UNTITLED: PART NINE

So, where do people who are drinking alone, drink alone? Do they go to the club? Or the bar? Who knows, and Alex certainly didn’t, but he wasn’t going to let that ruin his night. He had his newest jacket on, and his newest trainers and his cleanest jeans – these jeans weren’t crisp clean, but they were tidy enough to be worn. He came down the stairs of his parents’ house and opened the door and was straight away hit by the wind that was growling outdoors. This wasn’t going to stop him. Not today.

He walked down the street, the street that had become his new home. It was what you would call a ‘new estate’, his parents had moved there when Alex had moved out 4 years back. They clearly wanted to save the good stuff for themselves, so they stayed in the family home for 24 years, waiting for him to leave. This new place – bigger, warmer, cleaner – was a step up in the world and Alex, secretly, quite like living there. The street was your classic, English middle-class street. All bends and curves, houses and garages each side, no pavement to speak of but driveways that fit 3 cars – the standard middle-class amount of cars.

The streetlights were moving in the night and the reflection on the floor swayed and bobbed, as if Alex was in the club already. The cold of the evening made him walk quicker, faster, to the beat of the music in his headphones.

The decision had been made by Alex to go to a bar called The Lighthouse, his new beacon of alcoholic hope within the current shitstorm of both his life and the outdoors. It was a 20 minute walk or a two-minute drive. Alex didn’t fancy the “did you see the game today?” and “this weather is dreadful, isn’t it” from a taxidriver who would no doubt end up asking what Alex’s situation was. A conversation that would go something like this:

 

“Hi mate, where to?”

“The Lighthouse bar down the road, please”

“Ah yeah, no problem. Can do. So, had a good day? I don’t suppose you saw the game? Damn, the Reds really blew it didn’t they?”

“Na, I didn’t see that particular game. (or any game, for that matter, Alex would think) Erm, yeah, my day’s been alright thanks, how about you?”

“Yeah, just been on the job most of the day. So, that your house? Lovely house, that, mate”

“Erm, no, that’s my parent’s house. My house is, erm…”

“Go on son, spit it out, your house is..?”

“It was set on fire this week”

“Jesus, I bet you lost everything. I would hate to have lost everything, mate”

“No, yeah, I bet. Can we stop this conversation please, kind of trying to avoid it all really”

“Alright son, I was only asking.”

 

As you can see, getting a taxi wasn’t ideal (as that conversation would happen, verbatim), so walking it was. Alex thought about his life on the walk, where to go from here and what to do. He was currently homeless and hadn’t got much by the way of prospects. Although he wasn’t poor, he was barely well off. He didn’t have enough money to buy a house, but couldn’t stay with his parents much longer. The house he was previously in – the one with the fire – was rented so he was essentially homeless. The insurance covered his possessions so he could get a little bit of money back, but he was essentially starting his life again. His parents had said to him that “you’ll be better for the experience, Al” which, even though that’s kind of what they’ve got to say, is massively unhelpful and a little bit cliche. As though there’s a benefit from his situation. His parents had just made him mad and he hadn’t even seen them today.

By the time Alex had chance to calm down, he was at the bar. If there’s one bonus from having a mini-breakdown in your mind, it’s that it really passes the time on a walk. So things were beginning to look up. Alex passed a bouncer as he walked into the bar who looked at him like he knew he was drinking alone. The joke is on you, Alex though, because you’re working alone, and that’s worse. Alex knew that was a terrible burn, even if it was merely in his head. Good job he didn’t say all of his thoughts out loud, because life would be much less funny and his ego would probably be much more deflated than it already was. Tonight wasn’t a night for laughter, though. It was a night to forget things. All things.

Moving through the crowd that seemed to be forming near the door, Alex directed himself towards the bar right away. There was a queue, but it wasn’t too bad. The thought that he didn’t have to buy a round for anyone else but himself made him happier than it probably should have done. And although the music was loud (wasn’t it always?) he was enjoying the vibe: stinky vodka Redbull with a hint of sticky floor. Nothing screamed ‘English high-street bar’ like these two attractive features. It helped him know he was on a night out. A stinky, sticky night out. Excellent.

From the look of things, Alex was next to be served. This made him happy, and he decided that tonight was a gin and orange juice night. Was this what Snoop Dogg was rapping about on the track Gin and Juice? Ordering drinks for yourself in a stank-filled English bar? Probably not, but still.

As the barman was about to head towards Alex, he got a tap on the shoulder. If this was the bouncer and he had somehow read his mind from earlier, that would be just rotten luck, he thought. And well in line with how this week had panned out. The only known man with telekinetic powers spotted in Ormskirk, Lancashire, after smashing young loner’s head in. That would be classic.

Alex turned around and flinched, automatically. It was a girl. It was a girl. Who the hell was this girl?

“Erm, hello? Do I know you?”

“No. Do you wanna buy me a drink?”

UNTITLED: PART EIGHT

Alex had no clue what to feel, this was new territory for him. Sure, he had been dumped, binned off, ghosted and just plain rejected before. Ah, plain rejection. What a sweet, sweet feeling that would be. The clean cut of plain rejection. Lovely. This was rejection, but a different kind. It wasn’t plain. It was full of gross additions. And these weren’t additions that could be taken with a pinch of salt. These were additions Alex was allergic to. Nothing was plain. Nothing was simple. This rejection was full of shit.

The wind whistled and blew and caught the open window of Alex’s living room which slammed shut, scaring Alex half to death. “Fuck off”, he said, as the wind and the window caught his attention and he spun round to take a look at what had shuck him from his rather depressing daydream. It was only at the sound of the window closing that made him realise that day had now turned to night. A plain transition, light to dark. Nothing like Sarah’s decision to leave him for another man. No, cut that out, he told himself. Stop running in circles.

The clock was ticking and tocking and passing time when Alex realised that it was 7.35pm, he hadn’t eaten a bite. He was hungry, he was thirsty but he also had absolutely zero appetite for food. His mind wandered. What did he have appetite for?

There was nothing good in the fridge, he thought. Nothing like pasta or chocolate éclairs or leftover enchiladas, nothing that he really, truly wanted to eat. What did he have appetite for?

There was no cordial in the cupboard of fizzy pop in his room, so there was nothing he wanted to drink. What did he have appetite for?

Drink.

Drink.

Drink.

This word drink caught his wayward attention. He had prodded and probed at his thoughts, his brain, like it was a piñata until SMASH, it fell open when he dug out the word ‘drink’. And what was to fall out but ideas of getting pissed, getting fucked up. Ideas beyond his station, really. Alex wasn’t a drinker. He wasn’t an anything-er, really. But then that’s how all of this started, being a nothing-er. Plodding along in a job, doing nothing, trampling through life, doing fuck all. Waiting, wondering, daydreaming every day. Daydreaming his life, his relationship and his aspirations away. It’s as Sarah said:

“We’re sitting around, drinking gin and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns.”

Well, he wasn’t going to sit around anymore. Well, not tonight anyway. Alex had made his decisions. This Thursday night, he was going out on the town; Drink, kebab, taxi home, the lot. Fuck you Sarah, thought Alex. I can go out and I can be a normal, functioning young person with the best of them. Just you wait and see. Now, who else was out?

Fast forward 30 minutes and Alex soon realised he was alone in this plan to ruin his Friday morning because his only other friends, the friends he has that weren’t Bill, were working tomorrow. Like real adults. They were adults, with houses that hadn’t set fire, and hadn’t been given leave from work and weren’t totally fucked. Well, more fool them. He wasn’t going to let this stop his fun. Alex was going out alone. A night on the town, on his own. Let the good times roll.