Feel it break your bones Mr. Jones
taste me as I bleed, taste my need
- Smashing Pumpkins: Spaceboy (1993)
The sales rep that had given me a lift out of Leeds got me as far as a few kilometres past Durham. I had fallen asleep in the stuffy warmth of his Volvo, the constant drone of his voice merged smoothly with the purr of the engine. After what must have been an hour – though it felt like 5 minutes – he shook me awake.
Bloody was dripping from my hand onto my lap and the upholstery of the passenger seat. I pushed the jacket from my shoulder and rolled up the soaked sleeve of my T. The bandages had come lose and more blood was trickling down my arm.
The sales rep brought the Volvo to a skidding stop at the side of the motorway.
“Get out,” he snarled.
I looked at him startled. I mean, I was sorry for the stains on his seat cover, but I hadn’t expected this reaction.
“I cannot explain why I had you in my car,” was all of the cryptic answer I got to my puzzled look. “Get out. Now.”
I grabbed my satchel and did as he said. He pulled the door close from within and roared off, leaving me by the side of the M1.
I treated the wound. My next attempt to keep it under wraps and pressure wasn’t much better, but I’d had enough experience with cuts to the arms to know that it wasn’t all that easy to bleed yourself dry even if you tried. I would live.
I made it to Newcastle that night, and appropriated enough money to stay at another hostel. This time no one wanted papers or a story why I had none. The next day I hitched a ride with a lady who drove a bloody big Japanese SUV and who made me listen to saccharine soft pop and her own sob story all the way to Edinburgh. She told me the story in that wonderful, melodious Scottish sing-song that I would come to cherish like few other sounds in the world.
Her name was Cherry or Sheryl or so Valance. She was moving back in with her aging rents in Perth after she had been fired from a job as some sort of researcher. She’d been accused of fudging some numbers.
“The thing is, I haedna cheated. No’ the way they said I did, anywae. I hae go’en the numbers wrong, tha’ much is correct. Bu’ it must’a been subconsciously. My boyfriend hae just left me when I wrote tha’ paper, and wha’ I wrote, it sorta proved an argument we’d been having. At least, it wid if I’d been right. Tha’ is to say, if I cheated on anybody, it was mostly on him.”
I don’t know what she thought she saw on my face, but she grimaced and said: “Yer right. I only cheated on myself.”
And after a brief, uncomfortable pause: “So, tha’ is my sorry tale. Wan’te tell me yer oon?”
I eyed her wearily. She laughed.
“It’s okay, laddie. Ye don’ hafta. I can tell tha’ it’s no’ a happy one. No noodle salad there either, huh?”
“Never mind. I s’pose, things are tough all over.”
I suppose she was right. On the stereo Paula Cole asked us where had all the cowboy’s gone, but neither of us knew the answer.