Andy sat down heavily at the table and
sighed. He took a half-hearted sip of the lager and placed it back on the
table; the heartburn kicked in immediately. It had been a rough couple of days
and he was paying for it now, but it had been worth it, as it always was. His
nostrils felt as though they had been stripped clean; he heard a faint but
distinct wheeze in his chest every time he breathed in; his guts were in
It had started two days before, on Friday
night nightclub, after party usual stuff. Saturday had brought
the football and the curer that inevitably turned into another full-on drunk
nightclub, after party etc. and now it was Sunday, at last alone.
Time to come down and ease his way back into the harsh reality that Monday
always brought. It was 12pm, a quick pint at the local before he turned in to
rest, to repair the damage that his body had endured.
He picked up a newspaper from the table next
to him. He flicked through the sports pages but his eyes refused to focus
properly. It was just a blur of lines; he tried to close one eye to help with
the focus but it was no use. The coke and the pills were still in his system
somewhere, gradually working their way out. He dropped the paper back where he
found it and looked around.
No music, no atmosphere. Just a broken,
disinterested barman and a couple of old drunks dotted around. He was about to
go back to his pint when he noticed a guy who must have been in his fifties at
the far end of the room, sitting under the dartboard. He looked familiar. He
couldnt place him but he was strongly familiar. He concentrated hard on
him, trying to force his mind to click back into gear and get the memory
working again. This lasted for a good minute and just as he was about to look
away, the old man looked up and caught him staring: What the fuck are you
looking at? he shouted across the room. His voice shattered the dusty
silence but no-one looked up. They all seemed engrossed in their own loneliness
and misery, all holding the same mid-distance stare, oblivious to their
surroundings. The barman stirred slightly, but only just.
Andy hesitated. His deterioration over the
weekend had left him exposed and uncertain. Nothing, sorry. I just
thought you looked familiar. Must have been thinking of somebody else, he
He felt his guts churn as he saw the guy
rise slowly and walk towards him. Fuck, he thought. Now
Im going to have this old bastard twittering away in my ear.
The guy shuffled towards him, looking a bit
unsteady on his feet. More than just drunk. He looked like he had put his
skinny frame through some punishment over the years. There was no meat on the
bones, his eyes were hollow shells and his clothes hung off him. A pathetic
specimen, but not an unfamiliar sight around these parts.
As he got closer, Andy started to straighten
up in his seat ready to fend off the impending conversation. As the stranger
reached his table he looked Andy straight in the eye:
Of course you know me ya wee
dafty, he said in a shallow, rasping voice.
Eh? Andy replied. Naw, naw. It
was a mistake. I thought you were someone else. Sorry. I didnt mean any
Are you no listening? the old
guy replied. I said, of course you know me.
Listen, I mistook you for someone
else. I was wrong. I dont know you, you dont know me. Look,
Im sorry. Let me get you a drink, offered Andy.
The old guy ignored him and sat himself down
at the table. The smell of stale fags and whisky washed around Andy as he did
so. Stale sweat too. This was all he needed. A comedown is bad enough without
some old drunk talking shite to you.
Look at me, instructed the
Andy tried to ignore him.
Look at me, he demanded,
physically turning Andys head towards him with a cold, clammy hand.
Andy resisted but the man was surprisingly
strong; his grip was final, unrelenting.
What the fuck do you want,
shouted Andy. The barman twitched slightly in the distance; the rest remained
I told you. Look at me, said the
Andy relented and looked him in the eye, at
first under duress, but after a few seconds he became mesmerised. He felt
dizzy. The pills were still working their way through; faint flashes of yellow
appeared in front of his eyes. He did know this man. Finally, gradually, he
realised who he looked like. He looked like.. himself.
He was his doppelganger, albeit a good fifty
years older, but definitely the older double of himself.
Jesus, spluttered Andy as he
pulled away. Who the fuck are you?
Who do you think I am? the drunk
How the fuck should I know? Andy
replied. You look like me. Fuck sake, you are the double of me! Older,
but the double.
Theres your answer, the
What? What are you talking about?
Look, just piss off. Heres a fiver. Get yourself a couple of drinks and
leave me in peace, Andy pleaded through a front of bravado.
Cant do that boy. Youre
here for a reason. You were meant to meet me. Look at the nick of you.
Youre a fucking mess! Cant be any older than 23 and you look like a
bag of shit, he mocked.
Give us a break. Ive had a long
weekend, know what I mean? Andy said.
Of course I know what you mean.
Ive been there. You think I always looked like this? He looked down
and gestured to himself; cheap, stained suit hanging off him, short at the
sleeves, nicotine stained hands, stubble like wire wool.
Whats your point old boy?
Weve established I look like shit but guess what? I look a site fucking
better than you do!
Really? the old boy asked.
Thats the fucking point ya jumped up wee shite. Can you no see the
link? Use your fucking head man.
Right, thats it. Fuck off. I
dont care who you are or what you want, just piss off and leave me
You dont care who I am? You
should you know. Take a good fucking look boy. It might be all fun and games
just now. No lasting damage, just a bit of fun eh? Wrong ya wee prick. Look at
me, he said with increasing aggression.
Look at me, the old guy insisted. Andy
ignored him. Fucking look at me! the old boy screamed. The barman
stirred in the distance.
Andy turned reluctantly. He was getting
ready to twat the old bastard.
Look at me carefully. The old
guys eyes were looking watery. Look at me closely. Look at what I
have become. I am you. You are me. We are one in the same.
At that Andy got up, brushing the guy
Youre fucking mental. Ive
had enough. Barman, Andy called. You want to keep an eye on this
old bastard. Hes mental.
The barman looked up and studied the guy who
was still muttering, I am you, you are me, over and over like some
Never seen him before, said the
barman. Fuck all to do with me. He went back to his paper.
As Andy turned to leave, the old guy made a
desperate lunge for his coat.
Dont you understand? I am you.
You are me. Look at me! Youre destroying me. I dont want to be like
this anymore. Stop it. Just stop it. This is not what I wanted to be like,
neither do you, but it happened. Its not too late. Change. Save us both.
We are one in the same. This isnt just about you. This is about both of
us! he screamed.
Andy pulled away and watched as the pathetic
figure dropped to the floor, arms raised, hands open as if in exaltation
desperation oozing out of him.
Andy barged through the door and out into
the harsh sunlight
He jogged down the street towards his house.
He looked over his shoulder a couple of times but there was no sign of the guy.
When he got back to the house, he headed straight for the living room and
slumped down on the sofa.
Fucking hell, he thought.
Need to get my act together, need to sort myself out. Thats fucked
He told himself it was just that he was in
the grip of a comedown but the guy had freaked him out nonetheless. He went
into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He looked pale. His eyes were
sunken and his cheeks were drawn. He thought back to the pub and the guys
face. He felt a shudder run through his skinny frame. That guy was the double
of him. The fucking double! Just older. The state he was in, Andy looked a good
few years older too.
I am you. You are me. The guys words
kept running through his mind. His head started to spin again; the drugs having
a last kick before they disappeared. His jaw was tight. He felt weak, like his
insides had been stripped of any kind of nutrient, any hint of health. His mind
started working overtime as he stared, transfixed, into the mirror. Was that
old guy really him? Had he had some kind of insight into his future? Fuck
off, he said out loud to his reflection. Get a grip man, its
just the drugs.
Still the words kept echoing in his mind. I
am you. You are me. I am you. You are me. I am you. You are me. I am you
Andy ran through to the living room and
threw himself down on the sofa. He felt like he was finally losing his mind.
The guys image haunted his thoughts; the mantra repeated itself.
He felt in his pocket and found the remnants
of last nights gear wrapped carefully in a piece of cellophane. He looked
down at it and the old guys last words came back to him We
are one in the same.
Jesus that guy was a pathetic excuse
of a man, he thought. Would he really end up like him? Was that old drunk
really the future embodiment of himself? He thought about it for a bit, staring
at the coke in his hand. It was possible. Stranger things had happened to
people. Had they? He was sure they had. Alien abductions; ghost sightings; time
slips. They were all reported with some frequency. Surely some of them really
were true. Perhaps he had experienced a time slip into the future. Maybe that
guy in the pub was an insight into his own sorry future.
He thought about it for a bit. Looked at the
coke. Thought about it again.
Right thats it, he said
out loud. Im wrapping it with this shite!
He got up to go to the kitchen to dump the
gear. Maybe it was just the comedown. But it could have been a warning. Maybe
he had really met his future self an old, useless, friendless
hollowed-out shell of a man. He hesitated as he held the coke over the bin. He
grew more and more convinced that he had had some kind of vision, some kind of
His hand hovered over the bin,
It would be a shame to waste it,
he thought. Fuck it. Ill just horse this and that will be
He walked back into the living room and sat
at the table. He emptied the content of the wrap onto the tabletop and started
to chop it with his bankcard. He deftly made two lines and sent one shooting up
each nostril. He sat back on the couch as he felt the rush hit.
Thats it, he thought. Thats the last. He
was fully aware now and was relaxed with the idea that the man in the pub had
been sent as a warning; he had met his future self. He was going to change. No
way was he going to end up like that old bastard. No way. He had plans
he was going to be somebody. Just as soon as he figured out what that was. But
he had the potential. Of that he was sure.
As the coke started to make its familiar
journey through his body, he went to the fridge to get a beer. As he sat back
down on the couch, he took a big swig from the can, clearing the back of his
throat of the coke residue.
Tomorrow, he thought.
Tomorrow Ill stop. Tomorrow Ill stop being that
With that, he took three large gulps of the
lager and settled down to building a nightcap joint.
No point wasting it. Might as well
have a final fling. Tomorrow Ill stop. Tomorrow.