I had a love hate relationship with Tommy. Our friendship was based on something neither of us understood. He was an infuriating liar, but his heart was in the right place. There was something endearing about him. But this I guess is a weakness in our world.
Tommy was a short, stocky man in his thirties. Wild, curiously handsome, although years of abuse were starting to show, Tommy was not a man born for this life and yet he was entirely trapped by it.
I watched as he picked up the foil and had another toot, fingers the colour of old copper. Holding his breath, he put the foil down and still holding his breath he went to the stereo and pressed play. Classical music poured from the speakers. I’m not sure who, but I think it was Bach.
The stereo, which his mother bought him several years back, was Tommy’s prized possession. He’d sold almost everything in his flat but the stereo sat on the side proud and stunning. Tommy raved about it.
‘It’s got FM and Digital radio, mate. A graphic EQ with forty presets and a decibel range of a hundred. It’s well sweet, mate. I’d rather cluck than sell my stereo, mate, that’s the truth, mate. That’s the truth.’
I never knew how to talk to Tommy without betraying a hint of ridicule. ‘Is that right?’
‘Yeah, mate. It is. It is right.’
Tommy liked to ramble. It’s what he did, was ramble.
‘I’m the reincarnation of Merlin,’ he once said. ‘On the 3rd of August, I’ll show you a God.’
When he went to the toilet, I got up from the couch and went through his draws looking for Valium. I came up short and sat down again.
Tommy had a crossbow on his wall, covered in dust. He once threatened to shoot me with it after I attacked him with a knife. He also had a blunt imitation sword packed away in a box. When he came back from the toilet he went to a shelf and brought down his Nunchucks.
‘What you doing, Tommy?’
He started whipping them about in an obscene dance. He swung them over each shoulder and around his head, handles flying everywhere until one of them caught the bulb above and smashed it. Glass showered down all around us.
‘Fucking hell, Tommy! What you doing, mate?’
Tommy glanced up at the broken bulb. He stared at it for some time and then looked seriously at me.
‘Did you see that?’ he said.
‘Yeah, I fucking saw that. Put those things away before you hurt yourself, will you?’
Trying to save some pride he said, ‘Nah, mate, nah. You see that? That weren’t no accident.’ His eyes were full of blood. ‘There’s no such things as accidents in this world, mate. That happened for a reason. Everything happens for a reason, mate.’ He put the Nunchucks down and raised his hands like a priest. ‘One day. I will show you a God.’
I figured it was time to leave.
The very next day, Tommy sold his stereo.