‘Dead ends’

If it was real life, it would have been embarrassing.

I pulled on the ear of a lady in the Post Office queue. Tried to get inside with my thumb. The woman behind the till. Finger in her nostril. You gotta keep trying, anywhere there might be a hole.

You see, once you’d figured out a way in, all you did was look for a way out. It might be anywhere. In the curls of a wig. Behind a carton of soup mix. You laugh, but that’s where I’ve found them before. The only way to tell is by touching everything. And when you find it, you pass out. Sounds simple, right? But here’s the catch. Every time you go in, there’s only one way to leave.

It was almost never a window. Things didn’t seem to end well from high up. The river too; that was a dead end. We found that out the hard way. One night, Frank ended up in a cell. They caught him getting into a sewer just off the high street. And then he escaped. I went to bail him out, they hadn’t seen a guy called Frank.

Who made the rules? Well, that’s the funny thing: it was us. We’d seen it all before, and the doors were in all the places we’d already been: in the places we lived, in where we finished up at the end of a night, in the streets that ran like roots into the darkest places we could find; places where we couldn’t see ourselves.

Once, it ended in a bathtub. I imagined my mother over me, an itchy towel against my skin, and I couldn’t escape before –

“André, why do you keep doing this?”

The plughole was disappearing too fast for me to catch. I had to try the tap.

“What did you take this time?”

The eyes. The hole was in her eyes.

“For God’s sake André, look at me.”

It would have been embarrassing, if it was real life.