Methadone Mack was a genius. When it came to electronics he could fix just about anything. His lounge was covered in parts of stereos, half-assembled TVs, broken radios, things that blinked and things that didn’t. Cables and wires were spread across the carpet like spaghetti, as though spewed from the belly of machines. All of it, Mack had fished from skips.
Now Mack was not a particularly conflicted man. Nor did he much care for others. When he laughed, which was seldom, it was a psychotic Sid James impression. He rarely went out and spent most days indoors fiddling with his broken things.
He wiped a large hand across his mouth, grabbed pencil and paper and got his fat arse comfortable in the chair. Mack was writing his life story and had gotten as far as his fifteenth birthday, the day he lost his virginity to the next-door neighbour. She’d been a widower in her late thirties and Mack went round there, a young lad, wet behind the ears, to fix her TV set. The next thing Mack knew, she had his cock in her mouth.
He lingered over the memory, enjoyed it, couldn’t get past it. It was a brick wall. If only he could see himself as a genius, perhaps it would help. The truth was he wasn’t a natural writer, and after a while he found himself putting down the pencil and shooting some speed.
He phased out. Time passed. He glanced at the busted TV in the corner and wondered what it would need to get it working again. After an hour of fiddling with the broken TV, he flopped back into his chair and started reworking the intro.
“My name is Michael Connor Jones. I was born on the 5th of September 1955. For thirty years I have been a heroin addict”.
He sat back, bit the end of the pencil and studied the last line. Then he crossed out “heroin” and put “speed”. Then he crossed out “speed” and put “methadone”. Then he crossed out “methadone” and left it as,
“For thirty years I have been an addict”.
Satisfied, he sparked up a cigarette, and brushing ash from the page continued to put life to paper.
In the 70s Mack went to prison for attempted murder. One night in a London pub, someone had pissed him off so much that, fuelled by alcohol and frustration, Mack stabbed him in the gut.
‘The next day I’ve never been so scared in all me life. The police came round that morning and nicked me.’
It was odd to hear Mack talk about his years in prison, but when he did he got animated.
‘Every opportunity we got to grab a nonce or rapist; we’d give ‘em a right good kick in. Boiling hot sugar, mate. We’d throw that on ‘em and the sugar would get all in their clothes and burn ‘em. The Cambridgeshire Rapist – he was only a little fella, but he must have looked really scary to them women with that mask ‘e wore. We got ‘old of him and done him, mate. Threw him over the rails we did. He was dead before he hit the floor. The screws always tried to keep them lot separated. But you know what, sometimes you could grab one, right. The screws let it happen, mate.’
Mack was a large, bulbous man. His metabolism had adapted to the years of indulgence, his teeth on the other hand had not. The few teeth he had left were black and rotting.
‘By the time they get me off drugs they’ll be putting me in a box. I’m fifty-four years old. Why stop now? I went cold turkey once. Fuck that. You shit yourself. You can’t help it. It just comes out. Nah,’ he shook his head. ‘Fuck that.’
He glanced at the broken TV. He smiled. It needed a new transistor.