EVERYDAY I WOKE, and I was nothing. I went to sleep, and I was less. When I opened my eyes to the world on my 21st birthday, it wasn’t a day to celebrate. It was the same as any other.
I lifted my head to look at the blinding, ignorant world outside the window and felt an instant need to spew. I ran from my bed to the toilet and evacuated my guts into the bowl.
Everyday, the same.
I swallowed hard and panted as I rested back against the cold tile. I couldn’t keep doing this to my body, I knew it. Breaking myself down just so I could build myself back up, fuelling the demons just so I could kill them again in the ring.
The cycle, perpetual.
I stood and walked back out into the apartment she bought for me. At the window, I looked down on Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond that… and I felt, nothing.
On my skin and in my hair I detected more than one female aroma, though the memory of all that was a blurred recollection. I pressed my hand to the glass window and held myself up, the urge to vomit still there.
In my stomach I felt empty and in my heart, there was less than an ounce of anything. My vision was skewed by rainbows of light that weren’t on the spectrum and I didn’t recognise the reflection that stared back at me in the tinted window.
The night before, a Friday, I’d partied hard. Nothing unusual.
I didn’t vomit because of the drink, but because I indulged on everything to excess.
Everything that was bad. Everything I didn’t want, but had to have anyway.
I threw my sack of shit body into the shower and burned the entrails away, from my skin at least. From my exterior, just not the inside.
Inside, decay and desolation remained.
I walked out for some breakfast—some orange juice and oatmeal—and picked up my mail as I walked back into the building.
Back in my apartment upstairs, I noticed a parcel amongst the junk—and was surprised to find it contained a number of legal documents. I had only moved in a couple days ago but Jennifer’s people had seen to all the admin on the apartment, so what this was I didn’t know. I feared the contents, unsure what was going on. I didn’t know about this kind of stuff. Since moving to New York I’d never had to worry about anything monetary because Jennifer had always taken care of that for me.
I scanned through and noticed the lawyers on the letterhead weren’t the people Jennifer used. I deduced I had become the owner of some other property and was convinced there had been some error. I called them and said, “You sent me all this stuff but I think there’s been a mistake…”
This, was genuine?
I signed a couple of things and personally returned the papers to the lawyers’ office on Third Avenue, first thing Monday.
I asked ‘Turner, Ace and Patrick LLP’ who’d done this for me? They wouldn’t say; they couldn’t disclose a benefactor who’d asked to remain anonymous. All that they’d say was that he had an unusual look.
In exchange I got handed the keys to a potential enterprise that was all mine and though I was suspicious, I went to inspect it anyway.
I walked around the empty space and envisaged how the building had been used before. There were too many tall windows to count and some of those industrial tube lights in the ceiling. It was clearly meant to be used as gallery space but needed work. Doors hung off hinges, damp lurked in places, the floors were a mess and the brick needed repairing—in fact it needed knocking down and starting from scratch! The place didn’t just pose an aesthetic challenge, but a structural one too.
With plenty of wall space available, I should’ve just bought a couple cans of spray paint and made it my own, called it art—had the hoards come through and pay to see the inside of my shattered mind.
I frequently dreamed of bleak landscapes… burning effigies. Bloodied and battered faces and piles of rotting corpses. If I unleashed my mind, who knew what I might create? No doubt something akin to the inside of her mind, something controversial enough to warrant a craze.
No, no! I had to switch that impulse off. It would be a place to sell photographs, not a canvas for the paintings that refused to erase themselves from my burnt vision.
It would cost a bomb just to keep the building standing, so I needed to find work—and fast. As I absorbed my surroundings, she texted and asked if I liked the apartment, my birthday present from her. I thought about my reply for a long time before I finally replied: It suffices.
I thought my response cold, to the point, unquestionable. Succinct. Nothing for her to chew through and spit out.
Moving out of her place on Fifth Avenue had been a long time coming. I never brought women home—I kept all that at the clubs. However, she brought her lovers home with her; men, women, multiple partners. It caused too many arguments between us.
So this gift—the gallery—definitely wasn’t from her. She only ever gave to receive and never without motive. She wouldn’t hand over a gallery in secret, it wasn’t her style. She was all about the showy gestures, all about the control.
This gallery wasn’t her idea. Whose, though? I couldn’t be sure.
As I wandered my own floors and checked out my new patch, I saw a chance. Possibility. Somebody out there wanted me to succeed. Who? I didn’t know! Yet someone could see in me some sort of potential. I had to believe that.
During the days that followed I returned to the gallery again and again, drawing up plans of what I would do with the place if I had money. I didn’t tell Jennifer I was in possession of a gallery but she found out anyway. She knew everything. She had spies, everywhere. She scoffed, of course, warned she would decimate any attempt of mine to make good on such a venture. I didn’t let her snide comments get to me because I had a gallery and that meant someone, somewhere, thought well of me. From then on, I would be better. I would.
I poured my liquor supply down the sink, this simple act already distancing me from who I didn’t want to be. I flushed my pill packets, too. It was time. I didn’t like that stuff and now I had something to work toward, I couldn’t be doing that shit anymore.
What more could she do to hurt me, anyway? There was no mortgage to sabotage, no reputation to ruin. My gallery, like my work, was the pits. Yet it had room for growth and she couldn’t touch that, even though she hated it.
I just didn’t know what lay in store for me.
If only I knew then, what I know now…
Read the first book in the series for 99 cents or 99 pence. Unfurl will be available, very, very soon!!