By Jay Stringer
I shake a lot these days.
I tried to spit three hours ago and my lips are still sore. I wont be doing that again for a while. Rosie says things get better; she says it’s all worth it in the end. I don’t really believe a word she says though, because she died in 1996.
The bed is wet and not very comfortable. Its good though; its warm, and wet is better than cold.
Rosie used to stand on the street corner. I’d see her every Wednesday. She’d always be holding the same bag of sweets, sucking on them between her teeth, telling stories to cute strangers and asking for favours. She was really sweet. I think, sometimes, that I loved her before I even met her. I’d always loved her. There was magic in the way she talked and the stories she told. She carried herself like she was an old movie star. One of the big pampered ones from black and white, when Hollywood meant something more than sleaze and money. The way she went on, it was like it was perfectly natural for someone to be an old time movie star and a young girl on the streets. Like you could be both at once.
We believed it.
Moving to the city was the best thing I ever did. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have done anything. I’d still be back home. My parents would still be asking me when I was going to get a job, and my friends would still be tapping me for money.
But here in the city? Nobody taps me for money.
I moved up with my best friend, Billy. He played bass and had really cool hair. Wore tartan trousers in a way that didn’t look stupid. I tried it once. Looked stupid.
Billy loved Rosie, too. He’d talk about her all the time, and I think his songs were about her. She broke his heart just like mine, but the difference was he came up here to get his heart broken. Its what he’d always wanted; singing songs about girls even before he knew what girls were.
Music does that to you.
There was someone hammering on my door a couple of minutes ago, but I didn’t hear what they were saying and I didn’t move. They always stop eventually.
I remember the first time I spoke to Rosie. She gave me a grin, the sort that she didn’t give to just anyone. She told me all about the films she’d been in and all the rich men who’d bought her jewellery. I told her I was in a band, and she looped her arm round mine and we walked down the street arm in arm. We got drunk on a rooftop and shouted at the sky.
It was great, I’d recommend it.
Last time I watched the news, they talked about how it had never been this hot in the city before, that even in the shade it was hot. I remember they showed someone frying an egg on the roof of a car. I can believe it. I just want some rain. Have you ever got high in the rain? It’s the best feeling. It doesn’t matter what you’re taking, rain makes it better. You can sit and feel it, only you’ll really feel it, you know? Or you can cry about how beautiful it is. Rosie was a crier. She’d sit and cry at most things, when she got like that;
She was crying the last time I saw her. Her makeup was streaked and dark and her dress was torn. She’d been out on the town, but the comedown had been epic, it was showing no signs of stopping.
She said, “Would you believe me if I said I was Jesus?”
I said, “Would you believe me if I told you anything?”
She hugged us both for most of the night and nobody ever saw her after that.
I argued with Billy last time I saw him. He said I was fucked up, that I’d stolen money from him. I don’t know what he was on about, I spent an hour helping him look for that money. If I had taken it, I would have known where to look, wouldn’t I?
I sneezed yesterday and blood came away with it, and I’m having all sorts of problems you don’t want to know about. I spoke to this guy who told me he knew what I was going through. He quoted scripture and Bob Dylan. His hair was matted and I wondered if that’s how people looked when they got saved. All I know is that he said he’d help me if I gave him some money. I had money in my pocket.
He went away after that. I haven’t seen him since. I’ll just stay here until he gets back.