Nothing really mattered to him. There was no plan, no set future in the life of Ryan Dixon. The only thing that mattered was NOW. Life was easy. A never ending experience of music, alcohol, drugs and sex. Ryan never cared about his future or the rest of the world until a day when everything changed...
This is an extract from the story of an average bloke who learns that nothing is as it seems, that his body is changing and his purpose on this planet might be much greater than he ever expected
NOTE: This is just a selection of different sections from my draft that I am currently working on. I will appreciate any feedback. Cheers!!!
Morning piss, always a bearer of bad news, thought Ryan Dixon on Sunday morning, just hours after returning from Jungle, the only true dance club in town.
Jesus it stinks.
Not only does it smells but the colour. Just like the guy down the block, whom you hate so much for his talent to always state the obvious, so was the colour of his morning urine. An obvious statement, a legacy made by Ryan’s body about the state of his health. Though still only thirty, Ryan was feeling the strain, the toll the last night had on him. The faint whisper of the Death, crushing his head from the inside, reminding him that ultimately he belongs to her. This lifestyle was not exactly helping the matters either. The constant partying, boozing and the occasional joint, which Ryan so often justified by claiming that marihuana was legal here.
This morning was different. It was especially bad. The colour of what was left of the last night’s drinks, stripped of their intoxicating smell, colour and taste calling on every party hungry animal ready to have some fun, to loosen up but ultimately to get smashed, was not his main concern. Not today. The usual stench of the previous night in combination with an urgent need for some water was especially bad. Overpowered by a strong acidic odour steaming out of the brilliantly white porcelain toilet. This must be what hells smells like.
The seat was still down. A simple trick, which he learnt while living with his current girlfriend. Such a simple thing and yet a huge issue with women everywhere. Ryan always thought that the seat put down translated into a happy household. Well, at least on one front it did.
It was still dark in the room when Ryan pulled up his pants and pushed on the leaver, dissolving the reminder of his sins. Only the light coming through the landing window lightly illuminated his way while he leaned and staggered towards the marble sink, boring his hands on the side of the bowl in a futile attempt to regain his stability and focus.
The marble top was fresh and flawless. Just as all of the houses in the neighbourhood, it was only two years old. Ryan and Jessica were basically the first tenants to this seaside duplex, only few minutes’ walk away from the volcanic coast. So rugged, carved only by an explosive power of the volcanoes and yet with a sense of plasticity moulded by the slowly flowing lava millions of years ago. An unspoiled beauty. The selling point that enraptured them weeks before they boarded the plane to Lanzarote - the island of 300 odd volcanoes.
He regained his strength and pulled on an old string switch hanging down from one of the post-modern lamps fastened to the wall next to the bathroom mirror.
Although the mirror was new and most likely came together with the rest of the fittings upon the completion of the house - clearly the person appointed with the final finishes and final touches was either in the rush to watch the latest episode of the twenty to the dozen Spanish telenovela, or just did not care much - it was beginning to show its first defects like a black virus, creeping ever so slowly but surely towards the centre of this gateway to the soul. Here Ryan had to face the ups and downs of his eventful but yet insignificant life on the daily basis.
And Ryan was no different from any other twenty to thirty odd year old looks obsessed player. Unlike for so many nine-to-five working folks, who might use their mirrors as a mere tool to stop themselves from drooling the toothpaste down their chins as they fulfil their daily hygiene dues, for Ryan, this mirror in particular was the way to perfect his confidence. It was his only honest friend who would always be there to make sure that he never left the house with an imperfect hairdo or a moisturiser not rubbed into his complexion properly.
The light came on with a bright flash. He was sure it exceeded its natural speed limit while burning two large holes into his head causing him an even worse headache, making the buzzing remnants of the last night’s music hits ever so louder. He squinted and performed a large stretch if his cervical muscles in a belief that it would ease the pain. He finally stopped and looked in the mirror. What the fuuuck?
On the other side of Playa Blanca, Jessica was still fast asleep. After the drunken jealousy related argument with Ryan, she decide to stay over at her sister’s, who arrived at Lanzarote only couple of months ago, in an innocent attempt to copy her younger sister in pursuit of the “Mañana“ life.
This single word has always been the perfect metaphor for any polychromatic culture. It was not surprising that Elena was gravitating towards the life Jessica already had. After all, who wouldn’t want a life without the stress so common for any western culture such as Britain where she had originally come from? On top of that, the all-year summery weather, great beaches, food and the free-of-commerce-obsessed way of life where no one really paid any attention to their worldly belongings - the truth best witnessed by the banged up cars of the locals - was very attractive. And just as it is in the case of so many countries, as far as Elena was concerned, Spain was just another southern region of Great Britain. Although Spanish still believed that it was their country, deep inside her nation proud heart she knew that all of the best resorts were actually British. In any case, it was the mighty Sterling that kept this part of the world afloat or so did she believe.
While Jessica was still comfortably cutched up in the spare bedroom of her sister’s 600 Euro-a-month apartment, Elena was already downstairs, wearing only her baggy pyjama bottoms and a bikini top, sipping on her Americano and taking a deep one from her Lucky Strike, while skimming through an issue of “El Pais”. Though the extent of Elena’s Spanish vocabulary extended only to the so commonly stereotypical Spanglish with the vowel “o” playing the main part, she often enjoyed flipping through pages of the newspapers similar to The Independent she used to read in the old motherland. Boring, boring and boooring, she thought to herself while closing the papers, putting them down on the white patio table. Though disappointed with the world-wide obsession with the current crisis, which she has never really understood, she wouldn’t even try. After all her newest excuse was the language barrier Elena had no intention to cross.
She doused the remains of the cigarette, lifted her arms up high as if she was trying to reach something, pausing for few seconds, freezing in the moment. She closed her eyes, tilting her head backwards against the backrest of the rattan garden seat soaking up the sunlight. Although it was still only morning, the gentle yet quite warm rays of the July’s sun could be felt radiating through her skin, causing the sweat ducts on her young body to go into overdrive, regulating its temperature just like an air-conditioning unit she so often found herself missing. So much more in summer, when the temperatures could easily hit forty.
She stood up and shuffled to the living-room opening her brand new Sony Vaio. This overpriced piece of Japanese tech was “her life”. It wasn’t just a fashion statement or a tool helping her to hear some cash managing websites, forums and blogs on anything from fashion to relationship advice. Most of all, it kept her in the loop with what was happening back home or the rest of the world. It was a utility facilitating her with an access to the collective knowledge of the world, whether true, false or bullshit, she had it all there, just a click away.
Www.bbc.co.uk/news. Elena loved this site. Perhaps because unlike in so many other countries round the world where any large, mainstream medias and news agencies are in the pocket of this or that billionaire, lobby group or a political party. Elena always felt that BBC represented the dying breed of multi-national agencies that we were not state governed, nor owned by an interest group of shareholders. Simply said, this was her favourite website - her attempt to stay in the know. News, music, TV, radio, fashion, science, anything you might wish for. Most importantly it was British.
“Flu sweeping across Southwest raises concerns”, she read the heading of an article. Odd, she thought and clicked on the link to have a quick read.
“…and once again with another surprisingly cold winter on our doorstep we have the first signs of not so surprising flu season ahead of us. Although flu has become an ordinary occurrence appearing with an onset of the upcoming winter season, NHS has reported an increased number of cases in the Bristol area. So far the number of the reported cases has only reached 300, however this number is already higher than anywhere else in the country. Jonathan Combs, the spokes person for HNS South-West warns that people should be extra vigilant in applying for their flu shots this winter to avoid any surprises before Christmas…”
“Stump, stump, stump.” The noise coming from up above, from one of the bedrooms interrupted her just as she was finishing skimming through the article. She pulled her eyes away from the screen, peering towards the staircase. Jessica, it must be Jessica. There was no way Jake would be awake after the number he did in the bar last night. “Stump, stump, stump,” more footsteps, flush of a toilet and then, finally. Footsteps turned into the tips of the feet. Feet turned into ankles, calves and so on. Within a second or two young female in her late twenties appeared, wearing nothing but her underwear, a borrowed dressing-gown and a pair of Ray-Bans.
“Good morning sleepy head” said Elena, staring towards the steps and the quickly appearing feminine figure. “How are you feeling babes? Do you want a coffee?”
Jessica stopped on the last step, still holding onto the banister, “What time is it?”
“Ten”, Elena responded with a smile on her face.
“Jeeesus, why am I even up this early”, Jessica yawned and wiped her mouth, smearing up her lipstick as if she was auditioning for the main role of “The Crow”. “I’m going back to bed, El”.
“So you don’t want a cuppa”, Elena - or El as Jessica used to call her older sister - asked.
“No, I’m not feeling that great. My head is still busting with the music from the last night. I feel like I need my stomach pumped. Yuck, was I sick last night or something?” Jessica asked with a tired and slightly irritated voice.
Ha-ha, El laughed. “I told you not to mix”, smiling and feeling a sense of achievement that she - for once - didn’t get as wasted, as her younger sister. “So what about Ryan?” El asked inquisitively.
“What about him?” Jessica asked.
“Are you guys alright? What happened last night anyways? What was it all about?” El inquired.
“Alright then”, Jessica stumbled off the last step, “I’ll have that coffee then.”
“Milk and sugar?”
“Sure, make it two spoons though and brown. I can’t do that white stuff you use.”
“Soooo? C’mon, don’t let me hanging sis. What happened last night”, El asked all excited and curious, while filling up a kettle with some bottled spring water.
Although the tap water was okay for drinking, no one really drank it. There was something about the taste that just didn’t seem right.
Jessica walked away from the staircase, passed the coffee table with the laptop to the sofa. Then she lean back and let herself go, falling into the soft cushion of the seat.
“What are you reading?” she asked El while checking out the news page on the monitor.
“Just some news about the flu outbreak back home. Nothing special. Don’t change the subject, though. Tell me, what did you guys argue about?” eagerly seeking some kind of an answer that would satisfy her thirst for gossip.
“Aaah nothing…I…I mean, I don’t know.”
El approaches her, passes a cup of milky coffee to her expecting to hear more.
Jessica continued, “It was probably nothing. Perhaps…I don’t know…alcohol. I guess I was just being silly.”
“So you want a lift home?” El asked.
Jessica took a longer sip from her cup and said, “Gosh this is sooo good.” - although Jessica never really cared about coffee and she would always rather go for a cup of hot chocolate, given the choice, sweet and bitter coffee was just what she needed after the night of boozing - “Ok El, gimme a minute to wake up properly.”
El quickly downed the rest of her, by now almost cold drink and said, “Cool, just chill for a bit…no rush…I’m gonna go upstairs and check on Jake. I’m sooo gutted I missed his dance.” she smiled sincerely.
Ha-ha “That was awesome”, Jessica giggled while tightly clenching the hot mug close to her mouth. “Maybe you’ll find some of the pics on Jungle’s website”.
El rolled her eyes smiling, “Not sure whether I wanna see it actually”. She turned towards the stairs and swiftly ran up.
The master bedroom was dark. Only an occasional glimpse of sunlight would seep through the gap between the dark blue curtains. The sporadic breeze freshening up the obscurity, loosening up the gloominess of the moment. The place of rest and intimacy and yet there was a flair of something murky and sinister in the air.
One day before the weekly cleaning. The build-up of dust was at its maximum. Just one more day and the room would be bearable again. One more day and the young couple would, once again, decide to rise to the moment. To gear up and fight the never-ending deposit of dust, sand and dog hair in their seaside duplex. The constant repetition, the vicious circle of futile attempts to make this place clean for good.
And there he was, sitting on the floor, in the middle of this mess, which at this moment seemed to be a perfect metaphor for his current condition. Feeling lost, scared and confused just like a child who was forgotten in the middle of a scary castle at a fair. A feeling that was strangely familiar despite the fact that Ryan hasn’t had to deal with it for years. Not since he was ten or eleven. Definitely not since he was finally adopted by the Dixon’s.
No one ever knew where did Ryan come from, who he was or the identity of his parents. The circumstances under which he was abandoned remained hidden and even his real name was a mystery. An unknown that was never to be uncovered. Frankly, none of this ever really mattered. Not to Sarah Palmer, the social worker from the Bath Social Services, who was initially appointed to deal with his case. Nor to anyone else.
It was supposed to be a perfect lesson for only a noob to the service then. The Sarah’s christening by her boss, who had always believed that an ideal way to test all of these University graduates, was to throw then into the deep. To let them test the waters for real. To make them see that the reality is nowhere near as neat, plain or complex as they were taught during their social studies, sitting in their classrooms. To make them realise that it’s none of that or everything in between. That every single thing in life was relative, circumstantial and most of all unpredictable. That life wasn’t a simple scenario that could be role played. It was so much more.
Just as the child reference number 459632 was not just another kid unlucky enough to be born into a dysfunctional family. That his case could not be viewed only in terms of facts submitted in the form of a report of the law enforcement authorities that found Ryan wet and dirty, severely dehydrated and malnourished on the beach in Beer.
It all seemed very peculiar and cruel back then. “A major event that hopefully won’t negatively reflect on our beautiful town…” as the Mayor of Beer publically stated on behalf of this poor child shortly after the local news were leaked to some of the major regional media. Ironically, this was the single most powerful event in the recent history of the town, so rigorously publicised and imprinted onto the minds of its citizens that helped the Mayor Bunton win his second term. To score a landslide in the pools despite the previous allegations of illegal redundancies in the local social services that almost ruined his career. No matter how rotten Mark Bunton might have been, no matter what his motivations were, the truth is that he had singlehandedly turned this travesty, the misery of a five year old child into a success which the Beer Social Services could build on. He was the one who took initiative and contacted and requested the Bath Social Services to handle this case. To use their far greater resources to place Ryan - the name that BBC Southwest first gave to this pitiable kid due to his uncanny resemblance to Mark Bunton’s son.
Despite the media and political pressure, Bunton had predictably abandoned his efforts and pursuit for a better life for Ryan as soon as the last vote for the post of the Mayor of Beer was counted and the results verified. The first bottle of champagne was not yet open and the Ryan’s case was already forgotten. Filed in with other cases of underprivileged and unfortunate children, destined to collect the dust and serve as a coaster for the morning cup of coffee of the public servants.
Had the dices of fate been rolled differently, Ryan’s file would never be commissioned to Sarah. This short and petite brunette, who refused to give in on her optimistic and idealistic views and submit to the opinion so strongly held by her boss was the final linchpin that ensured Ryan’s bright future. She was the one who in her bet to prove her boss wrong was willing to solely focus on his case. To find him the best placement possible. Although she achieved her goal, which ultimately landed her a job of a branch manager in Bristol, it still took her several years to get passed numerous foster families and find one that was willing to adopt this blond, ever so quickly growing juvenile.
His face was deep in his palms. The memories of the old days were flooding in. Although anything he could remember were mostly flashes of the past events, the old emotions and the feeling of uncertainty was surprisingly clear.
He took a deep breath, lifted his head. Two seconds passed, then he took another gulp of air. He shook his head, collected his thoughts and stood up. Only then he noticed that his dog was lying on the bed behind him, boring its nose into the thick duvet spreading over the bed. Normally he would be keen to reach after him and give him a cuddle but not this time. The deep big brown eyes of his furry pal could not break his preoccupied mind. The image he saw in the mirror when he woke up that morning was still vivid and disconcerting.
The severely bloodshot eyes or the swollen throat did not trouble him. After all, a whole night of some serious partying would have had variety of effects on him even in the past. Red zombie like eyes, over-smoked voice of a back-alley blues singer, splitting headache and general weakness was nothing new. It was just something he learnt to live with over the years. The price he had to pay for letting lose all night, either celebrating someone’s birthday, or just his love for life. There has always been something to celebrate.
It was the traces of dried blood streaking down from the corner of his eyes, nose and ears that caused him anxiety. Haemorrhage of this kind was part of horror flicks but definitely not something one would come across in real life.
Shit, shit, shit, thought Ryan while a frightening image of an article from years ago appeared in his mind. “The bloody killer from within - Ebola” was the name of the article he suddenly recalled. All of sudden he was able to remember the entire story. As if he had memorised the details of it. The thought of the deadly virus brought about reminiscence of the horrific details. The symptoms and side effects which the disease runs its course through before turning its victim into a bloody cesspool.
The human mind is amazing. Sometimes he could not remember the simplest of things, such as where he left his car keys or his weekly work schedule. Other times, exactly when it was least required, when he could live without the remembrance, he was able to recall the utmost details of the unwanted. An ironic ability. The devil dressed as an angel sitting on his shoulder, picking on his mind. Scratching his sense for what was right and wrong. Grabbing onto his mistakes and flaws. Forever evoking the discarded and the redundant.
Notwithstanding the fact that Ryan has just spent a night of boozing and was really feeling the impact of the bash, a good large glass of whiskey now seemed to be the best cure. An opportunity to reflect on what happened and what the future holds. Is this serious or just some a freak accident? Was it even his blood or just a prank of his friends? In the end it’s not every day that one wakes up not only with a crushing handover but also the tears of blood.
He gathered his inner strength once again and directed it towards the stairwell. He swiftly ran downstairs and then through the living room to the entrance. Within seconds he was outside of the duplex. He flinched as the glimpse of the bright sun hit his pale face. For a brief moment his skin felt as if it was hit with hundreds of needles and he could literally feel his iris tighten. He hastily pulled out his sunglasses from behind his collar and put them on. The pain was gone. Weird he thought and began walking down the street laid out with the cars of the neighbours. The local café/bar was only a minute away.
Actually there was a selection of different bars and restaurants, including couple of small grocery shops bound in a constant battle for customers. One was closer to the mostly Spanish occupied houses, while the other one, a slightly bigger mercadillowas nearer to the ex-pats’ side of the complex - though the distance difference was actually only about 20 meters whichever side you took it from, people, in their incredible ability to strive for laziness, would always take advantage of the shop that was closer to them. Ryan and Jessica never really understood it. They shopped in both, depending on what was needed and wherever they could strike a better deal. Even, if it meant they had to exchange several journeys between the shops just to compare the prices.
Despite the variety of bars and restaurants to choose from, Ryan always preferred to visit Drago - the local Spanish café. Not because it was special. Quite the opposite. It was much smaller than any other restaurant or bars in the area. Their selection of food was only limited to sandwiches, ever-changing tapas and few deserts whipped up by Mr. Drago’s wife Alegranza. They also served coffees, soft drinks, beer and now, most importantly, spirits.
This was very typical for any local coffee shop and not only on Lanzarote. The entire Spain was the same. Just few weeks ago news hit the press about the flop of one of the international giants in the coffee making business after they attempted to expand into Spain, France and Italy. Bad move, very bad move and yet so typical for the US based businesses. Trying to introduce large milky coffees to the countries that have had their own coffee culture for longer than the US has existed. This might have worked well in the UK, Hungary, Germany and other European countries but not these three states. Unlike the American customers, Spanish loved their coffee short and strong and whenever possible, with a shot of local rum or brandy. A good glass of wine or lager would also make the list.
Step after step, all that Ryan could think about now was a drink. Would he have whiskey and coke, amaretto and coke or something with a little bit more punch? Something to boost him up like vodka-Redbull. He flew past the dented and banged-up cars of the locals, waved at a couple of neighbours in more of a reflex rather than a sincere acknowledgement of their presence and walked into the Drago.
“Hola Ryan! Que tal?” shouted Diego - or Mr. Drago as Ryan used to refer to him behind his back.
Ever so smiley and positive. This slightly chunky, medium height guy in his thirties was always very happy to see Ryan. Not only just because him and Jessica were among his first customers when he first opened a year ago, but also because of his sincere effort to speak Spanish as much as possible. Lucky for the pair Diego was privately taking English lessons to attract more ex-pats, more of the British folk living in the neighbourhood and so-do-speak steal some of the clients from other establishments nearby.
“What can I get you?”, Diego asked in his strong Spanish accent and smiled as Ryan slowly approached the bar counter deeply staring into the display of the vibrant variety of distillates.
“Mmmm…something strong, muy fuerte” said Ryan taking a longer pause and scanning through the varieties, considering the potency of each drink.
“Vodka-Redbull?” Diego laughed used to seeing Ryan favouring this beverage every time they stopped over.
“No, not this time I guess. I need a thinking drink. Something wholesome, comforting” Ryan replied already feeling the taste of the sweet Disaronno in his mouth. “Ok, I’ll have Disaronno”.
“Con Coca-Cola o zumo de naranja?” asked Diego, testing Ryan’s Spanish.
“With Coke and…gimme one straight up. Or even better give me one with Coke and achopito of Tequila” knowing well that a Lanzarote shot was more than enough for three shots back in the UK.