Excerpt from a novel
You should see my bedroom. It’s plastered in stuff I’ve wrote up on the walls in different colours, and my space painting, and one of Jade’s bras, a purple one, hangin from hooks we put in the ceiling. She’s wrote beside it I ran a mini marathon wearing this in purple marker to match. There’s some massive drawings on the wall too, one I done of Bob Marley and then another one of Che Guevara. Jade helped me write up stuff like fear is just a feeling and pure talent bitch and we drew every letter real careful and slow. Me ma nearly had a heart attack when I started decorating me room at first but she’s well used to it now and she don’t even bother sayin nothin to me about it. Jade said somethin to me a while ago that I knew was gonna be one of the most important things I’d hear, in my whole life, ever, so I wrote it down the side of my wall, where I can see from me bed. It says six billion ways to die but only one way to live. She said she heard it in some rap song but couldn’t remember who sang it and I didn’t really care anyway so underneath it I wrote by my babi girl jade and put a heart shape next to it to show her how much I love her.
It’d be class to do a graphic design course after school. I don’t go round tellin people that I wanna be an artist or anything, cuz they’d think I’m bein a tool, but everyone knows I’m lethal at drawin and even Robbie reckons I could be a famous graffiti artist one day. We were rollin joints the other week and he started drawin a picture of me on one of the pieces of paper and he was gettin it all wrong so I showed him how to do it. He was tryin to draw my cap, and I showed him how there was curves in my cap and he had to keep the curves in if he wanted it to look real. He done it, too, done some nice curves and made it look a lot better than it was before. Jade’s not that good at drawing. She says she’s not good at writing, either, but she’s got this real different way of lookin at things that makes me think she could be a writer if she just learnt some better words and spellin. Sometimes when we’re messin about outside or down the skate park or just chillaxin, she says something that makes me stop and be like what did you just say? Cuz she makes so much sense. Cuts through all the shit. Doesn’t think past the moment. Like one time we were in a really good mood and pissin ourselves laughin and she came right up to me and whispered in my ear that I was making her lips laugh, and I thought that was really cool and then we started kissin and fuck me, everything was just bloody perfect, d’ya know what I mean? A different night, she told me she couldn’t walk home cuz her feet were drunk and I laughed so hard she got kinda mad at me so I stopped but inside I was still laughin and thinkin that no one had ever said that before. Then there’s all the stuff nobody else knows about, but it makes me feel sick in my mouth when I think about it, so I wrote a rap song a while ago. It goes like this:
wall broke, all toke, we scope, yu choke,
we bend we mend, come meet my friends,
cause anarky, yu mad at me?
Stop being panicky, yu have only took 3,
don’t corner me, cuz i am the cornier,
i warned ya, laughing at silent movies.
Then it’s got loads more in the middle and ends like this:
fresh to death,
euphoric pieces of geniusness on my breath,
hummm la di daa,
discribe myself with two words … ‘in depth’.
That’s the way I’ve wrote it and it’s probly got loadsa mistakes in it but fuckit Jade thought it was rapid so that’s good enough for me. I hafta put a proper beat to it but least I got the words done first. Jade said she thinks I’m probly about as good as Tupac or Biggie was when they were our age, like before they went and got famous, and comin from her that’s a helluva compliment.
I’m goin smokin with my best pal Robbie tonight. He turned sixteen yesterday and got some money for it so he’s after gettin us some weed and we’re gonna get baked. I hope he brings Beoga. She’s his dalmation and she bounds around like a mad yoke and that’s what her name means.
Karl, your dinner’s going cold!
It’s me ma. She’s been alright to me, so she has. Mosta the time I try to stay out of her way but she’s me ma and ya only get one of them so even when she’s givin’ out hell to me she’s doin it cuz she wants me to turn out better than most other people we know. I’m gonna get a bitta grub now cuz it’ll be a long night and the worst thing is when you’re starvin but don’t wanna go home in case yer ma don’t let ya back out again or in case she cops on to what you’re up ta.
I stick my cap on, the one I always wear. It’s black with flames on it, and I’ve wrote my initials on the back, in case anyone tries letting on it’s theirs. K.M. Karl Murray. Looks sorta professional, like the ones some people get specially designed for them when they’re in hiphop groups. I’m goin past C&T, our corner shop, now. It’s a shitty little place really, but it comes in handy when ya need stuff quick like toilet paper or milk. I drink a pint of milk every day, mostly cuz it tastes gorgeous but I know it’s good for your bones too and I like the idea of helping them bones along as much as I can. I’ll not have my body strugglin if I can help it. It makes me sick when I see people screwing their bodies up by eating shitloads of takeaways or by eating nothing at all. Why the hell do they do it to themselves? I don’t get it. I probly don’t have the right to be goin off on one like that cuz I’m goin smokin later, but that’s different, isn’t it, that’s different.
Alri’ Murray? What’s the craic?
It’s Adam and Mac Dara and the fellas from down the road, sittin on the wall the way they always do, lookin bored as fuck.
‘Story? Where ya off to? Comin drinkin later?
Nah, I’m headin to meet Robbie. Where youse plannin on goin tonight, the usual spot?
Ah gwan outta dat Murray, what ya doin hanging round with yer man Robbie? He’s a right retard that youngfella.
Smack. I punch that wanker Gav right in the nose. He thinks he can talk bad bout my mate he’s got another think comin. Ah bollix. I should’ve done that whole countin to ten thing, shouldn’t I. Would’ve saved getting the shit kicked outta me like I know is gonna happen unless I run like fuck away from here. If Jade was here she’d be runnin nowhere, she’d find some way outta this, but then again that girl’s bleedin deadly.
Turns out none of them boys can run fast for too long so I get away easy and find Robbie and it’s alright again now. Robbie got kicked outta school last year and he’s meant ta be goin to Youthreach now, but the waiting list is really long and god knows when they’ll get round to his name. Funny thing is, he probly would’ve gone if there weren’t such a long waiting list, cuz it don’t sound too bad of a place. Ya get paid every week for turnin up and it’s not like school at all, they don’t be on at ya the whole time or makin ya do homework or nothin. So it’s a pity things worked out the way they did cuz he’s got nothin to do and nowhere to be and that’s gotta get him down. Here we are anyways, sitting opposite where the old towers used to be, and the both of us sayin nothin to each other, just takin it easy. I remember a few years ago when the last of the seven towers got knocked down, I remember me ma sayin to me it was the end of an era. We used ta live in Clarke Tower, right up on the very top floor. I was twelve when they knocked it down. Everyone said it was about time it got demolished but it was our home for a long time and there’s a lot of memories in a place like that. I still find it weird to walk by where the towers used to be and for them all to be gone, vanished into thin air. It don’t bother me, or anything, just sayin it’s an odd feeling ya get when ya look across the road and see how different everything is now. And even though we got to move to our own gaff with more space round us and not as much stairs to climb, I done a lot of growin up in Clarke Tower and it weren’t as bad as people think.
D’ya know wha some girl called me in town today, Murray?
Nah, go on.
A scanger. She called me a bleedin scanger!
Well she seen me nickin a few packs of Taytos in Dunnes and she turns to me and says you’re a scanger you, that’s all you are. And then she went on and said I bet you’re from –
Bet she had a face like the back of a bus. I’d love to punch the head off her.
Alright alright. Take a chill pill, man, it’s grand, everything’s grand.
The wind’s blowin through my jacket and jeans now and hurryin on through Ballymun in that sneaky way of hers. Me and Robbie are smokin a joint round the back of the Reco. Well I’m smokin and he’s coughin like an animal. This is a good place to come, cuz it’s pretty well hidden but ya can still leg it outta here quickly if ya need to. It’s getting proper dark now and Ballymun is changing, turning orange, glowing in the blackness around us. I’ve never seen street lights being so orange anywhere in the world except for Ballymun, and just cuz I haven’t been to very many other places don’t mean I can’t say that anyway. We’re orange tonight, me and Robbie, and right now that’s the funniest thing ever and a good enough reason to laugh. It’s all just so fuckin funny, the way everyone’s turnin orange as they walk by, as if they’re bein put in a massive machine and comin out different at the other end. Robbie’s trippin out and so am I, but I wanna taste of somethin else. From where I’m standin, ya can see three different roads, and we’re right bang in the middle of ‘em all. The road on the left goes into town. The one on the right brings ya to Santry and the one straight ahead, right there, that one goes to the M50 and that’s the motorway so it’ll bring ya anywhere ya wanna go. I’m takin out my pen now and writin on my arm, just to remind myself that I want somethin more than this endless orange sameness night after night after night.