A different kind of pusher

PUSHING
by Chris Barnham ©2013

The first time I pushed anyone was pretty much an accident.

I was in a nothing job, stacking supermarket shelves four days a week. The pay was poor, so I also worked three nights in the Union pub over in Greenwich. I hated it, always finishing too late for the train home; it was either hang around at the bus stop or a half hour walk.

The other people who worked in the Union were morons, frankly. This guy Jed was the worst, thought he was big with the girls and the way to impress them was to take the piss out of his fellow workers, usually me. A bunch of his mates came in at weekends. You could tell why Jed hung out with them: they were so thick they made him seem like Oscar Wilde. They leaned on the bar cracking their knuckles and Jed needled me between pulling pints. Mostly I just put up with it. One thing I learned growing up was to keep away from trouble. You're better than them, Mum always said. Don't give them the satisfaction of making you react.

This night was different. Jed started in on me and I took it for a while but then he said something about never having any girlfriends. Said I needed to get home early to my mother, so she could read my bedtime story. Well, it was nothing to do with him that I still lived with Mum. Why shouldn't I? I wasn't so old. He made a rude comment about her, and my face felt hot and tight.

The funny thing was, he was acting such a big man, like he was some kind of stud, but earlier I overheard a couple of the girls talking. This girl Sarah had gone home with Jed after a party last weekend. I was fixing up a new barrel downstairs and I heard her tell another girl how Jed had been too drunk to get it up. They giggled a bit about that. So when Jed got me angry I turned to a couple of his mates standing across the bar: "Maybe when you're bored of hearing about my failures you should ask one of Jed's conquests how great he is. I heard Sarah had to play hunt the disappearing cock last week."

That got a good laugh and shut Jed up, but the tightness of his mouth and the pink flush of his face suggested he wouldn't leave it there. Sure enough he didn't.

He caught up with me on my way home. On a lonely midnight street I heard a noise behind me and something hit me hard between the shoulder blades. I fell forward and hit my head on a wall. Before I could move, there was a blow to my face that sent a shower of pain down from my nose through my jaw, putting a taste of copper in my mouth.

I never got beaten up before. Getting into fights is pretty much part of growing up for young boys, certainly where I grew up. But not me; somehow I always skirted the edge of any trouble, avoiding the interest of the bullies. Not now, it took me by surprise and by the time I knew what was happening Jed's boot was in my face.

I curled up, holding my arms across my face, but my passiveness just made him angrier. He hauled me roughly to a sitting position, shoved me back against a crumbling brick wall beside the path.

"Not so smart now?" The palm of his hand smacked my ear. There was spittle on his chin and his eyes were wild, like something was unmoored inside his head. I was suddenly very scared. Jed reached behind him and picked up a jagged half brick. He held it out at his side. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

"You're not so clever now, you piece of shit." In the orange street light Jed's face shone like fish on a slab.

"See this?" He shook the brick, I could see nothing else. "Do you want this shoved in your fat mouth?"

Now something very strange happened. My fear went away. Or it didn't exactly go away, it kind of shifted; twisted itself into a new shape inside me. Something that had always been loose clicked into the right place.

"No," I said, and my voice sounded like it came from someone else. "I don't. But you do, Jed, don't you? Why don't you smash that brick in your own stupid face?"

As I spoke it felt like a membrane parted inside my head, and some muscle I didn't know I had gave a push I pushed out at Jed with my mind. Jed froze for a fraction of a second. His eyelids fluttered and a blankness crossed his face like a windblown shred of mist. He spoke in a flat voice, like the speaking clock: "Why don't I smash this brick in my stupid face?"

The hand holding the brick struck like a snake at his face and came away. Jed swayed a little. Blood welled from his half-closed right eye and traced a line down his cheek.

"Go on," I said. Joyous anger surged in my gut, and there it was again inside my head, very strong now - PUSH - as I said: "Keep on doing it."

Jed flinched again and his eyelids flickered like a leaf on a tree. He spoke with all the expression of someone who has just decided to have a second biscuit with his tea: "I'll keep on doing it." His right arm came up and with a sickening thump the brick hit him in the face again.

I sat on the wall and watched Jed hit himself - hard - in the face at least ten times before he lost his footing. His arm had a life of its own, a life that wanted to free itself of the rest of his body the better to batter the brick in his face. Jed's head and chest were smeared with blood and the brick striking him took on a wet sound, like someone stamping their foot in thick mud. He fell to his knees and his breathing became loud and laboured, but he didn't stop. He swung the brick back and forth; out to the full length of his arm, and swiftly back to crack his teeth and split his lips. The half brick became slippery with his blood and he dropped it, only to crawl over to it and pick it up again, resuming the merciless assault on his own face.

When at last he stopped he lay on his back on the pavement, blowing bubbles of blood from his lips. His arm rose slowly one more time like a dying bird and he dropped the brick. With a sigh he passed out. I stared at him for a while before I scrambled to my feet and ran home.

I lay in bed that night unable to sleep. Was Jed dead? Had I murdered him? Well, in a way no, because I had not touched him. He did it all to himself. But there was no doubt what had happened: I told him to attack himself and in my fear and anger my mind had found a way to make him do exactly what I told him. I had no idea how but the excitement at what I had done far outweighed any concern for Jed. I fell asleep not long before dawn. I remember my last waking thought.

I wonder if I can do it again. To other people.

I soon found the answer. Next night I was back in the Union. No sign of Jed. The boss spoke to me when we were both in the kitchen behind the bar.

"Hear about Jed?" The manager of the Union was a middle aged black guy, called Julius. I liked him.

"No. What about him?"

"In hospital. Beaten up after he left here last night. It's really bad. Police were here earlier."

I was washing up some plates. I kept my eyes down and my mouth shut.

"You had an argument with Jed last night, didn't you?" Julius spoke very quietly. I could feel him watching me.

"No. I didn't." I glanced up at Julius, he was frowning at me.

"I know you did. I was here. Why would you lie about that?"

I turned to face him. I had felt strange all day; my brain light and clean, as if tubes that had long been clogged up were now rinsed out. What happened next just happened. I can't claim it was fear this time.

"Julius." I looked hard into his eyes and there it was again: PUSH . "I never had an argument with Jed."

Julius flinched and blinked like a sudden puff of wind hit him in the face. "You never had an argument with Jed." He turned and walked away, his eyes wide and glassy.

Julius didn't speak to me for the rest of the evening. After we closed up he disappeared into the back room and left the clearing up to me and Sarah. She mentioned Jed as we collected glasses from the tables. She seemed upset.

"Why would you be bothered?" I said.

She stopped what she was doing and frowned at me.

"He's a nice guy."

"I heard you telling Angie how rubbish he was in bed."

"Don't be a creep." She turned away, dismissing me.

I stepped towards her. She was a few inches shorter than me, with bleached blonde hair cut in a bob. It was a hot evening and she wore a loose tee shirt. I had noticed earlier that she wasn't wearing a bra.

"Sarah," I said. She looked at me. "You know what you want?" Then I did it again - PUSH : "You want to suck my cock."

When I pushed , Sarah's face lost its expression of mild contempt and was wiped clear. Her eyelids flickered and she said: "I want to suck your cock." She sounded like she was ordering a pizza on the phone.

I took her into the Men's toilet where she unzipped my trousers and knelt in front of me. I watched her head bobbing back and forth. She had the strangest look in her eyes, like someone trapped and looking for a way out. Afterwards, I zipped up and walked out, leaving Sarah sitting on the damp floor, leaning against the tiled wall. Her eyes were focused on something far away and she had a small bubble of my semen on her chin.

Maybe she's still sitting there. I wouldn't know, because I never went back to the Union. Why would I? I didn't need the money. Believe it or not, people now just chose to give me money when I asked for it. Life became very different, I'm sure you can imagine. I made a bit of a pig of myself for a while. I was a kid let loose in a candy store. I mean, what would you do? Imagine you can spot a gorgeous woman in the street, walk up to her and tell her she wants to take you home and fuck you. And then she does, just like that. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

So I went a bit berserk with the women. It was a novelty, because to be honest they had never been interested in me before. When the excitement of sex with strange women wore off, I tried a few men, but that never did much for me. Then I moved on to people I knew, tracking down girls I knew from school, making them drop their knickers for me like they never would before. When I was feeling generous I pushed them afterwards and told them to forget it, or told them they enjoyed it. When they irritated me, I pushed them to tell their husbands.

All this was childish stuff, and I soon moved on to bigger challenges. Making serious money was high on my list, of course, and that didn't take much effort. A few donations to my bank balance from wealthy people who wouldn't miss it gave me a start, and I soon had a healthy portfolio of property and investments that pretty much looked after itself.

I moved house a couple of times, first to a large house in Blackheath and then into a larger house in Hampstead, alternating with spells on a farm in the Cotswolds. Then I tried travel. I did it all; Mediterranean cruises, luxury hotels in the Caribbean, private trains across India and China. For a year I was barely ever at home, until that got stale too. I was shocked how stale it could get so fast.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where it went wrong, but I began to wonder if this was such a good life after all. I had everything I could ask for and for a while I assumed that must mean I was happy. If I wanted money, I got it. I could have any woman I fancied, I could go anywhere and do anything I liked. No one could stop me.

There was no sense of struggle, no feeling of achievement. And once I had pushed someone it was like they were soiled, used up. People I knew avoided me, girls moved home without warning and left no new address. I sometimes saw people I knew in the street, ducking down side roads away from me. I could make people do what I wanted but I couldn't make them want to, couldn't make them feel good about it. And I could only control one person at a time. When they were out of my sight they could do what they wanted. Pretty soon it was clear that what they wanted was to get the hell away from me.

I was the most powerful person in the world, yet more and more I found myself alone, bored and unhappy. One week I woke up crying every morning. I didn't know why, I just lay and stared at the ceiling leaking tears in a steady stream. I could push other people but I couldn't push myself, and nothing made me feel better. I had everything I could want, except the desire for anything at all.

I didn't realise early enough the price of my power. Something so powerful in its impact on other people's minds must also affect mine. Every time I pushed someone it gave me that scoured out feeling, as if my brain had been steam cleaned. It wasn't a bad feeling; quite the reverse, I liked it and wanted it more and more.

But over time, look where that leads. A world where no one would catch my eye, where anyone who knew me scurried for cover at my approach like I had plague. And look at me; a man with a big, fat, rich, and utterly empty life. Who wakes up in inexplicable tears and walks around in a Perspex bubble of needlessness.

I needed nothing, wanted nothing, felt nothing. Nothing touched me and I touched nothing and nobody. My mind felt shiny inside, disinfected and scrubbed clean in every fold and tube by the pipe- cleaner effect of making people do what I said. In my desperate grasping after everything, every sensation, I lost the ability to feel anything. I was numb right through as if I had been given a big permanent painkilling injection.

If you can make other people do anything you tell them to, but you no longer feel anything, or want anything, what are you? Are you human anymore? What to give a man who wants nothing? The answer, in the end, seemed obvious. Nothing.

I don't know what made me think of Jed again, the first one I pushed . But when I did, it seemed obvious what I should do.

Jed didn't die, but he never came out of hospital. First it was the mainstream kind of hospital to mend the awful damage he did to his face with that brick. They did a passable job, but I don't suppose girls like Sarah are so eager to take him home these days. Even if they were, they wouldn't get a chance, because he doesn't get to go home with anyone anymore. He's in a secure hospital in Berkshire. I don't know whether his mind was damaged by what he did with the brick, or whether it was me. I pushed harder that first time than I ever did again, driven by my fear and anger, and maybe with a force that had been dammed up for years, waiting to break out.

Jed was hollowed out, like a peapod without the peas. He sat in a cell in the country, watching the sun come up and go down and who knew whether he noticed either event.

Jed was my first. That made him special. Maybe he should be the last too.

I'm going out there tonight. I've had enough. I can't go on like this. No one will stop me. I'll walk into that hospital and they'll take me to Jed's cell. I've got a gun. I could use it myself, but that isn't the way to do this.

I'll walk into his cell and stand in front of him, looking at the ruin I made of his handsome face. Then, with every last bit of the power in my hollowed out brain, I'll PUSH him as hard as I did that first time.

"Jed," I'll say. "Take this gun and kill me."

"And when I'm dead you'll be the way you were before."

He'll do as I say. Everyone does.

x x x

This one's a bit edgier than most stories on this site-sort of a PG13, I guess. Maybe even an R. I think that well-written tales get time here despite edginess, though. Let me (and the author) know what you think on our BBS. -GM

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