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Come Together, Chapter 2.
Red Tape Noose.
… Yet another naming and shaming charade. My trainers, wasted and rotting from the entropy of dossing, tapped out a Morse Code no one gave a toss about noticing on the tough carpet. My eyes drifted to the neon strips of light, bars of lamination scrubbing out any life from the biscuit coloured walls and carpet. Staff drifted to and fro, ants to the bureaucratic colony, zombified faces embodying the ache in my soul, crying out to a state that wouldn’t listen, what’s gone wrong…
… I couldn’t go out. Even the realm beyond the duvet was a gnarled forest of horrific ghouls and demons. I was the Event Horizon, all constituent pieces of me came unglued, nerves holding less than sand slipping through an hourglass, time spiral, life’s serial killer. An outline of me hangs on my door, a suit, a phase, a drumbeat I can’t march to anymore. The pants increase, heartbeats and sweat give me a larruping as I sink down into the duvet, an abyss is a dip for me. A wire has shorted, a life eroded. This is me, this is my nervous breakdown…
… I’m electrocuted back to half-life. Somehow I’d managed to stumble to a desk in my hallucinogenic state, sat in the chair, an Iron Maiden of scrutiny and judgement, spikes bored into my tender flesh in the guise of cold sweat… who’d have thought that such a shapeless bureaucrat could be so terrifying? And she was. The wrong side of fifty, a sensible, neat bob, glasses resting on her Playdo nose, the fat slugs for lips daubed in red war paint, matching her jacket, frozen in a pose that hinted she could smell shit no one else could. Avoiding my gaze as though empathy was a flesh eating virus, she clacked all she needed to say on the keyboard, typing mechanically, letting her silence and the pasty lights do their work. Is this fucking Nuremberg or New Deal, I wonder aimlessly, before a monotone slices into me like a blunt Guillotine. “It appears you haven’t been making the required efforts to find work,” the flat tone regurgitates computer saying no. “What are you talking about?” I manage to sound pissed off, I’m impressed, I think to myself, it’s a pellet of pleasure amid slurry of despair.
“You cannot continue receiving benefits if you do not make the required measures to find wor… ” she drones. “BOLLOCKS, YOU ROBOT!” A cold beak of dread screams where my mouth once sat, a diseased rat’s claw possesses my hand and seizes the nearest pile of papers – more trees raped for civilisation’s whims – throwing them in the air. I was running the mile of utter destitution, the faint neon buzz of the lights and residue of bland biscuit décor hissing vaguely heard laughter under the veil of officialdom. Carpet became pavement, light tubes became air and I was out under the sky again, in ‘freedom’s’ bosom… trapped in poverty’s quicksand. Clutching my head, I roared in a gush of rage and panic… I’m fucked, momentarily blind, the bright green rail to my left proved my crutch – probably what it’s there for – I realised, dragging myself out the alternate dimension into the real world… I needed a drink!
© Brad James, 2014.