So Long Johnny

            Johnny was the kind of guy who'd get you in a headlock then playfully twist and grind his knuckles deep down into the top of your head so that it hurt like hell. Or, he'd put his palms against your ears, push in until your world went silent, then lift you six inches off the ground. At lunchtime he'd twist your arm far up behind your back and walk you around the playground like one of those machines which paint the white lines on a football pitch. And on the school coach, as you sat quietly looking out the window, he'd suddenly elbow you in the thigh, screaming “Dead Leg Time!” laughing, knowing he'd rendered you lame for five minutes. On Saturday mornings he'd knock on your door and greet you with a headbutt that'd burst your nose open. He'd invite himself in, throwing darts at your bare feet while chanting “Dance! Dance! Dance!” Out in the street a pair of strung together boxing gloves would land your way and before you'd even had chance to untie them he'd be about you, a flurry of punches busting your face up good; Johnny dancing around with his arms raised, singing “Champ! Champ! Champ!” In the school yard he'd lead you over to a group of girls, promising you a share of the spoils, then the moment you made your presence known he'd suddenly knee you in the bollocks, laughing as you went to ground. Through watery pain seared eyes you'd watch him walking off with all three girls – an ugly deformed kind of a boy, skinhead, big ears, bleached Levi jeans, brown Bomber jacket and white bouncy sports trainers. From behind you'd fantasize about clumping him around the head with a solid lump of wood, but never did dare due to an irrational fear that he'd only get crazier still. In the front yard, summer time, sitting on granite coloured bins, he'd talk about becoming blood brothers and when you agreed he'd pull his pen-knife across your upper arm and an ugly weeping mouth would open in your skin. He didn't want to be blood brothers; he just wanted a valid reason to stab you. What a boy Johnny was, and what a CV he had:

Johhny Merryfield. Born 1974, Bellshill, Scotland

1983       : Moved to London
1984-85 : Sherbrooke School (Best fighter)
1986-88 : Henry Compton School (Best lower year Fighter)
1988-89 : Elliot School (2nd best Fighter)
1990       : Expelled for pulling a knife on PE teacher.
                 Became a Chelsea Headhunter
                 Multiple petty arrests (violent conduct; vandalism, etc)
1991-93  : Hardcore Football Hooligan
1993       : Known Heavy Criminal.
1994       : Knightsbridge Crown Court - GBH. Guilty
1994-96 : Wandsworth prison
1996-98 : Crack addict
1998       : Arrested and charged with murder
1998       : Knightsbridge Crown Court – Murder – Case thrown out,
                  insufficient evidence
-2002      : Multiple arrests (theft; robbery; handling stolen goods; 
                   benefit fraud, etc)
                   Heroin & Crack addict

Oh how I hated Johnny Merryfield. How relieved I was when my own family imploded and split up and we finally moved away. Over the years catching sight of him from a distance every now and again – bouncing down Edgware Road with a black eye and stitches in his cheek; leaving a bar in Chelsea with an unconscious girl strewn over his shoulder; running out of Dixons with a laptop under his arm and tattoos up his neck; looking at knives in the window of the Army Surplus store; getting on the No.11 bus with a bandaged right hand; gripping someone up by the neck and screaming on Goldhawk Road. Then fifteen years after having moved away, of hearing his antics filter through via old friends and newsaper clippings, there I am scoring heroin with him in Donnelly Court. No teeth. Face full of scars. Thin as bones. Broken nose. Walking cane. Shaking hands. Begging and crying for me to lend him two quid so as he could get a rock of white as well. Johnny Merryfield – The bully bullied by life. Scary-no-more. Lifted six inches off the ground by crack cocaine; arm twisted tight behind his back by heroin; brought to his knees, and if I'd have taken out my cock and said “Suck that, Champ! Dance! Dance!.” he would have done it. I gave Johnny five pounds and he seemed confused. It was more than he needed and I owed him nothing, Johnny scored and then quickly hobbled away. I watched him leave. He wore the same bleached denim trousers, only now dirty, out of fashion and an inch too short. His trainers were almost the same, only now a cheap unnamed market version with the back sole flapping off.
“Take care Johnny!” I called as he hobbled away. “And watch out for those Compton boys!”. Johnny didn't look back, just held a clenched hand in the air, like the old communist workers raised fist of solidarity. Not that Johnny was a communist or gave a fuck about things like solidarity, his fist was clenched because it held his rocks, I know, I was clutching mine in exactly the same way. I raised my clenched fist too. “So long, Brother,” it meant,  “I'm glad you are as you are.”  And I never saw nor heard of Johnny again.


A full Memoirs post will follow shortly...

Thoughts as Ever, Shane. X


Anonymous said...

The only cunts worse than these types are the shits who thought they were way better than you growing up , and when the smack takes hold your their long lost friend .Another great post Shane Cheers Anthony ,Australia .

John said...

Been away for a bit, but still reading, still enjoying;

I've a few updates to post, but despite various issues with homelessness and the police, I'm back working, back earning, back living, and, oddly, not scoring...

Keep well Shane, back soon, no doubt...

dirtycowgirl said...

As always a gem worth waiting for :)

Stacy said...

wonderful post, shane! hope all is well...XXX, stacy

JoeM said...

You really should hate the Scots.

“I'm glad you are as you are.”

Hmm. Tres ambiguous.

Sheena Easton was born in Bellshill too. I was at school with a friend of hers. Apparently she did quite well for herself.

Then again, so did Whitney Houston. And look what happened to her.

Angelo said...

Great post as always.

Sailor said...

It's like the popular/feared girls at my school who smoked first and wore the most makeup and fucked first.. They're the ones I always see screeching at their 7 kids in Asda when I go home, looking slightly overweight and 25 going on 50.

I'm travelling from New Cross to Hackney to score at the moment, every 3 days. It's keeping my habit down but bloody annoying in the freezing cold, especially when I have to wait an hour. I love that purposeful walk home though, sweaty bags in fist, jammed in pocket. Makes it all worthwhile.

Have you listened to those TV Personalities songs yet? You'll like him I promise, you can laugh while you cry.

Great post, CV was brilliant. I'll probably read it again later, it's 5 in the morning right now.
S xx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Anthony, I try not to think of children and how they were in terms of good or bad, etc. From what I saw, from where I was from, we were all mostly escaping our homes or doing the opposite - forging our place within it. I think Johnny beat on people as an escape and a release from his own troubles and though it's not nice, and though these kids are shits, there's still something innocent about it and not inherently mean or evil. At the time I hated him... he made my life hell for a couple of years, but I was a kid too and could only see what was in front of me and not how it got to be that way. I always try to understand rather than condemn, and normally there is some understanding to be had. In other ways I was ten times more of a shit than Johnny. I think if my neighbours had a choice of what kid they'd prefer to stay they would have all chose Johnny... he didn't jump on their cars, smash their windows, put dog shit through their letter boxes or laugh when their dog or loved one died. I was far from innocent myself. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ya John, well if scoring led to the police and homelessness it's not really that odd that you've stopped; I'd have done the same. It would have been much odder to carry on. I've always tried hard to make smack work.. to make anything I do work. I've a pride that won't allow me to descend past a certain level, and I can go far to get heroin but never so far where I lose all trace of myself within it. I just can't get down on my knees... it feels like defeat - physical and intellectual defeat.

Glad to see you back around... Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey DCG, this wasn't the planned post... that one's a little longer and will be the real gem. It starts like this:

There's been a murder. A young girl. And now I can't sleep.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Stacy, I'm fine thanks... My heart and lungs are black but that's due to the life I've lived and not the person I am. Hope all's well your side... Shane. XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Salut Joe,

Oui, intentionnellement très ambiguous... though I'll clear that up now: I was glad he was in such a dismal state, that he had arrived at that point. Giving him that £5 was like giving him back all the punches and kicks and meanness... kinda exorcised his image from my mind. Up until then I'd still look out for him and avoid him... I'd even see his features in other people and instantly be wary of them. Finally it seemed like because of the beatings he'd given me over the years that he'd made me stronger than himself. That's what happens if you keep punching someone... it finally arrives that they can no longer feel it. That's probably why S&M sex starts of with clothes pegs and candle wax and ends years later with bear traps and dynamite (or is that just me?)


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

PS: I can't hate the Scots, and have even stopped trying now.

PPS: Poor Whitney, seems 2012 saw her reunite with the crack-pipe. How she changed though.... she was so, so beautiful in the late eighties and five years later she looked like a deranged gospel version of Babs.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Thanks Angelo... You take Care.. XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey sailor, I've hardly been scoring these past two months.... Only seen my dealer four times. Not out of any desire to have a break just so pissed off shooting ten grams of smack in an evening and getting nothing but a pressurized head, sweats, and intermittent feelings like I've had a dirty hit. God it's so easy in London....people just wouldn't believe the difference over here, or what is being sold as junk. i need to write a documentary kind of post, put it on record just what teh differences are between heroin and heroin addiction between France and the UK.

Oh I know the TV Personalities... they're/he's really brilliant. Nikki Sudden covered one of their songs, though I can't quite recall which one. Dan Treacy/Nikki Sudden... neither one a stranger to the spike.


Chef Green said...

What an odd reunion, perhaps its something that you needed to see. An odd type of closure.

Your story puts me in mind of some of the strange things and weird relationships I've come across in the trade myself.

I look forward to your next post-your little teaser about murder has me chomping at the bit.

Be well and best wishes

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, you are one hell of a great writer. Keep clean and enjoy your talent. Norm

Anonymous said...

Shane have you tried silk road for your supplies ? A resourceful chap like your self could make that work .

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Anon Silk Road,

No... not the Silk Road you refer to. It's kinda like the worst kept secret on the net and it won't last long. It's also set up more for recreational users - the price, the wait, the fucking around with virtual money, etc. But putting all that aside it relies on the postal service and the postal service is terribly unreliable and drug addicts need something 1000% certain - one or two days late doesn't work for heroin addicts. So I'd possibly use it as a novelty if I took any other drugs (which I don't) but for heroin it's a no-go and as I said earlier if you and I know of it then so does evryone from the CIA to Interpol to the postman (who may have a taste of a few substances himself). So I don't think it's for smack addicts, but I'd probably give it a go if I was a reclusive 15 year old pot smoker with agoraphobia and a complex about coming into contact with any other human-being other than his mum. When drugs can be emailed through is when I'd go for it (or when you pay online and meet someone arrives at your door fifteen minutes later: fast food and even faster drugs... that's me. X

Anonymous said...

Your right Shane about Silk Road , but shit we just have to take a chance sometimes , We as a group make heaps of dumb decisions & sometimes we get lucky . Cheers .ps door to door if we could only get it to work on time .

karl said...

Johnny, What a wanker !
Bad things happen to bad people, then again so do bad things happen to good people.
Johnny's deeds will some day catch up with him, if they already haven't. It seems every school has a character like him & yes you're right in most cases they're just acting out what they have to put up with at home, he probably didn't stand a chance! But as we all know people who are abused don't all ends up becoming abusers.
Great post anyway.
All the best Karl

Wildernesschic said...

Wow.. wonderful piece.. there is a certain delicious satisfaction in seeing your demon demoralised .. but also a sadness. I am glad you gave him the fiver.. it makes you all the more the hero.. Love Ruth xx

Anonymous said...

I have literally spent the entire weekend reading your blog that I somehow stumbled upon.

Although I do not share many experiences with you (ie; I had regular hum drum childhood, I am not an addict, etc), I feel through your readings, that I can understand and somewhat feel your experiences. Your stories have made me sad, terrified, much more aware, and as a result, I will probably more compassionate to others in your situation and give some thought as to what may have led up to their problems. You truly are a beautiful writer and I hope that we hear more from you in the future.

Kerri in Canada

ps: with such a tumultuous childhood, I do wonder how you became so articulate and well written? Is this something that you were naturally gifted with from the beginning or has it been a struggle for you to compile these things? Do you have a proof reader?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Kerri and thanks for your words.

Oh, I've always written and from the age of 8 or so teachers we're speaking of me as a future writer. Sure, I had a disturbed childhood and my schooling was badly affected and then cut short by it, but the written word has always been important to me (mostly because of how verbally shy i've always been). It was that shyness and a desperate need to articulate and express my thoughts which gave my writing a sense of urgency. But the real skill is not a technical thing, but rather a wild poetry and manner of expressing oneself which is quite natural and a talent one is born with. Concerning the more technical side, grammar...structure... etc. No it's not difficult (just a chore) and no, neither do I have anyone but myself proof read my texts. But actually, even if my grammar is of an acceptable standard, me like most writers could improve with the help of a decent editor giving advice and proof reading etc. That's actually another art and not really the work of the writer. You'll notice that even the true great writers pass through an editor and he/she is actually a very important cog in getting the book from the writer to the public.

OK, Kerri... that's my lot... all my thoughts and wishes, Shane. X

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