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Walking into the bathroom, I hear it, "Steve killed himself." I look in the mirror. Stick out my tongue. Pull a face. My skin is dry and blotchy. My hair thinning. My mouth scarred with cold sores. I drop my underpants, sit down. Since a near-fatal illness five years ago, my evacuations have been polished, professional. A slight tensing of the stomach muscles and out pops a long tubular faeces. (When I wipe, there's nothing there except a watery smear of blood.) "Steve killed himself," I hear again. "It's not someone else," I think. No other Steve. This "Steve" is this Steve. I pull up my underpants and stare at my face again in the mirror. Greening teeth, random hairs, anarchic white eyebrows. "Steve killed himself," I hear. Although I am the subject, the voice is not mine. I swallow 10mgs of Ramipril and 30 of codeine, my face flushed from the previous night's beer, the early morning masturbation, the high blood pressure. I pull on my 'Boredoms' T-shirt and walk into the kitchen. I boil the kettle, clean my filthy nails in the steam. Turn on the grill, place my forearm against its serpentine coils until the hairs sizzle and reek. While the tea is brewing, the bread browning, and the butter melting on my arm, I turn on my MacBook and open Safari. Googlemail no emails. Yahoo no emails. Hotmail no emails. MySpace nothing. I can't face Facebook. I look up at the skylight. It is raining and the drops are unsynchopated, unsympathetic. "Steve killed himself," I hear again and I see my friends sitting around a pub talking about football. I see my parents not holding hands on the living-room sofa, the Siamese cat held between them. I see my girlfriend on her knees underneath the swinging body, tugging either to free it from its noose or to make sure it's truly dead. I see her clearing away the needles, one of heroin, one of insulin. The smell of rope brings back memories of our bondage sessions. The dark-chocolate tang of the smack and the pig-slaughter stench of the Novomix make her vomit onto my cyanic face. "Steve killed himself," I hear and I can see them in the crematorium, a disco track on the sound system. No one reads a poem. I hear the letterbox flap. I get up to collect my mail. A bill, a threatening letter from the bank, a pizza-delivery menu. I throw them away. I open the fridge and look at the lone can of Stella, the orange cube of cheese, the centimetre of soured milk. "Steve killed himself," I hear and see people sitting in my parents' dining room, standing on the patio, strolling in the garden. None are talking, none are crying, none are laughing. I dress. I open the front door. The buses are red. The sky is blue. I hear the creaking of the anchor chain and watch as the gangway begins to rise.

[Forever after at]


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