James awoke with a start in a squalid London flat from a short-lived bout of sleep during which he had been paralysed by that most uncomfortable phase of dreaming. By his estimations he was approaching what must be his 48th hour of hibernation. He began to itch as he rolled over toward the ash tray, fumbling around for a dog-end in the full knowledge that necessity would force him to rise soon. A few tokes saw off what remained of the weed and plunging an exhausted roach back down into a small mountain of ash, James wallowed and groaned as the harsh reality of his situation became inescapably clear.
It was dark and he could not decide whether or not this was good. At least he was guaranteed a few hours of relief from those wretched rays that had so persistently poked through the sickly yellow curtains. His face however showed no such appreciation, contorting into a grimace as he crunched four valium. This batch had no sweet side. Poor marketing he concluded. If you’re going to push biter sweetness on a commercial level then it’s just poor form to skimp out on the sweetness. This he expected from the scuzzy street pharmacists of London but these little blue pills were meant to be up market, over the counter shit. Where was the fucking sugar? Ten milligrams of pure chemicals and nothing to take the edge off, what was this world coming to. He hurled the empty foil packaging from his bed and concluded that it would not be a stretch for these bastards to make it 15 milligrams and have them all taste like skittles. Did they not know that men in his position could use the break?
He lay back with his eyes fixed to the ceiling. A solitary lightbulb stared back at him, dead. This reminded James of his necessities. “Fuck!” He screamed, throwing the cover aside and marching begrudgingly toward to kitchen. The light was left on which offended his eyes and caused him to snarl. It was a good thing he was alone, this much he knew. In one swift motion James swung open the fridge door which produced no glow and grabbed a warm beer. He groaned, smashed the top on the counter with expert precision and drank thirstily.
He was interrupted by the sound of his phone from down the hall. He did not take the bottle all the way from his lips as he starred toward the noise. Only when it rang through did James snap back into some form of functional consciousness and finish the bottle. He dropped it to the floor walking back toward the fridge and repeated the motion, this time chipping the counter. He left the door open and gathered two more to take back to bed. It really is unfair that you can’t take anything with you to the other side he thought. Somehow James doubted that his vices would be available at all in hell and he crawled back into bed, concluding that he should take his fill now.
Before he could lay back and bask in the numbness that was creeping up his spine and into the base of his skull the phone rang again. James hurled himself to the floor and threw clothes and rubbish aside in search of this arrogant noise. A minute or so of this frantic activity revealed the cracked Nokia, but it had rung through again. James examined the number, it was unknown but this came as no alarm since he had no contacts. When he was just about ready to hurl the phone across the room it rang for a third time.
“What?” James snapped.
The voice of a skinny, sweaty man replied.
“Let me in man”. James scratched his arm,
“Let me in dude, I’m outside. And get a fucking doorbell! Man, just come now. I’m freezing my arse off out here”. James snapped back from another lapse of consciousness and paced to the door.
He undid the latch and threw open the door.
“Why are you so sweaty? Jesus man” said James examining the man’s face with a single, half open eye, “you got any left?”
“No man obviously” Elliot replied through a jaw locked grin as he bopped up and down on the spot to a beat that didn’t exist. James groaned and slammed the door behind them.
They stumbled respectively to the kitchen and Eliot, producing a spliff from his coat pocket cleared himself a space and took a seat. “You’re not completely useless then” slurred James as he threw a beer in the general direction of his friend.
“Ah thanks man I love warm beer” scoffed Eliot through a tooth-full of bottle top. James could not tell if he was joking. Nobody likes warm beer. He was too enthusiastic. James could ignore the sun but there was no getting out of a conversation with another lonesome degenerate in the throes of an MDMA bender.
“You haven’t moved have you? God you missed out man. There was so much after you left and I saw that girl again. You know. The one with the green eyes and the massive tits…”
“Cool it” snapped James “I banged my last jellies and I want to enjoy them. I wasn’t counting on you still being up.”
“When you’re asleep, just assume that everyone’s up man. Maybe you’ll get more done.” Eliot looked like he had more to say but a little eye contact was all it took to realise that James was serious. He took a brass zippo from his pocket and lit the spliff. “When are you leaving?” James appeared to wake a little.
“Who told you?” he said sitting down on a pile of papers beside Eliot
“It’s common knowledge man, come on..”
“Flight’s on Tuesday.” He rubbed his face. “What day is it?”
“It’s Monday night dude, are you gonna pack? Where did you get the money? Shit if you make it I know I’m never seeing you again. Or are you gonna get your shit together?” Eliot laughed at himself until his eyes met with James’s once again and he fell silent.
James shrugged, “money” he muttered dismissively. For a moment he stared into the lightbulb that hung without a shade from a dark and smoke stained ceiling “I can’t take what I need with me so just a bag and some clothes. Sounds easy enough.” He scratched his neck and when he looked back up at his friend he felt sickeningly sober
“Good luck man” said Eliot.
Eliot passed the spliff, took one more look at his friend and put a brown envelope on the coffee table. The two exchanged a silent nod and Eliot left as quickly as he came.