Glen Cameron

Brixton Kiss

Brixton, Saturday Night, it's coming into November so it's been dark for ages anyway, bits of rain. I went to the Fridge to see what was on, but it was all just hip hop and cool crowd, London fashions and big-up talk. Foreign girls on the arms of smooth black guys who wear leather berets. The church across the street is a club too. Everywhere's a club where you can't hear anything and you don't know who it is. For me, it's intimidating. But I come to Brixton because that's where there are people I know. I get freaked out staying home on a Saturday. Even if it is raining.

I wait for Jason and Kyle. Just next to the Cinema. Earlier this year I was up here when a bomb went off. It sent the birds to the sky and silenced the whole neighbourhood. It was a funny day that one, in Brixton.

I wait for them for two hours and it occurs to me that they were never going to come anyway. Besides, I don't really like them, but it's hard in a big city to hang out with who you like, not who you get thrown together with. The paranoid side of me tells me that they have taken off, phones off, in a club with me the last thing on their mind. Fuck them.

It starts to rain. If only it would crack open in thunder and wipe this place clean of the drugs and the desperation. My flailing desperation where a hot married lady wants to take me home and I contrive to let a guy who eavesdrops take her from me. All in a damp carpeted pub with too much beer advertising.

I fuck off. I walk across the street and all of a sudden this junkie looking girl is in my face. I hate her immediately, and I don't know her.

     "Got a pound to spare?"

     "No". I look her up and down and she is dressed in about four sets of leggings, all different purples, an army jacket, with her lank, sour hair on her face. Her eyes are faded from brown to something else, something I can't tell in the street lights, in the rain. We're on the middle of a traffic island.

     "Come on, just one pound!"

     The rain is coming down, I missed the lights, the traffic starts up, the girl is in my face, Jason and Kyle are cunts and I missed them anyway, Brixton stinks of sin, but dirty cheap sin, nothing more refined and I am getting asked for a pound. I want to pay the whole fucking place back big time, like the bomber. It was a nail bomb if you don't know. They say that it was in a pink sports bag at the bus stop. This being Brixton, somebody had nicked the bag but not the bomb. Saved a lot of people. One up for the sinners. If you can tell who's who.

     I decide to see how much she wants it.

     "I've got more than a pound if you want some money".

     She looks at me side on and then catches the only drift I was meaning to give. "I don't do that".

     "Don't you want money?"

     "I don't want money like that." She almost looks offended.

     "All right then. A pound for a kiss". Her mouth is scabby on the sides. Aids victim probably, at the least Hepatitis and a few bog standard needle infections. I wouldn't kiss her in a million years. See how fucking humiliating it is to be asked for money, I thought.

     "No, I don't do those things for money". She's holding her pride, kind of weird after she targets less than affluent looking guys in the street. Like me.

     Still, you have to hand it to her, she's got some sort of spunk. She'll beg but she won't suck, she'll pick her sores, but she won't use her lips for anything but please.

     I size her up. "Fuck it", I say. I hand her a pound. I was only going to buy chips with it anyway. Lardy fat arsed food. I push it into her hand.

     Then the fucking bitch takes it, grabs my wrist and pulls me closer. All of a sudden I realise what the pale slag is doing, and it's too late. She plants her lips on mine and gives me the kiss that I asked for. It's quite soft, actually, it's still a girl there, somewhere in there. She pulls away, and walks off over the road to ask someone else, while I wipe my face and paranoia sweeps over me.


Dead weight on the floor, midnight junked out and wondering nothing. Stone hands, dead breath, still water music shifting slowly through your head.

Outside, the sound of traffic, the sound of madness. You hear an argument, what's it about? It doesn't matter. It never matters, nothing ever matters. The room is small, white walls, blood. Tatami mat on the floor. Straw mats, nestling your junk that you'll come back to later. New sounds, in your face, it's comedown now and all your friends are in your head.

"Get it together"
"You hopeless case"
"Nothing good in that"
"you're fucked"

and on they go, but you don't really listen. Head starts to move, slowly, an old locomotive scraped along the tracks. Teeth, in your head, start to ache. Tongue is dry, bile lodged between your gums and your lips. Caked on your chin.

These people - they'll never understand. You say it to yourself over and over again. Trying to taunt reality into helping them to understand you. But fate is stronger than hope and you close you eyes and say nothing, to no one.


Tokyo morning, people milling around your house, two people from LA you don't know. Somebody else on the floor, can't see their face, and they snore. Move into the kitchen. Lots of people. Greek cook, works down the road, Vietnam vet, smoking pipe, talking, talking, always talking about culture. Whatever that is. You smile, fix yourself some coffee. Don't feel so bad after the shower and the shave. Clean and tired, drink your coffee. Turn on CNN. A talking head. He yaps, he farts, he intones. It's too much, so you move out to the front door. Quiet street. There are your friends - they look at you sideways and ask you how you are. You say fine. Why not?

"you're fucked"
"nothing good in that"
"you hopeless case"
"get it together"

and you begin to argue that everything is cool and why can't we just hang out why y'all looking at me like that, like I'm an outlaw. They just snigger and tell you that if you don't want to listen then they don't want to talk.

"I'm not an outlaw!" you say that, they don't say anything. Car goes past, everybody watches the driver. Japanese man, looks scared to death. You're wearing a bandanna. Maybe that's it. Fucked.
Nobody will listen, so you say nothing more, to no one.


Late afternoon now and you sit on the train going into the city. Two American marines are giving you dirty looks, like the only way to clean you is to drop you in an acid bath. You wink at one and giggle. Fucked. Again. Already, a little. There's a girl opposite you who is staring straight at the floor. The train rattles on - you think why won't this girl look at me, what's wrong with me, you think that and you drop your head. You get lower in your seat, your eyes holding up, trying to get into her line of vision. Down, almost there. Your head is between your knees now and you giggle as you almost catch her eye. She looks lower. Bitch! Fucked. The train stops and you get off defeated. What's the problem with me you say but you don't answer, cause everybody else is fucked. So you roll on and say nothing to no one.

Greene understood as well as anyone

At the end of the affair both parties wondered what had happened. Was it doomed from the beginning? Was it a grand delusion, they had both shared to pass the time? Did sex blur reality? If it hadn't been the other, could it have been someone else? Will there ever be someone else? Does one body replace another? Will there be more compromise? When did they start to hate each other? Did that hate prove the love before it? What would become of the other? Would they forget each other's faces? Will they talk of the love, will they think of it? Will life ever be the same again?

At the end of the affair, in different parts of the world, but both walking beside a stream or lake, they thought these things, concurrently. The end of the affair ensured that they would never know this.

So, that is how it goes, two lovers joined in the universe part forever, and attach their severed love lines to others with the passing of time. With the passing of time, everything fades. It survives only in the memories of the two who lived it. With everything fading, that's what they mean when they say love dies. But it dies a long time into the future, and nobody knows when.

On the Beat

Sometimes I walk the streets of London just to see what's happening in the basement flats that have been squeezed in all over the city. I lived in one, once. It had low ceilings and condensation problems. The people upstairs walked like elephants, and they were just kids. I didn't like it much, even though I had a nice garden out the back, a bit of a luxury in London.
     Sometimes you see newly ironed shirts in the windows, other times just a pair of socks perched on a ledge and the glow of a TV in the background. When you do this for long enough in the dark afternoons of a winter London you get to thinking pretty quickly that people are hiding away from everything down there. I always think of earth in London, and I miss it when I don't have it. Of course, when it's there I never use it at all.
     One day I had a better piece of luck than normal, in my daily prowls. I was walking through the shitty end of Battersea, just looking to see if I was missing something, or anything that I might learn from life by myself, and I stopped dead in my tracks.

Her face was pushed up against the glass in a kind of deformity, and her eyes were bulging, I liked her immediately because I saw that she was a young one, no more than 19, with a fine nose, quite delicate. She knew exactly what she was doing. I guess they thought it was dark, but they must have left a light on in the other room, because I could see them quite easily. They couldn't see me, it would have been hard, even if they tried.
     I could hear her panting throught the window, and could see him thrashing into her from behind, he was all muscle as far as I could see, and her pink lips were dribbling with the abandonment. I got horny. I had a hard on as I imagined the world of pleasure they were lost in. She turned and took him in her mouth, and I could see her head pushing back and forth, up and down on his cock.
     I didn't see Battersea's only bobby on the beat coming my way, didn't hear the policeman's walk, or smell pork, didn't notice the black and white. Shit! He was staring at me, and with my pants pushed out in excitement, he stopped 2 metres away from me.
     "You all right there Mr?"
     "Yup, yup. Fine," I said.
     "What are you doing then?" He stared at my inflated corduroy pants and followed the line to the window.
     There was nothing for it but honesty, as usual. "I'm watching those two in there have sex."
     He stared at me in a funny way, and I thought I had better get back in control of the situation. "That's all right isn't it?"
     He stared at me again. "Well.... Why don't you run along?"
     "But I'll miss it!"
     He was having trouble looking at me, because the girl was now straddling her man and thrashing porn style on top of him. It was a sight to behold. I sensed him weakening.
     He turned to me. "It's not against the law is it?"
I shook my head to say I didn't think so.
     "No, it might be that it's them breaking the law", he said slowly, his voice almost tailing off.
     The girl bucked and clawed at the man's chest, well at least I imagine she did that, it was getting hard to make them out further back in the room. Then I think se arched her back and drove down like a piledriver and the collapsed together, their chests were heaving. I felt tired myself. I lived every second with them. I turned around, winked at the police officer, and we headed off in our separate directions. You never know what you're going to see on the streets of a busy city.

The Hand in the Alley

The alley opened only when you were directly in front of it. Walking before hand, past the slop-houses and festy restaurants with their broken chairs and used bottles of soy sauce, you'd never see it. And you were the same. YOU never saw it, until a chance noise turned your ears, and your nose flared, confronting the clue you'd been given. Not that you saw it like that at first, but you did become curious didn't you? All of a sudden.

All of a sudden you turned down that alley and the roar of the engines on the main road subsided. They faded into a separate world, enveloped in the pollution. The colours changed, from dull steel and grey to dank green and rusted brown. Your senses at first felt abandoned, but then your eyes adjusted, and the alley was revealed. Grotesque, and deathly quiet. And still; it had finished rotting. What did you walk into?

It seemed like just another alley off any bigger road, at first.

Yes, but it you didn't see it clearly at first did you? It was swamped by memory, smell, sound and vision from the street before. And you knew it too. But you kept walking until you thought you were further in than out. You looked down to your left as you moved slowly through the bad light. There was your first real shock. A dead cat, with only a few tufts of straw-like fur. Its legs were straight, and its dead hide stretched taut over some of the bones. It's hollow eyes shot through yours. You felt a cold chill shoot down a lazy nerve near your spine. But then it passed, didn't it?

The street was dead; everything in it was dead. It was so strange. Eerie. No, less than that, just dead.

Yes. Everything was dead. You looked to the sky, but all you could see was corrugated iron, and smog in the shade. But you kept walking. Why am I walking into this, you asked? But you never stopped to answer. There was a window with bars over it, up to your right. Underneath that ...What was it? You had the sense of life. You had the feeling of breath stealing through you. Why?

I can't remember now.

Tell me what you saw. But of course you can't, can you? You've blocked it out. I don't blame you. How could you explain? You saw the plastic bag clearly. Sitting there under the window with bars, in the alley of nothing and no life. The bag was black, a normal garbage bag. You let out a gasp as you saw the hand protruding from the plastic bag. It's skin was pink and white. In blotches. Its nails were ripped and dirty, there was scabbed blood at the wrist. You looked at the outline of the bag; it was only the size of two footballs. No more. Yes, you remember now ...and you remember what was inside?

It was life.

You're right. It was life in the bag. The hand heard your gasp. Life sensed life, and the bag rustled. It didn't move anywhere but the bag definitely changed shape. It became flatter. But you couldn't make out any clear form under the thin film of plastic separating you. The palm started to turn upward, showing scars and more blotches. Resting in the palm were two small things. You couldn't see them clearly. It was quite dark. You searched behind, and saw the alley slightly curve round to the road, you couldn't see the entrance, and you looked the other way to the see the same. There was nobody else and nothing alive. Nothing but something, someone (?) at your feet. Heart beating, eyes wincing, a hand and a rustling plastic garbage bag.

I had to look closer.

And you did. You moved towards the hand. The palm seemed to draw you in. What if the hand moved towards you? What if it touched you? But you couldn't help it. You peered into the palm and saw its contents: a half eaten cockroach - and a small copper coin.

It was life.                                         You're right. I'm right. It was life.

Glen Cameron's "Five" appears in FlashPøint #4.