It took a good few hours to recollect the events of the night before.
My body switched to tidy-up mode, and I practically flew around my cube in a numb worker-drone state of mind, restoring it to some semblance of order and sanity. My brain was inert, on auto-pilot. No sentimentality or introspection was permitted, only basic functions and sensible behaviour.
I pulled on a grubby old sports sweater, a pair of worn-to-destruction Reebok Classics and an ancient no-name creased set of jeans covered in paint, ink and god knew-what-else.
Flashbacks were strictly off-limits until I had tidied the flat up, lashing a bulging bin-liner full of leaking half-empty booze cans and wine bottles outside into the purple-plastic wheelie-bin on the street.
Then a thorough brush and mop of the fake wooden floors.
Prison inmates on remand would have been in awe of my feverish cleanliness.
Makeshift ashtrays were emptied, windows were thrown open. A shot of sickly air-freshener in each room, hell on the nose and lungs. A cursory blast in the kitchen, a few loose glasses in the sink that I didn't recognise washed, dried and polished until they sparkled like newly-forged crystals.
OCD to the max.
The bathroom was fairly decent..until I went to check my reflection and realised the mirror had vanished, a rusty nail stuck into the cheap plaster where it had once hung.
I scoped around....there it was.
Sitting square on the living room floor, still bearing the powdered scars from the night before. My reservations about drug abuse and how it messed up people suddenly hit me.
Then the machine in me said:
PICK IT UP.
WASH IT, AND HANG IT UP.
Job done, no questions asked.
It took maybe two hours, exerting myself with a frantic energy that left me lying on the couch sweating and gasping for a ciggie. Then, and only then, the barriers in my head rolled down and I could think again.
Where were we again?
I took a long, hard drag of a smoke, lying on my beat-up leather couch whilst my memory kicked in.
The chemicals felt ugly, diseased, harsh on the throat.
But they were hard-earned.
Like the crow's nest crew-member on the tower of the Titanic, I saw the truth in front of my face...
YOU SAID YOU WOULD MEET HER TODAY. 8.00pm. PHONE CALL AT 6:30pm.
Glad you mentioned that. I knew something was missing, demon.
OK, yeah. But what else?
How did I get here?
We had sat there when Hayley and Ste had bailed, flush on the living room floor. My right hand intwined into her left, a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.
A couple of "Remember that time when..." conversations.
A lot of "I'm sorry for when I...."
Did this, did that whatever and whatever you didn't do.
Nervous pauses, drunken kisses that meant nothing, really. But when you thought back, that intimacy was worth waiting for on such a crazy night.
A bed shared.
Nothing sexual, mind. We were both too skulled to do anything physical. Just the warmth of soft smooth female arms and legs clasped around your wasted form was enough.
No goodbye, no goodnight kiss.
A solitary text message.
CALL ME 2MORRA BABE. I MISS U SO MUCH 2.
THAT'S ALL YOU GET.
I glanced at my watch, amazingly still intact and working.
I recall laughing at that moment to myself and thinking:
"It's only 3:00pm. You can shave, shower, brush your teeth and preen yourself in that time-gap"....
That's right, my boy. But what you have to ask yourself is:
Do you really wanna get into this female?
Is she worth it?
Just roll the dice, boy...see what numbers come up...."