INTERLUDE: THE DYING DRUNK • by Fred Melnyczuk

Leaflet:
The all-important question is:
Have you accepted Jesus Christ — God’s remedy
for the lost and guilty sinner?
WHAT WILL YOU DO THEN WITH JESUS?!

Sitting on some steps in Soho, I saw this crumpled sodden slip, bordered by a dogend, one lollipop stick, and a robust gob of spit.

I can face the city and all its noise, but I do so pissed as a rat. Say, vodkas and a beer or two before leaving the flat. Then a mini wine bottle on a park bench on the way to wherever I’m going. Maybe a mixer at this bar and maybe a pint at this pub. If I get tired, perhaps a line of something; I know the back of my hand like the alleys of the city; I can read the hieroglyphic graffiti. I walk for miles and miles in stupor and no one speaks my language, often through the rain, when god above takes a drunken piss and rubbish floats like little boats.

Becoming drunk perversely brings great generosity, as if it’s some hallowed path to goodness. The other night I bought a McDonalds for a man named Mark. Not because I really wanted to, but because I was too mashed and alone to refuse anything.

“Can I have this too?!”
“Whatever you want! Toffee or chocolate? I never liked toffee myself, oh and fries, wait, get twenty nuggets, whatever!”
“Thanks!”
“I won’t wait with you, Mark, but you enjoy and I wish you the best.”

And I hug him hugely, then leave. And probably the herd thinks I’m some kind of charitable saint. But really we’re not that different. Take a leopard and a zebra: they’re different — break their legs and they’re not; and this be the city of broken legs — where ambitions become dreams and dreams become nightmares — where piles of dust, briefly assembled as men and women, go about their business oblivious to the grave, one that was dug at the moment of their conception.

Another time, Mr Francis Campbell (“drinking is my living and misery my pension”) took twenty quid to buy us some drugs. I knew the old tramp would fail in his mission. “No problem, I’ll wait right here!”  

Oh Mr Campbell, I wish you luck in this filthy city, find your wife again and never let go… But listen, listen to me, I can face the city, and all its noise — but I do so pissed as a rat, and if I stay here I’ll die.


Fred Melnyczuk is a writer based between London and Scotland, with poems, reviews, articles, and stories published in several places throughout the UK, Holland, and the US, including The Poetry Review, The London Magazine, Blue Earth Review, the FT, The Telegraph, Anima, Shot Glass Journal, The Legendary, and Octavius. In 2018 he was shortlisted for the Alpine Writing Prize (& longlisted 2019). More recently he was included in Eyewear Publishing’s current ‘Best New…’ series, and has just graduated with a Distinction from the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing MLitt programme.


Thank you for your Patreon support; it means a lot to us.

Rate this story:
 average 3.9 stars • 14 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction