Nick Bryan Dot Com

#fridayflash: "Bottomscraper"

Hi! This week, one man's awful adventures in London in the wee hours. This (or something like this) is an all too common occurrence in the modern age, and I think we all owe it to ourselves to spread awareness.

As ever, more Friday Flash work available at the Friday Flash Dot Org website, and in an exciting new development, the latest chapter of my Hobson & Choi serial went up yesterday, after I changed the release day to Thursdays.


Phil woke up on a bench in Leicester Square, feeling a sticky mass on his left hand. What was he doing here? How much had he had? Why wasn’t it morning yet?

No chirping birds, no light through the clouds. Late, after midnight yet before dawn - this was a night he rarely saw. Because, as ever, he left the pub at eleven and tried for Charing Cross station.

Seconds later, he'd deduced what happened next: passed out on a bench, making him the lowest of the low. The slumped drunk, collapsed at the bottom of the London hierarchy. Even worse news after reaching his hand into his pocket: some bastard stole his phone. A good one too. The slats of the bench had pressed their shape into his back.

All around him, people still wandered : gaits ranging from run to stagger, maxing out at stagger-while-vomit. Phil shook his head; the square looked like an edited photograph. Plumes of light snaked from one neon sign to another, bleeding into some central pool, and beneath it, people running. A rickshaw driver circling the drain.

Only five minutes to Charing Cross, he told himself - he'd find a roof there, with quiet and sober passers-by. He didn’t have a racist bone, but foreign languages were loudest and it was confusing the English in his head.

He pushed himself up and towards the corner exit, but police were chasing a kid in a hood, elbowing Phil aside in the name of justice. No apology, just the rickshaw driver racing round another lap, finally turning off the square at the next corner. The officers seemed busy, ignoring Phil like the scum he was – he'd wait until home before reporting the stolen phone, then.

Cops could’ve woken him earlier, he grumbled, staggering down a newfound slope. Why hadn’t they stopped that looping bloody rickshaw? As he turned off towards Charing Cross, he tapped into the feeder pipe.

He didn’t know what the clock said, but it must be kicking-out time at every bar. The entire of London migrating home, their Friday night finery warbattered. Phil’s good shirt wasn’t ripped, but the browny-red stain was never coming out.

People grabbed each other to share their joy, bumping nearer Phil, he swerved around them on instinct. If someone went for a hug, he might’ve cried. Instead, one of the swarm violated his trousers for the wallet - Phil let it go. His own fault for appearing so weak.

Suddenly, the rickshaw returned, swerved down the hill, weaved a few pedestrians, before finally losing control and crunching into Phil’s pick-pocket, oiling and mangling both their frames at once.

Phil kept on top of himself this time, plucking his wallet from the splayed pile with sudden dexterity. The police were noticing the mess, so he made a smooth exit – now he wasn’t the most pitiful person here, everything seemed clearer.

He would’ve called an ambulance, but damn, no phone.


Li said...

Enjoyed this - if one can be said to enjoy such a detailed exposure of just-another-night for some.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

I've never had quite such a messy night. That I remember.

Nick Bryan said...

I've fallen asleep on a few public transport vehicles, but never on a public bench...

Beverly Fox said...

I was waiting for this to turn into a tale about pergatory- the derelicts of society all tumbling around him at once made it seem like it was leading to a No Exit-like conclusion.

I loved the language in this- specifically the "Plumes of light snaked from one neon sign to another, bleeding into some central pool, and beneath it, people running. A rickshaw driver circling the drain." and "foreign languages were loudest and it was confusing the English in his head." lines. Very lyrical flow.

Nick Bryan said...

It was a bit more lyrical than I probably usually go, but I wanted to portray the hyper-sense experience of being drunk and confused. So there it was.

And all my stories are available in metaphors if need be.

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