Pulling up a chair, I smiled at the faces gathered around the manky pub table.
We were sitting at the Goose on a busy Friday night. What a shit hole. The bar was loud, just like any other Friday night. We had a good old chat over our Beer and Burger meal, all talking pointless bullshit as usual. We got on the shots.
A couple of hours later I’m feeling drowsy, I want to perk up, I want to be pumped. I look over at Jimmy and he’s eyeing up Neil, gesturing him to head to the toilet. I knew what was going to happen; they’re getting on the Charlie.
Everyone I have ever known has an addiction. My mum and sisters have smoked twenty a day since I can remember. This day and age smoking is frowned upon by the general do-gooding public. There are other addictions that are just as damaging but more socially acceptable. My best mate at the age of fourteen took weeks off school to play a computer game. After school he became a recluse, never came out, just sat there playing his games. His loss.
I stood at the urinal pretending to piss. I didn’t get a share of the cocaine, it’s not my kind of thing. I knew my place, I was standing guard, making sure some overweight bouncer didn’t feel the need to stroll in and check the cubicles. We knew most of the bouncers on the door, and most of them were coke heads anyway but they have a job to protect I suppose.
Back at the bar and we ordered another round of shots. Jimmy tried to flirt with the bird serving us and it was cringey to watch. I necked back a Tequila and started thinking about the addictions I’ve seen in my life.
My old man has this obsession with football. He always said that if Scotland ever won the World Cup he would die a happy man. As if that’s ever going to happen. He would watch every match religiously on the telly and he even had an Aldershot season ticket.
One more round of shots, then we headed to the next bar. Yates’, another dive in the middle of town but the closest thing we had to a nightclub since Vox shut down. Actually that’s only half true. First Vox became a venue for live acts, a good idea for the wrong town. People round here don’t want live rock music, just mainstream club music or drum ‘n’ bass.
As I stood in the queue, I could hear the generic club beats coming from inside. Neil was chatting to the female bouncer. I still don’t know her name but I see her everywhere. A miserable fat bitch who only ever gave us attitude. I smiled sarcastically and walked in behind Jimmy. The bouncer noticed that Neil was coked up but let him in anyway. That meant we were going to be watched closely and kicked out shortly, seeing as we had already paid the three pound entrance fee.
Yates’ was similar to Goose. Sticky floors, same skanks. The only difference was a DJ and a dance floor. A dance floor filled with drunk squaddies and local girls. There were dance poles too with no dancers, kind of defeats the purpose. Random girls usually get up on the pole and fail to impress anyone. Occasionally you’d get some funny bloke who tries his luck with the pole, only to get kicked out by the bouncers shortly after. I never really understood why. As I looked over at the poles I saw an old face, Andy Scott. I had only just noticed him when Jimmy pointed him out to me.
Andy Scott was a class clown in school but he went on to become a drug dealer, another addiction. One thing is to take drugs, another is to sell them. People do not realise the power of drugs. Take Andy, he never even touched the stuff but he knew he could make a lot of money if he sold it. Drug dealing is an addiction in itself. Once you’ve dealt successfully and made as much as three grand in a week, it’s hard to go back to a normal job earning fifty pound a day. Seeing Andy out of prison was a bit of a shock, had it really been five years already?
We strolled out by Tiffany’s. Everyone was coked up, everyone but me. Smiling at the bouncers we all walked in. The place wasn’t the nicest. A dingy dark bar with a few tables and topless dancers. I think Tiffany’s was the only strip bar that’s so cheap, they came round collecting pound coins instead of notes. I looked up after downing a double whiskey to see another old face. Candy May. She was topless rubbing her body up and down against the pole. She was looking fit but a bit scummy.
There is another addiction right there. People think strippers are there out of desperation, but it’s good money. For a single mum that gives it a go, it’s hard to go back to earning so little in a part time job. An easy way to make money is one of the most powerful addictions. She had two kids after all and had to feed them.
The last thing I remember is stumbling outside Tiffany’s. I was thinking about all the different addictions I had seen, all the addictions other than alcohol. Smoking, football, games, dealing, dancing, or anything that takes over your life. I didn’t have any of these, but in my life, everyone has an addiction, including me right?
I stumbled outside into some tramp.
“Watch it mate!” he said.
“Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to!?” I shouted. “Fuck off.” Then I smacked him. He stepped back and fell over his own foot, so I jumped on him. I beat my fists into his face until the pavement was red with blood. His nose busted and his jaw broke. I hammered him with everything I had in one fit of rage. I could feel anger and whiskey coursing through my veins. After what felt like ages, I took a break. I looked up and felt, relieved. A rush was running through my body, like when a roller coaster comes to a stop. I looked back down and the tramp was a mess. I didn’t feel guilty, it was his own fault for getting in my way.
Fighting is my addiction. It’s destructive and dangerous but it’s what I do. For some reason when I was younger, trouble always found me. I know it’s not the best way to live, but I enjoy it, and while everyone else keeps their own destructive habits, I will keep mine.