They asked, so who was he to refuse? He was sat as one at a table arranged for 8 or more on a Friday night. There was no reason to be the usual antisocial loner. This might be a chance to try and talk to people again. His enforced loneliness was a ridiculous guard against something that wasn’t there, he told himself. They were Irish lads, celebrating a 30th birthday en masse, and they were just the ticket. They got in the way of the television, but for fuck’s sake, he motored on in his head, his internal conversations and decisions taken in milliseconds, talk, TALK.
Mossie was the birthday boy and easily the most gregarious. Hand out for the shake and an explanation as to why they were there, “My birthday, have a drink, will ya?” Sold. He realised he was four ahead in this bar, but the lads were buzzing and the synapses made the decision, “I’m in, happy birthday.” They’d been somewhere before, he wasn’t ahead at all.
The social geography was awkward. Finding himself at a corner with two of the older boys in the party, and somewhat established as an expert on all things Krakow because of his week long experience, he groped for a conversational entrée. Then he saw the patches on their jackets. They weren’t just older, they were from some different tribe. Instead of asking about their relationship with the birthday boy, he blundered in with “Like the patches, I used to hang with some Outlaws in Cheltenham.”
Synapses snapped – “hang”? Prick, prick, prick. However he was treated with grace and they responded with courtesy, asking about his involvement (which was limited to a few speed based nights in some rock nightclub as it was.)
“To be sure.”
The phrase rattled in his head. What a pure cunt, getting “Da Oirish” shit out to patronise. Utterly unmeant, utterly English. He could try to backtrack but they seemed oblivious. His empty stomach grumbled, his addled tongue conveyed messages that his swimming mind was only half forming. One, Tom, went to the toilet. To escape the horror of one on one chat with the other, Den, he followed – he was just an inch through his beer, the bar was not an option.
In the toilet most of the party seemed assembled and thick as thieves, laughing at the blown up sequence of pictures of a famous tennis player inspecting her Brazilian on the beach so intently that a sharp paparazzo had got his money shot. Turning around after his piss and faltering banter, he spied a crouched figure. He heard a sniff. The crouched figure threw his head back and gagged slightly. A dormant, or rather suppressed, ache spread through him. His legs weakened at the thought, although he was hungry and needed food or something to get him through….
“Can I take a line from you, please?” He even avoided saying “yous” or “ya” or “ye”. Even congratulated himself in a nanosecond, that internal monologue worked well.
“Its not coke,” said Brian one of Mossie’s inner sanctum, “just speed, easier to bring in bulk,” he winked, but not quite at him, at someone past his shoulder. A blink, small shake of the head and Brian was looking at him directly, offering a rolled 100 Zloty note to his nose.
“I’m meant to be stopping, I’m not meant to be doing this. One night though, I’m not buying it, I’m taking a gift, it’s not against our rules, Sveta won’t mind, Dad won’t mind.” Justification happened in a shorter time than anything else. Mind and body did not work, just as mind and tongue failed. Feigning nonchalance he grabbed at the note, whereas he had instructed himself to pluck it from Brian’s fingers at most, slip it from his grasp at best. It blurred. Desperation hit him and the line went up his nose, a bit sharp.
“Want another? It’s not great.” It went through his mind that he’d not done speed for ages, much less snorted the shit, but the bitterness was horrendous. Lying beneath that thought was “in for a penny……” Shit or bust, fuck it, powder up the nose, high high high high. Racked and ready the next line seemed to be available before he’d finished his lightening thoughts. Left nostril held by left forefinger, head pushed along by the same finger (like a bogus Wigi board), his head went back. Fuck, that hurt. Like coffee gone bad. Hold on. Once before. Ages ago…….
Three months before he’d had a quiet night in. Limes came over with his girlfriend on a Friday and for some reason they’d decided no booze, no pot, no coke, no nothing. Telly was the drug and it was enough for them all. Slightly anxious about sleeping, but happy with trying, they all muttered and half laughed at the shit on the box. At around midnight there was a knock on the door, it turned out to be Lottie and her ex Jake, on the way to a party after a session in the Fountain. Everyone, as always, was welcome, so they came in with their bottle of Bargain Booze vodka and three cans of Red Bull. Not one of the original three would express their relief, allowing it to be disguised as forced upon them. Lottie then retrieved a wrap of powder from her jean’s watch pocket before the drinks were poured, but with a joking warning, “Its not coke, I’m afraid, its K.”
Without a second thought he’d said, “Why not? No other time I’ll be this sober offered it,” and declined the vodka iced in front of him. He bent, crouched over the table that offered up the seemingly tiny lines beckoning him, took the note and inhaled sharply. Ground glass ripped his nostrils, acute hell assaulted his throat. Like bitter, old coffee.
This was the same shit. But with pints on board, how many he’d not cared to count. All he knew was the effect was rapid and he had maybe 5 minutes. The cunts had spiked him, he was furious.