The Reconnaissance


He began dreading her appearance. Having travelled for an hour she’d step off the bus and instantly light a rolled up cigarette. Always 8:45. The cigarette was never finished before she reached the shop, so would stand outside, hacking and coughing until it was. The smell would waft in, turning his stomach, and he’d feel like vomiting.

Current Life

He likened his present life to being a little like eating cod roe when the richness of his previous life had been like eating caviar. He had of course lived many lives, and so also knew that being alive in the 21st century, was as good as he’d ever experienced it. People complained about this and that and it seem the weather was the biggest gripe at the moment. If only they knew how good they had it.

Having finished her ‘fag’ in she walked, still coughing, beginning the usual manic behaviour in an attempt to intimidate. As best he could he ignored her and made a conscious effort to calm himself even more. He rarely looked at her these days and so heard very little of her bile: This was wrong, that was wrong, constant criticism of others. He knew it was criticism by proxy but refused to bite, as he understood who was being paid, a managers wage. At whose door responsibility lay.

Even with the pay, she didn’t actually managed things, and with his refusal to do it for her, the store was a horribly toxic environment. It came as no surprise to him that the paper kids were out of control; abusive and testing. Boundaries collapsing. Just biding his time, about ready to leave.

Twisted Old Hag

Past Life

One of the places he’d worked recently had a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ kind of rule. Christ how the working classes ate shit. It followed that he now applied this to his current situation: one more incident of abuse from the poisonous old hag, and he’d hand her the keys. There was no fear, he simply didn’t care anymore.

Future Life

He had in mind a meditative journey. A light dome tent, sleeping bag and a thick inflatable mattress, was all he’d carry. He’d walk further into the west country, more weight to lose, without a care in the world. There are adventures to be had and it was always how his next life would start.

In his mind the twisted old hag smoked and burned like the end of her fag; she crumbled into ash and dust as he watched. He remembered what she’d told him: “Oh yeah, cervical cancer after I had James,” wow! How she must have made her only child pay for that. No wonder he became a priest. The guilt buried so deep it’s in the marrow of his bones. Priest James: a guilty child.

Just like his own birth mother having her womb removed altogether. Hysterectomy they’d called it. One way to make sure it never happens again.  The only way to rid oneself of that level of guilt, is to die and be born again, again, again.

The Future

Such a vile species are we not? Had the old hag come to represent his frightful birth mother now cremated. Probably, but he wasn’t going to switch the blame through analysis anymore. And the thought of breathing in his mothers, now free floating molecules, also made him want to vomit.

He wondered how he’d survive on his own once again. He wondered how long it would be before his faith returned; before he’d see salty rich caviar on his plate once again.

Weeping With the Effort

His alarm went off.

The smart phone was set to vibrate as well. The night before, he’d placed it on top of the headboard, so the sound of the vibration went through the whole bed. “Fuck” he said.

Later, on his way in to work, he suddenly and inexplicably, felt emotional. I could weep with all the effort of this shit, he thought. To Evo life seemed to be all about effort with very little return. He once said to a colleague of his: “All those things priced at pennies, how do you ever make any money?” His colleague had simply replied: “All those pennies add up my mate.” It was a fact he’d never been able to get his head around.

It all seemed like so much effort.

His arms and legs felt like they had lead weights attached to them. Everything he did was, to his reckoning, done to the best of his abilities, and yet there was no gratitude, no appreciation, no fuck all! At least that’s how he saw it. There was another part of him that knew different. It was the part of him that found the energy to swing his legs out of bed in the morning.

One of Evo’s favourite sayings was “I should have been dead years ago, I was only supposed to make it to thirty three!” God only knew what that was doing to his mind. Knowing Evo’s luck, it was lengthening his life, rather than shortening it.

To make matters worse, another saying that’d been rattling around his head of late, that seemed in direct conflict to the first one, was this: “The best form of revenge is to outlive your abusers.” A saying he believed he’d discovered all by himself but was shocked to read, some months after penning it, that it was actually quite well known. He’d probably seen it somewhere years earlier and his mind had tricked him into thinking it an Evo original.

At times there seemed to be a lot of conflict in Evo’s mind.

A lot of it had escalated as a result of his mate, John, skulking off during a night out. Just when the party had started as well. He seem unusually upset about being knocked back by one of the two girls that had approached them. They were just mind-fuck bitches anyway; just out for the craic.

He found the coke – that John had so ungratefully turned down that night – his way of letting off steam. If it wasn’t for that stuff, he reckoned he’d go right of his nut with the effort of it all. Perhaps it was time for a change. He remembered overhearing a conversation in the staff room once where someone, he didn’t know particularly well, had said how tired and worn out he felt all the time. How it all seemed like such an effort. Just as Evo had inexplicably felt earlier, he’d said that some days he felt like crying, when he thought about the effort of it all. His friend sitting at the table said it was depression and told him to go look for another job. Told him it was time for change.

If this was also true for Evo, the question was, what would he do? He was so wrapped up with sales, advertising and marketing – something he didn’t believe he was very good at – that he didn’t seem to have room for much else.

Anyway, there was always the weekend to look forward to. A little bit of the white stuff, with a Jack and Ginger to follow, and all will be well. At least for a little while.