I got off the train at Port Sunlight station in The Wirral. There was no sunlight to great me as I set foot onto the platform, only some lanky zit-faced reprobate and the grim dark northern sky above. The station was about one mile from the hotel, a location that I had to get to and prepare within the hour. As I had anticipated the hooded scally on my train had got off ahead of me, my route seemingly now blocked; the slum rat having previously clocked me more than once on the train as we ventured on the journey away from Liverpool Lime Street and under the River Mersey. But I had him immediately sussed. He was looking for a victim, some opportunist fun. Checking me out. Fancying me as a target. I am not the big lump I once was a few years back. I’m twenty now. I have shed a lot of weight since school and my cheekbones have never looked such a prominent feature. It’s no wonder I have heard it that some call me Monkey Boy. I’ve also long shed a part of me that I might have once referred to as some regular confidence. Sadly it’s only the white powder that induces such wonder in me these days. But there’s always a price to pay for that sensation. And the rush from the line done at
No doubt me reading a book also added to the mix, made me fair game to him. A book of poetry at that; not that this thick fuck would have known it to have been a book of poetry. No, I could tell his suspicion and disgust was bonded solely by the fact it was a book. I had tried to read my book of poetry – The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire – but got constantly distracted by this prick strutting to and fro, up and down the aisle, out of the carriage and back into the carriage, always leaving the chunky carriage exit/entry doors open for the same old bald fella to have to stand, sigh and close, while the reprobate squinted at me with my cheekbones and my book. Every time he passed me by, came close enough for the tip of my elbow to brush with his thigh, I ate his thoughts regarding me, they were easy to translate; fucking cockney mummy’s boy university graduate – I can’t do the scouse accent. Yes I suppose I did look clean-cut and anything but street-wise. I had after all made an effort today. I had to make the right impression. I only had the one chance. This was it. The big one.
The train journey from
In the core of the moment, this could just be all idle paranoia brought about by me having that cheeky line at
On Google maps if you did a pedestrian route from Port Sunlight railway station to the hotel where my destiny was taking place, then it took you on a right turn out of the station and along a road that once round the bend guided you for a rendezvous with a blocked off private business road with definitely no access for unauthorised personnel. I found this out by dropping the yellow Google man on the map and doing a virtual walk-though. But every time I put in the Google route for walking directions it took you this flawed route every time, to arrive at a No Entry barrier, a moment in real life play where the confused become a victim in waiting, the local prey primed and ready to take advantage as they step out from the shadows.
“You lost mate? Not from round here are ya? Come with us, we’ll help you find the hotel you’re looking for. Won’t we boys. We’ll show you the way alright.”
But as I was a clever boy who had done his homework on Google, I knew that if I turned right upon exiting the station I would only end up coming back on myself. This was what the street urchin and his gang were no doubt anticipating. Word was out. A select few from well out of the area were in a strange new town, hearts bulging with a golden hope, the dream to permanently change their fortune in life. To be rich. To never have to worry about money. At least in the short term.
And so there would be those waiting to provide the wrong kind of welcoming. Hooded highwaymen opportunists hoping for any kind of picking; wallets, debit/credit cards – ‘pin number cunt or we break the other arm as well’ – mobile phones, especially iphone, maybe even an ipad or two. I knew all this could be waiting for me. But I was no mug. A few years back I might even have entertained a ruck. But I rarely show the world my fists anymore. No I would turn left and walk the long way round. I would do everything to stay relaxed and avoid confrontation. I’m not a small bloke and I definitely think I have never had the victim profile. So there was no point in imaging I had one today. I could handle myself and even though I was nervous as fuck, I told myself this.
Matthew shut the fuck up, you’re spouting bollocks.
But that’s not entirely true.
For when I took a left turn out of the station – instead of a doomed right – I saw this idiot and his mates were waiting across the road for me with fixed lifeless stares. There was four of them. All as I had imagined. Hooded and expectant. Standing there, so predictable. They actually looked away before I turned my head. Their attention no longer on me. The four of them disappearing in an instant. The opposite direction. The new point of opportunist focus, a small anxious man clutching a shoulder bag, looking lost as his eyes searched for street signs. He had taken a doomed right. The group of lads continued behind him, closing in. I wanted to warn this small guy. Was certain his intended destination was the same as mine. The hotel. I was also certain that he hadn’t fully investigated the Google route plan on foot with a virtual walk-through. He definitely hadn’t dropped the yellow man down into play.
As I looked backwards one last time I guess a part of me did want to shout out, to warn him. But the last thing I needed was to get involved. A violent confrontation wouldn’t have put me in the right frame of mind to face the camera. Especially if I had facial wounds, blood all down my clothes, on my white trainers. No that wouldn’t’ve been good at all. This was a day to make the right impression not encourage negative judgement; I had had that fingered in my face all my fucking life. That’s why I buried my hands deep into the pockets of my blue parka and with my head-up, I silently wished him luck as I continued to march purposely in the opposite direction.