I remember walking home from the Overground station at midnight, having successfully forgotten the confusing events of the afternoon – all that shouting. I was calm until I walked round the driveway blockade-gate that's never open, and looked up at the bricked cube of former housing estate that I've called my home for over a year. I walked past the bins, and felt my chest tighten. Andy had my laptop when I left the house at six. I'd given him the keys to the kingdom. “Yeah sure Andy, you can use my laptop unsupervised while I'm out of the house, do you want some reading glasses so you don't have to strain while you digest the brutal summary of your entire life I've been compiling in secret for the past month? A glass of milk maybe?”
I walked up the stairs in a panic, trying to dismiss my fear as entry-level paranoia, and realising I needed to pee.
Whoops! Used the wrong key! Silly, they all look so similar don't they, all of these two keys I have. Let's try the other... oh! That one doesn't work either. How fun! Maybe I didn't turn the first one right? Nope, doesn't even go in the lock at all! Not even the TIP! WELL WE ARE HAVING FUN AREN'T WE?!
I'm not very good at panicking, I think I have a very resigned personality. Whenever things happen that I wish wouldn't have, rather than getting outwardly angry or upset, I just sort of groan and roll my eyes. I'm constantly expecting disaster, and I'd be ready for it if it would just stop coming when I'm in the middle of something.
At this point, after having tried both keys in the lock a few times, here's what was going through my head: “Okay, Andy has gone through my laptop and read these stories, that's happened. He's flipped out, thrown all of my everythings in a bin, and is waiting behind the door for me to try and get in so he can kill me and sell my organs for Mexico Money.” I was acutely aware of imminent danger.
I went down the stairs and checked the bins outside, no sign of my stuff. I went round the other side of the building, and remembering a few desperate evenings in the past year when I'd had to scale the outside of the building via the drainpipe leading up to our first-storey balcony, I dropped my bag on the grass, and got to scaling. I'd played football that night and was sore as hell, and tired, and still scenarios ran amok in my brain: Andy's sidekick Michael would maybe be waiting inside the house for me to do exactly this. He'd lead me outside again with his creepy smile like a slimy carrot on a greasy stick, and lock the balcony door behind me. Andy would take my unattended bag from the grass downstairs. I wasn't sure whether they'd have planned the manoeuvre, or if they'd just rely on hunter's intuition to pull it off, but I pressed on, ignoring my instincts. I just wanted this whole thing to play out so I could find a park bench somewhere and start my new life as a homeless man with some well earned sleep. Freedom from paranoia.
Onto the balcony, into the house, all the lights on, no one home. All my stuff still in my room, nothing on fire. Kitchen still dirty. Eerily quiet. Letters on the floor. Rubbish in bags outside Andy's room, just like always. Look left into room, push door open – latch was broken, he'd taken to shutting it by propping a chair up against it from the inside. Or towels. Door swung open easily. Empty room. Stripped bare. And my laptop? Gone.
Now I'm thinking maybe he's read everything, but didn't have the heart to burn all my stuff. He's just taken everything of his, and my laptop as penance for my sins, and I'm never going to see it, or him again. It's over, and my only worthwhile possession was the price for my betrayal. I remember I sighed, and started to accept what had happened as the reality of the evening began to sink in. Then a voice from the room I'd walked through after climbing onto the balcony caught me: “Hello? “Yo! Who's that? It's Taco!” “Hey man, oh shit...” he'd been asleep in bed when I came in, the newest housemate, this was his third night in the tiny room I shared my common wall with, he snored LIKE THE RAPTURE. “Andy got nicked innit. Tha cops came in and took him, and everyfin' in his room was evidence... Th'agents was here, and Louis (big boss), an tha landlady... I've got'a go back to bed innit, 'ave a good night.”
Fuck. So fraud I guess? After telling everyone that moved into the flat that he owned the place, and that they could pay their deposit and rent in cash to him, and changing the locks to keep the agency and ACTUAL LEGAL OWNER out, the real world had finally caught up with him. Makes sense...
Now here's what Andy told me on the phone when he called me after he made bail two days later.
“Mate, I've just got out of jail. What have they been saying about me?” “That you told everyone you owned the property and you took all of their money as rent.” “Yeah yeah yeah... I took it, but I didn't SPEND itttt [strong rushing inflection], it's still there I've got it all. Did they take anything else?” “Your room is completely bare, they took everything. They took my laptop because you were using it when they came in.” “Oh mate, don't you see? That's the agency that have taken that, not the police. Why would the police take your laptop? They took Michael's foo'in tablet, they took my wife's foo'in DIAMOND wedding ring, you know I always protected you though mate, that's why I never took any money off you just in case any of this could happen and they'd take the money, I made sure you were never going to lose anything. I wasn't taking anyone's money, I just wanted to make sure They(the agency)'d never get it.” “...” “They foo'in came in with Louis, and Mrs (landlady's name can't remember/pronounce), and the cops and were bangin' on the door and I wouldn't let them in, I tried to shut the door, but Mrs (landlady) got in and then I slammed the door shut. They all said I attacked her with a knife! I didn't have a knife mate [laughs]! But there's five of them and only my word against theirs so they took me in for assault.” “So it wasn't fraud?” “Nah nah nah nah [laughing] nah... Look mate, let's have a beer sometime yeh? I'll definitely see you again, you know I always protected you in this. I love you mate.” “Yeah man.” “Right catcha soon mate. Bye.”
That was two days later, and it didn't make me feel any different to how I already felt when I stood in the passage after finding out about the arrest and looked in at Andy's room. With the two beds and the empty wardrobe and the Union Jack flag, crumpled in a heap on the windowsill. Two half-finished cans of K Cider, and a brick that we all used to ash cigarettes in. He's gone. Probably not to Mexico – Facebook says Sunderland. Andy, who the whole world was forever out to get – and then finally got – barred from returning to his fortress by the conditions of a bail that he would probably try and convince a judge had never existed. The wild audacity. Andy, who stumbled his way into an empire, and then drunkenly tripped and fell, and landed dick first in the mud with a face full of leather boot. That empty room seemed dry and cold like stone, and chilled me to look at. I never thought I'd miss him, and I'm still not sure that I do, but I miss something.
I've never been too good with words, so I'll leave it for him:
“The story is ongoing chapters end and new ones begin. I have no blood family left but. I have my own adopted band of brothers young guns the dirty Half dozen... Water is. Sometimes thicker than blood. But. ice is cold and sharp. In times of difficulty give us the strength to remember that even in the strongest of gales oaks grow tall strong and survive and never forget That Diamonds are made under pressure...”
So basically guys, now I'm thinking about printing this out as a little manuscript, binding it, wrapping it, and giving it to Andy as a Christmas present. He mentioned once that he'd love to get me involved in writing a script about his life, but he has no idea that I've actually been kind of doing exactly that for the last month. So now that you've read this, head back onto the Facebook post and let me know if you have any thoughts of ideas.
UPDATE: Okay, so I didn't do any of that stuff, because he came back. Click here to read the next part - He's Back