“Cheers,” we both say as our beers clink together. “I can’t believe we got such a great deal for Portugal,” Matt says.
“I just can’t believe that I’m actually going full stop.”
“Yeah it’ll be class especially as we have the European championship on during the day.” We’re not even in the club that long but I can feel the sweet warm kiss of alcohol sooth my body and mind. I’m already trailing behind Matt who has followed up every pint with a shot.
He looks pale and tired with black bags forming underneath his eyes, although to be fair I’m no Dale Winton myself.
“How’d your match go today?” he says.
“Not great-I got sent off again,” I say pondering over my own lack of recent discipline. “Arrgghhh I can take them all just call me Chuck Norris.”
“I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve never been sent off once in my career and now twice in two games.”
“When we’re away are you going to glass the waiter? Arrgghh ‘ave it-I asked for Evian not this Perrier crap. Just remember the English will gut you like a fish. Gut-you-like-a-fish.”
“Not with these guns,” I proceed to roll up my sleeves and kiss my imaginary biceps.
“What are you planning to do with those water pistols? Drown the English?” and with that zinger he orders in another round of drinks.
I’m leaning against a ledge when I see her. Matt’s still not back from his smoke leaving me a sitting duck. I watch as she walks down the nightclub stairs and pray that it’s not her. Ever since she broke up with her fella she’s been on the prowl big time. I know because she mails me every fuckin’ Monday to update me on her escapades. I hate born again singles. They’re the lowest of the low. The majority of them spend the best part of their youth tied down to some idiot, who deep down they never really loved, but he was the first one to show them affection. As soon as they break free friends that they haven’t seen in years suddenly become inseparable. Everything is a fuckin’ competition. No matter how hard you party it’s never as hard as them. These cunts swan in like they own the place, but where were they on those cold November nights? The nights when the heavens open to the extent were a puddle could drown you, or a wind could leave you disheveled and disorientated on some poor punters roof. They haven’t earned their stripes. I watch as she gets closer and it’s inevitable that she’ll find me-they always do. It’s like they can smell my fear.
“Oh my God Tony!” she says.
“Hi Louise.” She quickly introduces me to the rest of her friends, but I don’t remember any of their names.
“So what has you in here on a Saturday night? You on the pull?” the way she phrases it makes her sound like an inquisitive mother. That’s all newborn singles care about-stats. How much drink you had, how many people you pulled, right down to how much you had to eat later on, to how much the taxi fare cost.
“Nah I’m just out having a few drinks with a mate.” Where the fuck is Matt?
“A mate? Is he cute?” she asks as her eyes light up like a slot machine. Here’s a slot that’s definitely paying out tonight.
“He’ll be back shortly and I’ll introduce you then.”
I can already see the template forming; “Oh my God I like ran into Anthony? Remember I told you about Anthony? Well I scored his mate, but like then “Dirty” came on, while he was in the toilet, and I got dancing with like the cutest guys. I was so totally wasted I must have had about seven fat frogs and ended up scoring like five guys. We ended up in Abrakebabra and I like got two kebabs. I mean two kebabs! I’m going to be a total fat mess if I keep it up. I didn’t get home till like five in the morning, and I got this dick head taxi man who like tried to charge me twenty-five euro. I was like eh twenty-five euro I don’t think so! So I like argued with him for like ten minutes before he finally gave in and reduced it to twenty.”
We make our way over to some empty seats and she continues to prattle on while I survey the club for Matt. Eventually, he comes back to the spot were we originally where, so I stand up to re-direct him. He staggers over and I introduce him to Louise.
“Matt this is Louise. Remember the Louise I told you about from the PC application night course I did a while ago?”
I’m not sure if he catches my wink but he introduces himself and engages in small talk none the less. He stops abruptly putting his hand to his mouth, which is probably to disguise a yawn. He begins coughing, and before I realize what’s actually going on he’s thrown up all over the table. The girls shriek and holler in horror, while black and dark green bile slowly crawls along the table contaminating everything in its wake. I grab my drink watching Matt as he slumps into the vacant seats. At first he seems disgusted with himself as he puts his hand up to apologize, but his face soon fills up with giddy laughter as tears flow out his bloodshot eyes. I can’t help but get swept up in the laughter as I approach to check if he’s okay.
“Sorry bud I didn’t mean to ruin your night,” he says.
“There’s really no need to apologize guv,’” I say and there really wasn’t.
He’s seen me in much worse states and never judged or persecuted me. Besides he did me a massive favour getting rid of Louise. My only surprise is that it happened so early on in the night.
I turn around to Louise and apologize on his behalf. “Sorry Louise he wasn’t feeling great before he came out tonight.”
“Has he no self control or self-respect for himself?”
Who the fuck is this bint to criticize?
“He only completed a round of chemotherapy today.” Suck on that you condescending cow. I can tell this has momentarily winded her.
“I’m so sorry Tony I didn’t know.”
I ignore her and take another sip of my drink. After a few seconds my revelation has the desired effect, and her and the rest of her posse clear off. I grab Matt and we head to the bar.
Throwing up has acted as the perfect elixir for Matt as he struts his stuff on the dance floor. He moves like a man full of confidence without any of the usual sluggish side effects of alcohol. If anything he’s got the perfect A game tonight. I watch from the sidelines as he makes his move on some slut wearing a white belt, high heels, and a low cut top-definitely money in the bank. That guy slumped in the corner-who has only awoken-is now being approached by three bouncers. They seem to be having a chat although the guy is pretty non-responsive. One bouncer clears the path while the other two link him by the arms and begin to lead him up the stairs. Everyone stares as he passes, while he concentrates on keeping his feet moving. I watch him slowly drag his feet from step to step as the bouncers carry him up the stairs. The bright lights and impending air seem to act like an adrenaline shot as he reaches the final step. He seems to slowly begin to comprehend the situation, but by the time he’s fully realized what’s happened, he’s already out on the street. I search for my phone and try to ring Matt but it’s ringing out so I send him a text-“Matt I got kicked out, see you outside.”
I’ve been freezing my balls off for twenty minutes now and still there’s no sign of Matt.
I frantically pace around in circles trying in vain to get warm, when I see Louise stumble out of the club. I don’t even make an effort to hide because she’ll track me down like they always do.
“Tony, what are you doing here?” she says.
“I’m waiting on Matt he should be along shortly.”
“Oh about Matt…I’m really sorry.”
I weigh up the options figuring it could be a long wait.
“Don’t worry about it Louise-you weren’t to know. So how was your night?”
“It was great-I never knew Dublin had so many cute guys, although I’m going to have some serious hangover tomorrow. I must have drank at least five fat frogs.”
I decide to humour her “five, whoa you’re going to be in some jock tomorrow.”
“Is there any chance you could help flag a taxi with me?” She says. I know where this is going but I don’t exactly have options.
“Yeah no problem Louise.”
We’re barely five minutes up the road when the inevitable happens. As we drunkenly slobber over each other I open my eyes to discover that we’re pressed against a costume shop called “Funny Business”. The irony serves as not only amusement but as the only redeemable trinket in this whole grubby non-starter. I haven’t been able to get Viagra in weeks, and the Camagra liquid sachet I have in my wallet is a very poor second best. There’s no way I’ll get a chance to peel and down the sachet in the taxi without getting caught. I can’t really afford to waste one on Louise either as the last batch I got off Sean is nearly gone, and I can’t see him rushing to help my anytime soon. My phone begins to ring so I cut the embrace short mid-kiss “sorry Louise I’ve got to take this”.
“Alright Tony where are you?” Matt says.
“I’m around the corner I’ll be back in a second,” I say ending the conversation. I look at Louise knowing she thinks “I” will become “we” but there’s no way I’m entertaining it. She moves in for another kiss but I slip back.
“Louise I have to go Matt’s outside waiting for me.”
“Can’t we meet up with him, and then you know…finish off what we’ve started?”
“You see the thing is Louise, Matt feels incredibly uncomfortable after the whole incident earlier on.”
“But I’ll apologize.”
“I know but it’ll make him feel really uncomfortable, and he’s already been through enough today as it is.”
She just stands there like a small child awaiting direction so I give her a quick kiss on the lips. I begin to walk backward and tell her that I’ll drop her a mail on Monday. I quickly flee from the scene of the crime and run back to Matt.
When I return he has the slut in tow.
“Tony this is Chantelle. Chantelle this is Tony.”
I shake her hand and judging by the weakness of her handshake I can tell it’s a formality she’s not accustomed to.
“So do you work at the same bank as Matt?” she says.
I debate correcting her statement but fail to see the point.
“No I work in another bank.”
I can tell she’s deciphering this information, which probably takes longer to reach her brain as it has twenty-five layers of makeup, and false tan to penetrate first. I grab Matt aside.
“What’s the story with easy belt?”
“She seems well keen.”
I study his face to see if he intended this as a joke.
“Yeah I’m sure you might just land her guv’, but how come you left me to wait outside for over forty minutes?”
“Sorry Tony I didn’t see your text message. Anyway, what did you get kicked out for?”
“I don’t know there was some misunderstanding and I was the fall guy. Well I better let you get back to seal the deal.” As if that deal needs any sealing.
We shake hands, and part our separate ways.
“Does that mean you have to wear a tin fruit every day?” I hear Chantelle ask Matt, while I walk away. I can’t make out his response in the distance, but there’s certainly no mistaking her come back-“sickener” she replies.

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From the beginning.

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