STORYGLOSSIA    Issue 4    August 2003

   by Nicky Hoult

I've never dug a hole in my life.
     Not one in the ground.
     Not one using a spade.
     Today I begin my contract. I am to dig a hole six foot long by six foot deep.
     Grave size.
     Can you believe it?
     I thought many things about life when I was a kid; how many girlfriends I'd have, will Derby raise the F.A. Cup, but never did I think I'd be digging my own fucking grave.
     On this contract I am allowed no communication with anyone.
     That includes eye contact.
     Straight up.
     I'm not allowed to look anyone in the eye. This is worse than prison.
     I've been here three months and twelve days and this is my fifth contract, the record for the rehab centre is nine.
     This is the worst one yet. The others were cleaning duties.
     You've guessed it, a toothbrush and a toilet. Actually I was quite proud of those toilets when I'd finished. I didn't want anyone pissing on them that's for sure.
     Why am I digging my own grave? This is the part that will make you laugh.
     I'm guilty of failing to express my true feelings and so they think that by digging my own grave I shall learn to open up and this will make my problems easier to face.
     It's punishment for being a cheeky twat, for answering back and for not toeing the line. Anyhow I'm no poof, so I'll have this done in no time. The ground's soft, the spade is sliding through like a dream.
     Butter and knife come to mind.
     Just let them watch, faces pressed against the glass like fucking retards on a bus outing.
     Get a life!
     Miserable fuckers. Thick fuckers. Fucked-up fuckers.
     There, the first layer is off.
     I've broken sweat but who gives a fuck. I've warmed up now. I'm motoring. Ploughing through my contract.
     Yesterday I thought about leaving.
     I woke up and the first thought in my head was to run.
     I'd been dreaming about gear. I was at an old flat back home.
     Just scored. Vein pumping. Shot ready.
     And I woke up.
     It's not unusual to have druggy dreams. If you'd been on holiday for ten years to a beautiful island with warm skies and fluorescent rain you'd dream about the place for a while after you'd come back.
     It's memory isn't it?
     And I reckon sleep is the time when your memory kicks in most, otherwise how do you remember who you are when you wake up?
     Fag break.
     Yep I'm making a nice job of my grave if I don't say so myself. My mole hill is growing not quite as fast as I'd like but it's there. Maybe I should have been a grave digger. I could have done it cheap for all the wankers who fell dead in my family. Save buying a suit for the funerals.
     Whose was the last one? I was there. Feeling nothing. Steve, a second cousin. That was it.
     Suicide. He was alcoholic. Depressed. So he topped himself.
     Left two kids and a missus. Poor cow.
     I didn't speak to her.
     Watched the coffin go in the ground and pissed off.
     I don't know why I went. I didn't even know him. I felt like shit when I came away though, started rattling and needed to sort myself out behind the Church wall at the back of the grave yard.
     I savoured those toots, felt every nerve in my body kick back and chill.
     Have you ever slept in a house where the water pipes make a lot of noise? I remember as a kid the sound of the water rushing through the pipes used to give me goose bumps. Tooting feels like that.
     When I was a kid I used to lie awake hoping someone would flush the toilet or run the water so I cold feel it. I'd lie curled up in bed and wait for it to wash over my spine.
     Up and down, up and down, up and down.
     Right back to it.
     Show these tossers how it's done.
     I must be a foot down now. It looks like a door. The brown rectangle of soil in the green grass.
     I'm knocking on the door to hell. Hello party people, anyone home? No. No lights on, no-one's home.
     Shit, I can see Danny. Dead.
     I found him last summer in an old squat off Hartingdon Street.
     He was purple in places like rotten corned beef. He was only eighteen.
     A right rum fucker. Bad on the smack.
     The needle was still in his arm.
     The smell of the place was disgusting. Maggots, food, stale carpet, grease, mould, dust, sweat, death. Shit I'll never forget that smell.
     I remember how quiet the place seemed, all dark and shadowy like I'd stepped into a picture. A black and white photograph of Danny sitting dead in his chair.
     I was ill at the time, hanging out. I checked the table for gear and his pockets. Danny wouldn't be needing it now. He'd done it.
     I found nothing in his jacket but it wouldn't of been there anyway I thought. It would be in the back pockets of his jeans. I needed to check there. I pulled him forward by the scruff of his shirt. The skinny fucker was as light as a feather but stiff as cardboard. It was easier than I expected and I found a wrap. It wasn't much but it would sort me out. Time to go.
     I scanned the room one last time like one of them Mia cats, all strung out and jumpy. After I'd sorted myself out, when I felt better, I phoned the police from a call box in town. Told them to check the squat.
     They wanted my name, I had to put the phone down. I heard they went round later that evening. Danny's body was carried out in a black bag. Word on the street was he'd been nicked the week before for robbery, grassed up a supplier and they repaid him with laced gear. But I know that wasn't true, I'd had some of that gear and here I am digging this hole.
     Even in death he had no peace, his name being brandished about as a grass.
     Nothing worse.
     I know the truth though Danny mate. You sleep well, ignore those dirty scumbags.
     That's one thing about this place, it's clean. Even the skirting boards are wiped over.
     I wonder what time it is? I'm pretty hungry. I need a break. A sit down.
     Well there's definitely a hole but there's a way to go.
     The ground is wetter the deeper I go making it tougher. The soil is thicker, heavier just how my back feels. It's a nice day though. Blue sky. Not as hot as June can be. I suppose I should be grateful.
     I guess I'm glad I didn't leave this morning.
     My stomach is hollow.
     How am I expected to do this contract with no dinner?
     It's a fuckin' liberty. I'm a grown man. I need food.
     This is no way to treat a person.
     Where the fuck is everyone? The building looks empty.
     I can see the T.V. room but I can't see anyone in it. Surely they're going to bring me something.
     Arh fuck 'em. I can do this with or without. Where's that fucking spade?
     I think my muscles must be straining, they feel a bit stiff, unlike my cock. Shit. How long has it been? A long time.
     It's not a requirement when you're an addict. I remember when I first started using, in my clubbing days, I was seeing this girl Vicky. We had great sex. I could go for hours, she loved it. Her pilled up, me smacked up. It was pretty wild.
     We would screw for an hour, smoke some dope, bang on some tunes and be at it again. Shit they were good times.
     I wonder what Vicky's up to.
     She was a good laugh. She loved the club scene. Loved pills.
     Loved sex.
     I wonder what she would think of all this, she would think it all madness.
     This rehab, this contract, this addict . . . . . She'd be right.
     Fucking hell how quick ten years have gone.
     It's like I jumped through a worm hole when I started taking drugs. Feet first I fell and what a trip. Shit it's been one hell of a ride.
     Is this where I get off?
     Fag break.
     The hole is waist deep now. It's looking more grave-like. I'd say I'm half way there. Problem is I'm having to throw the dirt upwards and out of the hole. It's not easy, but then what is?
     I'm looking forward to seeing this hole finished, standing inside it unable to see the ground and lifting myself out.
     Yeah, that's going to be a good moment.

Copyright©2003 Nicky Hoult