The thing was it’d been perfectly obvious from the start the best way to’ve dealt with whatever the hell was going on would’ve been to just do what I always did confronted by the apparently insoluble namely have a rock because that way things always seemed to reveal their secrets of their own accord yet shortly after I got in and started acquiring a taste for being Dark Alan something’d seemed to warn me taking that route’d ultimately cost me all my favourite little things like rocking and tea yet the ecstasy inducing prospect of permanent release from the burden of being human and the exhilarating possibility nothing’d any longer be beyond me’d proved so overwhelmingly attractive I simply couldn’t resist hence even now all but right back to being crappy ol’ normal Everyday Al the possibility rocking might kill off a last minute rally by Dark Al seemed good enough reason to go along with the idea now coming to me maybe it was time to give up rocking altogether.
Yet even as I sat there basking in the hypothetical glow a lifelong era rocking chairs to bits’d finally come to an end I now abruptly warped into this sort of “Hulk mad! Hulk smash!” routine normally associated with Adrian losing on the horses hence my balled up fists now came down to all but shatter the arms of my chair simultaneously launching me in the air with the conscious intention of using my full body weight to deliberately shatter my own feet only to land at the last moment in a sort of crouched superhero shaking with indignation type pose my furiously quivering fists curled menacingly in towards my maniacally gurning face as I now emitted an infuriated semi-strangled lung-busting roar followed by a sort of frustrated crushed whimper causing me Mum to briefly glance up with an arched eyebrow and glazed eyes before returning to her impression of a mercury bird scanning Agatha Christie and Julie to inquire “…everything…alright…?” to which I could only respond in a sort of clenched jaw grunt “’an’t talk…going doom…keep ’pointment…‘ternity…” as I flounced out the room for the parlour.
“…’goes doom’ never looks that good on the ol’ CV” Julie cheerily called after me “’keeps appointments’ looks BETTER! …not so keen on ‘with Eternity’ though…”
And I might’ve found quite funny if I hadn’t been so determined to be in such a bad mood with whatever the hell was making me rock hence I now sought to impress it with just how severely pissed off with it I was by picking up and slamming down the phone as it started ringing only to suffer a momentary pang of guilt at effectively blaming Sarah or indeed the phone for my woes even as another upsurge of rage now had me rather snazzily pivoting on my heel to boot the poor parlour door through which in my head was go'n'o look kind o’ cool in a theatrical Starsky and Hutch bun fight pantomime kind o’ way except it turned out the parlour door wasn’t just the most solid thing in the house but the one door without a dodgy catch hence the pain now shooting through my foot also signalled the spine of the shoe on it'd snapped the net result being almost before I knew what I was doing I was infuriatedly doing my best impression of Quasimodo lurching across the carpet dragging a foot along behind me by way of keeping the shoe on not quite sure whether it was out of laziness or bloodymindedness before ramming my poor huge chunky padded earphones on my head with such force I all but lost an ear then deliberately leaping up in the air TV wrestler style to ensure my favourite armchair’d receive the full weight of my arse as I crashed down with a flop of such vehemence I actually felt something inside the poor bastarding thing go only to mask my momentary spasm of conscience with a contemptuous supervillainous fake laugh then crank up the radio so loud my teeth were set juddering in their gums as I now whisper roared through teeth so clenched they were practically horizontal “Go on then SHOW ME!
Only nothing happened.
Oh I could hear the radio alright but the binary pulse thing which did all the actual rocking seemed to’ve deserted me as’d all the formerly incessant pulsating-cum-scintillating videos nor did mechanically rocking backwards and forwards have any effect other than to severely distress the fabric of the chair and make my back and neck ache.
Meanwhile I was becoming more and more aware something akin to a vertical cast-iron battering ram was periodically try’n’o pound its way up through the centre of me the apparent source of all the insanely spastic surges of momentarily unbridled rage I kept having leaving me half convinced I was on the verge of both a heart attack and an aneurism until something seemed to tell me all that was needed was for me to calm down and go about things the way I normally would.
Of course I thought I’m still wearing my Clark Kent operating in the outside world uniform whereas what I really need’s my Superman operating in the inside world uniform hence I now headed straight for the little room at the back of the house where all our junk invariably ended propping myself up against the doorway to delicately but painfully tease my longsuffering shoes off giving them a kiss of gratitude for the mistreatment they’d received as well as an apology for almost certainly never wearing them again then lobbing them straight out o’ sight behind the old mattress at the back.
Meanwhile gazing down at severely mangled looking feet with blisters the size of new potatoes peeping out sports socks glued rigid with blood and serum I now noticed me Dad over the sink peeling onions struggling not to sniff while craning his neck to squint through glasses frames with only one butter smudged lens intact at various tabloid horse racing guides strewn haphazardly across the countertop opposite in between snatching his favourite obviously very hot cracked discoloured cup out the bubbling saucepan it was noisily rattling away in and very pronouncedly slurping mouthfuls of very strong almost condensed milky coffee from it.
“Dad in between your jaunts to the bookies can you do us a favour and start bringing us cups of tea while I’m having a rock in the parlour? I’ve got this big indescribable thing playing on me mind and the more I can just concentrate on going over it instead of nipping in and out for tea the more likely I’ll be able to get some sort of handle on it…just one thing though…” and he now cleared his throat as he always did when about to speak and in a very deep and rich plummy public schoolboy type accent betraying no hint of his Bristolian origins said “Yes I’ll remember to wash the onion off my hands.”
“Good ta you’re the best. Oh and there’s no particular need to rush the mo’ ‘cause it’s go’n’o take me ages just gettin’ up and down the stairs with me feet like this…” and I started very gingerly making my way upstairs before perching on the edge of the bath and soaking my feet for several extremely excruciatingly painful minutes periodically tugging at various parts of the socks to test whether they were sufficiently unglued to be finally removed.
By the time I’d finally changed back into the threadbare beach shorts I’d been rocking in so long they no longer had a crotch and my similarly tissue thin soled dilapidated ‘white’ trainers I realised I was finally starting to feel like myself again because not only did Dark Alan no longer hold any attraction for me anymore but I was even contemplating using apologising for slamming the phone down as an excuse to phone Sarah though something seemed to insist I mustn’t any longer delay getting to grips with whatever the hell’d been happening today but because I could also now feel all my old normal enthusiasm to have a rock returning to me again I could only agree finally confirming I was now back to something like my old self.
So I started dialling up and down the stations searching for stuff with driving beats or stirring tunes though not to listen to but to intensify my ability to get to wherever it was I went whenever I was rocking but I’d forgotten back then Saturday afternoons were an absolute desert for any kind of music never mind the rock indie or dance kind of stuff useful for my purposes and on the rare occasions I did actually tune in anything half decent not only’d it be just finishing but the DJ’d be talking over it with local phone-in football fans and while in comparison with the commercial stations Radio 1 was a veritable oasis back then there was still far too much discussion about record making at that time of day and not enough actual record playing meaning just as I’d be homing in on some key insight my concentration’d keep getting interrupted by having to find replacements for the likes of Kate Bush’s The Sensual World to stir up and enflame my emotions into the equivalent of rocket fuel or Little Louis’ French Kiss to hypnotically invoke sections of video to arise and imprint themselves on the air before me or the Felly version of Technotronic’s Pump Up the Jam to overdrive my consumption of larger and larger volumes of data which’s probably why I ended up simply turning the radio off and just rocking.
And the first thing that concerned me was why I’d used the front door instead of the backyard because the feeling lingered I hadn’t been acting entirely under my own volition which really bugged me.
Of course my surprise at the complete absence of the hordes of highly aggressive youths who normally spent their entire existence spread all over our front area like wan'obe gargoyles may’ve played a part in my change of mind but then there were the facts I didn’t have a key the weather was appalling and my mob hated answering doors.
Yet as I sat there rocking and watching Julie answer the door over and over again I was struck by how hurriedly I kept rushing in almost as if something was alarming me.
And when something now tried to fob me off with the idea I’d probably just noticed some of the Gargoyle Brothers coming down the street I sensed maybe now I was really starting to get to the crux of the matter so began rocking that bit more intensely playing over nd over the period between first arriving at the door and Julie finally opening it and there it was that flash not so much of light…but of what? Vividness? Intensity?
And what was that presence I kept sensing standing over me somewhere just to the right of and slightly behind my shoulder? Maybe if I’d’ve turned to look back I might even’ve caught a glimpse of it but each time whatever it was kept seeming to start telling me something’d just been done to me my initial feelings of elation kept quickly turning to feelings of alarm and dread then relief whenever Julie arrived.
Yet why? And for that matter why’d I been so keen to quickly block the whole thing out my mind?
What seemed to make the whole thing all the more mystifying was the reason Julie’d had to let me in in the first place.
As a teenager in the Seventies I’d developed a deep aversion to keys after being inspired by the metal bending antics of Uri Geller to start rubbing a Yale brass door key between my palms only to find I couldn’t any longer pull them apart at which point the bastarding thing seemed to explode melt then come alive in my hands wriggling just like a much larger much heavier molten hot metallically dense eel as my entire body was set resonating like an insane dinner gong when the bastarding thing now emitted what I can only describe as this hideous blood-curdling silent metallic scream before finally swooning to a dead faint and snapping back like elastic to its original unalive dimensions allowing my hands to finally burst apart and the now visibly v-shaped key to plop to the floor leaving me with the deeply unpleasant sense I’d just been guilty of raping a key.
So here was I a guy who once raped a key and a key remember which came alive in my hands yet because I got flashed on the doorstep and told I’d been irrevocably changed somehow I was now suddenly shitting me pants?
And then there was that other thing bugging the hell out me because it also smacked of me not operating under me own aegis the fact I hadn’t come down Gladstone Road or as I could even clearly remember deciding to Wavertree Road but’d somehow ended up heading down Plimsoll Street instead and this in spite of the known danger of landing right in the lap of all the wan’obe gargoyles parked all over our front area just waiting for an opportunity to impress their peers taking turns squaring up to me.
I mean how could I’ve been so stupid or so bewildered to make a mistake like that and not even notice meself doing it?
And come to think of it how the hell did I cover all that ground between the top of London Road and Plimsoll Street in such an impossibly short time?