Ready for the Game?

Weary, I try to keep the time on a daily basis from now on.

Training sessions is a drag. A long bore. She’s like the substitute teacher that never leaves.

Everything seems so superficious. And disorganized and in disorder. And a lot of ground to cover. The fun part is that we’re actually able to play in the casino to get to know the products. Poker. The game my grandfather taught me. The game I used to win nickles and dimes in Kansas on.

The only one I get somewhat contact with in the group is Andreas. He’s alright. And we share like I said some common ground with experiences from Ireland. I get sentimental. Memories goes back to the mystical green island with a sky full of colors and clouds, and dreams that once lived.

The days at training are endless. It’s always a relief getting back to the hotel and finding a place to eat. I try to make friendly with the Big Boss. But something is not right with her.

Wednesday, my letting agent calls me again. He’s found two flats that would be more to my flavor. Both in interior as well as location. And I have to make a decision fast. I call home to ask for funds to pay for the rent and deposit.

Thursday, there’s a two day “soft skill” training with an English expatriot to South Africa called Simon. The best two days so far. And an emotional roller coaster ride, as so many things he talks about in communication gives me flashbacks, and grim reminders of all the mistakes I made in Belfast trying to save the relationship with my Woman. Later that afternoon, I go out for a few drinks with Andreas. For the first time, we can share stories and experiences. Strange how people open up after a few pints og Kilkennys and Guinniess.

I get a phone call from home at the hotel later that night. My old mother has put in the funds I need for the move. Everything seems to go in order. With a million thoughts, I go to bed. I can’t sleep. Flashbacks from a war, and from Belfast start to haunt me. I wake up in the middle of the night, cold and sweating. It’s all dark and silent in the room. My heart is pounding, and I’m breaking down. I swallow a sleeping pill. Fighting off demons, I float into oblivion.

I wake up with a bang the next morning. It’s all light outside. And the’res a knock on the door. I look at my clock. It’s almost ten. I overslept. I panic I get dressed. The phone rings. It’s the company. I tell them that I’m on my way. I tell them I had a bad night, and must have switched off my alarm clock in my unconsioussnes.

I rush down the street with my heart up my throat. Worried shitless for what might await me that day. It’s a good day. Until the end of it. The Boss calls me into her office. I knew what it was about. And I try to explain. She interrupts me. Takes a piece of paper out and asks me to sign it. It’s a warning. She tries to act empathetic. But I see right through her on what she’s trying to do.

“This is the first time I’ve had to have a meeting with someone  3 timesalready the first week”, she says. I thought that our last talk was un informal and a friendly one. Now, she brings this up to use against me. A quote from Charles Bukowski comes to mind

“Many a good man has been thrown under the brigde by a woman”

“Listen! I can get you to a shrink if you think that might help! I know you’ve been going through hard times. But we can help you!”

She might mean well, but it all sounds fake in my ears. And I’m too tired to put up an arguement. I sign the paper. She couldn’t find the name or the address to the shrink, promise me that she will as soon as she can.

With an uneasy heart, I go back to my hotelroom, and fall asleep before it’s dark.  I go out later that night for a quick meal, and down to Black Gold. I expect to meet people from work there. My hunch is right. Norwegians, Swedes, people of all nationalities is down there. They give me a happy cheer, and ask me if I want to sit down. I don’t feel like drinking though. I didn’t need drinks to come into conversation on important matters such as books and literature and drugs.

I’m meeting Andreas the next day. He promised to lend me another 75 euros for a downpayment. Adrian Huber will drive me to my new place with the keys, full months rent, and the rest of the deposit. Moving some of my things out of the hotel, one last night there, and I can go out to get drunk.

I don’t remember much until I wake up on Sunday noon. It’s time to check out. I pay my phone bill, wink to the girls in the reception and take my ride to my new bohemian home.

My new home. Large. Rustic. Bohemian. The walls speaks to me! And I’m locked in… Paranoia grips me.

My key to the door gets broken. Somehow I get a hold of my landlord. He’s soon on his way to get things fixed. And I’m thirsty and hungry.

With a chip on my shoulder, I go down to the office waiting for a taxi to drive me and some colleagues to a dinner in Mdina.

Get wine and food and getting to know people from work in a proper way…


DAY 1: MALTA, Betting on your life, 23/0372009

I woke up with a swimming head, and my phone watch ringing in my ears. This was it!

Something ureal was about to happen. I was about to face a new destiny. Something that would be close to what I have written about. This was just a pitstop on the way. But still a dream of something new and stable in the meanwhile. I am a soldier of fortune.

Long expedetions have a tendency to wear me out. What dissappointed me was that the management nor anyone in the office had left a message in the reception about what time I was supposed to be there.  I had to guess. I had to guess my way to the office, and I had t guess the time. The only thing that the taxi driver gave me, was screwing me for 20 quid for the ride from the airport the night before. And the nigh on my arrival, my new editor was giving me a call. And I was all fired up!

But this is what I came here for! The adventure and a new horizon. Energy to start over, and continue what I started 12 years ago. To move on from the disaster in Belfast with Kim Andrew, the woman I thought loved me, and left me in a ditch somewhere up in Botanic while she had all my things outside her door to give away, while planning to fuck someone else.

My room was chilled at 8 in the morning. My sweat left me shvivering while I tried to get some will to go into the shower. A hot shower. I decided to take the time I needed to get clean and shaved. Better give them a semi good impression appearance wise than stangth of booze and a long flight.

Ten to 9,  I was in the hotel reastaurant all dolled up for thye occassion, munching two croissants with ham and cheese, two orange juices, and a cup of tea. Better hurry!

Betting your life and your life! One of more than a half a dozen companies thriving on this island. I wonder what for. The tax exempts? A paradise for cheatsw and scoundrels like myself? Who knows? Would this be a treasure hunt for soldiers of fortune, or would this be another call centre nightmare?

How soon would I find out whether this would be a long and beautiful journey as I had at times in Belfast, or a nightmare from the start?

Observe the management, and how they behave and talk. Listen to what your new co workers would behave and what they would talk about.

As I walked down the Strand towards the City of Valletta, I got lost. Where would I turn off? Someone were fucking with me even before I came down here! With the heart up my throat, I found Atlas Insurance to give me the direction.

-“Just go back, and find a building with Opel on it, and you’ll be right there”, the young lady informed me. Fine. I could do that. 20 minutes after 9, I was in the elevator up to the 3rd floor. But the reception was at the 4th. Another minute wasted, I thought to myself. 

Eventually I was in the conference room together with the other greehorns, a boss of some sort, and a trainer. 

I knew this was different from what I was used to the past two years; selling bloody fish! A completely different gig. This was clean cut, and rule abiding wee zombies where the bosses’ word was law! Not at all like my old boss, who would welcome me back any day if I needed some drugmoney. This was in shapely forms where as in a concentration camp where all had to conform. In my days with the fishing mafia, we were our own bosses. I used my boss as a daily wallet and bank. I’d come to work stoned, and sometimes even with a beer on my breath. He didn’t care as long as I made sales, and had money in my pocket at the end of the day.

And I would smell fish, eat, fish, live fish, and actually chainsmoke during the afternoons and sometimes late at night in freezing cold. Some days I would be so pissed off at my boss, Christian that we’d chew each others heads off. But for him, my daily well being was more important than his stupid pride. As long as I made a sale, he’d be happy, and we’d both be happy.

Here in Malta, at the gamblers paradise, the managers rule was law! It’s like this everywhere when they have blue collar jobs in a white collar enviroment.

My nerves lay thick outside my clean body, and shaven face. I still had my goatee. I’ll never give that one up for anyone! Not even my ponytale!

At 9.30, I was sitting in a conference room with 6 completely strange faces. Four greehorns, one trainer, and the Big Boss of the daily business. Since I was late, and all of them acted like nice little pupils at first day of school, I tried to compensate by actually participating actively.

Five of us we were in the new group.

Jutta from Finland. A silent blonde who probably have a fire deep hidden inside her. She must hide it well. Or maybe she had gotten a bit stuck up on herself coming from a language school after a year here, and screwing some local dick. I won’t judge her either way.  It’s not eays getting wise on Finns. Specially when they’re out travelling. All I know is Juha and Jakku. They’re both a bit introvert… Until they get a bottle of vodka.

It was Thoami from Greece. But nothing about her gave her away her nationality. She looked and sounded like she just landed from Londons West End, both in language and appearence. She was sick and tired of Londonium and it’s weather. Don’t know much about its people. Except that Londoners have very stiff upper lips. And she had gotten some of that in her accent. Like an over sensible mother goose of some sort.

It was Gregory from France. Living here for more than 10 years, it’s almost a miracle how pale he would be. With a shaven head, a five day old five o’clock shadow, he might as well come from another time and place… Like Bergen-Belsen or Natzweiler.  He was skinny just like me.

Andreas is from Germany. He looked like a true hobbit. Haven’t missed a luncheon since the days of the bombings of Dresden. Also he was a smoker like Jutta and myself. At least I would be entertained during smoke breaks. And some ears to chew on. We shared some common interests: Ireland and Guinniess. Some stories we would be able to share. But there was still something about him that made me think.

Our trainer was a beautiful young Maltese with Algerian blood. According to the supremo, she knew more languages than most mortals would be able to say “hello” in. I started to count how many languages I have learned frases in myself to to make sure. Would she know how to tell people off in know more than 11 languages? I never bothered to find out.

She might know 4 or 5 languages; which is impressive enough. She might know everything about her job. Something everyone would be able to learn, given time enough. Even an imbesile would be able to do that. And I have experienced many imbesiles making it quite far in their business.  Would she know about life? Love? Getting screwed? Fighting against all odds? Would she be able to handle me after a few night of savage love making? Would she then be able to look back at her old life after tasting som true wild game?

I was pondering on that if she could blow me in as many ways I as I would know how to tell people to fuck off in 11 languages…

The Swedish representatives is a story of their own. They looked like they all had their VIP lounges somewhere in Stureplan in Stockholm the lot of them. Well, they were only two, pluss the owner, talking to us directly from Sweden.  They were all clean cut and shaved. My exact opposite as Kim Andrews might say. Even if she would hate my guts now, she’d still walk home with me than with these jokers.

A long haired hippie with more battles lost and won than most people here would have years lived.

And then there was the daily manager. For her convenience, her name is deleted from thios blog. Like most halleluja people about their own job, was as fake as any televangelist. Though as much as she tried to make us feel welcome. She gave me vibes I didn’t like. And for a long time, I have started to trust my vibes more than I trust what comes out of peoples mouths.

The Supremo is from South Africa. A perfect specimen for the Master Race that used to rule the country about 20 years ago. How fun is that? A tall blonde with an uncertain sexuality and the behaviour of a nightmare substitute teacher that would never leave. 

At the end of a long and exhausting day, she calls me into her office. She had a few issues with me already. And I was not in the mood to get pissed on so soon.

“I’m just just concerned that you are the right one for us” she said.

“I thought we had settled this a month ago on the phone. You hired me to do a job. You hired me because I am the best”…

She continues… “You dominate the group, and then it’s your tardiness”…

I tried to make an excuse.

“Everyone else managed to show up here at 8.30” she proclaimed. Somehow I knew she was lying.

“I know it’s supposed to MY responsibility to find out when we start” I reply. Almost with a sarcasm in my voice. Never in my entire life would I have ever had to ask when I’m supposed to start on a new job. Not even Charles Bukowskis most hideous tyrants of bosses let that bastard guess on when in the morning he was about to start. I get humble. I’m too tired and to weary to get in a clinch with the daily Supremo of this company already on the first day.

I would let her know, that they hired me. But they haven’t bought my loyalty. And I can be as illusive and treachourus as any hired brain. Loyalty I will give once they give me a reason to do so…

“I am empathetic about your situation”…

I never told her about the last shit in Belfast. But I soon let her know that I’ve been in a battle that has given me scars for life in Belfast.

As outr conversation goes by, I do a qick recapture from my first days in Belfast. 10th August 2004…

Before going to work for GEM, I was picked up at the airport late Monday afternoon by Stephen Robinson, the company clerk as I called him. They read my CV. They knew I was the Wizard. And they accepted me. There was nobody trying to screw me already upon my arrival back then. But they didn’t buy me any ticket or a hotel room either. This was something different again.

Stephen and I drove to work so I could meet some om my colleagues and have a look at my new slave station before getting me a ride direclty to my new home. My housemate was back then a young Dutchman who was mostly too busy to screw his Swedish girlfriend from work to be at the house. He was there the first 2 weeks, and he was gone, leaving me all to myself to enjoy my private jerkoffs.

That time, he and I went to sign a contract with the letting agent. And there was no hidden fees and charges as I would find here in Malta. We went there around 9ish, and got to work around 10. About the time he’d normally show up at work. Those were the days. A bit freer back in those days.

As long as you didn’t show up for work completly drunk out of your skull after noon, averything would be OK. In those days, they would give me a few days to get settled in, and then the normal days at 8 or 9 would start.

Fair enough… So can anyone tell me a difference here?

I tried to give her an example or two. But she wouldn’t listen. She wasn’t as easy as her name might say!

A model for the Master Race, and Daily Supremo for a fishy betting company, Malta…

My letting agent Adrian Huber met me after work. My hotel bed was calling me, I knew I had to get something sorted asap by the end of the week. His female sidekick from Scotland in the back seat drove me around for a few hours showing me some awful places that made me want to hurl. Except for the last place. The cheapest place, and the best place. But I don’t want to have to wake up to a bloody highway every morning in the inland.

The places were either to expencive, or to freaky or something rather.

My bed was calling for me, and I needed some time to think. For the first time in 18 months, I seek comfort in a whiskybottle. My Celtic Women made me quit one way or another. And now, I’m taking a deep dive back into it again, as if John Lee Hookers song is calling me from the grave.

The only thing that would keep me from getting liqoured up is my pipe weed. And the last one I took was the morning before…

The sizzling prawns from the Chinese Garden next doo rice  from my hotel is bloody tasteless. the rice is too fluffy, and I dig my head into the lovelly story about the Nacht und Nebel prisoners of Natzweiler. A book I_ haven’t read in almost 20 years.

Bayview Hotel gives me some great views. But tonight, I got too many things on my mind to enjoy enything exept the views of the insides of my eyelids. There would come another day tomorrow.

Before midninght, I’, fast asleep. Knackered.

My first day in Malta is over…

Morten Alme

The Strider

Fear and Loathing, the Malta Experience


Know this: I’m sitting at Sidewalk Bar on the Strand in Sliema in Malta when I write this. I drink! And I miss my drugs…

I got this job, you see?

In a bloody betting company in Malta! Last month they gave me a few phonecalls wondering if I were the right man for the job. Being a gambler at heart, how could I refuse? I was broke and hungry for a new horizon. To forget the shit from the past, and even finish my Belfast book. You know, the kind of book that ex. wives, girlfriends and fiancees woulod dread. Because the Truth hurts. Nobody knows that better than a bloody writer who’s taken more drugs and booze in 5 years than most mortal people would do in a lifetime. And paid the dues for it as well. With broken dreams and the shit to go.

I was broke, and they wanted me to come in 5 days. Impossible I told them. The fact is that I wouldn’t even be able to afford a ride to the airport. So I let them wait for me yet another month.

So, the 22nd of March, at 09.45 in the morning I wake up to a new world, rolling a joint, getting ready for the ride.  And the right drugs will in fact enhance the experience of going to a destiny unknown. High as a kite, my best friends try to keep the conversation alive as I’m having a constant out of body experience. Trying to stay focused on not screwing things up even before check-in at the airport. The drugs have been taking a hold even before we got in the car.

Not knowing what idiots who would hire me, I would meet the next day, my nerves were hanging in thick layers outside my body. As we were closing on to the airport, with the signs and all, I said “Shit! Let’s turn around and drive back!”  The truth is, that Ståles marihuana and a safe couch where I could do my rantings in between my passing outs was a lot more tempting at that moment.

It’s like when yoy’re born. You get squeesed out of your mommys tummy, and you’re spending mkost of your life trying to get back in again. Or inside someone elses opening.

I checked in through a bloody automat, threw my lugagge et the check in counter. With 6 kilos overweight, it was no problem. I guess I charmed the chick behind the counter with my red bloodshot eyes and my Aussie hat.

Or maybe an assembled population was just so glad to get rid of me, that they’d pay to get me the hell out of the City of Python. Which is a lot worse than Bin City (Belfast). And right now, it feels as if I can never go back to the city I love. All because of one woman: Kim Andrews. The love of my life who got me kicked out of the Arts council because of some harsh emails. Well? She bloody asked for it! Noone kicks me in the nuts and gets away with it! And now, it’s payback time!

I didn’t think about these sore facts, as I travelled from airport to airport. First stop was Frankfurt. I’ve never been to Frankfurt. Not even the airport. But I’ve seen so many, that one doesn’t make much difference from the other.  As soon as I found my seat on the plane, I shut my eyes to wonder of in wonderland of dreams and visions. IT takes away the actual pain of having to deal with shitty passangers, and my thirst for alcohol. The drugs was still working strong.

As the plane landed, I was dying for a sigarette. Why does these smoking laws exist? Are they in fact preying for some crazed nicotine slave to go mental 30,000 feet in the air?

After another check in, I hasted towards a lunge where smokers could stand as apes in a cage and puff their legal nicotine. People where hasting by, and I craved to pass out again.

But I couldn’t. I’m a traveller. And have been all my life. And I still can’t get used to it. Aspecially not the expectations on what will come next. What will come around the corner or far off in the sunset. And this time, I wasn’t sure how long this journey would last until it would come to a crude end. My last trip to Belfast that went disastrous was fresh in my memory. 

How could I make it different this time?

I  repeated my procedure at Air Malta as I did Lufthansa. Found my seat, and immediately turned around to inspect the inside of my eyelids. Praying that not some fat git would sit next to me and squeese his blubber over me.

I was soon half asleep again. The drugs was wearing off, and reality checked in again. The flight attendants woke me up about an hour ionto the flight for food. I haven’t had a free meal on a plain since they actually had some service. Or maybe I was getting used to Ryanairs sloppy service and dry sandwiches that cost more than the ticket itself.

I ate half of the bunn, all the ham and the cheese before I passed out again. I could sleep anywhere. I may be a traveller. But I dread the notion of not being able to fire up a joint to make the trip more interesting. Shit! I’d have a journey through the desert on a camel for weeks instead of this! Or on a longship across the sea to a new place to pillage just to blow off some steam!

The plane was starting to go dowbnwards. We were getting closer. To a new place I have never been to. That’s what makes the experience more interesting. And I was wondering if they have gotten my two bags checked through all the way as they promised.

Somehow they did. It’s a wonder. Every timne I have to go on these dreaded flights, it always goes more smooth than I expect. Maybe it’s because in prevvious, something has always happened.  That’s when my old mother was making the desicions, and we were travelling stand by, or good bye. When I’m travelling, it’s like they pull me through with no hazzle. It’s when I get h0me and carry with me my medicine they give me shit. I hate the laws! I hate anyone who’s trying to stop me from doing what I’m supposed to do!

And soon, I’ll be the most infamous man on this island….

Morten Alme

March/April 2009