Tamsin rammed her fist against the wall and immediately regretted it. The wall was made of bricks, her fist was not and she was fairly sure she’d broken a bone or two in the unequal contest between the two. But for all the Cocaine and PCP coursing through her system it would probably have hurt like hell, as it was though the only damage she could feel was to her pride. She knew it didn’t made sense but, beneath her still burning anger, she couldn’t help but feel that the wall should have lost. Or at least shown some sign of submission to the blow. More importantly though, beneath even that thought, lay her real regret – that she had chosen an inanimate object for her rage rather than it’s real cause, her spineless fuck of a boss.
He was the one who’d set this whole binge off, he was the one who’d sent her spiralling off on the path from the Diamond Shopping Channel studios in gently anonymous suburban Croydon to a back alley in Hull. Where a person with a will to could pick up a large bag of Crystal Meth from a small man with a bad attitude and even worse teeth. A chore she detested but when that comedown came it was good to be able to take the edge off.
It was him, her boss, a timid man made for accountancy and somehow jumped up to the level of minor corporate player, who really deserved a smack for his petty and blinkered lack of vision and business sense. And yet here she was, somehow transported far from work, home and her idea of civilization, slowly starting to feel the ebbing of her chemical buzz as she terrified the locals and fought walls. It was an injustice, pure and simple.
Letting out a weary sigh that descended into a heavy growl Tamsin made a token effort to straighten herself out, studiously ignoring the dimly throbbing sensation in her knuckles. Her pastel pink skirt suit, a pricey designer job from Harvey Nichols, was a mess. The committed efforts of the wardrobe team at the studio had gone to waste over the course of her adventure, defeated by the forceful chaos of her blurry exploration of society’s underbelly. A few rips and a lot of grime only half drew the eye when compared to the blood stains which, she assumed, weren’t hers. Although whose they were she had no idea. Tamsin could dimly recall passing a mirror a few hours back, in a bathroom somewhere. She’d just had an argument with… someone and had made a hazy attempt to re-apply her lipstick as her defeated nemesis lay gently groaning in the background. She’d not looked her best then and she felt certain things hadn’t improved since.
No matter, by the time she went back to work tomorrow she’d be back at her best, sporting a perfect blonde bob familiar to all her many fans, spray tan evenly applied once more and make up layered on to present a model of perfection. Tamsin always came through when she needed to and even after her abrupt, and not entirely polite, exit from a meeting with her boss they’d never fire her – she made them too much money. Hell, she could have made them a lot more if the stuffed suits and emasculated middle managers had the balls they were born with. Instead though they were stuck in their ways, blind to potential and happy plodding dutifully along, flogging tat and plastic jewellery to little old ladies, shut ins and the mentally uneven, and what sort of job was that? An easy one, really, to her at least, which was why Tamsin was indispensable to them. She had a natural flair for sales which almost matched her supreme tolerance for narcotics. With a friendly smile and soft voice she could sell plastic surgery to Brad Pitt. A talent which only became contentious when she, in her own view, really tried to use it. She had no regrets though, she’d made the company a fortune and they did nothing but bawl and whine in return, a piss poor reward for some unique and inventive marketing nous.
It was all blame though, all accusations, ‘Oh Tamsin, you can’t do that’, ‘Oh we’ll get in trouble’, ‘On no, you can’t sell assault rifles live on air during the Super Special Countdown Deal’. Well fuck that and fuck them, she could and she had and the margin had been a damn sight better on illegal firearms than it was on novelty Santa Claus cheese graters. Not to mention the fortune they’d raked in off the back of that home made Anthrax promotion, and that stuff hadn’t even worked. A fact which had made life very hard indeed for the man who’d sold it to her out of a garage in Chigwell. Another injustice in itself, unlike most of the shopping channel’s suppliers Tamsin stood behind what she sold and got no thanks for the severe repercussions she visited on those who sent her sub-standard goods. Although, in fairness, they had paid her court fees for the assault charge.
Her thoughts were swirling now, playing through her personal litany of grievances and it took a polite cough from the real world to draw her back to it.
“Excuse me dear”
Tamsin spun around, stumbling in the attempt and vaguely noticing that she’d lost a Manolo Blahnik pump at some point. The drugs were messing with her equilibrium but, with her good hand on the wall, she didn’t let herself spiral out of control.
At the end of the alleyway, where she’d been stood in variously violent and silent contemplation ever since the dealer had scuttled off, there was a figure framed by the intrusive mid-day sun. It was a little old lady, arms outstretched and rheumy gaze fixed on Tamsin. Trying to muster some dignity, or at least pretend she hadn’t noticed her lack of it, Tamsin hobbled towards the stranger, confused thoughts trying to foment a reaction to the unexpected interruption.
“I knew it was you, you’re that nice young lady from the telly”
The pensioner’s voice was shrill with excitement.
“Oh dear, have you had a fall? You’re all dirty”
Concern, mixed in with the standard enthusiasm Tamsin heard from those who recognised her – a semi-awestruck surprise at meeting, as far as the little people were concerned, a real life celebrity.
As her eyes came into focus she could see the wrinkled and delicate features of the old woman and, for no reason at all, she took an immediate dislike to her. Her arms were still outstretched and looking warily at them she slowly figured out why. It was a presentation, she was holding them out with a gaudy offering as an attempt at familiarity. On each wrist the aged stranger was wearing Aurora diamonte paste and artisan gold bracelets, catalogue number 90343, recommended retail price £200, Diamond Shopping Channel special price – £ 19.95. A line discontinued after a consumer body found that they were 99% lead and asbestos.
It wasn’t much of a trigger, but it did the job. Within an instant Tamsin had driven her unscathed hand, balled up as a fist, into the pensioner’s face. A blow that sent the unfortunate interferer straight to the ground where the attack continued with a flurry of kicks. It wasn’t much of a fight, in fact it wasn’t one at all and before long Tamsin eased up. She wasn’t one for cruelty and her victim was oddly unsatisfying in their lack of resistance. A situation that could easily have been rectified if, instead of splashing out on crap jewellery, they’d opted instead for one of the many small arms or melee weapons that could be brought for very reasonable prices during the Happy Hour Super Sale Rush.
The police report, which featured prominently in the local rag the next day, made no mention of the attacker’s identity and by then Tamsin was safely back in London anyway, straightened out and above suspicion.
A few weeks later the pensioner, still more surprised than upset by her ordeal and well on the mend, received a parcel in the post. It was a 9mm pistol, or a replica rather, drilled out by a drug dealer from Manor Park. Tamsin felt it was the least she could do by way of apology for her outburst, besides, it had come from a batch which had a terrible habit of jamming.
My latest work, No Cure for Shell Shock, is a collection of short stories and poetry. It’s available as an eBook and a paperback here.