Oh, Martin

Martin was bored. He lay there … tick tick tick … his watch slowly counting down … zoom, another car passed … the sound of breaking glass … far away, a dog barking. He lifted his arm into the dim sodium light to examine what looked like a rash. These were the things that kept Martin awake.

The voices in the street were happy voices, irritatingly happy voices. Piss off, he thought. Piss off and be happy somewhere else, I’m trying to sleep. Or at least I’m trying to try to sleep. If I could sleep, I could ignore everything else. Everything else would at least be gone, albeit for only another day. I’d like to kill that kid on the skateboard – hasn’t he got a home to go to?

Martin kicked the duvet off. Christ he was hot, but opening a window was out of the question – too much noise. Late night happiness and noise. Bastards, he thought. So he lay there in the heat. In the heat with his rash, and the ticking, and the cars, the barking dogs and irritatingly happy bastards all around him. That’s when the phone rang. That’s when the phone rang and the safety blanket of boredom was whisked quietly away.

“It’s me”, the voice said.
“You want to know what it is I want at this time of night”, the voice said, by way of apology.
“No. I already know what you want. What you want is for someone to listen to your perpetual whining, someone to wait for the phone to ring, for you to call because you said you would, but never do. Someone never to complain that all you do is ask questions and never wait for answers to come, never mind actually listen to them should they ever be able to force their way past your effluent-rich tide of self-pity. Someone to expose the lies within your self-indulgent fecundity. Go to hell and leave me alone!”
That’s what Martin should have said, but nothing at all like anything he ever actually said.

After the ringing had stopped, he waited for the machine to kick in. Then he waited for the boring, but oh-so-practical greeting, the beep, the message. The message that never came. The message never came. Fucking great, he thought. Someone calls you in the middle of the night, and would have woken anyone else up, and doesn’t even bother to leave a message. Bastards. He should call them back in a few hours, after they’ve managed to get to sleep, see how they liked it. But he wouldn’t. That wasn’t something Martin would do. Instead, he rolled over and pressed his face into the pillow, in the vain hope he could suffocate himself. At this point, he’d settle for any form of unconsciousness, gentle or otherwise.

Just at that moment, his neighbour returning home switched on a hallway light, and suddenly, and spectacularly, ignited the gas that had been steadily leaking for several hours. The subsequent crater that replaced the two houses previously containing Martin and his nocturnal neighbour were not inconsiderable, both in size and as a talking point over the following months. Finally, Martin was out for the count.

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