He always slammed the stairwell door behind him. The only one of six residents to do so – announcing his anger into their tranquil spaces.
His behind-the-wheel frustrations, a soiled, stranger’s rucksack he carried everywhere with him. The comfort of the first glass of red, as sweet as his late Grandmother’s words, “I’m leaving this place to you Derek.”
Glass one: Drowning out flashbacks of the entitled on two wheels. The weavers, out of nowheres, and the incandescent fist shakers. Never their fault, the politicians of the public highway.
Glass two: Temporary traffic lights stuck on red like a rag to a bull. Gas pipes relaid weeks ago, dug up again, inciting chemical changes to the makeup of blood. Boiling, rising, acidic, vitriolic, symbolic of a sick society. A pigeon paid no attention and flew straight through, inadvertently breaking the camel’s back.
Glass three: “No offence driver, but I need some quiet to focus on a work thing.” Another one that knew the quickest route too. The first right after the dry cleaners has been a dead end for months. It had become a ‘rat-run’. A tempting carcass, now with the mental wounds of cab drivers gnawing at its core.
Glass four: Wine = Music. With the first bottle of corner shop Merlot emptied, it was time. His vinyl collection here to stay, a protest at technology – what taxi driver worth their fucking salt needs a sat-nav anyway?
The first track drip-fed liquid honey into his veins before building to its power ballad crescendo. This continued unabated, until…
Glass eight: He stumbled around in Y-fronts, a human Dodgem car, bumping into everything it was meant to avoid. ‘Sandra’ etched on his forearm in that cheap blue tattoo ink – a bargain basement reminder of five years of failure.
The brittle needle crackled at the start of another album, but he didn’t make it back from the kitchen – his own sat-nav out of kilter after a wee nightcap.
Oblivious to the commotion at his front door, Derek dreamt of doing an airport run in L.A. while his new pyjama-clad neighbours conspired to the sound of “How am I supposed to live without you?” filtering from flat 12/3 – an unwanted earworm.
They needn’t have bothered. Derek’s bad blood had glugged to an emergency stop well before morning.
Jamie Graham is a Scottish writer and Seinfeld addict on the wrong side of 40. He’s recently featured in Pop to magazine, 101 words and (b)OINK zine. Follow him on Twitter @jgrahamwriter