Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole”
 Eminem “Rock Bottom”
 Björk “Play Dead”
 Utah Saints “Something Good”
Stress is a bitch with no table manners. Take it from me, I’ve entertained enough anxiety in the past month alone to populate two lifetimes and this manifested through crippling stomach pains which my local GP described as a “war raging in the abdomen”. It’s only natural that, when our minds are plagued by stress, our bodies will voice their disapproval accordingly and mine has been nothing whatsoever less than vocal as I’ve done battle with the very last of my lingering demons. Bastards put up a good fight and very nearly toppled my house of cards at one point. But I have divine intervention to thank for emerging triumphant from a battle that would undoubtedly have resulted in bloodshed, had it gone on any longer. And numerous hits of Valium.
I’m speaking through metaphorical tongue of course as I have been unmedicated since 2014 and have absolutely no intention of ending my dry run any time soon. It’s not that I don’t see the benefits. Indeed, I’m reasonably assured I’m missing a trick by not starting my day with a handful of time sensitive meds. But I feel that I can weather most storms, provided the sun keeps rising every morning. Just to be clear, I currently and reluctantly reside in the United Kingdom and there’s no guarantee that it’ll show its smug face for the daily hip hip hooray. That being said, I still managed to top up my tan during December 2017 and really ought not have the vaguest ink smudge how that miracle of solar science came about when Vitamin B has been in such scant supply. I do have more than a sneaking suspicion however and it has saved me a small fortune I don’t have on Amber Solaire.
You see, while life was busy flogging me with its cat ‘o nine tails, to the point where I actually kind of liked it, I was in the process of one full and final transmutation. Like an adder in Antigua, I shed my pallid skin, before entering the critical next phase of metamorphosis. This happens to entail a rather snazzy looking chrysalis and it is here where we begin to assume our ultimate form. I’d actually liken it to a bubble as it can easily burst; should too much pressure be applied from the outside. And about that outside. Well that’s where the true hullabaloo goes down. Should our fiber optic broadband falter and we be required to check in with an off-shore call centre, then this will entail vacating our cocoons for the sixty minutes it takes to unwittingly memorize the words to whichever misguided hold tune the drones have chosen to torment with. For the record, I happen to love Happy Together by The Turtles. But so help me God if I hear that pissing song again before 2028, I’m going loco. Okay you’ve collared me, it is infuriatingly catchy.
Heaven forbid we run out of semi-skimmed milk during this one-hour skull-fucking and have to actually forsake our hives. Out there in the elements we’re constantly exposed and, while this may suit subway flashers down to the pool of mole spunk forming at their feet, it’s not so hot when you’re currently the emotional equivalent of Uncle Frank from Hellraiser. Anywhere other than our cosy reclines pretty much equates to badlands all the way, particularly for those of us who struggle from a severe lack of self-worth. Oddly enough, many of us would consider ourselves people persons and be very much justified in our estimations. But that doesn’t make it any less mortifying when we’re actually required to put in a shift. Back in the days of dial-up internet, options were somewhat limited, and agoraphobia received a lot more airtime. Nowadays, it’s a lifestyle choice and that’s decidedly mixed whelks for the scuttling hermit crabs amongst us.
However, being the interminably chipper fellow that I am, and given my tendency to skip off into the Everglades through my prose, I shall be focusing on the distinct positives this day and, wouldn’t you know, all wireless signals lead directly back to those overworked routers. Who would have thunk the worldwide web would come to our rescue? I mean, that’s where all the nasties lurk right? You know – the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – not to mention any smart phone savvy subway flashers. Surely nothing more than naff all could possibly come from such a sess pool of social tension. With over seven billion of us coiled up like slinkies and set for the escalator dash, that could only ever be a recipe for disaster. Couldn’t it? Seldom have I called bullshit with such a rasp in my tongue and, trust me, I’ve argued this point until facially scarlet and the only reason it didn’t accelerate to mauve was that I removed myself from the firing line before the grapes of wrath could pay a visit.
There’s misconception blowing around them thar hills. And this fills my fury meter to one above stable. Just because we choose to build friendships on social platforms, doesn’t mean the connections we make aren’t cast in granite. Indeed, I’d argue until deep purple that they can prove even more impenetrable, should the personnel be correct and foundations be sturdy enough. My soul leads from the front every time I interact, be that on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, my Prose, or face-to-bloody-face; that’s an absolute given with me. And I make no secret of how critical a part I feel the soul plays to proceedings. Can you handle the proof in my pudding? Well here she is, in the flesh, one of the dearest people in the world or any other orbiting stars to me, Sharon Lawson.
Now try trying me she’s not real and I shall disappear in a puff of smoke only to reappear split seconds later strapped to a tactical nuke. I recall one of the very first conversations we shared, when I commented on the above photograph and remarked on just how gloriously natural it was. It’s funny, I felt an instant wave of calm wash over me the very moment I discerned her light. Something told me every last thing I needed to know about valiumfreak and in a fraction of the time it takes Johnny Five to crack the Da Vinci Code. Otherworldly huh? Indeed and this hasn’t been an isolated incident either. You see, there is plenty peculiar about the way a number of souls glanced one another just as eclipse was looming. And through this all I have finally emerged from my chrysalis a… flesh-eating mosquito. Perhaps another hour in the dunk chamber would be advisable. I swear I set that shit to crimson butterfly.
The relationships that have blossomed towards the tail end of 2017 have been more real than the actual reality that surrounds me. I can feel like a ghost in plain sight and know full well that Sharon will be nodding her Bobblehead as I impart this. Those nearest and dearest to us haven’t always been willing to ride our trains of thought and that is a devastating statistic to have to report, given that blood is supposed to be binding. Repeatedly misunderstood we might be, but that doesn’t mean we repeatedly misunderstand. On the contrary, we understand all too bloody well as our minds aren’t wired in quite the same way as the other sheep in the flock.
Sharon has suffered a time most torrid and to the tune of a fair wedge of her childhood and entire adult life. I’m actually going to leave the test results back at the lab on this occasion as, like her twinned soul Kelly, she’s not going to let an iddy-biddy thing like permanent brain damage determine her psychological diagnosis. Fuck that shit and right in its drill hole, years of chronic pain and constant prodding and poking ain’t stopping this Spritz of Shaz from shaking the soda. I positively can’t continue without sharing a quote from the valiumfreak herself which arrived in my WhattsApp in-tray only yesterday. Tell you what, I’ll even tee it up for you. This is the part where Sharon touches on being wheelchair bound for a couple of years and being told she would never walk again.
“My wheelchair was very me – I chose one as blood-red as the gorgeous Plymouth Fury used in the film Christine. I purposely wanted an intimidating color”
Now you tell me, is that not just simply darling? This nugget of truth wasn’t presented to me as a burden Bakewell. There’s certainly a cherry on top and yes it is blood-red as in the gorgeous Plymouth Fury used in the film Christine. And you’re damn right it’s intimidating. Just because her getaway sticks were stuck in neutral, didn’t mean her engine was about to stall or flood. She just took this unsavory intelligence in her denied stride and waited for her legs to reawaken. While she sat patiently in her chromium cocoon, Sharon watched horror movies and likely solved the ancient puzzle of Rubix without once peeling off the stickers. Gotta love those beautiful minds and their ability to thwart logic. Sure there were those at school who branded her Creepy Carrie and went out of their way to toss their tampons of tyranny. But we all know how that little prom night panned out and ironically those airborne sanitary towels wound up coming in rather handy.
I have the distinct honor of conversing with Sharon regularly by way of voicemail badminton and every last time the shuttlecock is returned, there are cherry sprinkles in its head-dress. She’s just a bundle of positive energy, even when feeling some way from hearts and flowers, and her dry wit and naturally self-effacing nature are like a spray of fresh meadow air to my ears without exception. She battles greatly with confidence and, like myself, places not nearly enough value on her own head. But never once does her hope file for bankruptcy. Granted, an overdraft extension certainly wouldn’t go amiss from time to time as the charges begin to stack up, but it will take more than a threatening letter from the powers that think they be to persuade her that life’s not a gift to be lived out loud and clear.
And here’s the thing – valiumfreak takes that shit to level up and attaches all her skill points to speechcraft in the process. Ordinarily a voice message will clock in at around the ten minute mark, during which time as she does precisely what folk usually do when doing the things that folk usually do. It’s not uncommon for the buzz of rush-hour traffic to underscore her sweet Scottish tones and many a belly laugh has been extracted from the strange looks she receives while having a stress-free conversation seemingly with herself, while she’s supposed to be mealy-mouthed and unapproachable. The whole bubbled deal is pitched back into play at this point as it’s like nothing else exists during these precious moments, only made more exciting by the fact that it actually does. Great minds may think alike, but that also extends to damaged ones too. What’s critical is choosing the people whose scars match your own and cherishing them ever so dearly.
She may have doubted herself on occasion, but I’d much rather question than remain blissfully ignorant. Every day brings an opportunity to learn something fresh and there’s plenty fragrant about the posts of the day she shares across a trio of social platforms. The focus is always on activating some dimples for the cause of good and she achieves this by scurrying off back to her childhood to retrieve some long forgotten relic of yesterday. The other day we happened across the seemingly indestructible phenomenon that was Scotch video cassettes. Suddenly dem dry bones commenced rattling and it was because of Sharon’s rip-roaring recording prowess that this memory no longer faded away. The little things are always the biggest things, don’t cha think?
I’m going to wrap shit up around about now as this is merely a prologue to a far mustier book I feel and I’m mindful of overshooting my beans and winding up in full-on sermon territory. But I shall close by attempting the apparently impossible and completing a sentence which I’ve been wrestling with for weeks now. Whenever our chins wag, communication terminates with “see you later…” and whichever random alligator snaps its jaws around our quick wits fastest. The thing is, I’ve never been at my best when placed on the spot with a Luger to my own temple. Actually, make that a Panzerschreck. Needless to say, I come up woefully stumpy every last time with and without fail. Well that changes right now goddammit. Given that Sharon Lawson is one of a handful of souls whose pads jolted me back to life in December 2017, it simply has to be “see you later defibrillator”. Do hope I aced it. Now be a dear and pass me the Valium would you Freaky Freckles? And you may wish to step a little to the left as I swear blind I just heard oinking.