Bus Stop – Love

rural 1950s bus stop

I’d walked all morning in the humid air on the stupid chance of a job that never came to anything. Afterwards I had stopped to pick up some shopping at the grocery store near the corner of Aubry and Main. It was early afternoon and it was getting hotter.

I passed her as I walked to the bus stop with my bags. She was walking quickly towards me; appeared frantic. Her make-up was running slightly in the heat and her long black hair was clumping up where the sweat ran. She was wearing a little dress. She looked at me as she came past.

I went and sat at the bus stop. The bus was late. “Hi.”

She was standing near me. “Does the bus to Jackson leave from here any time soon?”

I said I didn’t know for sure, but I thought she’d just missed it. She told me her car had broken down. She had such amazing, big, dark, beautiful eyes. She kept glancing sideways at me with them as she tapped on her bag. Her lips were so full. I’d never wanted to kiss any lips more than hers. She was perfect, completely. Her short dress kept blowing up in the breeze and she had to keep one hand on it to stop it going all the way, but she hitched it higher and higher, making sure I saw every time. She continued looking at me with those eyes. God….this was an August Angel.

She told me she didn’t need any help with the car. I asked her if she was going all the way to Jackson but she said she was only travelling on about an hour to meet a friend. She asked where I lived.

She moved closer and sat down. I knew she wanted to move closer. I wanted her to. I wanted to hold her. Just touch her. She kept giving me these looks, smiles, looking me up and down, gaze resting on the tattoos on my arm. I saw her breath getting heavier – my, my, look at his gorgeous arms, I want him. She was delicately pale. Her dark hair made her skin look like wet silk. We talked a little, nervously, both of us trying to fill the gaps in the air and wanting to cross that two feet of chasm on the bench

My bus turned up. I wished her luck with her car. I didn’t know where she lived, her name, nothing. I got on the bus and took a seat at the window. She stepped on and asked the driver something, turning to look at me. I thought she might throw it all away and get on with me, take a ride and a chance on what her instincts were telling her, but she got off again and went and stood back in the dust. The Earth didn’t want to this to go any further. I knew it’d blow enough dust to smother the both of us if I left the bus and stood with her.

I wondered – since this kind of thing never happened to me – if I should wave. Or had I read the whole thing wrong? Was I just a creep? The bus pulled away. I looked over at the stop. She was standing there looking at me, head coyly down, smiling; blew me a small kiss. I smiled back. I loved her.



“I’m so sorry I’m putting you through this.”

“It’s ok, mate. I do this all the time.”

I lay there on the table, balls greased up with some type of blue jelly, shorts and pants down around my knees. He’d put a piece of blue paper to cover my dick, which I’d been asked to hold up onto my stomach. It was one of the most pointless gestures of preserving dignity I’d ever come across. Like holding a postage stamp on a porno actress’s nipple while she’s fucking Ron Jeremy in the middle of a Conservative Party Conference. The guy had hold of my balls and was running the scanning machine around and across, stopping, clicking, watching a screen in front of him as I held one arm over my eyes like footballers do when they are being stretchered from the field for no good reason.



More Jelly

“See anything on the screen?” I asked.

“Not at the moment. It all looks pretty normal…..apart from that lump.”


“Well, I’m pretty sure I know what it is but I wouldn’t worry. And we’ll let the consultant give you the good news for sure in a minute.”

He pressed the machine around for a bit longer. He was younger than me. I wondered what he told his partner when he came home from work each evening? Was I going to make the conversation over the lasagna? Would she laugh as he told her how I dropped the paper towel by accident and my dick flopped into his hand with a sticky slap, causing me to groan in embarrassment? He didn’t bat an eyelid, but I was certain inside he’d made a mental note: retell this one.

“Right, Benjamin, we’re done. If you’d like to rub yourself down with some of this,” he handed me more paper towels, “and I’ll let you see the consultant. Don’t worry,” he added.

Back in the waiting room the same faces looked up as I walked back in wiping the last of the blue jelly off of my hands and onto my shorts. I took the same seat I’d left twenty minutes previously. I was the youngest in there by at least twenty years. Single old men. Old men with old wives. Some with pissy trousers, but most with the pained faces of people either expecting bad news for the first time, or going to hear it all over again.

They had all dressed up smartly for their trip to hospital. I hadn’t. They stared at me – What was he in for…..at his age? And look at those tattoos…

In the Consultant’s room he laughed and joked when he read I had a Personality Disorder: “Not everyone is perfect, eh, my friend? You are ok, man,” he looked straight into my eyes and smiled, then laughed.

I laughed with him. Above the computer screen on the wall was the Emergency response button but he’d taped a note around it reading “Press for Coffee”. He was a decent guy; a joker with enough common sense to know when to tell the punchline, and to whom.

“So, Benjamin, you are not going to die… yet. What you have is [                        ] and I want to keep an eye on it in case it develops into something nastier. But, hey my friend, if that happens then the outcomes are good now……..well…….better than they were two years ago anyhow.

I’m writing you a prescription. Make sure you take them, even though they can give you pretty serious side effects.”


“Well…. a haha…..gastric distress, tendonitis, and so on… But don’t worry. It is a sunny day, go and enjoy life.”

I drove home and opened a beer. Sitting in an armchair I took my genitals in my hands and looked at them for longer than I’d looked at them since I was wanking myself stupid in my teenage bed. I could still smell the jelly. And the fear.



Midnight Deal

Benjamin Alexander

“You don’t have to have been an arsonist to be a fireman.” – Me.

Ys, ys, yes, a-hoho. A self-indulgent quote from a self-indulgent guy sitting at an old desk, watching the rain drip from the overgrown honeysuckle hanging across the glass of the window opposite. I should really be doing the washing up, or writing ten pieces I’ve been offered by an Editor of a large, vicious, niche sporting magazine. I’ve ignored his emails for about two months now. Easily done, on the face of it, but in this business, profile is everything: without somebody reading something you’ve written, you are not alive. Nor are you relevant.

You are also poor.

And then there is the ‘Book’, the thought of which is sending shivers of terror down my spine, arms, and inner eyelids, when I close them and try to forget the whole situation isn’t actually happening – which…

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We’ve all panicked at one time or another. It’s a commonality we share with other humans, or even most sentient life. But BPD gives panic another edge: a ramping up of the noradrenaline, adrenaline, and catastrophic fear never usually available to the ‘normal’ folks. A real top-notch trip into psychosis – for me, anyway.

When I’d seen the doctor last week about the spurious and sinister lump I’d found, he referred me to the cancer clinic in a weeks time for a nailed-on diagnosis. I went home after the doctors and did all the things DBT has spent a year trying to teach me not to do: self-harming, catastrophising, riding the emotional waves up up up up up and away to where nothing mattered any more. I sat on the sofa waaaay gone. Any minute the neighbours would drill through my wall, the satellites above would beam my face around the world, and my door would come crashing in as the police came for me, finally, for that thing I’m not sure I ever did in the first place, and can’t remember anyhow.

It’s a weird feeling panicking about death when you’ve spent the past thirty years never thinking of it as anything other than a friend. I talked it over with my Clinical Psychologist and she thought I was experiencing a loss of control over my mortality for, maybe, the first time ever. A few packets of codeine and paracetamol when the time was right never felt wrong. Death was always a familiar entity, but I sat there wondering if I really knew him/it at all?

I thought about overdosing – at least I’d be unconscious – to stop feeling the panic. I even ragged a biro pen into my arm a few times – drawing blood and maybe giving myself a shit tattoo in the process – and punched myself until the pain brought some sense. I picked the phone up and rang the Psychiatric Team. They knew the answer: Diazepam. Sweet diazepam..

The CPN mediated with the doctor and a phonecall told me a prescription was waiting. Still shaking, I put on some shoes and walked to the bus stop with full-blown psychosis drawing strength at every inch of time and space and ethereal inner blindness. The cars slugged by like iron insects, evil noises oozed from the trails they left on the road and in the air, and the faces in them laughed and jeered because they knew everything. EVERYTHING.

I don’t remember the bus driver, or the journey, but I do remember sitting waiting for the tablets, and people staring at me while I sat talking and talking to myself on the chair near where they sold something called ‘Tiger Balm’. What the fuck would you use that for? Where did it go? Tigers…..

Outside I ripped open the box and swallowed a couple of tablets, waiting for Bigfoot to climb from the gardens in front and roar his disapproval at the whole fucking stupid mess. He didn’t show. Two old ladies watched me with disgust as I walked away through the small town, unshaven, dirty clothes, ill; someone this pretty part of the world could do without. Human, fucked up, deshevelled. Maybe dangerous too?

At home I relaxed into the benzodiazepine bliss and washed my bloodied arm. On Monday I’ll be in the Cancer Clinic in the heavy atmosphere with my lump, my BPD, waiting for that diagnosis and……for the panic.


Selfish Fear

I’m going to miss DBT today for the first time in over a year. I’ve turned up when I had to struggle to get out of the house, or when I’ve been angry, or sad, or mixed up, sick, and bored. DBT is something to take seriously: I have risen to the challenge of getting well. I’ve been making progress. I have that beautiful feeling of hope. Now something may have arrived from the Ether to turn everything upside down again – it’s always been like this.

For a week or so now I’ve had a weird pain in my lower abdomen that comes and goes without any good reason I could see. Until yesterday. Yesterday I found the source: a lump that was somewhere there shouldn’t be a lump. It was the size of a pea. It hurt when I touched it. It was classically sinister.

I tried not to panic – despite everything else, I’m not a hypochondriac – and decided I’d better get it looked at, just in case. I mean, I’ve seen the ‘men’s adverts’, it’s what you should do.

That was yesterday evening. Now I’m sitting at my desk at home waiting for the Doctors to open so I can make an appointment. I don’t want to go because I’m really worried about someone telling me that it is what I think it is.

I didn’t sleep well last night. Sleep was all about nightmares and night terrors. A poltergeist laid out the final clothes I’d ever wear on my bed when I was out of the room. I tried to put the clothes back, but it roared like a hurricane wind through the house, slamming doors. I couldn’t escape. I woke up screaming.

What irony. I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing I was dead, and now I’m worrying that the choice is going to be taken away from me. I’m powerless if this thing turns out to be….well….you know….that has gotten too far because I don’t look after myself and I don’t take huge notice of my physical ailments.

I shook a little last night when I thought about what that lump could be. I always wanted to decide – at least at this age  – when I’d die, or not. And if I did, by taking an overdose, or hanging myself, there’d be an intense enough feeling that would be righteous and tangible enough to give me license to see it through. It would be right. It would mean I could end another pain at a time of my choosing. This pain was, maybe, different. I thought about all the times I’d had a cold, or an allergy, and how pathetic I’d been. And I wondered how I’d cope if things were as bad as I thought they might be. The funny thing is, I don’t feel pathetic now, I just feel scared.

The phone line opens in ten minutes. It’s grey outside. I’m cold. And…yeah….there it is….that pain again. I probably won’t be able to get an appointment today – some people are trying to blame that on ‘Immigrants’, but they are wrong. There’s a lot of hate and emotion out there, but at this desk, in this little two-hundred year old house on a hill in the countryside, at 07.47 today, all there is is selfish fear.