Last night I went to a party on Iona Street. I left the party at about four in the morning and walked home down the Easter Road. The street had hushed, leaving me with the sharp, tiny sounds of my own footsteps. An aimless sigh from somewhere back in the city shot suddenly up to me, in the form of a shiny BMW. There seemed to be about seven youths in the car, hanging out of the windows, whooping like Injuns. The BMW – which was no doubt accustomed to gliding noiselessly around sunlit metropolises – seemed to be compromised, in its car-soul, by the merry disarray of its passengers. There was a crack of broken glass at my feet and the youths all jeered. “Get in man, get in!” they insisted.
The passenger door opened and there was violent manoeuvring within the car in order to make a space for me. I got in and shut the door. I wanted to fasten my seatbelt, but I feared that this may have made me appear foolish. “Where are we going?” I asked as the city raced past, now flat and remote. A bottle was passed to me and I drank from it. I couldn’t identify the spirit, but it was very raw and I struggled to work the taste out of my mouth.
“Anywhere man, just for a ride.”
I looked ahead, out into the passing night. I couldn’t see or hear the other youths, but I sensed that some were bemused and that others were more antagonistic. “Are you a gayboy?” someone demanded finally. “You look gay.”
“You mean my suit? I think it’s important to take a pride in one’s appearance.”
Somebody said something which I didn’t catch, and everybody in the car laughed.
The car was going too fast and at a corner, I suddenly thought that we were sliding off the road and let out a little gasp. There was more laughter. “Perhaps I should drive,” I suggested. “I’m a good driver.”
“Sure.” The car stopped and there were groans and exclamations as the human contents rearranged themselves again. I got out, walked around the car, and got in the other side. We set off again. I didn’t ask for instructions and just followed the road. I may have dozed off slightly, lulled by the motion of the vehicle, because when at some traffic lights – presumably upon an agreed signal – the car emptied, it took me utterly by surprise. I sat alone in the car, confounded.
I set off again, continuing aimlessly through the night. In Leith I saw a prostitute and pulled up beside her. She got in and started to chat away, in the brisk, jolly vein that a nurse assumes with a failing patient. At some traffic lights I remarked, “Oh I don’t suppose you’d like to drive… ? My arms are tired.” Good-humouredly, she agreed. At the next traffic lights I tumbled out of the car, running as soon as my feet hit the ground. I heard her cry out distantly. The night air was cold and my senses screamed. I tore through the night, along unfamiliar streets, heading either towards or away from the city.