I’ve been thinking about Dragons a lot recently. It’s a little surreal considering all the weird and terrifying animals out there in the wild and we felt the need to make some up.
Like most myths and stories, the Dragon reflects a lot of primitive peoples anxieties. You have the fear of a few apex predators such as wolves, lions and bears- hence why a lot of dragons have vertebrates, long legs designed for running and features of the head that have a stronger resemblance to mammals than reptiles. You have the obvious fear of reptiles such as snakes and alligators- with the scaly skin, rows of sharp teeth and long slithery necks. You also get reference to birds of prey, hence why most dragons have wings or at least the ability to fly.
But the most interesting anxiety expressed is the dragons use of fire. The element that humankind is often depicted of mastering is used against us, by a greater apex predator. This anxiety can reflect one of two things.
The first being that fire is an essential part to human evolution. Without it we wouldn’t have been able to cook food, create light after dark, keep warm during winter- and so on. Fire represents a vital tool, any tool. But like all tools, it can be made into a weapon. While we may claim to have mastered fire, the truth is that it still remains uncontrollable.
You can confine it to a certain area like a campfire, but you can’t put your hand in it without getting burnt. Just like how you can use Uranium as a power source, but if you were to be exposed to it you would die. The anxiety is that a tool can be used by a thing of greater ability to do you great harm. That is the threat the dragon poses.
Or, y’know, big ass lizard that coughs flamethrower. That too. Also, the whole dragon thing might have just been old people finding dinosaur bones and not knowing what the fuck was up with that shit, so….yeah. Point being; the Game of Thrones finale was a tad disappointing. Onto the drunk ramblings;
I woke up that Thursday afternoon feeling like I got hit by a bus. Back? Fucked. Legs? Fucked. Hands? Burnt, blistered and raw. That’s the price of physical labour. Da was a joiner for forty odd years and now he can barely tie his shoe laces. I’ve a friend who worked as a bricky one summer. He’d wake up and his fingers would lock in place, spend five minutes each morning just so he could get his goddamn hands to work.
I’d spent a good part of the day before doing stores for the bar I work in. Meaning I had to lift and put away a lot of heavy stuff like beer cases and kegs. As I walked back and forth, carrying all this shit in the rain, I thought about what would happen if I just left, snuck on a ferry and made my way to Spain.
Wouldn’t have to bother learning Spanish, most Europeans use English as the agreed upon language. Most people on the continent know it a little. Average German knows more English than French, average French knows more English than Portuguese- you head up to Barcelona, you can have a pretty comfortable life while managing to be an uncultured swine.
I’m a pretty muscular cunt so I could get a job as like a henchman or something for a gang in Barcelona. “El muerte blanca” they’d call me. Break a few legs, castrate a few cunts, bury a few bodies- I could make a living like that. But I’d get tired of the heat so I’d need to go into a more legit business, like prostitution.
Prostitution is legal in Spain and they’re bound to need a good few bouncers in them brothels. Who’d be a better bouncer than the White Death? I walk up to some cunt scaring one of the workers, tap him on the shoulders and watch his face go from pure hard to squealing “Blanco!” as he realises how true and utterly fucked he is.
There’d be certain clients that don’t venture into brothels, for a number of reasons. Money being one, reputation another. So they send for a girl or a guy and I’d have to come along just to make sure nothing dodgy happens. There would be this one girl, Isabella, the most popular whore. They’d send her out almost exclusively with me.
After a while I make the mistake of falling in love with this girl. Girl I can never have. Girl I’m forced to stand guard and listen to get fucked all night long. It takes a tole on me. She’s scared of me, I don’t blame her. At this point in my life I’d have probably burned the flesh off a man and used his bones to make a piano. There’s no coming back from that shit.
The feelings fester in me. What started as a crush becomes an obsession. She haunts my dreams, my waking moments. When I’m not angry I’m depressed and when I’m not depressed I’m hateful. The black rot spreads inside me. One night I snap, burst into the room and kill the guy. Blood splatters everywhere and Isabella screams in horror. I try to calm her down but in my manic state, I end up killing her.
The cops find me at five o’clock in the morning, cradling this young woman in my arms. They take me away, the station erupts in cheers as they finally caught La Muerte Blanca. The sentence is quick and aptly cruel. Prison is gruelling. I’d put down a lot of gang members, but the ones most pissed off at me are those of the gang I had walked away from. I fought to my last breath, but there were too many. My death is long and painful. As they tear me to shreds, I think of how I’ll never feel the rain again.
I emerge from this daydream, wander down to the dirty back alley and pick up a case of Estrella. I stand there for a moment, rain pouring, thinking deeply about everything that had just occurred in my mind and I say “Jesus Des…even in your fantasies you can’t get laid” and I head back to work.
That Thursday I’d planned on just staying home for some R&R, but as I was having a cup of tea in the kitchen my flatmate burst in and was like “Here Des, wanna go out tonight?” and I was like “…Aye, why not” so I went.
Cuckoo is a pretty decent student bar but at six o’clock on a Thursday it’s as dead as most people think Bob Dylan is. I’d guilt tripped my flatmate into buying me a pint the day earlier. Today I’d paid the electric and he suggested that he’d pay me back via pints- but he tried to pull a fast one on me by saying some shite like “oh, the pint I gave you the day earlier would count as well” and that just wasn’t fucking on.
We got in a whole fucking row about how he was trying to rat fuck me, all the while our mutual moppy haired friend is watching on like “yeah, this is…happening” at some point I called him a thief or something and he nearly got whiplash from the gall on me.
To be fair, I have stolen a great deal off of him. On his birthday I bought him a big cadburys oreo chocolate bar and I stole it off him so that I could eat it at work then lied about it. I also stole his Easter eggs so yeah, the onslaught of abuse he would hurl at me was well deserved.
The thing about a night out, particularly one that is last minute, is that you got to be adaptable. By which means you got to latch yourself onto other peoples plans and hope for the best. A pint at Cuckoo evolved into getting a pint at Lavery’s, where my flatmate was having this staff-do thing or whatever. I met a lovely guy who looks like Dr Strange and who had previously infected both me and my flatmate with acute bronchitis, we had a bit of craic there as well.
We had a bit of craic but as I finished the pint we decided to head on our way. I want to say I made a fond farewell to my flatmate, but I told him he owes me a fiver and he told me to go fuck myself.
I went back to my moppy haired friend’s flat. I’d successfully latched onto his plans to meet up with another friend of ours, Shaggy, down by the Empire. It was the first time I’d been to his flat. Met his flatmate who was sleepy beyond relief and I stole some of his Chardonnay. Never had Chardonnay before, definitely worth stealing.
We sat about and talked about a few things. But mostly about that god awful stench from the fridge. My bet was that it was some old curry that had dried up. My friends flatmate said that the spill had initially been clear in nature- whatever it was, it’s a mystery.
Whole experience kind of made me feel better about my state of living. I’m pretty clean for a student, especially clean for a guy. The trick to living clean in the Holylands is to bleach everything. Showers, sinks, toilets- everything that could smell needs bleached. I’m almost as clean as I am cheap. I don’t even buy soap anymore, I just fill up the entry cartridges with watered down fairy liquid.
I talked about issues I’m having with finding a new flatmate. Current one is dead set on moving flat each and every year like most dumb fuck students. Why? You found some squalor, why trade it for another?
You’d be surprised how fussy people are for living arrangements. I’ve seen people talk about how they have a budget of £300 and how they want an en suite, a balcony and a rooftop garden. Bitch you’re lucky to get a bathroom with a fucking window for that type of money.
Soon enough, we head on out. My friends flat mate heads on back to bed, returning to a state of hibernation triggered by what I can only assume is malnutrition. We get something quick to eat and head on down to the Empire. Took us a five minutes and a pint of Guinness before we found Shaggy. We all hugged it out, talked a wee bit and then I went up to the bar.
I’m an opponent to table service. Unless you have ordered food, you should head on up to the bar yourself. This world isn’t fair. It’s divided by class and other forms of discrimination. Some people get treated like the second coming of Christ just cause they came out of David Bowie’s ball-sack. That ain’t right. Out there you may get your way, but ideally, at some point in your life, no matter who you are, you will have to wait at a bar to order a drink. It’s the grand equaliser.
That or you could squeeze past people to get to the top of the bar, like I did, so that you can order a cheap lager that pours fast instead of some dumb cunt waiting in line for a cocktail or a stout that the bartender will forget to make. That works too.
It was blues night at the Empire. I wasn’t really feeling the music so I kept drinking. It’s hard to talk to people over all that shite in the background. You find yourself sitting next to a guy you don’t know, who’s just scrolling past shit on his phone and you think “…should I even bother talking to this guy?” and you realise that there’s literally no point to this shit. If he wanted to talk to you, he’d have started it. He didn’t so now you can just sit here, drinking and trying not to think of sad thoughts.
We head on out soon enough cause Shaggy is a sauce biner, a man who smokes while he’s on the drink, so we get some quiet to talk. We talk about a few things. The girls we’re interested in, a few work stories, the futility of the war on terror- y’know, guy stuff. He tells me of his work helping out his Uncle’s plumbing business and about how the entire industry is male dominated. The first woman he met there was startling, she looked like Brienne of Tarth and talked like Frankie Boyle.
We head on in and at that point in the night I asked myself “Am I drunk enough to dance? Aye, why not” so we dance a wee bit and after a few minutes it becomes quite apparent that I am nowhere near drunk enough for this craic.
You’d think that I would have been too self conscious to keep dancing but in reality I was too self conscious to stop. I started thinking about stuff, which you really ought to avoid doing when dancing. Like, do you close your eyes or not? Is there any point moving forward if you’re just going to bump into people? Should you stick with friends or dance with randomers?
All of this became irrelevant after I downed another pint and tried to move back to my spot on the floor, only to find some guy standing there. This cunt was just standing pure static in the middle of this party, with his phone out filming the band. Look on his face could suck the craic out of a room. I hated that cunt. Hated everything he represented. The craic is to be lived, not recorded for redistribution.
This moping about and unreasonable spout of anger quickly became irrelevant as I met one of Shaggy’s friends, this tall specky guy called the Ol’ Mick. I’d met him a few times beforehand at parties and when I saw him again here I could see, from the look in his eye, that he had no idea who I was. But that’s alright, we were both drunk and hugged it out.
Turns out you don’t need Ket or MD to dance, just need a good ol’ hug.
I ended up holding this guy’s pint for a wee bit, a glass of what I can only assume was Fanta and Vodka. I was probably the only person he handed his pint to who didn’t take a gulp out of it. By the end of the night he’d had a few sips of it and it was already half empty.
By one o’clock we decided to leave, seeing as Shaggy had work in the morning. Or he didn’t. He has this weird zero hour contract thing where he has to get up at like eight o’clock in the morning every week day and they’ll text him whether or not he’s working that day. Bit dodgy.
We make it to the outskirts of the Holyland’s when we see the first fire. It’s this random bag of cans and paper that someone lit up right beside a tree. I ran to it cause I was drunk and I wanted to record it for some fucking reason, like I’d never seen a fire in my life. By the time I’d whipped the phone out the girls that was with us had kicked it out, I was a tad disappointed.
Then we immediately found another one, there was a portion of a skip on fire. I ran up to it, intending to do the same thing but one of the girls hopped up and started kicking it out. She grabbed this empty bottle-bin and snuffed it out. All the while her boyfriend was trying to pull her off saying “c’mon, we’ll get done for arson” and I’m thinking to myself “dude, just let your girl put out a fucking fire- it’s fucking class“.
We part ways and as me, Mop-head and Shaggy head back to his place, we find yet another fire. Someone had set this city bin on fire and we initially decided to leave it. But as soon as we got to the flat, I had Shaggy pour me some water in this empty Pepsi litre bottle and I ran back to put it out.
They never really tell you how smoke stings your eyes and you’re prone to forget how bad it stinks you out. After I’d dumped the water into the bin, I looked up and saw this old Sri Lankan guy walking across the street. He looked at me and quickly looked away. “Don’t worry,” I said “fire’s out. I put it out” at this point I was pretty damn drunk. Like, so drunk where I thought I was sober.
Old guy is like “…Ok” and then walked on. Poor fucker is probably tired of this shit. Coming over here for work, living in cheap housing out in the Holylands, all the while these dumb fuck students are doing all this random shit. Makes a guy feel tired even thinking about it.
Shaggy and Mop-head found me moving away from the now put out fire. We walk away, talking about how random the whole thing was. Shaggy leaves to head on to bed and the second me and Mop-head crossed to another street, we find an entire dumpster in the middle of the road- on fire.
I wondered how many water bottles I’d need to put this one out. I said “oh for fuck sake” and then sprinted home to get a fire extinguisher. The following scene is a lot funnier from the perspective of my flatmate, so here’s what happened;
My flatmate had just gotten home from his staff do. He’d a pretty sound night. He’d whipped out his laptop, presumably to watch porn or something. All the while eating a bowl of wheetos as I tried to wake the genie. He hears me crash through the front door, manic breathing, I burst through the front door and yell “FIRES“.
Flatmate chokes on a wheeto. He thinks I’m on Ket or something, wondering if he has to tackle me to the ground and whether or not he’d survive that altercation. “What?” he bellows “Des, there’s no fires- what the fuck are you talking about- DES?!” I grab the fire extinguisher and run out, telling him to stay there.
He doesn’t listen to me and as he runs out the door, he sees a small fire down our way that I’m running in the opposite direction of. He calls the fire department as Shaggy and Mop-head find him manically wandering through the street. He says “WHAT- WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO??? Oh hey Shaggy, what’s the craic” they hug a little and then go back to panicking. I’m nowhere to be found.
I’m a self conscious guy. I’m very anxious about running in public because back in first year I had to run to catch the bus and this sweaty, red faced Bellaghy bastard said that I “run like a retard” been insecure about it ever since. At some points I have to remind myself that I’m not a fat little kid anymore and that I can actually do shit, but it’s really fucking hard to look cool as you’re running down the road with a fire extinguisher.
I reach the the fire, move around it cautiously and I begin to put it out. A few sprays the fire soon dies. I move circle it, putting out the remaining embers. Smoke shrouds me like a shadow. After I put it out, something dawns on me. This is single handedly the most attractive thing I’ve ever done in my life, and no women are around to see it. Tragic.
My friends find me putting out the dumpster. They move around me, I look over my shoulders to see this cunt in a suit on the opposite side of the street, moving away. “Nothing to do with me” he says. I move about the street to make sure all the fires are put out and I wave to the fire engine so they know where the dumpster is.
The firemen were moody as fuck. I imagine this is a regular occurrence for them getting dragged out of bed. I told myself that the firemen respected me, cause I had the fire extinguisher and single handedly put out the fire. In reality they probably thought I was the cunt who started it in the first place.
That suit cunt showed up again to talk to the firemen, like he had anything of relevance to say. Started questioning my friends “did you start it?” which we took great offence to. Same cunt who wanted nothing to do with it was trying to pin the blame on us. Cheeky cunt thought he was better than us cause he was walking about in a suit, but he still lives in the Holylands.
We head back to my place. All the fires were put out, apparently there were more down my way. Some cunt tried to set the whole Holylands on fire. We’ve a few cups of tea and talk the shit. mostly slabbering about that cunt in a suit. We walk about, Shaggy and my flatmate head on to bed. I walk Mop-head home.
It’s five o’clock in the morning and I find myself roaming the streets of Belfast, alone. Lights are still on but the sky has this pink glow receding from the dark blue. I try to take a photo of it but I can’t do it justice. I wonder why I spent the night doing this, taking stupid photos of stupid shit. Is it not real unless its documented? Why even bother? People who weren’t there won’t understand. They won’t understand how I stank of smoke, how I felt when my flatmate patted me on the back to let me know I done well, how mesmerising that sunrise was.
I sing as I make my way home, too drunk to care if I wake anyone. I wonder if there’s any point in recording anything. Even writing this article, or writing anything, or making anything. We all die, go to the dirt or rise through the winds. The seas will rise and erode every sign that we were ever here, an entire blip of history that is flattened out.
But nothing is beautiful because it lasts, and nothing lasts.
I wake up and my gut feels like a toilet. I feel pretty damn proud pf myself for putting out a few fires, this drunk moron did some minor heroics. But that pride was quickly drowned out by a number of things. Concerns of money, finding a flatmate, how long I could keep living like this. I head on to work where people eat and drink and make fools of themselves, rinse and repeat.
I’m not afraid of fire, or rats or dragons or anything like that. I’m afraid that life will disappoint me, that I’ll disappoint myself. You get up and you try to make something of the day, not to make others feel better but just so you don’t go to bed feeling disappointed in yourself. You worry about that shit from time to time. Whether or not you’ll be a disappointment. But then again, we’re all disappointments in the eyes of God.