Teeth where fingernails should be
After finally tugging free the grease-stained pillow, he viciously grabbed, snatched and snapped at the remaining and equally fizzy baby wipes that were wedged into the top of the drainpipe. What the fuck was going on here? No complaint of leaks had been made in this part of the building, but he had felt compelled to investigate this almost hidden swamp-like gulley on the edge of the studio complex. Studio 21 was situated in the rear yard, and the blocked gutter only served this studio. In his frustration or just in anger, studio member 4 wanted to lay eyes on the probable culprit, or at least simply spy how the studio beneath looked. With tiny pebbles and tiny bones sticking into his palms, he slowly leaned onto the brittle yellowed corrugated plastic and peered down. This certainly was a squalid space. It was like looking down at the forgotten dirty glass beside your bed, half-drank, and clouded by soggy dust and etched fingerprints after a heavy night out months ago.
Studio member 4 scanned the greasy space for evidence connected to the blockage. But the dirty little grotto was still; its atmosphere looked and felt warm, and heavy, and ever so slightly expanding. The type of atmosphere that you would find in the concealed unisex toilet on the third floor of Islington central library. Recently visited, with that ‘just struggled’ closeness to the air. A toilet that you hang your arse three inches above and pray for the backs of your legs not to touch the warm seat and the paper shavings from the previous user’s strenuous crack rubbing. Underfoot, it would seem that a dirty peach carpet sat like topsoil, and was cluttered with fuzzy plates, crinkled cobalt bags and the odd seeping eggy samosa print on brown paper, half permeated and feeding this glowing crust. Mangled plastic garden chairs had toppled over and been wedged into corners, where piles of empty beer cans and velvety take-away boxes had help make the margins of this space rounded.
It is not a real studio. It is a lean-to, filled in with plasterboard. A kind of monstrous, unidentifiable cursed patch in the building. Part stomach, part Neolithic dream-cave, a place to store all of your bad habits. To screen the scratching, the wiping, the eggy farts, and the sweating. Its walls seem to hold no work, yet the walls themselves seem to be pebble dashed in a dense beige scum, made up from your archetypal painty sludge, pencil sharpening’s, bent staples and shredded toffee crisp wrappers. This lining is bruised and punctured due to its continual purpose to pass an Endless Pill, a token metallic nugget, tarnished and anarchic, that drops out as a singed pebble-idea. Its shell softly scratched and squeezed, gnashed, sucked and gnawed, eroded by a ceaseless cycle of teeth and intestines. Then scrubbed of its colours. Scrubbed by you, scrubbed by your parents, by your parent’s parents, by their parents. By the first ones who decided not to hunt but instead stay behind. Whose hairy little claws woke us up with their spots and spirals, and which scrabbled about in the darkness where from consciousness arguably crawled. This was indeed the lair of a restless franken-artist, feral and savage, and part of an unconscious, destructive and self-taught population which inhabit this sun-roofed Hutch-temple. The type of maker who leaves nothing out of the pot, pushing, slipping and sliding, everything and anything onto the heat. The type of painting that always goes badly. The type of studio where there’s always something burning. A mindless stubborn painting that walks round on all 4 stumps, with no hands and no feet, calling itself the sum of wrong things and carrying the slimy ideas that come with the kind of decisions that don’t see anything finished.
As he sprang upright, studio member 4 suddenly felt the corrugated plastic creaking and cracking beneath his hands. The floor had started to fidget; something was definitely in there. Piles of mess slipped and relocated, and a slowly moving set of limbs began to rise out of the debris, painfully stumbling to their feet. Revealing itself head first, the ears were chewed and its nose had whole parts sliced off. It was a ruinous creature, a box of dead parts which seemed slightly unbalanced and hosted that type of unstable frame that appears to have been rendered with the wiff of pubescent flab. In amazement, Studio member 4 watched as the creature awkwardly drifted towards the end wall of the studio, clumsily pushed down his threadbare Adidas Cooltech ¾ length trousers with one hand, squashed his genitalia up to a battered 1.5 l Evian bottle, and rapidly filled it up with the darkest colour piss you will ever see. When this almighty wee had finished, he proceeded to pull up his trousers (which had by now slipped to his ankles), screwed the lid back on the bottle, and on tip toes attempted to balance this little present on top of a very unreliable drooping mdf shelf, just above of his head. It was now apparent that this end of the studio was strewn with similar examples, it had become a vast depository of bloated and hissing glassy shapes, all filled with a similar, if not deeper, greenish yellow piss.
Studio member 4 had seen enough but he was too nervous to move in case the change of light would give away his unwholesome investigations. Exhausted, split and tired, the scale veneered humanoid turned 180 degrees, pushed his back to the chewy wall, and slid down into a cluttered terrain of cushioning bottles. It paused for a moment, its scaly wrists resting on top of its knees. The creature had one hell of a hangover, it was a real brutal thing. Irritated by the daylight and seeking relief, the creature lay his sweaty palms on its scaly face for refreshment and yawned a horrifying yawn. There certainly seemed now only one detail from today’s meeting that stood out more than anything else. Studio member 4 peered hard, and could see that where the creature’s fingernails should have been, there were shockingly teeth growing from the ends of his fingers. And subsequently, where the creature’s teeth once where, there was a series of dirty and splitting fingernails. The mooncalf kept on starring directly below the stunned man. Docile, yet with racing mind. Surrounded by a blind, spasmodic, studio boredom. Maintaining the clouded hung-over mutterings of a looping older type of brain. The grate in front of our sleep, our dark reptilian retreat. Waiting for something to change. Waiting for the brain to seep, slip and wiggle into a shimmering mercury night-time abyss.
We are scratching, scratching, we are scratching around the keyhole, it leaves a residue, and your hands smell of it now.