Ant Smith

All stories

Raising the roof

I had always wished that something great would happen to me. To me, at me, in me, or with me. I wasn't overly fussed. I just wanted to be brushed by the greatness I felt I must be owed. I guess that sounds a little naff, which is why it is something I don't say out loud. So very often.

But you know how it is. You were never one of the kids who would hang out on the street playing rounders with the gang. You were never quite applied quite enough, to quiet play leader board in the school chess club. You were neither that, nor never quite this. And it has never been, them and us, but rather them, and them, and me.

I didn't settle for a job in an office, envious of window seats and fans - at least, not immediately. And even when I did it was okay because it was always different for me. And although I've done it for twenty odd years, I'd never converted it into a career. Except for once, almost by accident. I'd behaved like a cunt, like I ever do. But she was there to remind me, to help me to re-ground me. As she ever is.

At some point, I had fallen in love. And I knew it was real for I'd never seen it coming. It's just that one day I saw her in trouble and I fought the mountain to be by her side with a strength and a ferocity that I'd only had before in cartoon style self portraits - not in any sense, could I ever have believed, might really ever have, ever been, ever really real. This was new to me. New and strange. These things I'd always believed were true, but always believed were far too much to touch, had all of a sudden, suddenly touched, me. Love, courage, strength, all of a sudden I was some kind of a man. She makes me bloom, so it seems.

It is never quite as dramatic in the living as in the telling, what life ever is? I could talk about wiping clouds from my eyes in the highest of the high Andes. Or of dodging bullets in backroom clubs in the darkened alleys of India's Chandigarh. Or of escaping horny rhinos at mating time. None quite as dramatic in the living as in the telling. But I have been touched by awe. And I have been touched by fear. Is it a wonder I'm waiting to feel greatness massage not just my ego but also my id? I fear, I am going to be terribly well admired, one of these days.

Such a curse, having to live up to a rep you don't yet get. But you can't dream that Greece may yet be free, not these days. Not without about 300 billion Euros to buy them out of gaol. And however much we love the fall or how high we love to raise the roof; it is hard to be a hero in this world, in this truth. What is a writer without that, without heroic acts, typically a booze hound, a fey and wanton whore? Or a bookworm, a tedious grey and uninspired bore. Who'd choose that? But there aint no way I'm going to go to god forsaken Afghanistan to fight either with or against the Taliban. There is no longer glory in liberating man from man. My heroes all got it wrong, but I mean, thank fuck. Imagine if you'd had to follow in the steps of giants, if the best you could do was to arrive in another's Nirvana along a path well trod. But for all of that, you're left wondering, where are today's heroic acts?

So in the interim, when I should be writing or living nobly, earning my stripes as the unnamed man, instead I write up a sizeable bohemian beautiful tab at another faded-to-be-fabled Formica faced bar. Flirting with the city in his or her night clothes, whatever side of the road you chose to walk. Feeling formidable. Feeling that the world will bend to your will, because you will, write it so. Yet for all of my thinking, for all of my smarts, for all of the fights in the past I have won, I'm just some guy, sometimes, stumbling in the dark. There are some bullets you don't dodge. Somewhere in the midst of these kinds of musings I'm aware I'm no longer alone. The vulture has come. My thoughts have created a creature in me; made me myself some Prometheus. For a moment I am bound, transfixed by this unlikeliest of things. A thief's hands touching, rolling, probing, groping - at me. Fingers under ribs, thumbs brushing nipples. You can't be touched like that without some sense of sex, he's a dirty bastard, the kind who'd finger frot the frenulum of a fucking dog ' if someone said there was a pound in it. And all at once it is done. He is gone and I am robbed.

Of course I don't I can't leave it there. I won't be bound by one life or another. I won't live in fear in a case of them and me, but rather of them and them and us. And if in over-reaching so I get knocked down then I'll get up. And therefore so to find some small heroic act. Just to live my life unbound and to raise high the roof beam