Help in troubled times

“… a load of postmodernist nonsense,” concludes Bluebeard, his hands flailing expressively. “And I was like, ‘You know what? What if you’re an onion? What if you just keep peeling away the layers, layer after layer, and you get to the centre and then realise, uh-oh, there’s nothing left? Why are you even here? If you’re going to take that line of thinking, you’re going to have to acknowledge that, actually, you probably don’t exist, you have no purpose whatsoever, and we’re not even having this conversation.'”

Once again, I seem to have found myself in the middle of an extremely bizarre conversation. Fortunately, with Bluebeard, it’s not especially necessary to participate in the conversation, and so I’m just listening dazedly, clutching my coffee cup, and occasionally glancing sideways at Billy and Selma for reassurance.

It’s just been that sort of day, really. I got about four hours of sleep last night, and when I woke up I found that the only coherent thought in my head was “ugh”. That’s it: just “ugh”. It wasn’t a particularly encouraging thought, and, in the hope that sharing it with a trusted friend would perhaps develop it somewhat (even just enough to encourage me to get out of bed and go to work), I texted Zed. “Ugh” said the text. I buried my head between two pillows and returned to my thought. I can always, always rely on Zed to say the right thing in a moment of despair. She texted back almost immediately. “Coffee helps.” said the text. I knew what I had to do.

Being decidedly low in supplies, the only coffee in my house at present is my emergency stash, which came from Lidl’s. In a solid block. Wrapped in gold foil. Today’s frame of mind and lack of any evidence of actually being human meant that such “coffee” simply would not suffice. I got dressed, scraped a few coins together, and drove to the nearest Caffeine Supply Stop.

“Ugh,” I said to the guy behind the counter, who had bloodshot eyes and appeared to be inhaling an espresso. “Ugh,” he replied, gruffly. It was a real meeting of minds. “Listen,” I said calmly, feeling my thought developing. “An Americano is the strongest thing I can get, here. But you need to put much, much more caffeine in it. A few more shots of espresso… actual whole coffee beans… I don’t care.” I looked pleadingly at him and smiled a rather desperate-looking smile. He nodded understandingly. “I’ll take care of it,” he said.

Not another word was spoken between us as he prepared my medicinal mixture. I’ve no idea what he did to that coffee, but I suspect it wasn’t strictly legal. He watched me as I took a sip, and nodded in a satisfied manner as I made an indescribable sound of relief. I paid him (I think) and floated dreamily out of the building.

So potent was the concoction, I have not yet come down from the high. When some friends called round to visit me tonight, therefore, I was understandably zoned out. Bluebeard’s hyperactive chattering delighted rather than frightened me; an insignificant comment about an apostrophe became a most enjoyable discussion on the subject of Proper Punctuation. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to sleep tonight: I’m yawning, yet my head is a buzzing maze of profound, radical thoughts.

However, there is no doubt in my mind as to where I am going to go when I get up in the morning.

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