Every Sunday morning, halfway through my 5k, I see him. JB Dismore. JB Fucking Dismore. The former lead singer of Pocket Cucumbers sits on his park bench, an open can next to him. His guitar case sits open at his feet, full of clothes and food.
I pause my activity tracker.
Twenty years ago, JB ruled the stage, smashing through songs bringing down the establishment, segregation, the rich. I stood offstage, working sounds. After gigs we drank, we slept around: groupies, other band members, each other. JB Dismore was an animal.
We light up and I tell him about my week. The boss is annoying me. My wife is angry with me because I missed little Olivia’s award ceremony. The gas bill is wrong again.
Grown up problems.
JB Dismore tells me about his week. His landlord won’t fix the leak in the kitchen. The priest at the food bank tries to stop him going to the pub. His girlfriend is stealing from him when he falls asleep after sex.
I laugh. It is like twenty years never happened for him.
Three years ago he got a job in a local care home. His hair was cut, he was clean, he wore a goddamn uniform. Overnight he stopped being JB Fucking Dismore and became something else. I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for his fans, the people who remember the punk on stage, bringing down the establishment.
He snatches at the small packet of clear crystal I hold out and tucks it into his underwear. He thanks me, I’m a good friend, he can’t believe how much I help him.
I restart my activity tracker.
Phil Hurst is a graduate of the Queen’s University Belfast Creative Writing MA. Visit their personal website, writewithphil.com, and follow them on Twitter @_philhurst