Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London in 1971 and spent the next thirty years trying to escape. He now lives in Brighton and has been trying to escape here since about 2008. He has won a few local competitions, has been published widely online and recently completed his debut novel DIVE. He will setting off on his first tour in January 2015 taking in the southern part of the USA. If you want to let him stay or come and read some poems near you then contact him via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bradfordmiddleton1
GOD, THE DEVIL & A FOREST OF WEED
The Devil was sat down in Hell; he was smoking on a huge bong, relaxed, chilled about his impending dominance up on Earth. In heaven God had gone to seed, he sat drinking beer whilst watching re-runs of Sons & Daughters on his old TV set.
“What can I do about that boy? He’s sending humanity to damnation. Doesn’t he understand any of the obvious signals I’m sending him, is he always stoned?”
Down on Earth from God’s not so lofty position Jack was sat in his flat. He felt as if his years of annihilating brain-cells in the name of art were finally beginning to pay off. He hated them all and he was sure of his own genius. A broad smile developed across his face as he exhaled another huge toke on the joint.
“He’s at it again,” God proclaimed, well more implored as he worked another beer bottle open. It took all his efforts; this omnipotence lark was a real drain on his sleeping pattern. It seemed there was always someone somewhere he needed to help; it had been centuries since he’d got a good night’s sleep. Right now he would do anything for just six good hours. He peered down at Jack before sitting back; disgusted so much he drained half his bottle.
Down in Hell the Devil was laughing to himself, he was very stoned and watching Kenneth Anger’s ‘Scorpio Rising’ movie on his brand new reel to reel tape.
Jack was down on Earth wondering what would happen. He felt as if he was on the verge of some major RD Laing inspired change. He had been stoned now pretty much constantly since the age of twenty-five. That was now nearly twenty years ago, before that he’d pumped more chemicals in to his body than most people would allow anyone to take and remain part of normal, mainstream society. His life was doomed, he still had, maybe he hoped, twenty years. He knew another winter in his current flat would almost certainly kill him for good, leaving behind only bills, rent, records, books and films. Besides these things Jack didn’t open much, it had been a hard life and in his later years he had re-gained a good thirst for booze. It didn’t matter what it was if it was free he could afford it.
He concluded that the best way forward would be to roll another joint. Twenty minutes later Jack was out of his mind. He was sat in his armchair, his head was spinning around and spit was coming from his mouth at irregular intervals. If he could have seen himself or even been aware of what was going on he would have known this was the moment. This was the change.
“That boy has sacrificed so much for me and look, look what I’ve done to him.”
Jack is vacuuming his room’s floor desperate to catch all the bugs his addled brain is sure are there. Hundreds if not thousands of the little fuckers, they were everywhere. It took a few hours until he’d vacuumed through to the floorboards that he was satisfied they had been obliterated. Exhausted he fell to sleep with ease.
That night in Heaven God was experiencing something unexpected; he became aware of himself craving something to take his mind off all the trouble he was in. It had all been going so well until about twenty years ago when his son had decided to side with The Devil. He was to be the drug courier, it was meant to be a great job resulting in great wealth and influence but it hadn’t really worked out that way for Jack. He’d ended up spending a life in run-down rented rooms with no hope of the big pay-off ever coming. He would always smoke the majority of his stash. From Heaven God struggled to exert any influence over his stoned son and now needed his attention more than ever.
When Jack had woke up the next morning he went to his kettle and brewed some tea. With his tea made up he moved over to his armchair where he pulled a bud of the latest shipment. He rolled it into a neat blunt and proceeded to smoke it down.
“My Son,” God announced to a freaked-out Jack as he materialised before him.
“What the fuck!”
“I’ve told you about your language before Jack, now please will you listen to me?”
“Who the hell are you?”
“Son, it is me… your father, God.”
“You ain’t my Dad,” Jack said pulling another bud from his forest of weed and rolling it into another neat blunt.
“That’s it, that’s what I want” God said.
“What, this thing? What’s an old man like you wanting with something like this?”
“I need to forget my Son, I’ve really messed up and need to just forget what a mess I’ve made of everything. You, this planet, your species, why haven’t you listened to me?”
Jack ignored him and sparked the blunt. “It could have been so different if you’d put your life towards something good” God continued pleading still to deaf ears.
‘This is it Jack’. Jack heard a voice from deep inside him place this thought in his mind. A broad grin appeared across his face as he turned his attention to the old man sat in front of him. For the next two hours Jack asked questions that only his father or God could know. Jack knew God existed. It would be an impossibility that just the Devil would exist without a God to fight with.
“So my Son, will you do one last thing for me before I shuffle off up to Heaven. I promise if you do this thing you will never hear from me again.”
“Yeah OK, what you want?”
“I want your latest shipment. I want it all” God said.
“How much are you going to give me for it?”
“I’ll give you whatever you want, anything at all.”
Jack’s mind rewound to a place he’d seen back in his young days. It was a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California.
“I’ll have that and ten million dollars.”
“OK, it’s yours. Would you like to go there now?”
“Sure,” Jack concurred, “let’s go now.”
Moments later Jack was stood in the living room of his new place. It was ten times the size of his old room and through the doors he could see the ocean and his own private Jacuzzi. He walked around his new home. There was a room just full of money and another full of his own possessions, all those books, records and films. He found the phone and dialled the Devil’s number.
“Hey Satan, how’s it going?”
“Good Jack, how’s you?”
“Just sold the whole shipment to God and he got me a new home too. It’s my dream home. I want you to send me enough to last the rest of my life and that’s it for me. I want to quit as your courier.”
The Devil could not believe what he heard. “You sold some weed to God?”
“Yeah, he knows he’s lost. He was looking a right mess. He told me all he does is drink beer and watch old soaps on his TV.”
“Excellent. Then Jack our job is done. I will pay you well.”
Jack turned to see another bedroom door materialise in front of him. It started to throb as the new room became full of weed. Jack grabbed a leaf, rolled a new joint and walked out on to his patio. He looked out at the sea as he sparked it to life.
‘Now,’ he thought, ‘this is the life I’ve always deserved.’
In Heaven, God got to roll his first ever joint and by midnight he was sitting side by side with the Devil. They were listening to the Beach Boys play Charlie Manson songs and they knew that it was now pointless to continue their fight.