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Hot, loud and cantankerous

Gus stumbles into the day and starts his weekend with a bang

When I finally roll out of bed it's late on Saturday morning. The daylight seeps in, past the shitty layers of sheets strung up over the large window. It reigns dirty yellow light over my squalid kingdom. I attempt to get up, tipping and swaying; my body an unwilling vessel on the high seas of my hang over.

Outside the corridor is much darker. The hallway carpet deadens my footfalls as I sneak into the lounge room. I am not to be greeted with filth of the previous night. There is not a beer bottle to be seen. The floor is devoid of caps and vacuumed. It's clean - and I know my flatmate is loath to lift a finger. Which begs the question: who has come to the aid of the less-domestically minded? Perhaps my flat mate Kath has finally organized a cleaning lady?

I walk about, wishing for bread to make toast or breakfast of any kind. My tongue feels as though I have been licking the fridge door seal. Kath's bedroom door is closed and I assume she's home. After poking my head into the kitchen to assert we're still devoid of any kind of sustenance, I go back to my room. I feel ill and I've got a 1.25L bottle of warm lemonade stashed under my bed for just such an occasion. Ah lemonade, that elixir of men, like a balm to my hung-over wounds.

I spend some time bouncing a tennis ball against the wall to amuse myself, until Kath proves she's awake and yells out at me to stop.

"I'm writing a uni paper!!!"

I laugh loud, so I'm sure it carries to her room. I feel like a ten year old. Under-stimulated and hungry I ring around. Bob, Bingo and Rowley come around and we set up camp in the lounge room. Kath goes out.

Bingo's the first to arrive. Hardly surprising as he lives around the corner. The sort of mate you need around. He's quick-witted and good with his hands, big, broad and whilst I can't say that I've ever understood the way he dresses, he's definitely got a 'thing' going. His signature style is more crap than class.

When we were kids, Bingo, previously known as Nathan - got his foreskin caught in the zipper of his god awful ski pants. The kind his mum made him wear as extra padding against his daily scrapes and falls. They were shiny, allowing spills to wipe right off. He copped a lot of shit for wearing those pants. Never more-so though than the day he trapped his foreskin.

He now has two thirds of the skin on his dick. Suspended in pain and shock, running from the boys toilets in a horrible, leaping triumph to foolishness, he ran into our class room, seeking the aid of a teacher or a person braver than himself to wrench the thing free. In those days I don't think an ambulance occurred to anyone, instead our home room teacher bravely ripped it out and Nathan passed out.

He never lived it down. 'Bingo' the bigger guys would shout in the corridors, leaping and flailing their arms around. It stuck. We tend not to tell the story anymore, least of all to future Bingo-bedfellows, though I imagine they discover his mangled foreskin soon enough. Generally a girl asks why he got that nickname and if I'm there I yell 'legs eleven', like a bingo-hall number caller, just to deflect attention. It's a stupid gag, I've been doing it for years. Something like that in your formative years could really fuck a guy up. Something like that has the potential to turn a good, out-doorsey man into an computer-loving, cat-owning introvert. Not Bingo - these days he's a good luck charm; a trump card - a rowdy, shameless, good-natured, blessing of a man. I tell him so. I tell him he's awesome, he tells me I'm a wanker and when he's pissed he gets out his signature foreskin and does his best to press it to my face. What can I say? We're close.

Today Bingo's dressed in brown jeans and a mustard short sleeve shirt, it's even got embroidered flowers around the press studs. I'm a photographer, prone to noticing these things. This doesn't make the material any less abhorrent. On a smaller man a shirt like this might have looked ridiculous. Bingo's arms are massive, they seem to mock the pattern. It's a sure bet no one will give him shit for his choice. Today, Bingo's white belt boasts numerous printed Mr Potato-Head's dressed as cowboys - they even have little spurs. It only adds to the overall chaos. He's also wearing spats. I smirk into my beer, but I don't give the guy a hard time. He's built like a bear and the chicks sometimes seriously dig it so he must be doing something right.

Rowley and Bob hustle as soon as they enter the flat. We all drink beer. Bingo sets about making his nachos, he's brought with him all the ingredients. He knows me pretty well.

Outside it starts to rain. Inside it's about beer and talking shit. The sofa is brown vinyl (a roadside find), the rug is beige shag-pile with orange detail, unashamedly hideous and the rest of the rooms furnishings are a mismatched bunch of op-shop bargains. The single-seat-sofas have cat scratches down the arms and the stuffing peeking out.

Kath and I think we're kitsch and cool. Obviously hideous is part of our hard-won aesthetic with one of the world's most disgusting wrought iron light fittings, a chandelier, as an overbearing ceiling center piece. We're bachelor- cool baby.

I down two beers, hair of the dog, to get past my hang-over. I've spent many nights in this room doing similar booze fueled activities. Today, we celebrate. Rowley's gotten himself a job. He'll soon be selling advertising space in a finance journal. He wears a new, cheap suit. We tell him so and he bristles. Kath comes home drenched. At first she grumps about how much of a mess she's in and how bad we smell and the noise we're making. As she’s toweling her hair dry Rowley brings her a beer and she laughs at his ill-fitting, purple suit.

“ It's fucken shiny” she hiccups.

She sits with us, drinking as fast as I am. I ask about the paper she was preparing but she waves me aside whilst having a swig. Bingo serves us nachos and we spill beer and cheese on the floor - it blends in.

After a few hours we head out. The first pub we go into is at the end of our street and it's packed. The creaky woodwork, high ceilings and juke box play host to a mix of the old men and a good-sized younger, more boisterous crowd jostling for a turn picking tunes. The music is a constant barrage of kitsch-tastic masterpieces. Rowley buys the first jug and forgets the glasses. Kath heads back to the bar and I catch myself admiring her arse. Even I realise room-mates are off-limits but unfortunately my beer-goggles are firmly in place. The view from within is thick and misty even with the new no smoking laws.

It's up to Bingo to keep me on the right side of the margin for error steadily widening with every beer. I don’t want to wake up next to anything less than an oil-painting. I slur my words when I explain this to him and he pats me on the back. I lurch forward and it elicits a Bingo-belly-laugh.

At pub No, 2, he drags me away from what I think to be a promising prospect. I see a bombshell at the third. It's my turn to buy a round and at the bar I get talking to her. Propped on a stool, chatting away I casually glance around for moral support. I locate Bingo as Rowley ferries the jug back to the guys and though he doesn't come to join me, I think I make out the thumbs-up. I try very hard not to slur my words like a gentleman and get back to it. Before long, Rowley and Bob join me, incorporating themselves into our group. I take it as a good sign.

In the corner Bingo's winning at a game of pool. His mustard shirt sleeves are rolled up to accommodate his ciggies tucked up on one arm. There's a woman in a stupidly short skirt admiring his tree trunk arms and he takes the next shot, potting a ball. I catch his eye and he grins. I raise my glass.

“ Careful Tiger or she’ll think you and the big-man are lovers” Rowley whispers.

I imagine Bingo’s belly-laugh at the thought.

Next to me at the bar is my prize. Her name is Naomi, she's petite with dark eyes and long lashes. She’s a singer. We separate from the group and continue talking. I buy her a few more drinks. We have shots, which in retrospect is ambitious and ill-conceived. I’ll either score or I'll have to leave very soon.

The carpet heaves. I look over at Bob and he mimes leaving. I roll out a salute. I wonder if the others are ready to bail? Rowley is talking to one of Naomi’s mates. She doesn't seem to mind. Bingo has disappeared. So has the brunette. Naomi asks what I do for a living. I tell her I'm a film producer (lie). I try not to swagger. She asks me what I'm doing in the area. I mumble my way through an explanation loosely based around a fictitious contract. I want to kiss her and I'm doing all I can to try and make that happen.

Bob tries to catch a cab with me and I have to take him aside. Finally Naomi and I enjoy a cab back to her house. I feel a little tense. I just hope I get to fuck her before she finds out I'm a bum photographer who works for the local paper.

My own presence excluded, the contents of her apartment suggest she has great taste. The lounge room is warm and welcoming. All the fixtures are new and expensive. I take a seat. We chat, I lounge - feigning nonchalance. Finally I get a kiss. She's warm and eager. I feel like a small kid, full of adventure and ideas. I make up more crap about the life I’ve invented. It's all just to kiss her again, to end up in her head space, her bed space. I'm so pissed.

When I wake up I'm in my own room. Reaching down, my dick feels untouched, virginal. I almost sob with frustration. I wonder what I did? I can't piece together the very end of the night. I remember most bits about the evening and congratulate myself. I relax. I haul myself out of bed.

Then I see it.

It's sticky-taped to my wallet, lying next to my jeans like a crime scene. Her note.

"Next time go easy on the bull shit. Sweet dreams Sweetheart" .

I get up and pee and then I go back to bed. I realize I don't have her number and wearily crawl back between my unwashed sheets.

To be continued...

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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