dillon marcus brooks

london is a lot
of people looking
busy, the same
sky as everywhere else
only smaller

‘different day, same old shit.’
‘not for me, man. i’m moving to africa tomorrow.’

i first meet dillon on an east-end street corner, where commercial spills out onto shoreditch high. i say first meet, but so far, in this life at least, this has been our only meeting. i don’t know why i decide to tell him what’s going on in my life, but i do. 

today’s my last day here, i say. and not just london – everywhere, everything. the uk, the van, my plans out the window. life as i know it. from now on it’s just me and my monkey, check-in, carry-on. i’m a saintly latter-day beat poet, a modern-day migratory monk about to hit the road (jack), with my backpack and a laptop, an electric toothbrush, and a stubbornly unmanoeverable suitcase full of comically unsuitable cold-weather clothing, two shoeboxes of art supplies, and a dismembered skateboard. 

but that’s later. let’s go back a bit. i’ve spent the day so far in and around brick lane, generally ogling, drooling over, documenting, and in my own small way, augmenting the magnificent, joyful, frabjous, and fabulous uppasted artwork of the london international paste up festival, and getting truly fucking stoned, two minutes walk away, in allen gardens. 

i’m sitting cross-legged on parched baking-paper grass, watching a couple of guys paint a piece on the barbed-wire brick wall ahead of me. around me, standard parklife shit – children playing, parents chasing, and sick-day professionals in picnic circles, comfortably slumped, chatting shit, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and weed, and generally making the most of the wonderful weather.

today, of all days, has been something of a meteorological miracle – one of those unseasonably sunny late-september indian-summer stunners that london does better (and i’m out on a limb here, but fuck it) than anywhere else.

and as my last languid afternoon on earth drifts along lazily, luxuriantly, like bubbles in a bath, it begins to take on this deliciously hazy, honey-coated flavour. it’s both a taste and a texture, and a colour, and above all, a mood. i feel really fucking good. i finish my joint. i remember how wildly improbable it is to be born in this world where drugs grow out of the fucking ground. where a band called the beatles wrote a song called because. where dinosaurs happened, and where films about dinosaurs happened, sixty-five million years later. i decide to walk. i’ve got nothing to do, and nowhere to be, and i navigate accordingly. 

thus it is, wandering randomly around sun-kissed shoreditch, blissfully stoned, i meet my man d. 

dillon, that is, or mr brooks, is a homeless heroin addict who’s been sleeping rough for some time, somewhere in the east end. he looks it too. maybe my age, it’s hard to tell. black, with messy dreads. skinny, i’d guess, under all those layers. i’ve got my headphones in, but somehow and for some reason i catch his attention, or he catches mine, and he crosses the street to talk to me.

he says hi and what’s up?  i say not much and you? and that’s where the story should end, does end, after the smallest of small talk, his pathetic request, and my polite but impersonal apologies. you’ve heard this one before. sorry, but i don’t have any change. that’s what happens. but also what happens, at that exact moment, is that this reality, my reality, like the most unreliable of unreliable narrators, gets its straight story badly bent. and so not knowing why, i decide to tell him what’s going on in my life.

‘do you get me?’
‘i get you.’ 

i don’t have cash, i say, but we could go to a cash machine. so off we go. he talks non-stop. non-fucking-stop. no paragraph breaks. like a hydroponically powered professional pontificator. preachifying. speechfying. it’s unlike anything i’ve ever heard in my life, except in movies. it’s unprecedented, he’s unprecedented. my life so far has not prepared me for a person such as he. he talks like i walk. he’s a walking, talking ipsum lorem machine. a literary genius in a language i only half understand. a mad scientist on a heroic dose of hallucinogens rewriting finnegans wake on the fly. like a character in a burroughs novel. or perhaps, as i think to myself at the time, like how naked lunch would talk, if it was a character.

listening to his labyrinthine stream-of-consciousness monologue is like slipping in and out of some liminal state, waking up from one dream into another, and another, and another. if one sentence makes sense then the next is random word association. am i just really stoned, i wonder, or is this actually happening? 

he sees significance in everything. our meeting, our words. symbols. signs. or so he says.

he stops. 

‘where the fuck are we going?’ 
‘i have no fucking clue. i was following you.’

we’re both following each other to nowhere in particular. 

i’ve got problems i say, i’m depressed. i don’t know what to do with my life. he tells me about living on the street, about being an addict, about nearly freezing to death. shit, i say. shit. what else can i say? i’ve got problems, but man, perspective is mother fucker. somehow, despite his shit situation, he’s not given up hope. i’m lucky; he’s not. 

he gives me advice. do this, do that. it’s all so simple. stop fucking around. get married, he says. and buy two scratchcards, soon as you get there. the universe loves a love story. you’ll win 100k plus. plus. his emphasis. 

i ask him what he’d do with the money, if he won it. clothes, mostly. 

‘everything prada and louis. but shoes only.’
‘just a shitload of shoes?’
‘and primark boxers.’

now he’s talking about his bad luck. born under a bad sign, he says, like in the song. all because of his name, he says. dillon marcus brooks. six six six. the devil in disguise. i get him to spell it out. 

in my stoned, suggestible haze i begin to wonder if i’m talking to the actual devil. you know, the dark lord. mephistopheles. not because he seems like a bad guy. but i’ve been attempting to sell my soul for some time now, without any luck. maybe this is my moment. and he keeps telling me about signs. six six six, he says. you get me? he says. the whole thing drips with deadly significance. like the universe is poking me with a big stick. 

and then just like that we’re back where we started. five minutes ago? fifteen? i have no idea. i tell him i’ll come find him, sort him some shoes, and boxers, after my scratchcard win. i’ll leave a sign, i say, something he’ll recognise. we’re both experienced.

the entire episode has this weird, third-person, out-of-body unreality to it. it’s dreamlike. liminal. i’m just one more badly drawn character in one more weedy daydreamy fiction, and he’s just a figment, or a fragment, of my overactive imagination.

i’m ten quid lighter but it feels like more. in fact, i feel such a lightness of being that i might just lift off the ground and float away. instead, i continue where i left off. with my feet on the floor. i walk.