‘With bouncing souls’

Gareth was digging up his flat looking for opportunities to make some quick cash. He didn’t have long if he wanted to eat that night, nor did he have many possessions, few of any worth anyway. He buried his hand between the cushions of his sofa looking for some change. There was nothing. Being the only person who sat on the thing he knew better than anyone that he didn’t have any spare pennies to let slide under the cushions of his couch. Plus he’d already raided this spot last week when he needed cash for condoms. What a waste of money that was.

Nothing much was doing and he was feeling guilty for still being in the house on such a hot spring morning. It was actually now the afternoon but Gareth couldn’t allow himself to accept that. The morning held in it an optimism which remains unequalled for the rest of the day, and never is such optimism realised by the time the day dies and the night is revived. He therefore tried to hold onto this hopeful feeling for as long as possible.

Ultimately he unearthed two items of relative worth. One was a Mumford & Sons badge – given to him by an old, long extinguished flame; the other was a pair of Dr Martens shoes. They still had the price slapped onto the bottom, were in fine condition and pretty much the only belonging he could ever hope of finding a buyer for.

He took a few blurry photos and uploaded them onto his Facebook page.

‘Hey guys!
Got some Dr Martens brogues for sale here – barely worn – Size 10 – £50 or best offer.
Just PM me for the DM’s if you’re interested. Happy bidding LOL !’

He enjoyed the way he’d written ‘PM & DM’s’. They looked and sounded similar.

* * * * *

Gareth’s Facebook was filled with photos of tenuous friends and dribbling children. That was almost literally it. Just photos of people he didn’t really know, with little versions of these people sat on their laps playing with colourful toys. Either that or marshmallow women with vacant pouts and some sort of dog filter; or born-again vegans unravelling on their travels with thumbs up on gurning camels. Gareth’s photo of the shoes on the other hand was an entirely different breed of output.

A couple of hours dribbled by and he received a few messages, most of which were taking the absolute piss.
‘I’ll give you £30 if you can deliver them to me’ said a certain Elroy.
‘Where do you live?’ Gareth responded.
‘The states.’
‘You’ll have to pay for postage lol.’
‘Okay, I’ll give you £25 for the shoes – and I’ll pay a fiver for postage.’
‘Hah, nice try!’
‘Is that a no?’’

Another from Lucy: ‘My hubby wants those things, I’ll take em off your hands.’
‘How much?’
‘Alot. He wants them alot!’
‘No, how much does he want to pay?’
‘We’re not paying for them – second hand them.’
Before Gareth could reply she had blocked him.

‘Shit photos,’ wrote Tom, who was an old school friend.

* * * * *

After many hours and many cunts trying to give Gareth less than nothing for these totally passable shoes, he found somebody interested. It was a guy called Kelvin. Christ knows how they became Facebook friends, they’d certainly never uttered so much as a single ‘like’ since knowing each other. He was local though and prepared to meet up later that evening.

Gareth gave them a quick polish with some spittle and a tissue and threw them into a plastic carrier bag. When he arrived at the meeting place – the pub – Kelvin was already there.
“Hi,” said Gareth with a dry mouth, “it’s Kelvin, right?”
Kelvin stood up and hugged Gareth. “That’s right, how you been bud?”
“Yeah good,” he saw an almost full pint in front of Kelvin and decided now was a good time to ask, “can I get you a drink?”
“I’ve just grabbed one. Can I get you one?”
“Oh, gosh,” gushed Gareth, “really? Yes please.”

Gareth needed the money for the shoes if he was going to afford a pint for either of them. By the end of this drink the deal would have been done and he’d be off back home, slightly pissed and fifty big ones better off.

They sipped down their pints talking mostly shit with neither of them truly relaxing.
“You’re actually a big fella ain’t you,” Kelvin said, squeezing Gareth on the arm. “Fill that jacket well.”
“Yeah cheers,” said Gareth, “you’re pretty big yourself.”
“Like a pair of bloody wardrobes we are!”
“Cheers for the drink.”
“No probs. Such a lovely evening, wasn’t doing all that much anyway. We should grab a meal.”
“A meal? Yeah maybe.”
“Yeah let’s eat some food opposite each other, definitely. What do you eat?”
“Do you wanna quickly try these shoes on ?”
“I love anything egg-based me. I also love biryani, I love soosh, I love …”
“Let’s just see if they fit.”

* * * * *

It was fast approaching twat o’ clock and Gareth had already missed his chance to pretend he had to be elsewhere. The more drinks Kelvin treated him to the more he needed Kelvin to buy the shoes so he could, in turn, treat Kelvin to a drink.

“So these shoes,” exhaled Gareth, “let’s give them a try.”
Kelvin stood up – a big brick bastard of a big brick bastard – took off his bitten sneakers and slid his warm, damp socks into the brogues.
“They look fab” said Gareth, “have a little walk around.”
“They are SO comfortable!” Kelvin walked in circles on the carpet hand covering his open mouth in mock-shock, “UH-MAZING!”

Gareth smiled a rare real smile. He actually felt a little like crying. He knew he was good for something, maybe he could open his own clothing shop and just sell from home, continuing to avoid entering into the stomach-churning realms of real work. This was just the start, he could buy clothing cheap from Oxfam and steal odd pieces from the local clothes bins. Buzzing he was, head full of lofty ideas. He’ll always remember this night though where it all started.

Kelvin sat back down, red faced, slightly pissed and jolly from the buzz and attention of the shoes. “They’re really lovely them.”
“So good. You look great in them! So, the suggested price is £50. What would you pay?”
“They’re great, and so comfortable, but fifty smackers might be a little steep.”
“Okay, name your price.”
“If I’m honest they’re not really my style. Back in the day – definitely! Little punk Kelvin clomping around Camden Market yes please! Hah. But no, don’t think I can get away with shoes like this at my age…”
“I thought you’d seen these already on Facebook, no?”
“Yeah I had a brief look and I messaged you straight away.”
“But I guessed you liked them from the photo?”
“Yeah they’re lovely. Just not for me.”

Gareth was baffled, entirely baffled. He felt like telling this fat man to go fuck himself for wasting an evening he could have spent doing nothing by himself. Never meeting up with Facebook “friends” ever again. He looked over at Kelvin and he saw that his head was wilting towards the table.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
Kelvin slowly raised his head, it was stitched with veins.
“Tonight has been so special Gareth, I can’t thank you enough.”

Gareth couldn’t fathom any words. He was looking at his newest dream prolapsing before his very eyes. He didn’t know what to do with his face. Maybe selling clothing was a load of gash after all, he thought.

Kelvin moved his chair to beside his new friend. “You know what I’m going to do?” he said. “For being so special, I’m going to make you a badge. A badge for being my favourite person of the day. Ay, yeah?” He ripped off a corner from the paper menu and took out a blue crayon from his pocket. He drew a happy face in shaky lines and wrote: ‘Smiley Chops’.

“That’s great cheers,” said Gareth looking around to see if people were looking. He then plucked out a gift for Kelvin. It was his Mumford & Sons badge.
“Here, you have this.” He pinned it to Kelvin’s lapel and ruffled his hair.

“This is unreal,” Kelvin squeaked. “Badge brothers! I can just imagine us two, listening to ‘Little Lion Man’ around a crackling log fire on a close night in the middle of nowhere, having smokes and drinking some suds together. Free-dom! You’re so enjoyable to be around. Another drink?”

“How about some food?” said Gareth taking off his jacket and putting the shoes back into the plastic bag.