It’s 4am when I finally turn on to Union Street. One hand on the corner and balancing on pinheads, it would be easy just to give up here and now and pass out on the nearest piss flooded doorway until the police rouse me, but there’s only one more block between me and the queue. It’s not going to be easy, but I will get there.
One foot in front of the other.
I falter like a new born foal.
My ankles throb, wounds oozing from scars old and new beneath faux leather ligatures, splinters of glass providing a further stinging sensation – a tweezer job way too fiddly to worry about dealing with tonight.
Just forget it for now.
Focus on getting to the queue.
Every muscle from my knee down is switched off – or at least no longer speaking to my brain – itself the victim of yet another night of self-inflicted cell annihilation.
I’m like a tin woman.
You’d think I’d learn.
So who is the voice in my head being motored by?
Quiet! Never waste energy worrying about that. It’s dangerous. Just let it speak and follow only helpful thoughts.
Sound judgement left a long time ago.
Truth told, I probably should have just left at 11pm with Jen, but the prospect of continuing the good times for another three hours had carried me into Voodoo and made me hand over a fiver in exchange for a hand stamp.
It was crap as usual. No one of interest to look at. Same old, same old.
I couldn’t really leave Ellen to go in alone.
Even though Jen shouted at me.
I think she was pretty wasted though.
Probably won’t remember.
And once you’ve paid in you must get your money’s worth.
We sit in a booth. I say yes to a fish bowl and shot after shot before admitting defeat and pleading to be allowed to stick to double vodkas.
Other than that, I guess I didn’t really speak to Ellen very much in Voodoo.
But you’re only young once.
I stand as still as possible.
Day breaks and my hangover is kicking in like an alarm clock.
I’ve been in the queue for over an hour and I’m still at least sixth.
Why is everyone alone.
If we all shared. I might be second.
I think about voicing this.
For a moment.
Then decide against it.
Must stay safe.
Even if hypothermic.
In the Granite City twilight zone only misfits and zombies roam the streets.
I’m here most Fridays and Saturdays.
So at least there’s a few of us normal people out and about, walking on the wild side.
My head hurts.
Regrets pummel me back to reality.
How has partying become my only hobby?
Getting chemically happy on coloured drinks just to end up feeling really sad, ashamed and inadequate.
I stare down at my new four inch sandals caked in spots of dried blood. Chipped nails. Drink stains and cigarette burns on my dress. White-blue skin. I’m clutching myself.
Sleep when you’re dead though, right?
But I just want it all to stop.
But now I’m making absolutely hilarious small talk with a chav from the other end of town.
All is not lost.
He is number seven in the queue.
I can tell he’s thinking: west end girl, and speaking in friendly tones, to me. Get in!
This is too easy.
In fact it’s boring.
He’s a loser.
I’m desperate to pass the time.
It’s been a while since the last car arrived.
He is clutching a 12 inch margarita pizza.
Ramming bits in as I chatter.
Spotting these worlds collide, some other mentalist stops for a chat.
A bit more banter.
I consider going to buy chips just to get rid of them.
But then they stagger off, the mentalist promising number seven access to an almost certainly non-existent pub lock-in.
Pecking at discarded kebabs.
I shift from one foot to the other like a dressage horse.
Too sore to start the walk home in the hope of a night bus or that a passing taxi light comes on.
I’ve been here too long to take that risk.
Fat chance of success anyway.
Now number five.