Double-pissed - the state of being so pissed, even your pissed-up MATES think you're pissed.
Fuck knows what I look like. Club hair and can't believe I was passing round a cigarette like it was a spliff because you know I don't smoke any more except when I'm really drunk and someone forces me I can only take on or two drags makes me ill but hahaha that's what it'll be like when the ban comes in you know come it'll be like come back to my place I've got some TOBACCO yeah passing it furtively like something illegal and-
Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Important stuff. Certainly is for Heinz. Pretty much total worldwide market domination.
Running on instinct. Food-sex-sleep. Right now, food. Stumbling towards the burger van.
But success can have its downsides. Within Heinz, within the organisation, the team working on the Ketchup - that designed it, that marketed it - became too powerful. I mean the beans are good yeah, but there are other brands. The thixotropic brew was all-conquering. A friend of mine used to work there told me - they grabbed the best people, dominated boardrooms, a state within a state.
When drunk I sometimes mime my thoughts. Act out what I'm thinking. I don't see it any kind of illness, just a sort of head-leakage.
Not just a ketchup mafia - they had their own police force too. Swoop and red-lights flashing. DNA swabs, guardians of the purity, of the sacred bloodline. Because the landlords, the restaurateurs, they buy the little Heinz bottles for the tables OH YES but once that's gone they fill them up with any rusty old radiator fluid. I seen 'em. Decanting it as the bar closes up, passing it off, robbing customers blind with their vinegary fakes, their dilatant dilettantes. Brings coins up a treat.
Two gents at the burger van. One apron'd behind the counter, another propping it up. No queueing here, I order a burger and meanwhile, act my thoughts out loud without knowing it.
The ketchup police showed no mercy on the cheats. Midnight raids - turn the place upside down, slap you about, put the squeeze on. Not afraid to spill a bit of the red stuff if they had to. Hands up against the salad bar thank you sir. We'll be taking these as evidence.
Finally, my bap handed over past a fumbled phone. There - a long thin bottle with a pointy nozzle-cone. Redplastic squeezy, watery and side-stuck.
Head down, I grab the ketchup from the counter-top and give it a long, vigorous shake.
Then draw a careful spiral on top of my open burger, concentrating like I'm icing a eulogy onto a wedding cake.
Eventually the Heinz management had to smash the racket. I mean there are 56 OTHER varieties you know. So they split up the ketchup team, fired a few, posted others onto different projects. But the cult of the ketchup never quite disappeared. Went underground. There was a secret handshake. Hold your left hand out in fist, then slap the end of that fist three times with the flat palm of your splayed right hand. Mime it... you'll see. And to this day no-one in the trade will cross a ketchup.
As I finish with the ketchup I notice the two men are strangely subdued. I look up. Their eyes fix on me, the three of us frozen to the spot. Then I start seeing them; diagonal red stripes. Everywhere. Everywhere up the whitewall back of the van. Everywhere, except for a man-shaped gap in the middle and-
There are diagonal red stripes up the kebab seller. And-
There are diagonal red stripes up the thickset, bald and be-sweatered customer stood my side of the counter. Shiny and redblobs on the collar of his white shirt. On his neck. On his face. Corner of his mouth.
Like some sort of horror-film cum shot. I look down at the squeezy bottle in my hand.
I start to cringe up inside. I think - I've had an interesting life, but now it has come to an end. These people are going to kill me. The kebab-man is holding a - knife? No. Call a sword a sword. I imagine myself turning, slowly, on the doner spit. Feeding the next generation of pissheads. Strangely comforting, in a way. Kebab Karma. And who'd know it wasn't lamb?
But no. Instead, they just stare at me, silent through nervous grins. Warily, the kebab man starts wiping a cloth across the counter. I bluster:
Um, ahem. Sorry, I...
"That's alright, don't worry about it." He apologises, moving now to his apron.
Incredulous at this sudden capitulation, I swing my head and shoulders exaggeratedly to point at the bald customer-man, as if unable to swivel my eyeballs. Surely he at least will kill me?
"Er, oh, no problem mate, could happen to anyone."
...Mopping daintily at his gruesome collar with a napkin - laughably inadequate, like dabbing a tissue at the ragged stump of his own neck. I nod slow-absurdly. Drunkmarch off like an out-of-warranty cyberman.
Only later did I realise why they reacted the way they did. Because no matter how scary it looked, I looked scarier. Had them bang to rights. It wasn't PROPER ketchup.
And they'd seen me do the handshake.