My name is Mike Jennings and I won Little Weeds. A huge opportunity that if used right could give me a career in writing, a dream I never believed could be realised. My first task for that dream was to get on the flight to Sydney that Stab had booked for me. That didn’t happen. It’s nine pm Monday night. My housemate comes into my room.
“Look man, I can lend you the money and we’ll get you on a flight tonight. You’ve fucked it up and now it’s time for damage control. Show them that you’re a man of action and want to fix this.” I call DR. No answer. I picture him picking up the phone, seeing my name and putting it back in his pocket. My reputation is made. My articles will probably be written by another writer. Word will get out and no magazine will have anything to do with me.
Opportunities like this don’t come around often and I’d destroyed it with alcohol and the lure of a cute brunette. Stupidly, I’d called DR straight away, still drunk, and told him the truth.
My flight had left at 6.45 AM. To get to the airport I needed to catch the Skybus from the city at around 5.30. The problem was, no trains could get me to the city by that time. My plan was to go to the airport that night and sleep there. The plan altered when my phone vibrated against my thigh. A phone call from an old friend from a different town. Her and her friends had a hotel room and two bottles of vodka in the city. “Come get drunk.” she said.
“This will work” I thought. I’d get drunk in their apartment and get the Skybus at 4.30. It’d be warmer than the airport and fun.
Bag packed. Train boarded. City arrived to. It was cold dark and lonely. Sunday night Melbourne was recovering from the raping an AFL grand final gives it. It was hungover and so was I. My weekend had been a big one already, but I was excited about going to Sydney and wanted to expand on that feeling. My funds were low and I’d only eaten a can of beans that day (from the can) so I spent $2.40 on a sushi roll to combat the stomach pains and walked up Little Collins street to their apartment.
Kristel greeted me with a hug. She half-filled a tall glass with vodka then the other half with cranberry juice and handed it to me.
“Emma’s upstairs” she said. “Are you nervous?” “Fucking oath!” I thought. “A little,” I said. “She wants to see you,” she giggled. Emma is the cute little brunette who destroyed me in my last city. The relationship is hard to explain. We had two weeks of perfect sex and then five months of hate and trying to avoid each other. Before coming here I decided it was time to let go of grudges. Being mean and angry turns a 23 year old into a boring old man. We entered a bedroom and three girls sat crosslegged on beds sipping their drinks. Emma looked at me and then away. It was awkward. The last time I’d seen her she was screaming at me. She pushed me in the chest and told me to fuck off out of town.
She left the room to get a drink and everyone laughed. Conversation played out in the background and I participated enough, I guess. My knee shook and my chest cavity was hot and cold simultaneously. The feelings were strong, but I couldn’t tell whether they were positive or negative.
In the lounge room, we got drunker, talked louder, held glances longer. Chemistry got thicker or hotter or whatever. Last year’s electro Modular bands played from an iPod plugged into some speakers. Some gay boys arrived and filled the room with flamboyant enthusiasm. It was a party.
Things got hazy, the vodka portion of my drinks had gone way past 50%. Someone showed us something on a laptop and I stood closer to Emma than I would if I was sober. She leaned back into me. Her hand came from behind her and grabbed the inside of my shirt. She has a boyfriend.
British India’s God is Dead, Meet The Kids started playing. She walked to the upstairs bedroom and when no-one was looking so did I. Her eyes widened in genuine shock at my arrival but she pulled me into the bathroom and shit got hectic. Time got lost and people started yelling for us to come down. They were going to Sorry Grandma’s, a newer club built for the MDMA generation. Its advertising campaigns uses phrases like, “I can’t feel my dick” next to paintings of Elizabethan characters with giant pupils. I rarely go cause they rarely have a door price less than $20. They gay boys wanted pills and they’d get them but I had important stuff to do this week and no money anyway.
We hit the street and the rest jumped into cabs. Emma and I didn’t. My hand held a glass full of vodka that I didn’t remember pouring. The air was warmer than before and a hell of a lot less lonely. At 4.30, I was awake in bed but decided I’d leave in half an hour. The transition from drunk to dream was smooth. The next time I checked it was 8.45. Two hours after my flight had left Melbourne. I jumped out of bed and pushed some buttons on my phone. DR picked up, “Putrid coon bitch, what happened?”.
“I fucked up man, I fucked up bad!” explaining how I got into the position I was in. Worst of all I was honest. A smarter person would have claimed broken down cabs, lost phones and dead relatives but I was still drunk.
“Ah man, leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do,” DR said hanging up. I immediately texted him, Self loathing is at ridiculous new levels. I don’t know why. “Fuck,” I yelled again and looked to Emma. “Fuck,” she repeated. The doona hung off her breasts and the morning sunlight threw shape over her figure. It made sense then but still the biggest opportunity of my career seemed lost. My life was ruined. I was a fuck-up all over again.
I jumped back into bed, “You were sent by God to destroy me I reckon.”
She shrugged, “God is dead, so meet the kids.” She was right, it’s no-one else’s fault but my own. As I cupped her bum cheek with my hand and brought her closer, I thought, “Self destruction shouldn’t feel this good.”