Hide and seek

I wrote something, a most unusual occurrence. Enjoy, or don’t, or critique it, or don’t.


The shouts from the street tell me everyone else has been found, I win, I guess. Little comfort there. After all, I am hiding in the large cupboard come hallway connecting the kitchen to that small room by the front door. To this day I can’t tell you why I hide inside when the hide ‘n seek is happening outside. I hear my friends asking where I am but there’s no way I can claim the victory, they’ll surely see me stepping out the front door. I stay in my den sandwiched between an occasional folding table and dad’s stinking football bag. I am eight years old.

I am walking home, alone. I should be going back to school for afternoon classes, at least, that’s what my gran would’ve expected after I ate the lunch she made me. Instead, I walk up the hill, through the tunnel, past the shop. I could go back to school and face the bully but I still don’t know that those who make the most noise about fighting are usually the least willing to do any. I’ll sneak home by the back door. Sure, my next door neighbour spends most of her afternoons in the dining room and kitchen at the rear of the house but the large hedge lining the garden path will give me more cover than the wide expanse of grass at the front of the house. He said he’d get me after school. He said he’d kll me. I don’t know why he didn’t just get me at lunchtime, or why he didn’t do it there and then. It did seem odd that he’d threaten to beat me up whilst walking away from me. I will understand one day. Having skilfully sneaked by the nosey neighbour I am once again in the hallway between kitchen and front door, it’s where the phone is. I call the school. I tell them about the threats. They take care of it and I hide in the hallway between an occasional table and a smelly football bag. I am twelve years old.

More shouting, more hiding. Every weekend, they drink, they go outside, they shout. Mum didn’t drink until she met him, she’s making up for lost time now. I don’t know what I did but my presence seems to be of great importance as a reposte and as a means of lowering the volume. But this never seems to last long. I have the sanctity of my room but this seems somehow empty. Space oftenhas that effect. So much room, so much possibility. I don’t like that. I get into the cupboard, it’s smaller than the old hallway cupboard but somehow more comforting. Only room for me and a box of Trivial Pursuits question cards. I read the cards, one by one, all the while hoping someone is lookng for me. The shouting has stopped and I hear heavy boots come up the stairs but they go past my room. About 25 question cards later and lighter footsteps come up the stairs, I quietly hope that I’m about to be found but these footsteps also pass by my room. I am fifteen years old.

He’s at the end of the bar, my high school tormenter. I never did learn why I was singled out, the winner of some arsehole lottery I guess, yippee. I pretend I don’t see him, I pretend I don’t care. I stay at the other end of the bar, it’s a busy Saturday night and there’s enough customers that I shouldn’t have to venture too far in his direction. But I feel him staring at me. I still don’t care, my sweaty palms say otherwise. I drop a full pint of Stella on the bar floor. Of course the glass smashes and I have a bastard of a clean-up job to do. Panic over I return to serving the good people of Cumbernauld. Fuck! He’s moved up to my end of the bar. I say I must’ve cut my finger on the glass and slink away to the staff room. As luck would have it there is actually some plasters in the First Aid kit, an occurrence so unusual as to be worthy of a street partyand bunting. I put the plaster on an unharmed piece of flesh, I’ve become quiet accustomed to a consistency of lying. I smoke a cigarette. I hide. As luck would have it there are occassional tables in this staffroom, tables we use when catering for large parties. I am nineteen years old.

Why did I do it? He was my friend and I certainly didn’t like her, well, not in that way. Not in any way, in fact, I downright loathed her. That’s it, the all powerful combination of loathing and ‘because I can’. When did I start fucking out of spite? In all fairness, the game did lose some of it’s charm when the women became so willing, I’m sure it’s a Falkirk thing but two or three compliments and it’s ‘hows your father’ in the car park before last orders. I guess I added the spite and loathing just for kicks. But this time I’ve really fucked up. Has she told him? She was looking rather poe-faced at the party the following night. I’ll never know. I turn my phone off on his stag night and don’t speak to anyone for a week in advance of it. My friends stag night and I’m at home with my parents pretending it’s ‘not tonight, mum’. I have no excuse for not going and I can’t tell the truth, I can’t ever tell the truth. Instead I stay home and eat an awkward family dinner from an occasional folding table. I am twenty three years old.

I’m on a rented IKEA sofa in a rented IKEA flat drinking what may as well be rented IKEA vodka for all the quality of the bastard. She isn’t here. She was here three nights ago but when I came home two nights ago she was gone. I did get a note, she’s at her parents, she’ll call me. I was at work, then at a club. I didn’t text to say where I was, I could have, but I didn’t. I buy draught coke and top it up with the cheap rum in my pocket. I am in no way dressed to be in here but I know the bouncer. I float around the club trying not to harass the patrons but I am way beyond that kind of restraint and beyond the point where any of this cocaine and Cava crowd will speak to me. I go through what I think is the door to the toilet. It’s the back passageway of the club. There is a fire exit and a store room containing assorted electrical equipment and a large guitar amp. I take the guitar amp and leave via the fire exit. I realise that a one hundred watt amp is heavy and leave it in a bus stop a quarter mile form the club. I continue the walk home telling the heavens that they ‘won’t get me, I know they’re watching but they won’t get me’. The sun is rising as I reach the flat. I enter to find the note, she’s at her parent’s, she’ll call me. Two days pass I’m here with my IKEA vodka when the phone rings, I let it ring out and then the mobile rings and I let that ring out also. Lather, rinse and repeat three times then I switch off the mobile and unplug the landline. I hide, on the sofa in plain sight. We didn’t get round to buying an occassional table. I am twenty eight years old.

I am checkng Facebook, I am checking Twitter, nothing. I wonder through Reddit and Stumbleupon and watch several hours of sitcoms I’ve seen before. I man up, I open the word processor and I type. I am thirty two years old.

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2 thoughts on “Hide and seek

  1. I wanted, at first to complain about the over use of ‘I’ making this seem like a list but by the third paragraph it’s picked up a rhythm that really works within what you’re saying. Whether this is a conscious or subconscious thing I don’t know but it left me feeling dis-quietened and best of all had I read this without knowing it was you I wouldn’t have heard your voice in it. Liked it a lot.

    • GaryQ says:

      Eesht! I’m beaming, a little. Thanks very much.

      The ‘I’ thing was consicous, I am that self-involved. I think I was channeling James Frey (Mrs Q had just started reading his ‘A Million Little Pieces’).

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