I HAD THAT ominous feeling I’d forgotten something ever since the door locked.
My days significance began at the barbers. An early morning appointment, me sitting looking at myself and avoiding looking at my self while the female barber brushed against me snipping. Until she fainted. Obviously never heard of the don’t faint with scissors warning from childhood.
Half of my hair was chopped. That was my immediate concern. Then I got up and assisted a waiting customer in supporting the fainter, whose eyelids operated like a broken toy. ‘You’ve got…a hole in your…head’ And she went limp again.
‘Listen, I’ve got to get to an appointment, will you make sure she’s alright?’ The kid, maybe ten tops, nodded stupidly. ‘Good lad!’
Before leaving I put down £5 at the till, half what I’d usually pay and left, catching glimpses of my lopsided hair on the way out. I needed a hat shop, or a shop selling hats, or another barber. After the appointment? In the time those thoughts occurred I passed a man in overalls clutching a soft cloth, the shiny plate glass of a hotel, and I’d decided I looked quite hip, and if my job interviewers didn’t like it…well – fuck them!
People were looking at me strangely as I strolled the pavement, parting before me as if I were a celebrity, but not in a good way. I kept smiling. In fact, I hadn’t stopped smiling since I woke up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I felt fucking terrific for some reason and after a coffee to go with caffeine circulating through my system, I’d be all set for the interview.
I entered the first corporate monstrosity I saw that peddled black gold. No I did not want cake. No I did not have a loyalty card. No I did not want to give to charity. And yes I wanted a cardboard cup holder so I didn’t have to play pass the coffee between left hand and right. I didn’t tip.
Back on the pavement among the denizens of fine city folk, I sipped at the coffee, knowing it was too hot, then spilled some down my blue suit jacket, brushing it off feverishly until satisfied it wouldn’t stain. ‘Oh my god!’ some black-legginged teenager said to her pal staring at me o-mouthed. Must be the haircut I figured, and grinned back. What can only be described as the whispery experience began in earnest. Heads turned and words came out, most of them unintelligible to me, but for certain aimed at me.
Needlessly forcing boiling liquid down my gullet, I began rehearsing my interview. ‘Where do you see yourself in five years time?’ I don’t have a time machine you stupid cunt, and if I had the predictive powers to know, I’d be buying shares, I’d gamble, I’d be a multi millionaire. No, do not say that. I chuckled. ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ Blondes… no, again, let’s be serious here. My greatest weakness is working crushing hours for useless bosses surrounded by bloody imbecile colleagues who’d stab me in the back literally if they could get away with it, or pelt me with leather bound copies of Nico Machiavelli’s The Prince. Oh christ, come oooonnn! ‘Why do you think you’d be a good fit with Aitchison & Price?’ Because you pay more, with better bonuses for less hours than my previous job…
I stopped. Nearly crushed the cup. Please just be serious for one damned second! I muttered. Someone bumped into me, a man, giving me a look of filth like I’d sold his family into slavery, made a documentary about it, and persistently sent multiple copies to his home address. Bloody hell, what’s in this coffee?!
I felt an urgent need to sit down and breathe deeply. ‘Nice haircut!’ some prick yelled from a van. ‘£5, fucking bargain!’ I retorted. Where the hell was this all coming from? I looked at the cup in my paw, light, nearly empty. I realised I couldn’t switch it off. Whatever it was I couldn’t not think or say what I felt. And still I smiled, utterly content with a hint of hyperventilation.
I strode to the nearest bin that was hemorrhaging and dumped the cup, feeling on some level like I’d gotten rid of my personal Black Dahlia. Back to business. ‘Tell us a bit about yourself’. Yes, I could picture that one for sure, the classic. Well, Mr. Interviewer, I’m single, heterosexual, live on my own, well that’s not strictly true, there are some spiders as well – not pets you understand, freeloaders that get in by window – but don’t worry I don’t kill them, I have a strict trap and dump policy, I’m an animal lover you see but not in a bestiality kind of way. I’m 5’11’, have a 32 inch waist, size 11 feet, prefer regular cut jeans, loose cotton shirts, no polyester for me thanks, and that’s enough about that. I jerk off to an incredibly lenient schedule, not to anything you wouldn’t find with a regular search online, and strictly not at work, there’s enough wankers there usually, although a friend of mine who left here for better pastures, says there’s not many here at A&P which is great to know and partly why I applied in the first place. Inside info!
My last girlfriend left me because she felt I wasn’t bringing enough to the relationship, that I’m immature, forgetful and constantly asked me, ‘Do you love me?’ which if you ask me and I know you didn’t but you might have been internally without voicing it, which if you ask me, said a lot more about her insecurities than anything I failed to provide, and to be honest what’s love anyway? Perhaps a bit deep for now, but maybe we can discuss it over flaccid triangle cut sandwiches that bleed grated cheese and terrible instant coffee in the company canteen? What else? Oh, hobbies! I love reading, anything well written. Music? If it sounds good I’ll like it. Films, similar, if it’s watchable with a good plot and well acted, count me in. I also go to the gym six days a week. Some people say that and at best they’re going two to three times, but I actually do go that often. Healthy mind, healthy body, and currently my weights are going up and up – what? – no I’m not on steroids, but I’ll take that as a massive compliment. Hmm, what else. No strange peccadilloes really, you won’t find me dog fighting in the woods, or dogging for that matter, but on that note I’m not judgmental, and if you are then don’t say, but just know, that’s OK with me. Errm, I’m not secretly an alcoholic or a functional heroin addict, I even quit smoking a few months ago. I have no religious affiliation, and my outlook on life falls into nihilism which sounds bad, but it’s just realism, you know? What was the question again?
I. Could. Not. Stop. And even worse: I went to the interview. And it went exactly how I’d imagined it would.
I couldn’t get home soon enough, I wanted the staring to stop, the haircut to be gone, but I didn’t even have the mind to go to a barbers or buy a hat. On the bus I teenaged, slouched as low as possible at the back, got off, walked/ran home and as soon as I’d shut the front door, went to collapse on my bed. And words came haunting back: “There’s a hole in your head”. Reaching up, hesitating, my right hand traced over the back of my head. Phew. Perfectly normal, just hairs. I sighed loudly. Oh wait, what was…? My pinky found an edge. Why was there an edge on the back of my head?! Moving upwards, my pinky sank in, deep, then deeper. I held back sick as panic set in. No! What?! My entire hand was now over a chasm. I didn’t dare reach any deeper. Bringing hand to my face for inspection I saw no blood, just trembling.
Sleep. I needed sleep. This wasn’t real. I pulled back the duvet, and… my… brain was there. Upside down, nestled against a pillow, surrounded by a faint wet patch. The relief was euphoric, I could feel every vein dilate. I knew I’d forgotten something!