maze but flaming obviously knew the way instinctively. He pulled out the whiskey and coke mixed up in a plastic bottle and started to drink thirstily in an attempt to consolidate his anxiety. He passed me the bottle.
'Your brother gave us a present by the way'
He looked at me full on in the face. 'What is it?'
I placed one pill in his hand while taking mine washing down the whiskey and coke. I felt the sting in my throat and felt the warmth coursing down into my stomach.
He beamed at me.
‘I told you this was going to be the night!'
After the half hour walk, something foreign seemed to take over my body. My steps felt lighter, and there was an omnipresent stillness in the air. My stomach seemed to fall into itself as if i was on the decent of a roller coaster. There is something pure when the mind has complete peace, there is no inner dialogue of decisions and anxieties are absent. I felt my shift in consciousness as objects seemed to shift quickly as if the mind hadn't registered it completely. I turned to flaming to assess his mind state as he had remained silent for the last ten minutes of the journey.
'You cool dude?'
Flaming was staring into the sky, he slowly turned back to me.
'I feel amazing man I'm going to meet someone tonight'
I simply looked ahead to our destination. Trying to avoid thinking about the disappointment them avenues of thought produced.
While queuing I could hear the conversations of first world problems.
'My snapchat won’t log in'
'Ugh, how long is this que'
'Oh my god as if you slept with him!?'
I sighed inwardly; I really didn't enjoy these social dynamics. But I did enjoy Flaming’s company and it was what he wanted to do. There were two bouncers, both standing in some comical position as if there lats were so huge that it constituted a ninety degree angle of the arms while simultaneously pushing their chests as high as possible. It looked exhausting. I don't know if this body language was by design, and perhaps indeed it did intimidate some people but any job that requires invisible lat syndrome as a requirement just seemed hilarious to me. As we stepped closer to the bouncers that both looked at us with vigilance, as if in any moment we was going to pull a knife and attack everyone in the immediate proximity.
We held our I.D’s up like convicts appeasing prison guards. One of the bald men suddenly laughed
'His names Flaming, aye? Fucking hell mate'
He gave his his I.D back while turning to the other person in line. We took this as a pass as we walked in. Flaming would usually had taken offence to this comment but it seemed that the chemical reinforcement of dopamine, serotonin and norephrine had made him indifferent; the words fell flatly on deaf ears. We descended down the stairs the multi colored fluorescent lights shone so brightly you had to narrow your eyes to not permit the full force. The thumping bass from overpowering speakers felt as if they rattled my organs from within. My legs started to tremble as the peak blood concentration of the MDMA coursed through my circulatory system. The staircase spiraled its descent into a full room with a blue colored theme. We walked over to the bar and ordered two JD and cokes.
Everywhere I looked where people held in an awkward pretense of enjoyment, by design and in a fashion of self-consciousness. Boys would gather in circles and they're body language conveyed an over assertive plastic confidence. They would drink fiercely, and after finishing their drinks would watch intently at each other and alienate anyone that was ‘nursing’ their drink. Their feet all faced the same direction towards a group of girls and they would make comments to each other while staring at them brazenly. The environment was either pretentious or hostile or had groups that had drunken to excess. They were liberated from the weight of what seemed an unnatural social contract. This liberation and lack of self-control was unattractive. Their limbs flung loosely and eccentrically to the rhythm of the thumping music. After getting drinks we lent on the rail that was at a taller height than the dance floor. Flaming stared ahead and observed a girl intently. She was dancing on the exterior of the group she had black hair, skinny jeans that clung to her body tightly, she had fake eyelashes and her foundation transition from face to neck had a sharp contrast. She in no way had acknowledged his interest or even indeed his existence. She continued to dance oblivious and from her movements appeared to have drunk past her self-control. Flaming continued to follow her with his eyes. I grimaced from within at the unravelling scene. How could i tell him to abandon his pursuit? Should he not live with hope at his attempt to console his desires that harassed him tirelessly? Perhaps when one has an eccentric emotional landscape the mountains of this internal infrastructure blocks the vision of others. He walked over there confidently. Without a single glance of interest from her. At this moment i knew giving him the pill earlier was a mistake. It had made him socially inept. Upon arriving beside her he began to dance as casually as one could, but the personal space invasion had made all her friends sneer at him suddenly. In this small moment where flaming was dancing unaware of the social hostility and she in turn did not realise there was someone behind her there was a space of what felt like an eternity. My toes and hands clenched together tightly. What a morbid circumstance. She finally turned around and screwed her face up while holding her hand up bluntly. Flaming stopped instantly and looked around the group and went from face to face each one applying a further blow to his self-esteem. He turned on his heel and walked straight out of the club. I followed him after a few minutes observing these girls that looked so attractive on the surface but when you scratched the smallest piece away they were so ugly inside. Could they not have softened the blow? Just a little?
I caught flaming up as he walked solemnly. The air was moist and cold it had rained a little and you could smell the salt in the wind from the sea. The Southend walk to Rayleigh was a few hours by foot at least. I didn't bother asking him if he was okay. He wasn't. And I wouldn't have been either.
I waited for him to speak. We was walking down the arterial road the cars would drive past indifferently, the lights would temporarily blind us. We would routinely not have enough for travel barely scraping enough together to buy entrance and alcohol beforehand. To orchestrate this took enormous energy. Having to ask parents for money, as being in college we didn't have anything. After an hour he seemed to have at least in part overcome the worst of the ugly rejection.
The MDMA had slowly receded like the tide slowly retreating on a warm beach. The silence was still present.
‘I'm not going out anymore’ he suddenly proclaimed.
I couldn't help but laugh. And he smiled realising he had said such a thing before. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for a person is avoid a painful subject. So I did. And we both pretended nothing had happened earlier. And he knew i would never bring it up. He didn't have to worry like his other friends that the story would be repeated in a mocking tone to other peers. So he didn't ask me not to. A few hours had passed and we were enjoying the fresh air. I was so thirsty, my mouth was so dry my tongue felt as if it had been replaced by sandpaper, even swallowing was difficult. I noticed two milk bottles were next to a wall. It must have been that early as the milkmen had just been. I picked them up and passed one to flaming. His eyes lit up instantly showing their desperate joy. We took the silver foil from the cold glass bottle and drank thirstily. It felt like the most rejuvenating liquid in the world. The ice cold milk healed us from within. The sky had turned grey and pink at the horizon. Flaming looked at me.
‘What are we doing bill?’ he said comically while shaking his head.
We both laughed together and continued our walk home. He was my best friend.
Three months pass
I stood at the bottom of the tower block, staring upwards at its heights. It was in Southend just off of the Tesco roundabout. The tower block was a decaying grey melancholic colour stained with the lives of parents, partners, children and siblings. Some workers, some claiming a form of benefit, all trying to get through their existential misery. I tried to form a positive comment to my friend but ended up staring blankly ahead at the door. We entered, as I noted the weight of the red stained door, how many times has this door defended someone from a disgruntled ex-partner? As we waited for the elevator to arrive I felt the weight of the silence and tried to remedy this.
‘Must be nice to finally have your own space man?’ I said with a positive tone softening the edges of reality.
‘Yeah, it’s okay’ he muttered sadly staring at the floor.
I felt a deep sympathy for my dear friend I felt I had known forever. He was the most honest man I had ever met in my life. Freud once said that we are all made up of a multitude of characters and we adjust these personalities depending on the stage we were presented with. But flaming was the same person no matter what circumstance, I don’t know if this was a conscious phenomenon. I suspected he was born this way. His desires, his fears, his love, his hate, all laid naked and openly exposed to the erosive elements of the earth. The elevator opened displaying a slumped figure his eyes barely open just showing the blank whites. He looked possessed, pupil less. He barely managed to compose himself to walk, every step was lethargic as if his bones were filled with a deep set concrete. He smiled in a slow decadent fashion showing the remainder of his teeth. His mouth had white foam at the sides showing his enjoyment at whatever substance ran coursing through his veins. Flaming stared after him deep in thought. What tragic circumstances led to that man having to be so intoxicated just to face the day and at such a price on the human flesh? I followed my friend quietly behind trying to ignore the morbidity surrounding me. I could hear mothers shouting in anger as we passed three doors on the right from the elevator. As he opened the door stepping over unopened letters I saw a reasonable space for the living and a kitchen adjacent, the walls were stained along with the ceiling in a light yellow showing the previous owners smoking habits. Flaming walked in silently staring out the window; I walked besides him adopting the same posture. My mind was furiously searching for something kind to say, something to boost his spirits in some small measure. As I looked over the streets and houses I saw the sea, the sun was reflected showing a collection of diamonds. A small view but a view nonetheless.
‘Ah that’s nice man you can see the sea!’
Flaming looked ahead blankly
‘Once we get some furniture in here and some paint it will be lovely mate’
‘Yeah I guess so’ He said with some tiny hope.
As we drove away I could see his mood lift, forgetting his flat and the sobriety of his newly found independence. Flaming often was just happy to be there, happy to go along anything you had to do for the day or even just to sit with you enjoying a cup of tea watching rubbish on tele talking about new albums and activities of peers. In your early twenties I have found this to be rare, only socialising at a pub or if you have enough money to provide a stimulation of some description. Very few would be just happy to be in your company regardless of what they obtain from it. I expected in my mind he would like to come back to my place as he hadn’t seen it, and I was open to this as I naturally drove back to my flat. I pulled up at the traffic lights and I slumped as I saw the traffic. Going home and driving him back would be over an hour and I had work in the morning. Have you ever had a dream where you are running from some black faceless terror? Your legs don't work and despite all your effort of will you cannot begin your escape, your legs are anchored to the ground and there is this deep feeling of having to be in one place but being constrained to another. I get this feeling in my lucid consciousness. Extreme i know, and so it seems that my mind is this way. In my selfishness I quickly said
‘Sorry I’ll drop you home as I have work tomorrow’
I heard the barely audible sigh of disappointment from him as he replied
‘That’s cool man’
As I dropped him off I said I would see him Friday to help with decorating or moving ant furniture trying to remedy the blow of not socialising longer. He looked at me and in his eyes I saw hollowness. As if he peered from deep within, detached and full of a secret sorrow.
‘Yeah definitely I’ll call you’ he replied more cheerfully than his face conveyed.
I wish I could write to you reader and tell you I drove home with a feeling of danger, a plague of emergency or a deep feeling of terror creeping in my mind. But I didn’t, I drove home comfortably thinking of the affairs of tomorrow as humans are renowned for an instinctive selfishness.
Flaming stared at the ceiling blankly, going over the different shapes of the architrave. His mind ached in the same lethargic pain. A deep set fatigue caused by a combination of circumstance, physical pain, genetic neurochemical absences and the realisation of the futility of life. His shoulder pain had been present throughout the duration of the sleepless night. It swirled in the same torturous rhythm around the shoulder joint in a pulse similar to a heartbeat, as if each contraction of the heart produced a connection to the brain. A check of the emails showed no job vacancies in the Southend area, a disappointment he had come to expect. And secretly he had begun to hate the cycle of employment to unemployment. Work isn't hard, people where. And don't all jobs possess a human society? He decided with the last of his will and energy to go the the accident and emergency of the local hospital no longer willing to submit to the lingering tortuous pain. There had been a gradual change in flaming, he drew into himself and withdrew from things that usually brought excitement and pleasure. The world had been put through a grey heavy set filter even as he sat in the kitchen waiting for the toaster to pop up. The sunrise that would usually have brought pleasure to the eyes sat in the distance remote and inspired no joy. The toast he ate brought no stimulation to his tounge; neither did the music bring any emotion. What was this sickness of the mind? And where was its genesis? Its terminus?
Like a slave flaming commanded his vessel to walk the two mile distance to where he hoped he would find an at least end to his physical torment. The walk was long, the roads seemed overused and old. He could not bare to see anyone he knew so he walked the roads with the least human traffic. He had grown tired of the manufacture of facial expressions to mask his torment in a society where not being happy isn't okay. The generic platitudes actually made him feel worse. ‘Just try and get over it’ Like he hadn't already thought of that. In fact melancholia is the condition where one is unable to do exactly that. As he passed a parade of shops parallel to the A127 he couldn't help but mourn the state of the shops. They were decaying physically, the signs had letters missing and the paint was dull and uninspiring. The people in them wore hostile faces. Walking to the hospital he queued behind a man thick with the smell of alcohol, his clothes displaying his current station in life. The man swayed lightly and on a few moments lent backwards into him. He approached the desk to the accident and emergency department timidly, the lady regarded him impassively.
‘How can i help?’
‘It’s my shoulder I’m in so much’
She cut him off abruptly
‘Wait over there, there will be some wait’ she muttered in a monotonous tone, pointing to the waiting area.
Flaming walked over and sat down hesitantly. As he surveyed the room he could see the pain in all of humanity as if he had been blind since his conception. Their faces showed a grievance, a pain, some wordless emotion hid under a thin mask humans use to protect them from the world. Underneath this thin line was a combination of exhaustion, fear, and hopelessness. As if you spoke to them to harshly or looked at them too intrusively they’re masks would crack under the light unearthing the true ugliness. The lights above flickered in intervals the tiles surrounding them covered in a dark mould that spread out like capillaries in a muscle. The pain was building within him like a nausea making his whole body shake with an unrelenting tension. It wasn’t a sharp pain but the worst kind of all, an endless dull throb without alteration. It’s true that anything can be accomplished or endured if there are short periods of rest or even different levels of stimulation. A marathon can be ran easier with periods of walking more so pain can be withheld if there are brief periods of relief, pharmaceutically or provided through the release of sleep. Staring ahead Flaming rested his head on his hands and in turn his elbows rested on his knees drifting in and out a foreground to sleep, the ruminations of thoughts past present and future and some grey lurid interval in the spaces between.
It was a cold saturday morning as Dr Edwards rested his head on his palms and rubbed his temples sitting at his desk. The windows were misted from within showing the contrast between temperatures. He was on A&E duty today, his rotation came faster than his desire permitted. He stared vacantly ahead at his unresponsive programme. No matter how many times he clicked the x on the window it done nothing, the computers were extremely dated and it was infuriating. A saturday morning in this department entailed a lot of drug related and alcohol induced health problems. He had sixty nine pending patients and seven task messages on his operating system from reception, this was before the crash so it may had been the kindest reality. He glanced at his outlook folder and grimaced at the red numerals displaying seventeen new messages. When would they adequately staff the hospital? He thought to his philanthropic days in medical school. Pure intentions to help another had long been diluted with the reality that he was a drop in the ocean of human misery. His phone rang interrupting his rare few minutes of silence.
His wife snapped ‘The car payment has missed, the boilers not working and i need you to pick up hayleigh from dance practise.’
The stinging tone went straight through him.
‘Hello to you too.’
His wife sighed in frustration.
‘Are you going to sort it or not? I cant believe the boilers gone we've not had it long replaced and i'm up to my eyes in it at the office.’
‘Okay! Okay! i heard you. I'm quite busy myself believe it or not.’
She hung up on him abruptly.
He placed the phone down calmly and tried to remember the breathing techniques from his mindfulness class. Inhale, exhale slowly.. Inhale, exhale slowly… he felt the drum of anger in his temples recede slowly as he unclenched his fists and the muscle in his jaw relaxed. He released the phone from his vice grip and placed it gently on the desk. Once his heart rate had slowed and his mental faculties had resumed a rational temperament he went to the door to call the next patient.
After a few seconds the man in the waiting area seemed to have snapped out of a sleep. He was about thirty, had umbro joggers a no fear jumper and a hat that had lost all shape. He was seemed to wear a perpetual sneer and his eyes were very narrow. He walked over clearly lacking an equilibrium. Dr edwards opened the door for him while gesturing inside. Upon sitting down his leg shaked anxiously. Through anxiety or withdrawal he was unable to discern. ‘What seems to be the problem?’
‘Uh, same thing as always’ the man mumbled bitterly.
Dr. edwards looked at his unresponsive screen nervously.
‘Um what is that exactly?’
The mans face screwed up suddenly
‘Aren't you supposed to have it all there on your screen?’
‘Yes im sorry its down at the moment’
He cut him off.
‘Its my back, i’m in terrible pain the medication doesn't work!’
‘What is your current medication sir?’
‘100mg fentanyl every three days’
The man rolled his sleeves up, his brow had started to creep with sweat. Dr edwards tried not to show his knowledge of the pin marks in his arms.
‘Well, Mr jackson i can appreciate you are in pain, but pharmaceutically speaking, 100mg fentanyl is the highest opiate dose we can safely prescribe, and if opiates would have worked in reducing pain that dose would have certainly done so. Have you tried physio at all?’ he said the words calmly and slowly trying to console the man's temper.
The man suddenly stood up in his anger and shouted
‘What do you know anyway, you didn't even know what was wrong with me two minutes ago!?’ He stormed out and flung the chair back knocking it to the ground. Dr Edwards phone rang again then showing his wifes caller I.D. He put the phone on silent flipped it on its back. Inhale, exhale slowly...
A name called out Flaming Mguni in a searching tone and he went into the office gravely. Upon entering the small room adjacent to the waiting area flaming noticed the indifference in the demeanor of the doctor, the look an employee would hold after hours of monotonous work. His eyes shot up in surprise while peering over his rimless glasses asking humorously
‘Your name is Flaming?’
As if his name would hold more intrigue than any physiological defect.
Flaming sighed inwardly. He often had to show I.D to prove his name; at social occasions even this small task of introduction seemed to create an obstacle in itself.
‘yes’ he replied flatly while noting the corners of the doctors mouth desperately trying to avoid raising.
‘What seems to be the problem?’
The doctor said somehow trying to recompose his professional manor after realising the light mood was not mutual.
‘I’m in agony my shoulder has been in pain for weeks now nothing seems to help, please can you do something’
Flaming paused then looking at his feet noticing the stains on his trainers. Before the doctor had time to speak he continued quickly
‘I can’t stand it, it’s never ending I can’t sleep because of it, if it can’t be fixed I’ll kill myself’
He spoke with the momentum of someone thinking out loud. It seemed to be rushed out of him in one single breath so that as he ended on the last syllables he was breathless. The words echoed flatly from the four walls and a long pause that seemed to stretch out endlessly. The doctor scrutinised his patient indifferently.
‘I can’t see it being that bad have you tried anti-inflammatories?’
Flaming stared the doctor directly in the eyes with a silent rage. He was trembling with anger he stood up suddenly turning on his heel and slamming the door on the way out. His thoughts went on furiously, was there no compassion in the world? Who did he think I was!? A joke of a name looking for drugs, waiting in A&E for the hell of it!
He stormed out of the hospital ignoring the glances at the sudden slam of the door. The grey skies stretched before him endlessly, he thought of his youth and if he had ever been happy on the earth that rotated on its axis circling our star as endlessly as the sky above. He had never found anyone to love romantically all ended or never really began on bad terms. He thought of his school days and the malignant stares of his peers the insults, the name calling. His shoulder continued its throb and he quickened his pace, preferring the lactic acid in his legs to his original pain. As if he was sleepwalking in a dream the time seemed to escape him. The lines blurred between the real and the imaginary. He was at the seafront and it seemed his mind raced to and from memories and despair clouded his every mental faculty. Sitting on the wall he stared into the melodic rhythm of the waves. He put his hands through the sand and felt the grains pass through his fingers and tried to distinguish this foreign sensation, was it real? Who could he turn to? Recently moving out he had listened passively to his dads excitement at his new found independence and true is it that at his age of twenty four he was now a man, not to be co dependant on parent or siblings. He felt his presence was a burden at every hidden glance through every word spoken and every word not spoken. As if his very existence was a burden, all his friends seemed to have moved on happy in relationships and busy with work. There was not a number in his phone book that he thought he could call. And maybe it was the work of our society not to show vulnerabilities, or the work of social media to design a platform only meant to showcase our best moments, thus creating a greater fictional contrast to his own life. The thought of going back to his flat made him sick to his stomach, an empty hollow feeling. His shoulder pain had seemed to subside to his emotional anguish, making room for the fuller greater pain. Flaming noted the couples walking past happily in their fore filled lives. He stared blankly at the wave’s for such a long time he began to shake, for the sun had long set. He rose then without a conscious command, and as if in a dream as one with no sleep can no longer perceive. Grey light had started to rise as he walked towards his final destination. His feet ached and his body shook with fatigue and hunger but all were such small sensations, the sorrow was so deep it seemed to have replaced the marrow from his bones. The air was quiet as he made his way to the railway, just before the commuters to london had woken. He stared at the seagulls circling above, what freedom he envied in their wings. He found the spot in the fence he had previously calculated. Now looking at it it seemed more hostile this little gap. Since he had assigned his end to it. He placed his leg over carefully, slowly. Stepping down among the filth and rubbish ladened slope he found its end. He sat down and could find no wavering in his intentions. No brother, mother, father, friend that he thought would miss him, because he thought he wasn’t worth anything. He wasn’t worth enough to leave a letter or message. Nor was he worth the benefit he was in receipt of and the stares he had endured was not unjust but simply denoting his exact worth. And soon that was what he was to be again, before he was an embryo in his mother’s womb, before his conception, and he hoped there was no afterlife; for nothing was exactly what he desired to be, and exactly what he wanted to stay. He heard the high pitch screech of the train. That was it, the sound of his dreams, the sweet falsetto of darkness and eternity. No more pain. He didn't have to be strong anymore. He took one last breath to steady him, one last act. He’s eyes were remote as the train raced past and in one, two, three paces he threw himself in between the carriages.
Do you know what a train at high velocity does to the human body reader? How fragile bone and flesh is under such a machine? The family was not permitted to see his body after this incident, i will not insult your intelligence and explain the reasons why.
The rain tapped on the windshield methodically as we crawled through the traffic on the M25. Radio 2’s normal DJ was sending me to sleep, either through prehistoric music that pre-dated my birth or comments on current news. They would put forward a notion and then bring someone on with the polar opposite opinion, it was tiresome. The windscreen wipers swished back and forth hypnotising me as the red brake lights in front turned on in intervals showing the drops of raining the space between our vehicles. My phone rang it was my brother Ryan i thought of ignoring it as answering calls of late were a source of anxiety.
I answered lazily ‘What's up mate?’
‘Bill, Bill? Can you hear me?’
Something in his tone sounded grave, i’d never heard my brothers voice like it before.
I anxiously asked ‘Yeah what's up?’
‘You better check facebook mate, i think something's happened’
‘What do you mean something's happened? Just tell me’ i said irritably.
‘I think flamings died bill.’
‘What do you mean? It’s probably just a joke’
‘I don't know, you better check’
I hung up and opened facebook, and sure enough there was a status from his sister two meager sentences. One giving date and time and the other briefly stating that he had committed suicide.
I sat in the passenger seat of the van frozen staring at the screen.
My colleague asked if i was okay but i just sat there motionless, ignoring him. His voice sounded distant, as if behind glass. I rested my head on the window and tried not to let my sorrow spill from my eyes. I felt empty, a hollow terror consumed me from my stomach and spread like a cancer through my cells.
Over the next few days people posted on his timeline saying how much he would be missed and what a shock it was. People were making statuses and tagging him giving platitudes such as ‘ We only met once but its broken my heart’ It made me angry. Capitalising on his death for likes and comments. Social media degraded his death, made it about who can write the most heartfelt eulogy. Our society makes me sick. Where were all these friends when he needed them? People were scraping the bottom of their snapchat memorie barrel to post on their timeline pictures with flaming for maximum response. They’d never received so many notifications. I deleted facebook after this, it really does show the pretentious ugly colors of us all. They missed him so much and were so devastated but i saw not one of their faces at the funeral. Its all for the surface level display, there is no depth to it.
I sat outside flamings dads house yet again, only this time he wasn't waiting for me. I looked at the card and flowers i had bought, although i sincerely wanted to express my condolences i looked at the articles as cheap and unworthy of such a trauma. What words could i possess and in what order could i arrange them to console a mother and father of their deceased son. I don't think there is any. I walked to the door slowly trying to imagine it was my dear friend who would be answering excitedly. Instead it was his father, i had never really spoke to him anything longer than the social necessities of greeting. I looked into his face, he was tired. It looked as if he hadn't slept in days. I felt grief thick in the air, in the end i just said ‘I'm sorry’ and hugged him. I think he felt a little uncomfortable i don't know if Flamings ethnicity permitted such an act. He tried to form a fake smile to show his gratitude at the small act of affection. ‘Have you met his mother?’ He asked. His voice was deep but it broke up in certain words. Perhaps through anguish and despair, it creeps out no matter how hard to try to conceal it.
He led me into the lounge area, the same area me and flaming had sat countless nights. I tried to ignore the desk and chair where flaming sat so often. There were many people there all family. His mother sat in the corner on the floor, her eyes fixed in one position, catatonic. She slumped on to a relative lifelessly, it looked as if she had lost control of all her limbs. I knelt down and she looked at me puzzled. Then she realised who i was, his friend. This realisation brought a new wave of grief in her as she welled up. I hugged her and left the flowers, i told her flaming was my best friend and i loved him and she raised such a lovely guy. As i said them i cringed inwardly at the cliche of words, despite meaning every syllable. I turned on my heel leaving the house. Before i left i saw franklin at the top of the stairs, his youngest brother. He wasn't crying, the young are protected by an absence of knowledge. Not understanding the true final blow of death. Although this period is short lived.
Flaming left this world and all the sorrow in it behind. Success, greed, self-interest, egotism it will forever elude me that these qualities in life are in association with success. Those dear qualities that make the world worth living in, kindness, humility, openness, compassion are concomitants to failure and alienation in our system. Unlike flaming I do indeed hope there will be an extension to life past death, and so I can tell him that he had the most beautiful qualities a human can have and how I was lucky to draw breath in his presence.
Franklin the youngest of the brothers held on to my arm tightly as the coffin was lowered solemnly to the earth. He turned his face to me not permitting the reality unfolding and his eyes shone with tears and in the brown irises i saw flaming staring back at me some genetic fragment bidding a last farewell.