The weed Matt rolled is some really good shit and seems to help balance out the copious amounts of booze we’ve been binging.
“This weed is quality guv’ I’d normally be asleep by now otherwise,” I say suddenly realizing that I haven’t even had breakfast.
“Maybe I should start djing again?” he says while imaginarily mixing whatever song is coming out of the CD player.
“Sounds like the perfect midlife crisis. You could buy yourself some leather trousers and move out to ibeefa.”
“And be like Colin Farrell in a beach bar hollering at every young one that walks past-howaya doin daaarling? “
“I could just see you now flexing your Celtic tongue-a hoan, a do, a tri, a ceatheair,” I say punctuating and exhaling every number to great effect. We both break out into fits of drunken laughter. When the laughter subsides I feel overwhelmed with pangs of guilt for having laughed at a Colin Farrell reference. Poor John Marc isn’t even dead six months yet. I chug my beer in silent remembrance.
“Do you still think about your mate?” Matt says and I feel embarrassed that my inner thoughts are so palpable.
“About John? Yeah all the time. I feel kind of guilty.” Discussing this makes feel like I’m incriminating myself further.
“How so?”
“Lots of reasons. I should have done more for him in the past. I was also one of the last people to speak to him on the day he did it. Fuck I probably triggered him off. The poor bloke’s just mailing, asking how I’m doing and I go back to him all doom and gloom with my petty rants and irrelevant work problems.”
“I’m sure you did the best you could,” he says convincing no one.
“I wasn’t even there for him in death. The lads rang me for eight hours to tell me what had happened but I just ignored their calls because I was so busy in work. I thought they wanted to book a holiday or something.”
“Was that his first attempt?”
“No he’d had a couple before but they seemed more cries for help. I knew he’d been cutting himself so I did some research on the net and confronted him. I tried to get him to substitute the cutting with rubbing blocks of ice against himself.”
“I don’t get it?”
“The net says it’s basically a safe kind of self-harm.”
“Did he really kill himself over Colin Farrell robbing his bird?”
“No, that was merely the straw that broke the camels back. That was all media bullshit.”
I feel so raw and exposed only the drink helps me form words.
“I don’t even know the whole story with that either. The lads all told me but I thought it was a joke. You know the way when you haven’t seen friends for ages and they tell you so and so out of the group is gay. I just thought they were winding me up. It was only when one of the lads told me under no circumstances to speak to the media that I realized it was serious.”
I pour a few shots each to help take some of the edge off our conversation. I’ve finished my second when I’m startled by the directness of Matt’s question.
“Have you ever thought about suicide?” He says as if asking me to pass a bottle opener.
“I don’t know….I suppose I’ve thought about it.” The admission makes me feel ashamed.
“I have too. I wouldn’t have the guts for it.”
“Me either. I know a lot of people say it’s the coward’s way out but in a way, I think it’s one of the bravest things you can do.” Matt explodes into another fit of laughter.
“What?” I say, very self-conscious that I came off corny.
“Sorry I’m just after remembering a story about one of the lads I went to school with.”
Matt’s laughter becomes so infectious that I also find myself joining in.
“There was this lad I went to school with called Ken Adams. I didn’t really know him that well but he seemed alright. Well one day he decided to off himself, so he went home and hung himself from a light fitting in his sitting room.” Matt abruptly stops almost choking on his own laughter until finally he regains composure. “Well anyway halfway through the ceiling caves in on him.”
“Was he ok?”
“Yeah the poor fucker was fine.”
“Jesus imagine how degrading it must be to not even be able to kill yourself properly?”
“That’s not even the best bit, when his parents uncovered what had happened they made him pay for the ceiling repair work. The poor cunt worked like a slave all summer.”
“Haha so Irish. Is he okay now?”
“As far as I know…the poor guy probably can’t afford to have another botched attempt.”
Once I’ve managed to regain composure I grab the bottle of Il Diablo that Matt insisted we buy earlier in the local shop.
“What were you thinking Matt?” I say studying the black bottle of absinthe. “This stuff is 90%.”
“Really? I thought it was only 80%,” he says matter of factually. I pick up two glasses and fill them up a third of the way.
“Okay you first.”
“Why do I have to go first?”
“Because you were the one who wanted it.”
“Fine,” and with that he casually downs the drink. “Uggghhhh…give me a beer quick. Awh I’m on fuckin’ fire.”
He crouches down and begins punching his legs until I hand him the beer. His face looking possessed as he fights the alcoholic demon. After knocking back the can he slowly regains composure.
“The devil. That shit is the devil-my chest is still on fire.”
He says nothing for a minute reaching out for his cigarettes until he looks me straight in the eye, “right your turn”.
I don’t even bother arguing instead I try to lighten the blow by having a Smirnoff ice open and ready. I pick up the drink.
“Right bud on the count of three. A haon. A do. A tri.”
I knock it back and for a micro second don’t understand why Matt made such a big fuss, but then the delayed reaction catches up and I can feel the fire strip my throat, and burn my belly. “FUUUUUUUUUUCK….” I quickly gulp the Smirnoff ice but its acid icy base only fuels the fire. I pound on the walls while Matt laughs until the raging inferno simmers down to a bonfire.
“Seriously what’s wrong with you?” I say making Matt even giddier.
“If your mate wanted to kill himself he should have just downed a bottle of this-fuck!”
We settle down with a few more drinks until I notice the clock.
“Jesus Matt it’s 04.10 we’d want to get a move on.”
“How about one more Il Diablo for the road?”
I don’t get a chance to respond before he knocks the bottle right off the table smashing it all over the tiled floor.
“I think we both know what needs to be done here,” he says and instantly both of us are on all fours lapping up the booze. We frantically guzzle until Matt spots a red dye slowly contaminating our source.
“Tony your fuckin’ wrist man,” he says and on closer examination I can see it’s got a few lacerations but nothing deep. I look at Matt pleading my case when I notice his mouth is garish red and that he too appears to be bleeding.
“Fubb,” he says while rubbing off some small splinters of glass from his tongue.
“Haha I think it’s safe to say we’ve hit rock bottom,” I say before continuing to lap away at the puddle.
“Right well just to be on the safe side we better stick to our own part of the floor-you never know what we could catch.”
When we eventually stumble out onto the street I’m beyond wasted.
“Hold on did you just see that rabbit?”
“What rabbit Tony?”
“What rabbit? That smug bastard in the tweed cap up the top of the hill?”
“What hill?” I know I’m hallucinating but I definitely can see a rabbit.
“He says I’ll never make it up but I’ll show him”. I proceed to crawl up like an Army vet trawling through the long grass in enemy quarters.
“Haha what the fuck are you doing?”
“Shh you’ll blow my cover.”
“What cover? You’re in the Irish Rover car park.”
“Fuck it. You blew it-he’s gone now.”
I’m about to point to where he was, but it’d be idiotic pointing now as Matt never seen him in the first place. I jump back to my feet and dust myself down from the tarmac. We head in search of a club and Matt keeps laughing, but it’s disconnected from humour. The streets are virtually empty except for the odd die hard straggler. We hit the first club we can find called Coco’s and the bouncer doesn’t bother charging us because it’s “last orders”. Matt orders us a couple of double JD and coke’s but after the absinthe, which still burns strong, it’s like drinking water. I try to get Matt the round back but the barman informs me “the bar’s closed”. Almost on cue the lights come on and we’re all herded back onto the street.
We walk back to the hotel with remarkable ease and polish of the rest of the vodka watching the sun come up. I stare hypnotically at the sun searching for something, although I’m not quite sure what. I feel I’m inches away from a breakthrough and that the words are on the tip of my tongue, but the Faithless song, which was in the background, reaches its climax and shatters the moment.

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From the beginning.

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