Incorporeal Just Doesn't Sound Right

Incorporeal Just Doesn’t Sound Right

Intangible, unable to be touched or having no physical presence, an unusual way to describe yourself, but it’s been strange since I lost my mind. I’d like to introduce myself, until I lost all physical form, I was known as Neville, Nev or to a select few Wraybies. It’s a play on my surname, rather than an allusion to any illnesses, or at least that’s what I thought previously.

I’ve always thought that losing one’s mind would be a slow thing, an occasional voice whispering and influencing me or the gradual buckling under the weight of external pressures, but for me it was more a Eureka moment, no warning, no alarm bells, just, bang. Intangible.

Looking at the pollution covered walls, my train rolling under Birmingham city centre, butterflies performed their usual jig in my stomach, but this time both tempo and duration felt more manic. Embarking into one of the UK’s ugliest train stations, my strut left nobody in any doubt they were in the presence of a returning hero. Armed with three A-Levels and having survived the alien culture of Windsor for the past 2 years, I was back to make my fortune. Employers didn’t know yet, but they were about to get “it”, “it” being completed in a competent manner, by a conscientious 18-year-old without experience.


If returning to Birmingham always brought out euphoria, I never felt truly home until I reached Edward Road, which acted as a highway running through the area I had spent my formative years. With three churches running down the centre, the dome of a huge mosque visible off to the east and both a gurdwara and a synagogue ensconced in its borders, any visitors could be confused into thinking they were visiting a holy place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst prostitution had been eradicated through the camping out on street corners and strangling the local demand for services of a carnal nature. If you scratched the surface, the area’s true nature became clear. Groups of young men loitered around street corners, occasionally giving elaborate handshakes through the car windows of transient visitors. Pubs and shops all had one thing in common; barred windows. When you saw the obvious poverty, you realised why various religions had decided that the inhabitants of this place required saviour, but this was all if you looked at things as an outsider.

To me this place was home, many of the drug dealers were friends, just looking to make an honest living the only way they knew how. Outsiders saw poverty and danger, but to those on the inside, that poverty created a real community, it was us against the world and I was delighted to be back. Saying that I hoped to make it a fleeting stay. I was going places and with all that lovely money I was about to make. I was positive that in no time at all I would soon be living in one of the gentrified areas that surrounded my childhood home. It was two nights later that my plans were thrown into chaos.


It happened as I was out with an old friend, Kev, Kevin or Kevweiler to a select few (well one actually, only Kev refers to himself as Kevweiler). We’re having a few beers in a beer garden, as I’m celebrating interviews I’ve lined up. Suddenly Kev starts going on about a nightclub that he’s going to on Sunday. In his own staccato way, he says:

“greatest club ever”, “Sundissential”, “banging hard house”, “sweet crowd”, “Andy Farley”, “at The Church”.

That’s the thing about Kev, he always talks in bullet points; no filler, no flow, just pieces of information fired at 100 mph. He blames it on being from Cork, but I’ve always suspected that it’s the amount of amphetamines he does.

“So, what you doing Sunday then? “, “I’m thinking”, “footie”, “few Jars”, “pub crawl” “Sundissential”, “Yeah?”.

The question was always coming, but now I’m torn. Two interviews on Monday, but football and some Hard house on a Sunday, in a place called the Church, seems like a great idea. As I hear myself saying,

“sounds good, not too messy, as I’ve got some interviews lined up”, I also hear myself say,

“Sounds great mate, but I’m not gonna be able to make it. Interviews Monday and I want to get an early night. Anyway, fancy another?”.

I had to do a double take, did that just happen? Had I answered the same question simultaneously, with different answers. Three beers can’t create this much confusion, so when Kevin replied.

“Shame”, “your loss”, “soon then”, “Guiness please mate”. I’m not ashamed to say I descended into a state of panic.

“Kev, have you spiked my drink?”, no response, “Kev, did you hear what I said?” I reached across the table to shake some answers out of him, but I noticed the strangest couple of things; firstly my hand seemed to disappear through Kev’s chest, and looking behind me, I could still see myself sitting in the chair. Like I said, my insanity moment was very sudden.

To be honest the next few hours were some of the weirdest of my life. Do apparitions even have lives? I had somehow become disembodied from my physical self, quite a disconcerting feeling all be told. What would you do in that situation? Well I planned on reattaching myself as quickly as possible. I followed myself around the pub, trying to mirror the exact same position as the physical me. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, every time either form moved, we separated. I decided to try my luck with other patrons and walked round, at least I wasn’t bloody floating, trying to touch or speak to numerous people, each time with the same outcome. Intangible.


This all happened to me years ago now, although it feels like only yesterday. I spent the first few months never leaving my tangible self’s side; I was at every interview, every night out and every date. Initially I was proud of tangible me. He lived up to the expectations I had set out for myself, he aced his interviews and got the job he wanted and immediately started impressing his new employer. Over time he started seeing less of his “real friends”, as they didn’t fit with his new image.  Whilst I suppose making new friends and outgrowing old ones is part of life, his new choice of acquaintances wasn’t really to my taste. I did enjoy watching his love life unfold though, all the visuals, with none of the pressure. The longer I spent with him, the more we seemed to differ. The more success he achieved, the more his arrogance and ego grew. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is, watching yourself become someone you despise.

At a loss and needing something to take my mind off the arsehole my tangible self was becoming, I decided to start following Kev about. I remember the shock I felt when I saw him again for the first time after the split night. He’d always been slim, the amount of nervous energy he burned wasn’t conducive to putting on weight. Now though he looked almost skeletal. It became clear why when I followed him to Sundissential for the first time.

The music, as he had told me was banging, beats jackhammering into the crowd’s brains at an almost unimaginable rate. Walking around, watching people take dabs from wraps of white powder and popping pills gave me an incredible thrill. Even with the chemical help, people still couldn’t keep up with the beat. Instinctively I knew that this was where I should be, clubbing, taking drugs and going to afterparties that lasted for days rather than hours. Even watching the mental decline of the constant attendees, as they pushed their minds further than they were supposed to go, I still felt more comfortable with these people, than my tangible self.

I understood that I was supposed to have gone to Sundissential, the drugs were meant to take their toll on me, the ecstasy and speed was supposed to almost tear my mind apart. It was these experiences that were supposed to shape me and with that added life experience, beautiful and scary, I should’ve straightened myself out and got myself back on track, wiser and kinder.

Unfortunately, that’s not how things turned out. Instead, I don’t exist, I live on the periphery of the physical world. Sundissential has closed, there is only so long an establishment can stay open when everybody attending is doing that many drugs. I now actively avoid my tangible self, as although he looks like me, I can’t stand to be around him. He’s arrogant, yet insecure, deceitful and shallow, but hey, at least he’s got a nice car. It’s been six months since I’ve seen him, the last time I bumped into him, not literally obviously, he was asking someone “do you know who I am?”, the weird thing is, he’s me and even I don’t.

Neville Wray

Neville Wray is an unpublished, cross genre writer of short stories, who lives in Birmingham, England. Having got back into writing after a two-decade dormant period, he realised he had a passion for creative writing. Aside from family and friends (not exactly a subjective audience), the only experience he has of sharing his work is via a small private writer’s forum, where he competes in a monthly competition. Having finally decided to overcome his cowardice and self-doubt, he has decided to see if he can get some of his work published.

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