God damn sand gets everywhere.
I thought I liked beaches. I used to like beaches. Now I hate sand and beaches suck.
The wind off the ocean was nice though. I laid down on my towel under the hot sun and let it dry me.
“How goods the surf?” Softy asked.
I’d spent enough time with Softy to know that what he means is the surf is great. Since I don’t surf and don’t know jack about it I just grunted in reply and kept working on my tan.
“You’re gonna burn mate.“Softy said.
“You talk too much, Softy.” I said, but I got up anyway. I tried to flick the sand off the towel and ended up covering myself in more God damn sand.
“I’m just looking out for you, you’re not gonna pull a root if you look like a lobster.” He had a point. I needed to get laid. It had been too long.
We tried to rinse the sand off at the outdoor shower, but there was so much of it on the ground that it didn’t work. I put my flip flops on and we walked back to his place.
I met Softy in Iraq. He was Australian Army and we did a few missions with them. They were good, well trained soldiers and Softy and I bonded over Lynyrd Skynyrd. We kept in touch through WhatsApp group chats and Instagram. Mostly by sending gross out pics, porn and memes, so although we have been friends for years, I didn’t really know him well.
I should have just found my own place but Softy wouldn’t hear of it. He said he had a spare bedroom and would be insulted if I didn’t stay at least a few weeks. When he said he lived five minutes from the beach I agreed. I thought I liked beaches.
“We still going to that party at your girl’s place?” I asked before I changed.
“You know I hate parties.”
“Well you’ve got two choices. One come to my girlfriend’s party where she’s invited all her single friends and they invited all of theirs. A party where I guarantee the girls will be lining up for a taste of the US Special Forces experience. Or two, you can stay home and have Mrs Palmer shows you a good time.”
“I’m going. I’d rather go to a bar is all.” There was no way I could go much longer without getting laid. It had been months. It didn’t bother me if I went months without sex on deployment because I had other things on my mind. Once I had taken my retirement though, it was all I could think about.
“Pub, you want to go to a pub. A bar is the place in the pub you get the beers, or an establishment that caters exclusively for wankers.” Softy explained for the fifth time.
“Right.” I said. “I want to go to a pub.”
“Well you’re either an alco or a creep if you go to a pub by yourself mate, so since I’m not going to the pub, you’ve got no choice do you?” Softy said grinning.
I had a proper shower. I even gave my short hair and beard a good scrub. I got dressed in some boots, jeans and a black t-shirt. It was a hot afternoon, but I wasn’t ready to embrace the board shorts that most of the guys around here seemed to wear. I had a quick look in the mirror and realised Softy was right. I could already tell I had burned. “Fuck.”
I went out to see Softy and ask him which girls would be up for a good time. Having some names ahead of time should speed up the process.
“Depends, on what level of difficulty you want, mate.”
“Give me the options.”
“Righto. Well Level One, Easy. You’ve got Chrissie. There probably isn’t a guy at the party she hasn’t fucked.”
“Including you?” I asked.
That surprised me. I thought girls were more territorial than that. “While you were with Jess? Why is she invited then?”
“Nah, back in high school before Jess and I got together. If she’s there alone, she will go home with you. Hell, even if she’s there with someone she might go home with you. It’s happened before.” She sounds like more trouble than she’s worth. “From all reports though, she’s a terrible lay. I wasn’t gonna judge her on our high school root, but apparently she hasn’t gotten any better. She’s a starfish.”
That didn’t sound appealing. I’d prefer a girl who at least appears like she’s into it. “Level Two then?”
“You’ve got more options. I reckon Vanessa or Sammie. Both are keen for a root but more choosy than Chrissie. I hear they are both decent lays too. They’re both pretty cool girls, good fun. I’d go for Vanessa personally, but both are a bit of alright.”
“Vanessa or Sammie. Got it.”
“Wanna hear about Level 3: Hard Mode?” His face says I do.
“Go on then.” I said, giving him a grin.
“Jess’s best mate and room mate, Vix.”
I made a face. “What kind of name is Vix?”
“Her name is Victoria.” Softy said. His grin tells me there is more to it than that.
“Why is she hard mode? She a prude or something?”
“Nah mate, not at all, I’ve seen her lingerie hanging on the clothes line. Wink, Wink.” Softy is grinning like a mad man.
“So why is she Level 3?”
“All us boys have been trying to get into her pants since high school. Not one of us got close. Oh I tell a lie. Robbo made out with her earlier this summer, but thats it.”
“Does she date?”
“Yeah, just never any of our guys.”
“Is she a bitch?”
“Nah, she’s awesome. She’s almost one of the boys, stays at parties till the sun comes up, doesn’t get offended by our shit, even joins in. She’s come to strip clubs with us, got lap dances and everything.” She was starting to sound interesting.
“Is she gay?”
“Nah, I think she likes to look at girls, but is into men. Jess swears she’s not gay. Plus she’s only taken boyfriends to parties before, never girls.”
“Is she good-looking?”
Softy shrugged. “Yeah, but she’s got a look. If you don’t like the look then you won’t like her. But all the boys think she’s hot.” Softy laughed, “you’re gonna go for Level Three aren’t ya?”
“You know I love a challenge.” I replied with a grin.
I looked at myself in the mirror again. Pretty good. It was too hot for anything better. I would have preferred to leave my hair down, but it was too thick. I reapplied my lipstick and put some more powder on my nose. It was just too hot for more make up than that and eyeliner.
I went into the backyard to help Jess. She was struggling to empty a bag of ice into the esky. I helped her.
“You should have waited for Peter.” I told her, already feeling like I was going to start sweating again.
“But the ice will melt.”
“Just put the bag in the esky and get Pete to do it when he gets here.” I said, exasperated. She was anxious already.
“Yeah, you’re right. I just want Pete to have a good party and not have to do anything.”
“It’s fine Jess. Just cause its his birthday doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a child. Asking him to put ice in an esky isn’t exactly difficult. You can ask his Seppo mate if you don’t want to ask him.”
“But I haven’t even met him yet. I can’t ask him to help out when he’s a guest.” Jess was wringing her hands. Literally. She’s the only person I know who does that. I thought it was a made up thing that sounded good in books until I saw her do it.
“Ask one of the other boys to do it then. Come on Jess, don’t get worked up. Let’s get those salads sorted.” Jess stressed less when her mind was occupied.
I started chopping up the cabbage for a coleslaw. Jess kept giving glancing over at me like she had something to say and didn’t know how to say it. “What?” I asked her getting fed up.
“You know Pete wanted to set you and Sy up.” Jess said, trying to sound bored. I knew that tone, she was trying to work out how I would feel about it.
“Oh yeah? What makes Pete think I’d be interested in one of his meat head mates?”
“’Cause you like meat heads.” Jess said amused. She wasn’t wrong.
“I am capable of finding my own hook ups.” I said annoyed.
“I know, thats why I told him not to do anything.” Jess was lying.
“Jess, if this guy is coming tonight thinking I’m his date or something...”
“I told you we didn’t set you up. He just thinks you’ll like each other.”
The doorbell rang, Jess jumped, anxious again. I sighed, “I’m done with the cabbage, start on the carrot ok? I’ll get the door.”
It was the entertainment. I let the DJ/Karaoke guy in. Our whole group was really into Karaoke. We always had Karaoke at birthday parties and we always sang Khe Sanh last. We all got really into it. We used to even make up routines for songs a few years ago. We didn’t do that much anymore. The only exception to that was Stop by Spice Girls.
Our group was made up of Jess and Pete who had dated since leaving school, Chrissie, Robbo, Yobbo, Mikey and myself. Others had joined throughout the years and now about 15 of us were regulars at our get togethers, plus another 20 or so who were coming tonight. It was a great mix of people, but in some ways it was falling apart. Mikey’s misses Leanne, had a kid last year so they didn’t come around as often. They would be come to this party though because it was Pete’s birthday. I was looking forward to seeing little Milo again.
I helped Jason, the DJ set up then told Jess I was going to sort the yard out. I took out all the plastic chairs and put them in small groups. I brought out the ash trays and garbage bins. I tested the fairy lights and found one of them was busted. I sighed and looked down at my black peep toe shoes and wondered if it was a smart idea to climb onto a chair to take them down.
I decided it wasn’t, I didn’t want to fall and flash the DJ. My underwear didn’t cover much. I wanted to leave it to Pete to fix when he got here but Jess had freaked out about him filling esky’s. Fuck it, I would have to do it.
I went and got one of those small Ikea step stools and pliers and climbed up. I barely reached.
I worked through the lights, cutting each of the ties until I had reached the last one. It was higher than the others, because of course it was. My arms were tired and I was groaning with effort as I tried to reach it. My dress had hitched up pretty high and I hoped I wasn’t flashing the DJ.
I was going to have to ask Pete to put the replacement lights up, this was ridiculous.
I stood on my toes on the top of the stool and reached up as high as I could. I wasn’t quite lined up enough so I shuffled to the left and just I got it. I snipped off the cable tie.
“Yes!” I shouted in victory. “Gotcha you fucker.” I said to the tie.
I heard a deep chuckle from behind me. “My, my, my. That’s some colourful language, Darlin’,” an amused voice drawled. Only one person could sound like that.
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