Self-exorcism was tantamount to suicide, but Pick really had no choice. Unable to shake off the sounds, he allowed them to ring inside his head. Echoes garbed in bone. Meaning beyond what was actually heard – each blown-up ratchet of noise being a relentless ritual he could not escape. It was as if he were a child castigated for not forgetting the poem which had been learnt too painstakingly.
One way or another, Pick was determined to proved he existed. His girl often tried to comfort him by whispering sweet nothings in his ear. But, lacking the conviction of her actions, she failed to put her mouth where her words were. To Pick, she was a ghost pulling invisible shrouds around him like hissing silk. Pick’s youth, although never-ending at the time, was now too many years in the past. He still recalled, however, when he and his mates sneaked into the local flickering Fifties fleapit … with the assistance of Pick’s Uncle Bob which entailed releasing the ratchet bar from inside the emergency exit – to reveal, yes, an X Certificate film! A film for adults only! The blood began to race as the body took fire from the horror that stirred the brain. The forbidden nature of the activity was probably responsible for such excitement, rather than the prospect of the film itself but, whatever the case, Pick felt literally more alive … as if he were a vampire awaiting a friendly ghoul to release him from the confines of childhood’s tomb.
The mask was identical to the face Pick wore beneath it.
“Masks are intended to be uglier than your own face. No point otherwise – especially at a Hallowe’en party.”
I once said this to Pick with a tongue in my cheek, as I knew he knew I knew his real face was nothing to write home about – and it would probably scare strangers a rather shitty green – particularly those strangers of the gatecrasher persuasion.
It wasn’t Hallowe’en, in any event.
“OK, OK, joke’s over,” insisted Pick. “You’ll be laughing the other side of your own face before the evening’s finished.”