There is a ghost in my house. He wears my coat and stands behind me with an unlit joint in his mouth, watching He Died with a Felafel in His Hand over my shoulder. He is about my height, and follows me around, the joint bobbing away like a spastic polygraph needle as he talks.

He whispers incessantly about the future, about his wanderlust, and about how easily influenced I am by other people’s ideas. He talks about uni work that is overdue, or won’t be done in time. He talks about my failures to fit in with either the mainstream culture or any of the sub-cultures; teases me about my being in societal purgatory; poetically jests on my inability to subvert, to divert, to convert, to invert a culture.

He is eloquent and rarely stops talking. He is persistent and rarely stops haunting me. He fills my head with ideas that would make Mum frown. When he allows me to sleep, he fills my dreams with pornographic visions of my ex-girlfriend. He reads my books and spoils the fucking endings. He reads my writing and mocks my tone, my style, my stories.

He is my monkey, hanging from my back, teaching me to procrastinate, to deviate from my own plans, to delay the necessary, the domestic, the social, the academic.

He freezes my toes, makes my fingernails turn blue. Sometimes, when the mood or the wind takes him, he lights the joint in his mouth, and makes me smoke. He burns my chest from the inside and my head simultaneously inflates and deflates.

He makes me listen to Lou Reed, Uncle Acid, Black Sabbath, Cosmic Psychos, Vivaldi, The Chemical Brothers, Dirty Three, Giant Squid, Leonard Cohen. He makes me listen to The Stone Roses. He makes me appreciate Aphex Twin on ‘another level’.

His whispers keep me awake until stupid hours. He holds back sleep like it’s a drug and I’m a junky in need of an intervention. Up yours, man, I’m going to sleep.

The bastard controls my bed — I’ve not been laid in months. The last time was sub-par on my part, thanks to him, and lead to recollections of the event being accompanied by an awkwardness as yet unparalleled by any other of my experiences in the twenty four and a bit years I’ve been on this planet.

His doubt creeps in whenever I think about a girl, but he leaves me alone every few days; long enough to masturbate, frustrated and guilty. He waits outside my door for me to finish, like a brothel mistress, seeing only a task that requires performing regularly and privacy for said task to be performed correctly.

He can’t roll a decent joint, and he wastes my cannabis. He makes my housemates and friends judge me for smoking it, but makes them polite enough and smart enough to say so only ever indirectly and only when I am sober.

He makes me eat crap food; makes me feel crap for it. He drinks all of my beer and gives me his hangover.

He stuffs up my handwriting every time he knocks into my shoulder; when he tries to read what I am writing. And he corrects my spelling — IT’S ONLY AN EFFING DRAFT!

He makes me forget what I was saying. He makes me lose track of where I was going, what was coming next.

He is the ghost of my many selves, and I can’t get rid of him.

Written by S. Hooley