HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Brutal Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some of our shortlisted contributors the chance to be published on our website.
Keep an eye on our social media for more great writing like this, in the run up to the release of The Brutal Issue…
Bailey drops a pill into Simon’s pint and I ask for one too but Bailey says no because he’s only got two left and he might need them later. I say stop being so fucking stingy, and he goes – you can talk mate, it’s not like you’re paying us rent or anything, to which I then explain that I did actually gave Si forty quid on Tuesday, and that I would give them another forty quid in two weeks once I got paid from the new bar job I got in the week at that pub in Liverpool Street – the Woodin Shades or whatever it’s called. Si tells him he gave him half of the cash on Wednesday, then Bailey seems to remember this and apologises and gives me a massive hug, so I grab his ass and pick him up and then we both fall over. The barman throws us some daggers and Si tells us to stop fucking around, and then we’re up and out of there and in a corner shop where we get some K Ciders, which we crack open and drink in the freezing cold street on the way to the bus stop.
We get on the bus and the whole way there Si is shouting about how he’s sick of all the fucking cunts in Stratford. Bailey pisses himself laughing and I grab him and tell him to shut up because you can tell it’s annoying everyone, but luckily we get to our stop in somewhere called Hackney Wick and we get off and the place is basically just an empty wasteland full of old factories and shit. I’ve got that song Ghost Town by The Specials in my head, so I start bellowing it out as we crisscross our way down a street until eventually we get to this bridge, and underneath it is a massive queue of eclectic looking people wearing all sorts of dodgy clothing. We get in it and I’m fucking freezing and my teeth violently chatter as the queue slowly starts to eat itself, until eventually we’re at the bouncer and I’m paying him and he’s patting me down and then we’re in.
We hang our coats in the cloak-room and when we get to the dancefloor Bailey shouts to us both over the loud music, fackin’ ell, Seth Troxler has already started! Bailey leads us to a place where we dance and shake our shit, and after a little while they both look like they’re coming up because they get all huggy and kissy, so I ask Bailey again if I can have one and he looks to me with his chin wobbling all over the place and says yeah this time, and he gives me one and I knock it back and then almost immediately after feel this pinch on my ass. I turn around and there’s this short girl with a black leather skirt and tight black spotted t-shirt grinning at me. She’s quite fit apart from her forehead which looks pretty massive in relation to the rest of her face, but then I change my mind and decide she’s really pretty, so I dance with her for a bit and I can smell that spicy sort of perfume she’s wearing and she stares at me really intensely, like she’s almost pissed off or something, and then we’re slowly kissing but she sticks her tongue way in there, and I turn and see that the boys are gone and I’m feeling like my blood is rushing upwards now so I ask the girl if she wants to go outside…
Me and the girl are necking and she stops every now and then to giggle whilst I sway on the spot and look around at all the moving bodies in the smoking area. I see Simon make his way toward me, a pretty warped smile curving up the side of his face, and he puts his arm around my neck whilst the girl digs her nails into my waist and throws back her head to cackle, and Simon pulls my head and, in turn, my ear close to his mouth, and he goes, remember when we used to eat all those brownies at school? And I look to him feeling all full of euphoria and nostalgia, and I tell him yeah, and he goes to me again, remember how we used to squeeze them into a ball before we’d eat them? And we both just crack up laughing and the girl joins in too because she just seems to find everything fucking funny.
The girl’s name is Hannah and she opens the taxi door for me to get in whilst she goes around to the other side. She sounds proper posh when she tells the taxi man to take us to wherever it is we’re going, and when she leans in to start kissing me again I ask her if she ever used to frequent her local tea room for lovely cream tea with Mommy and Daddy? She just sort of giggles at that but then I reiterate the question and she stares at me all confused, asking what I’m on about? So I just laugh and grab her and give her a big long and sloppy kiss, and then when I get bored I ask her how many boats she’s got in the South of France? And I tell her my family have six and also a helicopter which we have stored away in a warehouse on one of our hundred acres. I laugh and say something else, then she looks to me all bemused/offended/stupid and says, my name’s not Michelle.
We get to her place and we get out the taxi and her house is this grand and tall Victorian style place. I tell her that her house is huge and she just laughs and tells me hers is the top flat, that she couldn’t afford to buy the whole place. We get to the door and as she fumbles around in her bag I ask her what she does? And she asks what do I mean? And I say, for a living, like? And she says she’s studying creative writing at Goldsmiths university. She finds her keys and opens the door and walks in and I follow her up the stairs and I ask her, how do you afford a flat in London if you’re a student? And she looks down to me and grins and goes, my parents helped me with it all. And suddenly her forehead just looks fucking massive again.
TJ Corless is a writer from Birmingham who moved to the Fens, and now lives in North London. TJ has had stories published widely and extensively. ’13th Weekend’ is an extract from ‘Quarter Life’.