The party had been bustling boisterously when Frankie had arrived but now it was in full swing. Drunken adolescents stumbled about in good cheer, shouting, laughing, belching, dancing. As Frankie walked into the lounge he noticed the stench of someone’s sick on top of spilt booze and sweaty teenagers. Sure enough in the far corner of the room he saw a girl who looked slightly worse for wear considerately vomiting into a plant pot, with a friend holding her long blond hair out of her face. He saw Chaz stumble through the doors that led onto the patio.
Spotting the girl he yelled, “CHUNDER!” pointing sharply at her to emphasise the point. Audible above all else that was going on in the lounge the girl did not appreciate this evil bastard; as she must have thought, bringing attention to what had been, up until now, a sly puke. She raised her head to retort but gagged on her words as another wave of nausea made its way out of her mouth and onto the Hibiscus plant. Chaz found this even more amusing adding insult to injury he yelled.
“YOU’RE A DISGRACE!”
The girl’s friend retorted for her. “Fuck off Chaz you sad twat!” Chaz held his hands up in a surprised but comical way as if to proclaim his innocence. Chuckling he spotted Frankie, giving him a mock salute he headed over to him through the throng of people dancing to the heavy drum & bass.
“Mate, where the fuck have you been!?”
“Upstairs with Harry and Bri rollin’ a joint,” Frankie had to shout to make himself heard.
“Came to see if you wanted a bit on.”
“Of course I want a bit-fuckin’-on, where are they?”
Frankie always found Chaz’s enthusiasm for narcotics funny. Not that he was a major druggy or anything like that; he just loved to get stoned and maybe, on special occasions, eat a few pills. He was a rascal, he went round saying what he wanted and doing what or who he wanted. He had a sort of charm about him though because he could get away with just about anything, especially with the ladies. Incidents such as the one with the “Chunder” girl were common place, surely later Frankie would see Chaz up to his tricks. As had happened countless times Chaz would either go over to or be confronted by the girl’s friend. She would call him a bastard and he would make his half hearted apologies, then he’d get her to agree that it was somehow funny, he’d smile his cheeky school boy smile and look into her eyes with his deep cobalt blue ones, start talking about her and then...classic Chaz. They headed out the lounge and raced each other up the stairs, Chaz pushed and shoved ahead but Frankie clipped his foot with his hand causing Chaz to fall and climbed over him. Reaching the top he burst triumphantly through the door immediately to the right at the top of the stairs. The room belonged to the hostess’s brother, Chris, who was away in Thailand or Indonesia or somewhere like that, Frankie couldn’t remember. It was resplendent with pictures of Chris’s past adventures and cultural artefacts he’d brought back with him; Frankie’s favourite was a miniature model Cheetah. The sculptor had captured its raw power and majesty in the graceful pose he’d carved it in, as if stalking prey on the plains of the Masai Mara. Chris, in Frankie’s book, was a legend, he’d had his first joint with him and he always had some interesting tale to tell or some mind bending philosophy to put out there that sometimes where beyond Frankie’s comprehension. Someday he hoped to go travelling like him see and experience some of the things he had.
On the double bed sat cross legged were Harry and Bri. Harry was, as swooning girls often referred to him, a beefcake. He played rugby for their college and looked like one of those tough guys who might go out to a club, drink a few too many Stellas and start a brawl but nothing could be further from the truth. His hard exterior belayed his gentle nature; he was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, genuine people Frankie knew. They’d met at secondary school and been on the rugby team there together, what a doss that had been! There had been mornings when one of their dads would give them a lift to Saturday morning practice or a match hung over or still pissed even from the previous night’s under-aged binge drinking session. Feeling terrible at 8 AM in overly short shorts that formed part of their uniform, and with goose pimpled legs on those coldest winter mornings, sometimes being sick on the sidelines they’d played. On those weird school days and blurred weekends they’d grown through being boys into young men together. They were brothers, “maybe not by blood but in spirit” as Harry had eloquently put it when they’d taken Ecstasy nervously together for the first time.
Chaz went and jumped on the bed, a little over excited as he had gone from being quite tipsy to being defiantly and undeniably drunk.
“Chaz you bloody nutter, you’ve just knocked over the ash tray,” Bri half moaned half chuckled. “Clean it up and behave yourself else you won’t get any on” she said as she lit up a spliff. Chaz obeyed. Brianna. Frankie, much as he had tried to tell himself he liked Bri “just as a friend”, couldn’t deny that he was quite, if not hopelessly smitten with her. She would have been at home living in the late sixties and early seventies, citing some of her favourite bands and musicians as being The Doors (Jim Morrison was her God), Hendrix, Deep Purple, Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and so on. At that particular moment she put Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit on to play from Chris’s computer. She came and sat back down next to Frankie, moving in a fluid, dancey way to the music as she did. That was what drew him to her, like the Cheetah sculpture there was a grace and raw energy to her that was seemingly untameable, in ancient times she may have been made a high-priestess. She could command the respect of a rascal even such as Chaz, probably why he adored her so as a friend. She had shoulder length, chestnut hair, her eyes were a brilliant gaze holding green. There was an earthy smell to her, unlike many girls that he knew or had met Bri had little vanity when it came to her looks, she hardly ever wore designer labels opting instead for fair and ethical trade clothing. The only make-up Bri ever really wore was eyeliner, her beauty was natural and Frankie thought it would be almost blasphemous to cover that up. He’d been gazing longingly at her and caught Harry’s eye who, being the only person who knew how he felt about her, gave him a teasing smile. Feeling bashful Frankie grabbed a can from the crate of Carlsberg that lay at the foot of the bed.
“Pass us one please mate” Harry asked.
Frankie went to pass the can to him but Bri snatched it from him. “How many have you drunk so far?” she waved the Carlsberg at him. “You’re supposed to be driving us home tonight.”
“That’ll be my third, don’t worry I’ll make it my last. It’s only just gone ten anyways, don’t think we’ll be leaving till gone three or four.” Content with his answer and reasoning Bri handed over the beer.
Frankie respected Harry’s self-discipline. Where as he could be strict with himself and not go overboard with drinking as much as he could, Frankie was more like Chaz in that respect. Frankie grabbed himself another can and accepted the spliff being passed to him by Bri. Drawing in deeply he held the smoke in his lungs till he could feel the effects of the marijuana flow through him, blending nicely with the alcohol already in his blood stream, giving him that lofty feeling he loved. He took another deep drag and held his breath for a few seconds the lofty feeling he had turning more floaty. As White Rabbit peaked in the background he exhaled through his nose then mouth. Opening his eyes Frankie grinned at the others. This was good stuff. Having another few drags he hadn’t noticed at first but the smoke was dry and tickly as he breathed it down. After one particularly long drag the scratch of the smoke overwhelmed him sending Frankie into a coughing, spluttering fit. Bri, Harry and Chaz laughed at him as he wheezed trying to catch his breath, his eyes tearing at the rawness at the top of his throat.
“Fuck me,” he spluttered. “Who did you get this off Harry, its bloody good stuff?”
“Dorian, the new assistant manager at work, he’s sound as fuck mate. Pass that ere anyway if you’re going to keep coughing all over it.” Frankie gave him a look “Hey if you can’t play the game get off the field mate” he said, a phrase Frankie had coined one particular rain soaked December morning. One of the other lads on the team was complaining about how he’d gotten up too early and how was he “supposed to catch the fucking ball when it’s covered in fucking mud and can’t feel my hands”. This conflicted with Frankie’s “just get on with it” attitude who eventually lost his temper with him. Since then it had become a general expression between them for telling someone just to get on with something, or being used to tell someone to Stop being such a pansy, such was the case now.
Frankie took a long gulp of his beer to help sooth his raw throat. He noticed Bri’s cheeks were pink from laughing. Harry sat comfortably against the headboard as he dragged on the joint. They passed it round from one to the next till it was smoked down to the end. Stubbing it out in the ash tray Harry pulled another, pre-rolled, from behind his ear, just as he did the hostess barged through the door. She looked ready to drop kick someone in the face, her eyes flashed dangerously, wild almost. When she saw who was in the room though her anger dissolved and her shoulders slackened. Looking closer Frankie could see that her mascara had smudged slightly from where she might have been crying.
“Rhian, what’s wrong?” asked Bri in her gentle tone, raising her head lazily.
“Some dickhead has broken a vase, there are muddy footprints and spilt booze EVERYWHERE, there’s a hole in the downstairs toilet door, one of the cats has gotten out, there were some people I don’t even know fucking in MY bed and somebody has been sick on my Mum’s favourite plant!”
“Sounds like a good party to me” Chaz chimed in.
“You’re not helping Chaz!” Rhian went and sat down next to Harry, swaggering as she did, slightly drunk which couldn’t be helping her mood Frankie thought. Harry put a comforting arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder.
“Have you been crying?” he asked, she gave a nod. Frankie had seen him with other girlfriends in the past but he could tell that Rhian was special to Harry. It was in the looks he gave her, the tone his voice took when he spoke to her, the way he put his arm round her whenever she was upset. Rhian was a bit of a...tough cookie. She was hard around the edges, tom-boyish having grown up with two older brothers. She seemed aggressive at times and could be mean when drunk but she had a soft side, one which was reserved those she felt closest to and Harry was one of them. With him Frankie saw that she could let her guard down. Frankie got on with her, he’d made an effort to be her friend seeing as she was going out with his best mate, her trust was hard to win. When he’d said to Harry thirteen months earlier when she and him had first started seeing each other “What are you doing with such a stuck up bitch mate!?” He’d answered, “She’s not really like that, it’s like she has a wall up but it’s worth it if you break through to the other side.” After some misgivings he’d started to see what Harry meant and had warmed to her. They were almost good friends, he thought.
“Can I have some of that” she said nodding at the newly lit joint. She didn’t smoke often, only doing so to calm down rather than to just get high, which was one of just so many reasons why she disliked Chaz. They passed round a few more joints, Chaz, Frankie and Bri decided to have a chugging competition which ended abruptly when Frankie poked Bri in the ribs causing her to project Carlsberg from her nostrils. They burst into a fit a giggles.
“Frankie!” Bri wailed, elegantly dribbling beer from her mouth into her hand and throwing it at him. “That’s not funny!” she said even though she was laughing at her own misfortune. “Eurgh, that felt really weird.” She wiped her face with the pillow she’d been resting on.
“You’re not going to stand for that are you!?” Chaz laughed, holding his sides as he rolled in hysterics. Bri looked Frankie in the eye, her lip curling in the way it did only when she was plotting against him. In a flash she launched herself across the bed, tackling him off the edge where he’d been perched. She landed on top of him and pinned him down with her thighs and tickled his stomach. Frankie was in fits of laughter, he wasn’t usually ticklish but Bri always seemed to find the right spot. He tried to fight her off, while also internally trying to fight the throb of arousal at her powerful thighs clamped tightly round his. He was laughing too much to be able to summon the strength to fight back so instead he swallowed his pride and managed to splutter “OK! I give in! I give in!”
Chaz was still in fits of laughter “You just got beat up by a girl!”
Frankie felt lightheaded from laughing so hard. Bri was still kneeling above him. She smiled down cheeky and victorious, panting softly from the effort of keeping him pined. “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” she said in a mock sultry voice.
“Actually that’s my mobile and if you don’t mind you’re sat on my very FULL bladder” Frankie replied cockily, raising his eyebrows and making a face at her. She slapped him playfully on the chest and slid off to one side. He got up a bit shakily and went into Chris’s en-suite toilet. While stood there he realized that he was...well there was no denying it, battered. There was a haze between what his brain was telling his body to do and what his body actually did. He fumbled with the buttons on his jeans to get them open. Who ever came up with buttoned jeans obviously never got pissed he thought to himself. Then when the buttons were open there was the problem of aiming, sorry Chris. As he came out the toilet the girl who had shouted at Chaz earlier came into the room.
“Rhian I’ve been looking for you, some randomers have turned up and they’re being complete dickheads.”
The calm that had come over Rhian disappeared “Oh for fuck sake!” She sprung off the bed, “Help me kick them out Harry” he got up to go with her.
“I’ll come give you a hand” Chaz eased his way off the bed and followed after them. Of course he had a double motive, here he saw a chance to show off his “nobler” qualities and possibly a chance to get in with the girl from earlier. Frankie went and sat where Harry had been, he’d left his tobacco tin so he rolled a small joint to share with Bri who came and sat next to him resting her head on his shoulder. He sparked up and after a couple of drags passed it to her. He couldn’t really think of anything to say but that didn’t bother him, the silence was comfortable. Frankie could hear the party going on about the house, the thumping of the base in the living room, shouts and cheers of “CHUG, CHUG, CHUG!” There were people running about and there was some sort of a commotion coming from the bottom of the stairs that sounded a lot like Rhian giving some poor bastard a bollocking. They hadn’t noticed any of this while they’d been toking together. They’d been content to sit there drinking and smoking, safe in their seclusion from the madness that went on around them in their own little enclave. Frankie chuckled when he thought of this coming to the sort of epiphany that only happened when he was high. That was what happened when you were with good friends he decided, the noise of the world around gets turned down and nothing else really matters except that moment and place and the people you’re sharing it with.
“What are you giggling at?” Bri asked bemused. Frankie shared his thoughts with her as he often did. “You’re a deep bastard when you want to be Frankie,” she said softly as she nestled against his chest.
Frankie smiled widely “Thank you.”
“You’re also a big girl!” Bri tousled his hair and kissed him on the cheek, “Let’s get some food, I’ve got the munchies real bad.” She led him by his hand to the top of the stairs and then suddenly jumped on his back almost sending them tumbling down. Frankie walked down the stairs and toward the kitchen carrying Bri on his back, he couldn’t help but notice her breasts pressed against him. “Stop wriggling or I’ll drop you on your head.” From the bottom of the stairs he could see Rhian and Harry seeing out the last of the uninvited guests. Walking through the study that led to the kitchen he spotted Chaz standing with the girl who’d shouted at him, deep in conversation. They made it into the kitchen which had got a lot messier in the last hour or so since they’d been in Chris’s room. Letting Bri down Frankie could feel his shoes sticking to the laminated floor, it had pretty much been marinated in booze. There was a lad sat at the wooden circular table in the middle of the room, he had his head down clearly passed out.
“Have a look at this casualty” said Frankie as he walked around the table, the remnants of a card game lay about the table and floor around it. There was an empty bottle of whiskey and two vodka bottles, one still had a little left at the bottom. Obviously the card game had involved drinking a heavy amount of spirits and this poor sod had lost. There were other people about, some he knew from college, helping themselves to food from Rhian’s cupboards. She had told Bri and Frankie earlier that they could help themselves to food if they wanted any. Bri was now trying to wrestle a loaf of bread from one boy arguing with him as she did.
“Did Rhi say you could help yourself to her food!?”
“Yes, fuck off you stupid cow!”
“Oh really?” Rhian had walked behind him having seen the situation. The boy turned round and it was obvious from the way his face dropped that he had crossed her before. SLAP. “You think you’re such a big man don’t you!...” Here we go Frankie thought, Rhian was aptly wound up and boozed up now to launch into one of her infamous tirades. Poor bastard. “Who do you think you are to come into MY house and start helping yourself to MY food!? You’re just a sad little boy...” And so it went, everyone in the kitchen was silent and watching this fairly one sided argument, except for the lad who was passed out at the table. Everybody enjoys a good roasting.
The boy who was now experiencing the full brunt of Rhian’s verbal fury now made a mistake, he answered back. “Oh just shut your fat gob will ya!” That was it. Rhian pushed the boy, who being already unsteady on his feet due to drink slipped on the wet floor, hitting his head on the table. His girlfriend who had been watching the commotion now threw herself at Rhian screaming like a banshee, pulling at her hair and scratching at her face. Harry pulled the girl of off Rhian, all too aware that she could throw a mean left hook. It took both Bri and Frankie to keep hold of her. There were calls of “Leave it out!” “Go on smack her one!” “It’s not worth it!” “Fight, fight, FIGHT!” The boy who Rhian had pushed over got to his feet, a thin trickle of blood ran down his cheek where he’d hit the table.
“I think you guys should leave” Harry suggested letting go of the girl as the mood became less aggressive. The couple left followed by name calling and shouts of abuse from those who had bore witness to the brief scuffle.
Bri still held Rhian’s arm “Bad karma. Are you alright Rhi?”
She nodded a yes. “I’m sorry about that, I shouldn’t have pushed him.”
“Don’t worry that guy was being a dick.” Bri hugged her
“There’s some Spag-Bol in the fridge if you guys are looking for something to eat by the way.” She went off with Harry to go and chill out.
Bri and Frankie helped themselves each to a fairly large portion of Spaghetti Bolognese, heating it in the microwave they sat at the table to eat. It was then Frankie realized who the passed out lad was.
“Nick?” he said giving him a shove. “Nick!”
“Wha?” came his muffled voice; he didn’t bother raising his head from out his arms, not that he really could.
“You alright there mate, you look a bit dead?” Frankie grinned at Bri who grinned back as she wolfed down her meal.
“Wha were all tha bad noise bout man?”
“What bad noise?”
“There wa a fight or sumat near here man.”
“Oh right yeah, no worries mate it’s all sorted now.” Nick mumbled something incoherent and seemed to pass out again. Nick made Frankie laugh, they’d also met in secondary school but they hadn’t always gotten along. Frankie still felt a twinge of guilt for the some of the stick that he and Harry had given him during those years. They hadn’t been nearly the worst people to pick on him but all the same Frankie still felt shameful at the fact that they had done nothing to make his time easier at school. Nick had eventually changed schools half way through year ten due to the bullying he sustained. Frankie and Harry didn’t see him again for two years till they ended up at college together. Fate, it seemed, had conspired to bring them together. It was on the college ski trip they ended up sharing a room together and it was in the Austrian Alps that they had forged their friendship. At first things were tense, the memory of the wrong Harry and Frankie had done went unspoken. One evening after returning from a beer hall, all three of them completely smashed, Frankie had tearfully apologised to Nick. “You know what Nick,” Frankie had started when they were having their night cap. “You’re a sound lad and I’m...” his voice had started to break at this point, the remorse he’d felt when Nick had left had been rekindled that week and was brimming in a lump in his throat. “I’m sorry, yeah. You didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were. I just want you to know that I’m real sorry and I’ve actually enjoyed spending time...” he stopped at this point as a tear made its way down his face. Harry cut in and said his piece too and Nick had graciously accepted their apology. For the rest of the week the three of them had skied together then come back and gone out to the bars. They’d found that Nick was actually a bit of a party animal and good laugh, far removed from the “lame Nick-the-Dick” reputation he’d had at school. Since that trip the comradely spirit between them had grown and remained strong.
Frankie was just wolfing down the last of his Spaghetti Bolognese when Nick sounded up again. “Frankie?”
“Can you give me a hand.”
“Gettin’ to ta toilet, feel like I’m gonna boke man.”
Frankie giggled at the fact this wasn’t the first time Nick had asked him this. “Yeah alright mate, steady on there.” He and Bri helped Nick to his feet, supporting an arm each and half walked, half dragged him to the downstairs toilet which luckily wasn’t being used. On the way through the study Frankie noticed that Chaz had pulled and now had the girl sat on his lap snogging her face off. They knelt Nick in front of the toilet.
“Do you want us to stay with you?” Bri asked
“Nah I’ll be alright in a few thanks, go enjoy yourselves, jus’ do me a favour and lock the door.”
“Feel better buddy,” Frankie said ruffling his hair. After Bri had followed him out he took a loose coin from his pocket and locked the door from the outside.
Bri grabbed him by the wrist and ran toward the lounge “Let’s dance!”
Frankie wasn’t much of a dancer he felt but he was drunk and amongst friends so he didn’t care how much of an idiot he looked flailing about like a retarded mermaid. They made their way to the middle of the room where Harry and Rhian were dancing.
“Have you seen Nick about at all, do you know if he still wants a lift later!?” Harry asked when they got to them.
“Funny you should ask mate, he’s talking to the porcelain telephone at the mo’, I think he’s going to crash out here.” Harry gave him a thumbs up.
The lively song that Frankie knew but couldn’t place finished and Discovery Channel by The Bloodhound Gang started. Frankie looked at Bri as he sung and made wild gestures along to the lyrics. You and me baby aint nothing but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel. Bri looked right back at him and did the same, smiling her cheeky smile. Discovery Channel ended and Bri immediately recognised the next song that came on, Rose by Janis Joplin. All the couples in the room or those who were coupling off for the night came together for a slow dance. He and Bri came together and held each other close. She was shorter than him, the top of her head came up to his nose, so she rested her chin on his shoulder. As they began to sway in time with the music he could feel her breath on his neck. Holding Bri this close to this song was intoxicating in itself Frankie felt. It’s the heart, afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance. He held her closer, she wrapped her arms round him and shifted her head so that the soft skin of her cheek caressed his stubbled one. He could hear her breathing now. It’s the dream, afraid of waking, that never takes the chance. They looked at each now, searchingly, faces barely an inch apart, Frankie had never seen her looking at him like this. He wanted to kiss her right then and there, did she feel the same? Is that why she was looking at him like this? And the soul afraid of dying, that never really learns to live. Bri gazed into his eyes in the deep soul searching way that had creeped him out when they’d first met at the start of college. She edged her face towards his, Frankie closed his eyes in anticipation, is this happening!? Their lips were about to meet...when Chaz barged into them causing their heads to bump painfully.
“Chaz man watch where you’re going!” he said angrily.
“Sorry mate!” he grinned manically, oblivious to the moment he’d just ruined.
Looking back at Bri she smiled bashfully at him, rubbing her forehead. “How hard is your head!?”
“Very!” he said, trying to seem unshaken. The moment was passed now replaced by a slightly awkward feeling. Bri felt the same apparently as she excused herself to go have a look at the “lump” on her head, closely followed by Rhian.
“Frankie! What happened there?” Harry slapped a hand on his shoulder, the music had shifted back into a lively gear now.
“Are you sure that was nothing, friends don’t dance like that.”
“I don’t know man, let’s grab a beer.”
They headed upstairs and back into Chris’s room. Harry sat and rolled a spliff to share between them. Frankie grabbed a beer from the pack and downed off half without thinking, his stomach felt like it was somersaulting. He’d pictured that moment a hundred times, that was how he imagined it would happen, that’s how he’d dreamed it would happen! But then Chaz had to barge in and ruin it! Not that he’d meant to but still Frankie couldn’t help feel pissed at him.
“So,” Harry said lighting up the spliff. “What was that all about?”
“I’m still asking myself,” he said accepting the spliff from Harry drawing in deeply. “It was her eyes man, the way she looked at me. I thought maybe it was going to happen.”
“You never know, maybe that was it.” He took the spliff back. “If she does like you that won’t be that only chance you get though.” Frankie couldn’t help but wonder if she and Rhian were having the exact same conversation at that moment.
“Personally I think you should stop being such a God-damn pussy ‘ole and talk to her,” Chaz had just entered the room.
“Mate! If it weren’t for you I could have got in there!” Frankie fumed at him, he was a cheeky bastard alright!
“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” this took Frankie and Harry back, it wasn’t usual that Chaz said sorry and meant it! And he did mean it, Frankie could see it in his eyes. He came and sat next to them. “I might not be the most ‘sensitive’ of people but even I can see that you like her dude.” He took the spliff from Harry. “I mean it’s obvious really! I saw you looking at her earlier, I always see you looking at her! Stop being such a fucking woman and just tell her – please – for fuck sake,” he said as he took several deep drags and then offered the spliff back to Frankie. “I mean come on, what’s the worst that can happen? She doesn’t like you like that, fine, fuck it, fair enough. At least you’ll know and she’s a good person, she won’t just do a runner ‘cause she feels awkward.”
“Wow Chaz, that was almost insightful,” said Harry, shocked that he had actually made sense.
“Well you know,” he shrugged. “I’m not just a pretty face, and Frankie, dude, don’t go saying ‘I could have got in there’. She’s not like some of these other random slappers around ‘ere that you can just fuckin’ give a few lines and play tonsil tennis with. I recon she likes you more than she lets on and you’re a stupid bastard if you don’t do anything about it.”
Frankie sat there taking in Chaz’s warped and yet sensible advice. “When’s the last time you made sense like this?” he said punching him playfully in the arm, laughing.
“Fuck knows man...” he thought for a second. “Ages ago when we talked about if democracy really works.”
“Oh yeah!” Frankie yelled remembering that night suddenly. “How long were we going on about that for?”
“At least three or four hours, we were so stoned!”
“That was a long debate,” Harry laughed at the memory. “We learned that Frankie hates freedom!”
“No I don’t, it’s just there’s no way that everyone gets there say!”
“How can you say that, everyone has a vote!” Chaz chimed in.
“Because not everyone votes for the winning party do they, where’s their say...”
So it went. Harry got another spliff on the go and they delved into the debate which normally they’d have had no interest in. Somehow they got onto the topic of whether or not euthanasia was a viable solution to solve the suffering of the terminally ill.
“To be fair,” Chaz said slurring his words now. “If I was a ginger I’d do everyone a favour and just through myself off a cliff.” They burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
“Mate,” Harry said wiping tears from his eyes and snatching back the spliff. “Being ginger is not a terminal illness!”
“I know, fucking shame isn’t it!” They burst into laughter again. Frankie’s sides felt like they were about to burst. By now he had surpassed his own usual limits of alcohol and cannabis consumption. With some help from Chaz he’d finished off the crate of Carlsberg. He took the spliff which only had about five drags left.
“Uh oh! Harry you might have to roll another spliff,” he held up the dying joint to show him the predicament they were in.
“That’s the last one,” he said.
“Nooooooo!” Chaz and Frankie yelled in a mock sob together.
“Frankie what are we going to do!?” Chaz moaned, lunging at him. Frankie wasn’t expecting this at all and for the second time that night he was tackled off the bed.
“What are you guys playing at!” Harry was creased with laughter.
Frankie couldn’t breathe under Chaz’s weight. “Dude get off me.”
“But we have no weed,” he moaned being difficult on purpose.
“I can’t breathe man!”
“But we have no weeeeed!”
“There’s two or three smokes worth back at mine.” Harry put in.
This got Chaz’s attention who got off Frankie immediately. “Let’s go there now!”
“Because I’m far to stoned to drive right now, I need a couple of hours before I even think about driving.”
“Damn it Harry! Why do you have to be so, so...good.”
“Can’t help it mate, sorry. There’s got to be someone here with some. Maybe Bri has got some left.”
“You’re a genius! And while we’re at it you can have that talk with her Frankie.” Chaz’s face glowed like a seven year old who’d just got all the Power Rangers for his birthday.
“I thank I’m a wittle too ‘runk to talk to her now,” Frankie slurred.
Harry laughed at Frankie stumbling over his words. “Never mind, I want to see what Rhian is doing anyway.”
Harry got himself up with relative ease, all be it at a sloth’s pace. Chaz hauled himself onto the bed and ended up face down on it having given up. Frankie got to his knees and took a helping hand from Harry to get all the way to the Everest that was his feet.
“You not coming Chaz?”
“I would but this bed is just sooo...nice.”
Laughing Harry and Frankie left Chaz to it and stumbled several steps down the hallway to Rhian’s room. Frankie burst through the door. “Here’s fun!” he yelled only they weren’t there. Rhian’s room was painted lilac, like Chris’s room the walls were covered with pictures of friends and family. She’d also displayed various medals and trophies for dancing and karate. Just as they left the room they heard someone retching in the toilet immediately next to Rhian’s room. Harry opened the door this time to reveal Bri kneeling at the toilet with Rhian holding back her hair. Her head spun round at dizzying speed to shoo the invaders from seeing Bri’s state, her eyes were full of fire. Upon seeing Harry and Frankie however her fury was extinguished, instead she put out a hand for Harry to take. Frankie followed him in shutting the door behind them.
“Who is it?” Bri asked, her voice reverberating round the toilet bowl.
“It’s Harry and Frankie sweetie,” Rhian said in a comforting maternal voice that was extremely rare coming from her.
“Oh no! Don’ let them see me like this.”
“To late,” Frankie said and then realized this wasn’t the most helpful thing he could say. Bri made a choking noise as she almost puked again.
“Bri, honey, me and Harry are going to go to my room,” said Rhian, speaking slowly and clearly as though she had dementia.
“We are?” Harry said perplexed, Rhian slapped his arm.
“But Frankie is going to stay and look after you,” she looked at him, nodding emphatically at him, as though he too were retarded. “OK?”
With that Rhian led Harry into her room, he left looking back at Frankie giving him a look that said to him ‘I don’t know man it’s girls, good luck’.
Frankie was still watching the door trying to figure out what was going on. “Frankie?” came Bri’s echoing voice.
There was a nervous pause. “Nothing, just making sure you’re still there.”
“I wouldn’t just leave you like this,” it sounded corny to him but it was the only nice thing he could think of saying.
“I know you wouldn’t” she said in a voice that sounded far more coherent than she actually was. She lifted her head out of the bowl. She wiped a chunk of sick from her lip. Her eyes were squinted, her hair was ruffled and messy and yet, to him, she still looked beautiful. He wanted to kiss her even though she’d just been chucking her guts up. Their eyes locked like they had done earlier. Then she retched suddenly again and put her head back in the bowl. He heard it leaving her stomach and slopping into the toilet. The sound and smell made Frankie feel sick himself, there was a definite curdling in his own stomach now and a tingling in his cheeks. He noticed an empty glass on the sink, filling it with water he took a few gulps and sat close to Bri.
She came up. “Fuck,” she moaned. “I’m such a mess.”
“You’re not that bad,” he put a comforting arm around her. “Here, drink this,” he offered her the glass.
“Thank you,” she took the glass and nestled herself against him.
It was nice, Frankie thought, just them together, there, together. He didn’t care that she was being sick, actually the fact that she didn’t mind being vulnerable in front of him endeared Frankie to her more. He stroked her hair lovingly and she sighed deeply. He had to tell her how he felt, if this wasn’t the right time then when?
“Bri, I...” before he could finish her face was in the bowl again. With her leant against him he’d forgotten all about feeling ill, now it came back, stronger than before. Waves of dizzying nausea passed over him. It was going to come, there no fighting it now. But where to go? He couldn’t vomit on Bri’s head, that would destroy any romantic feeling left between them. In his drunken confused state he didn’t think of the sink, instead he stuck his head out an open window and let fly. He felt chunks of half digested Spaghetti Bolognese passing out his mouth mixed with copious amount of booze. Some passed through his nose, his stomach acid burned his nostrils. When his stomach was done with its mass exodus Frankie took a deep, steadying breathe. From somewhere below he could hear a girl screaming in horror. He quickly retracted his head and blew his nose.
“Was that sympathy sickness or are you just as fucked as I am?” Bri asked cockily, propped against the door.
“A bit of both I think,” he laughed. “You feeling better now?”
“Yeah, a lot, what about you?”
“You wouldn’t believe. I think I need to eat again.”
“Me too!” She stuck out a hand, Frankie took it and helped her up. Arm in arm they headed back to the kitchen. As they headed down the stairs a hysterical girl ran passed them, covered in vomit, Frankie recognised her as the one Chaz had been getting with.
“You absolute bastard!” Chaz shouted at him in the study.
“I saw your silly weasely features, I know it was you, you chundered on my girl!”
Frankie and Bri almost fell over at that. “It’s not funny!” he complained. Frankie and Bri kept laughing. “Oh who am I kidding, that was fucking hilarious!” he beamed. “That was classic, I actually owe you one man she was starting to get on at me with all this ‘what does this mean?’ bullshit.”
“You can get me a pint then! I thought you were dead on the bed?”
“I rebounded,” he smiled that cheeky school boy smile. “And look who else rebounded,” he looked round the kitchen. “It’s Nick-O-laaaaaaaas!” He screeched pulling him over.
“Yeah baby!” Nick shouted. He was drunker than before, if that was possible and was waving about a bottle of Armagnac that had obviously been stolen from Rhian’s parent’s booze cabinet. It was that time of the night.
“Nick you’re so funny,” Bri laughed as he poured some down his neck and himself.
“You’re a fiend mate!” Chaz stole the bottle and ran off toward the lounge with Nick in pursuit.
Frankie and Bri helped themselves to some instant meals and waited impatiently for the microwave to cook them, wrestling boisterously for whose meal would go in first, Frankie made a point of winning this time.
“Ouch! That hurt Frankie!”
“Hey, if you can’t play the game get off the field.”
“Don’t use you and your boyfriend’s gay phrase on me. Help me up!”
“Do not dis’ the phrase!”
In their scuffle they’d broken a plate but that was the least of the damage done that night. The party by now had gone from full swing to an almost implosive state. People had been engaging in food fights which were more like a full scale war, bottles were smashed all about the place, banisters on the stairs had been snapped, doors were off their hinges. The phone was ringing constantly, no doubt neighbours complaining about the noise. In the garden shed you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face due to people toking in it all night long. It was a party that would go down in history, one of those to set the standard by, the one to think of in twenty years time as “I hope my kids never find out about that”. The most impressive thing was it had only just turned 2:30. Guests were taking advantage of Rhian’s absence and chaos had descended on the house. Frankie and Bri went to fetch her from her room but the door was locked and there was no response when they shouted for her. No doubt Rhi was having her way with Harry. Apparently Rhian had quite the sex drive but Harry never divulged details despite Chaz’s constant insistence. He respected and possibly feared Rhian too much for that. They’d seen the evidence though, the poor boy had come back to them before looking drained of all bodily fluids, covered in scratches and love bites.
“Rhiaaaaaan!” they hammered at the door.
“What, I’m busy!” her voice was a rasping roar.
“Sorry Rhi,” Bri jumped, “but people are really getting out of order.
There was silence for a second, then came the sound of the lock being fumbled with. Rhian swung the door open, a bed sheet was loosely wrapped round her. She had an animalistic look about her, eyes ferocious, mouth snarling, body quivering. Her make-up was smudged all about her face now making her look like a cave woman. “What,” she growled, “is going on down there!?”
“The general senseless destruction of your average middle-class home,” Frankie beamed.
“Right!” Rhian growled again, Frankie actually thought he saw something snap behind her now murderous eyes. Gathering the bed sheets up round her like some grotesque ball-gown she marched off to...well, Frankie didn’t want to think about that. He and Bri looked into Rhian’s room.
“Harry, you’re not crying are you?” Bri asked
“No!” He retorted in a wavy voice, fumbling to get his jeans on with his back to them.
“Are you sure?” Frankie teased.
“Yes I’m bloody sure!”
He and Bri exchange a glance and sniggered silently. It was then he noticed the lit candles and wax on Harry’s back. Frankie then noticed his hands were bound together and a whip was lying on the bed. “What on Earth has been going on in here!”
“Nothing!” Harry hurried them out and closed the door loudly behind them. “Nothing at all.”
Bri and Frankie looked at each other again, this time they couldn’t help it, they broke down sobbing, incoherent with laughter they rolled about on the floor.
“Yes, yes very funny,” Harry said impatiently. “Can we please go and help Rhi out.”
“OK, OK” Frankie had to help Bri to her feet.
“Oh, and can someone untie me please.” He added sheepishly. Still crying they plodded down stairs.