It's great when you've got something about you that no one else would ever believe. Not unless you showed them. Like a secret super power or some such. But not really. Not as naff as that. Nothing that means no great responsibility or nothing. Just, something you wouldn't never have imagined. I've got this one mate, Trev. He can regurgitate a whole pint of lager out of his nose. Untouched. If he drinks it down all at once and then kind of hiccup-belches, it'll just coming streaming out. Straight back into the glass. Untouched. He did the same pint six times once. Then left it on the table for the minesweepers. 'Party piece' you might call it. You know. Everyone says 'no way' and starts wanting to bet things like money or the borrow of a hat. A special hat. Like maybes Jay's Pith helmet. Then as you do it you hear them cooing and saying things like 'ooh' and 'ahh' and 'come on my son'. Even though you're not really nobody's son to speak of. And when you've done it, you're like this hero, this folk legend for a minute. Yeah. It's great when you've got a real proper party piece.
I wanted one for like forever. You'd try making them up and practicing at them. But they usually turned out to be crap. Something nobody ever really wanted to see. Or something anyone could do if'n they were, desperate enough. This one fat lad, he could could strike matches on his teeth. He thought it looked cool but he always had these puffy white pussy blisters on his lips and the girls never wanted to kiss him. What's the point of a party piece that doesn't make the girls want to kiss you? Or doesn't get you the loan of a hat? And anyway we all of us always had lighters then. Or if we didn't it didn't matter because we never had that many fags. Or things that needed setting fire to.
I grew up all my life wishing I had my own special private party piece. Something I'd only ever show the closest of friends, and only after they'd been sworn to the greatest of secrecies. Or girls. Something that'd make the girls make sounds like 'ooh' and 'ahh'. And would make them want to kiss me.
It wasn't until I was like nearly twenty before I found it. And I didn't even realise I had it at first. But I do now. As I stand right here at the very edge. With everyone looking on. In that quiet moment before you begin. Nobody quite believing it as yet. Some wanting to, but no one convinced it can happen - except your own very self. And even then. You're never really totally sure. That it won't go wrong this time. Not until after. Not until you hear the cooing and feel the kisses. So you stand there, at the very edge. In the bullying silence. Commanding them all, commanding the very world to doubt you. While you're busy doubting yourself. It's a delicious moment for the more you doubt it. The more you expect to fail. The more you know you're going to try anyway.
And just before the tension breaks and the giggling starts and folk begin to drift away you let yourself get swallowed up by all of the doubt and you do it. Or try to.
He was supposed to have been sworn to the greatest of secrecies. The little runt. But I guess I was the same, before. When I was nothing, when I had nothing. You'd kind of cling on. Kind of try to be special by proxy I guess. I know I'd done the same. Trev's nose must have flushed more pints thanks to my boasting than he's ever even pissed out of his cock.
"Aidy can fly!" He'd blurted out.
Nobody wanted to see Trev's thing that night. It was like they were getting board of it. 'Waste of good booze' someone had said. It was like they were already tired of life itself. In the same way most folk round here were. Except for me. Now that I had my thing.
He wasn't totally right though. It wasn't exactly flying. You'd haveta be kinda dumb to believe a man can fly. It's not like this is the eighties or anything. But I could take unfeasibly long steps. Strides that is. 1 meter. 2 meters. 3 and 4. And once even 6.5 whole meters. I know that because that's the width of the road and once I'd found my stride I could bound across it in a single step.
But it isn't flying. It's just kind of careful falling. A slow careful free fall. You kind of lean forward a bit and let your step fall into place really, really slowly. The trick is to make sure the earth's rolling away from you at about the same speed that you're falling into it. It sounds kind of hard but you don't have to think too much about it. It's not like you're trying to fly or anything. You're just getting into your stride. Hell, even kangaroos can do it.
So that's how we find ourselves huddled against the wind up here on the roof in a deadly deathly silence.
"It's too far" she'd said and I'd laughed.
That's what I like about her. How she never pushes you. Whatever you do is just enough to tantalise and delight her. It's like she's the very opposite of everybody else. Kind and sweet and loving and caring. And alone. Always on her own. Especially in a crowd like this. Mary-Lou-Ann, the girl with three names and two hyphens. I don't know how long I'd loved her exactly.
The news men'll probably work that out in one of their psychological profiles. "When it first went wrong" talking about my three legged cat or my obsession with moths or my early teenage habit of wanking in bandstands. Or some such shit. But I guess I did love her. The unfathomable, unknowable, unreachable Mary-Lou-Ann.
"Don't worry," I say with a bravado only the living possess, "I'll be right back to collect on those kisses I'm owed".
"And not to forget a borrow on Jay's hat", she adds while I'm stepping back to get my pacing right.
"How's about just a little peck on account?" I shout over. And for a moment she locks eyes with me silently saying 'when you come back to me'. Setting my heart alight. And with that I set off. Building up my pace. About to show all of the doubters, all of the world, all of my very self that I have it. That in some way, real or imagined. That in some moment, in someone's heart at least. Not that I can fly. But that I am somehow, someone special.
And the squeak of converse rubber on rain wet ledge echoes in my ears for just too long.