by Richard Hillesley

The words come up and hit me in the face, a man with a bottle between the legs, shooting from the lips. His skin is cracked and blotted, Danish Blue. His floating eyes spit like frying eggs, shooting from the lips. He belches like a bloated toad.

One man’s masticated bones are another man’s steak and kidney. One man’s pair of spectacles are another man’s point of view. One man’s bottle of vodka is another man’s glass of tonic. One man’s head in a plate is another man’s thing to do. 

If you cannot love her try to leave her. If you cannot leave her try to forgive her. One man’s heart is another man’s liver…

The words come up from the gut, rising to the lip, sneaking up the hour glass body, sliding up the long thin neck, to the bottle top. He stubs his toes against his teeth. He breaks wind with his lungs. He puts his hand behind his head. His head falls off his hand. His chin bumps off the chair and slides along the floor. He talks in other people’s tongues.

One man’s Ezra Pound is another man’s two and six. One man’s hue and sick is another man’s fish and chips. One man’s love it to death is another man’s take it or leave it. One man’s raving genius is another man’s would you believe it?

You can listen but you cannot hear. You can look but you cannot see. One man’s you is another man’s me…

Vodka fills the loving cup, Abracadabra to the brim. A genie in the bottle is running around the rim. What’s the matter with you? Can’t you talk? He sucks in his breath and inflates. The words fly up in his face, coagulate, stuff his mouth, froth up his lips. Don’t prick the prick, he’ll burst. Put a cork in it…

One man’s pissed is another man’s into the mystic. One man’s la-di-da is another man’s doggerel. One man’s nearly hit the thing is another man’s missed it. One man’s vodka bottle is another man’s suckling tit.

You can shout but you cannot doubt. You can cry but you cannot weep. One man’s you is another man’s sleep…

Hiccup. fuck up. keep your big mouth shut. Your tongue is hanging loose. One man knows the words. Another man knows their use…

I will leave here walking with my charity in my hand. I will leave here walking with my charity in my hand.

It’s not you. It’s your pain I cannot stand.

Richard Hillesley grew up in Kenya, South Shields and North Wales. Curious and disaffected, he travelled widely through his twenties, across all parts of Britain and Southern Europe, the Sudan and Libya, working as a casual docker, book seller, railway guard, and yacht delivery crew. He became a computer programmer in his thirties before moving to Totnes in Devon as a feature writer and later editor of the first UK Linux magazine, and has since devoted himself to writing fiction and poetry. Unbanging the Nails, a collection of his stories, has just been released by Clochoderick Press.