How Not to Survive

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13

After a hard evening’s work of fucking up Eli’s family relationship I figure I need a drink and catch a bus towards Soho. I text Danny to see if he’s about but he texts back a minute later to say Sorry love, gotta take care of some bizness 2nite. Hve a good 1 xxx so I’m on my lonesome. I decide I’ll just make it a quick one and head home to beg for Eli’s forgiveness. I’m still carrying The Package, which frankly makes me kind of nervous, but I figure it’s done all the damage it can possibly do for one night.

I can’t face Restless, plus it’s way too expensive. I consider The Village because it’s cheap, but I can’t handle any Kylie tonight so I head for The Edge and order a G&T. It’s been a while since I stood at a bar on my own and I’d forgotten how everyone looks at you like you’re a total loser searching for someone to sleaze onto, and how as a result you end up sighing and checking your watch every five minutes like you’re waiting for someone. But the G&T goes down well and I nip into the loo and do a couple of lines from the coke Danny passed me as a thank you for being the keeper of his goods. I feel a bit less self conscious after that and when I get back I order another drink and start checking out the talent, just to pass the time.

After trying to catch the eye of a couple of pretty boys who’re so lost in their own arseholes I might as well be coming onto bar stools, I get chatting to this thirty something year old actuary from Surrey called George, who’s entire life story could be summed up by the words, He breathed. He eventually tells me he’s up for a wild night out and asks if I know a good place to go clubbing. It’s obviously like, the first time he’s ever left the house after nine o clock or something, but he’s such a total non-entity that I decide to take pity on him and offer to accompany him to Abuse, which he agrees to so excitedly I instantly regret it, since it’s obvious he thinks he’s in with a chance.

He’s like, Cool! I’ll have to buy you a drink when we get there!

George doesn’t know I’m planning to hit him up for the entrance fee as well, God bless him. I give him a wink and knock back the rest of my G&T.

I’m like, Let’s hit it bitch!

He’s like, Yeah!

Just as planned George shells out for me to get into Abuse and then buys us both drinks, going on the whole time about how great it must be to live in the city and what an amazing place London is. I stand with him at the bar sipping my mojito and trying to look like we’re not together or anything. It’s kind of early to be here and there’s not much going on, just a smattering of people wobbling vaguely about on the dance floor, nobody wanting to put too much effort into it at this stage, so after a bit more listening George’s mindless enthusiasm I figure I’ll pop to the gents for another pick me up. I consider inviting him along as a thank you, but then I figure I don’t want to over-stimulate him, since he’s already bobbing his head up and down with this massive grin like one of those Churchhill car ornament thingies.

I do another couple of lines in the toilet and along with the alcohol I’m starting to feel a bit better about everything. I decide the safest place for my jacket and The Package would be the cloakroom so I queue up and hand it over to the cute little guy manning it who looks like he’s not even old enough to set foot on the premises – though I guess he must be in order to have landed the job here. Then I head back to the dance floor, which is now looking respectably crowded. Fortunately there’s no sign of the actuary I hitched a ride in on, so I order another drink and start getting on down privately in a corner. After a while of working up a nice sweat I look around and discover I’m bopping along with this crowd of guys with long fringes, skinny jeans and checked shirts, which feels a bit like I’ve gate-crashed the set of Skins. It’s like, is it just me or does everybody here look like they just got out of diapers? One of these tweenies even gives me the eye, but I’m no pedo so I dance my way through them back towards the bar for a reboot. On the way I see George, slumped against the wall at the side of the room. There’re all these couples disappearing down each other’s throats next to him, and he’s watching them looking totally baffled and lost, kind of hugging his drink to himself. There’s something kind of disturbing about it and I decide it’s either time to go home or do another pinch of sniff.

I head to the toilet and find the queue to the cubicles is like the queue for Alton Towers or something. I wait for what feels like my whole life over again, during which time this great conglomerate of muscle with a shaved head and storm-trooper boots, who’s like a military caricature, starts leching on to me.

He’s like, Heyyy! after checking me out.

I’m like, Hey, meaning, Can’t be bothered.

He’s like, You come here often?

I’m like, Yeah. Whenever I need a piss.

GI Goe before me lets out this girly squeal that hilariously destroys the whole macho image he’s got going on and slaps my arm like he’s this nineteenth century coquette.

He’s like, Aw I mean do you come to the club, silly!

I give him this shrug. He’s built like a shithouse and is so not my type.

He’s like, You wanna share a cubicle?

It’s like, the least appealing chat up line ever, and it’s made even worse by this big wink he gives me, like maybe I wouldn’t have caught his drift otherwise. Thankfully at this point the door behind him opens and I’m able to escape into my own little cell, where I dispense myself a healthy line to like, help me get over the grossness of what just happened...

I wake up because this ray of light that’s like a laser beam is shining directly into my face, practically scorching it off. My head shrieks from this hangover that’s already legendary and even sitting up almost makes me almost pass out from the effort. I blink. I’m in this bed completely naked and when I look about there’s no sign of my clothes. This nasty chill runs down my spine as I remember The Package, but then I see my jacket hung up on the back of the door, and even from here I can see a familiar bulge in the front pocket.

I take another look around. I’m in this surreal bedroom that’s like something out of a dollhouse, all frills and cushions and hearts everywhere you look. Weirdest of all is that everything is some shade of purple – like, lavender walls, violet bedspread, indigo curtains. It’s a bit of a head-fuck in fact, even if your head isn’t already fucked, and I have to like, look down at my own skin to make sure I haven’t ruptured some crucial nerve in my eyeballs and lost control of my spectrum.

Just as I’m thinking that maybe I’m actually lying on a hospital bed somewhere having an out of body experience, and that whoever runs the afterlife is like, really into purple, the bedroom door swings open and GI Joe from last night trots in wearing a pair of white silk pyjamas, carrying a tray with two mugs of coffee and a plate with fried eggs and toast on it.

Morrrnnninggg! he goes in this total sotto voice like a fifties homemaker greeting her best friend for brunch.

I’m like, Hey, through my Cloud of Abject Horror.

He’s like, How are we feeling today?

I’m like, unable to say anything more because I’m too busy being stupefied from the sheer scope of how awful it is. At that moment I become away of something slimy glued to my left thigh. I reach down and un-suction it, producing a used condom from under the covers.

Whoopsy! giggles The Big Gay Sergeant.

Dim recollections of last night, him following me around Abuse, him shoving his tongue down my throat, us hailing a cab outside the club... After that nothing, like someone somewhere has pressed a button and erased a piece of my consciousness. Which is quite possibly a good thing.

Aw, trills Macho Mavis, Has someone got a wee bit of a hangover?

With this understatement of the century he sets the breakfast tray down on my lap, effectively imprisoning me on the bed. As he does the laser beam of light hits him in the face too, and it’s not a beautiful sight, let me tell you. It’s like, If there is a God it’s time to pray to him that you passed out before anything happened.

I’m like, Listen, last night – did we...?

Oblivious to the rising panic in my voice my Merry Host gives me this dumb-foundingly soppy grin and reaches out to tickle me under the chin like I’m a prize-winning poodle or something.

He’s like, Don’t tell me you don’t remember!

I jerk my head away, which produces this screaming shot of agony like someone’s jammed a syringe through my left temple. I grit my teeth to stop myself from weeping and go, I don’t remember, all flatly.

Silk Pyjamas looks a bit put out by this, but then lets out a little giggle as if it was just another adorable example of me being coy and goes, Next thing you’ll be telling me you don’t remember my name either!

I’m like, I don’t.

At this he finally looks bit put out.

Oh, he goes, Well it’s Jane.

I’m like, Are you serious? That’s a girl’s name.

He’s like, We went through this last night. It’s J-A-Y-N-E.

It’s like the magic word, since as he says it the rest of last night suddenly comes zooming back to be me in total 3D – me collapsing on Jayne’s doorstep in giggles, me throwing myself on him the second we get inside like I’m some kind of Alien on an mission to breed with humanity as quickly as possible, and then the cold-sweat-producing image of Jayne going down on me while I lie here on this very bed staring into space like I’m having a far-out acid drip because the entire world’s turned purple.

There, goes Jayne encouragingly, You do remember!

He leans in and for a second I wonder what he’s doing before it occurs to me he’s going for a lip-lock. I instinctively jerk back, sending the contents of the breakfast tray hurtling off my lap and onto a magenta shag pile rug. My host lets out his own shriek of horror, as if I’d just mass-murdered a whole box full of kittens, and starts dancing around like he doesn’t know what to do.

Jayne’s like, Shitting hell! Can’t you watch what you’re doing?

I decide it’s as good a time as any to lay down the law.

I’m like, Listen Jane – or Margaret or Lucy, or whatever your name is – could you please give me my clothes so I can get the fuck out of here and start working on repressing this whole event?

Jayne is staring at me and shaking his head with these goggle eyes like he can’t believe what I’ve just said. I grit my teeth and glare back at him to show him I mean business, but I’m unprepared for the tears which suddenly like, erupt out of his head. He sort of folds in on himself, dropping to his knees and cupping his face with his hands. It’s pretty disturbing, since this is a fully grown seriously-sized dude, built like he’s been doing bench presses since the kinder years.

I’m like, OK maybe that was a little harsh.

In between great sobs that are like his own private earthquakes Jayne is like, Why do I do it to myself? Why?!

I’m like, Look I’m sorry OK, I just –

But Jayne’s too busy sobbing. He’s obviously waiting for me to come over and comfort him, but there’s no way I’m getting out of bed in my birthday suit, no matter he may have already seen.

I sure know how to pick ’em, he moans eventually, Never seem to learn. Co-dependent idiot!

I’m like, Co-de-what?

He sniffs and goes, It’s what I do, in this suddenly almost conversational voice, Somehow wherever I go that’s always the type of man I home in on. People who are irrevocably damaged. They attract me like a moth to a flame. I have a psychic sense of who they are and I’m inexplicably drawn to them.

I’m like, Listen bro, I’m not damaged. I’m twenty fucking one.

To this Jayne lets out a knowing laugh like this is just the sort of thing a mad bad out-of-control addict would say.

He’s like, So you’re not old enough to be a screw up, is that what you’re trying to tell me? I saw you last night, knocking back the drinks and running off to the toilet every ten minutes.

It’s like, What is this? Tough talk Oprah one-on-one? I don’t even know why I care what this frilly-obsessed reject thinks, but all of a sudden I’m like, totally infuriated.

I’m like, Listen jerk off, you don’t know a single thing about me!

Jayne nods like this is just further proof of me flushing my life away..

I know a screw up when I see one, he goes.

I go to tell this loser where he can stick his opinion, but instead what comes out of my mouth is this totally lame, Look I’m in a fragile place right now and I could do without the judgement OK...?

Jayne snorts like I’ve just let one rip in the middle of a wedding service. He’s like, We’re all in fragile places darling. There’s no other sort of place.

Then he gives me this sage look like he’s fucking Gandhi or something.

He’s like, I understand.

Fuck off, I say, only it comes out sounding a bit more vulnerable than I intended it to, like really what I’m saying is to please stop upsetting me. Jayne gives me this look like he’s been there and done that and bought the tee.

It’s OK, he goes, We all have our issues. Look at me.

I look around the room and I can see what he’s talking about, though I guess from the way he’s pointing at himself and smiling sadly he’s actually talking his alleged thing for head cases, not a certain colour.

Look, he goes, I’m sorry if I came on a bit strong. I don’t want anything from you. I guess I forget that sometimes I can freak people out a bit by being so keen. Your clothes are in that drawer there.

He points at the chest by the door. Suddenly, even though my miasma and sledge-hammer pile headache, I’m kind of feeling sorry for this guy a bit. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m certainly not feeling that sorry. Trust me, the idea of shooting my load in this guy’s mouth is enough to bring something else up out of completely different orifice. But as a person, maybe he’s almost alright. Or at least as alright as it’s possible for a lavender-loving reference to Village People to be.

I’m like, Thanks.

I make a move to get up, then remember I’m babe naked. I’m just wondering if there’s a diplomatic way to ask Jayne if he’ll give me some privacy without making him spring another leak when he goes, Are you sure you won’t stay for breakfast?

I’m draw a breath to tell him No, meaning No fucking way, but he’s looking at me all sad and resigned like he knows exactly what my next words are going to be, and I guess I have this feeling like it’s up to me to prove that even with a raging inferno going on in my brain I can still be a halfway decent human being some of the time. I shrug.

I’m like, Fine.

Jayne reacts as if I’d just agreed to spend the rest of my life with him and leaps up and starts picking up bits of exploded breakfast from his shag pile, chattering on about how he’ll brew a fresh pot and other stuff that die-hard sexiness is made of. I’m just sinking back into my lavender pillow thinking this is going to be a real test of my like, everything, when I catch sight of this heart-shaped clock on the bedside table. For a few seconds I’m lost in marvelling at how beyond tacky it is. Then the thunderous realisation that I’m meant to be at my meeting for First Class Rep hits me.

Oh fuck! I scream.

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