"I wanna live in a city with no friends or family..." - Modest Mouse
'Are you okay man?' I'm asked.
It's about seven in the morning and I'm eating cereal with my roommate Marcus before school. We've lived together for about a year now.
A long pause.
'Are we gonna have a party tonight?' he asks me, not looking up from his bowl, 'it is Friday, after all.'
'It depends if the girls are cool with it, really.'
'There's free booze, I'm sure they won't mind.'
'Free for them, anyway.'
'Oh well, I have money to spare, new job gets me more money than I know what to do with.' Marcus has been working at the local music store full time for a month or so now, I wouldn't exactly call it working, though.
'Am I inviting people around school today then?'
'I wouldn't worry about it, I'll just put it up on Facebook and whoever sees it can turn up. Is Alice going to be there?' Alice is my girlfriend.
'Yeah, she'll be late though.'
I'm not feeling well, I push my bowl away from me.
'I'm gonna go,' I say, 'someone around here has to learn things.' I don't like the way that came out and I regret saying it. Marcus says something about me being early but by then I'm halfway out the door.
My things for school were almost completely packed last night,
but I want to catch the earlier bus into the centre of the town
today so I can read a bit before school without any distractions.
This has been happening pretty often nowadays.
I stand at the bus stop until it arrives at around twenty past seven, five minutes late, but earlier than usual. As I step on I give the bus driver the exact amount of change and he thanks me, I nod without looking up and accidentally brush against a girl as I stumble on and try to apologize but the words don't come out right and instead I disappear into the sea of torsos and faces.
Halfway there I make an awkward microsecond of eye contact with the girl sitting near me who catches me looking out the window, I quickly look away, even though I know that she noticed. I make sure not to look in her direction for the rest of the trip.
I step out of the bus stop at around eight and smell the faint scent of carbon monoxide in the air, which makes me frown slightly. I don't have to walk far to get to the nearest bookshop. When I enter, the first hit of the air conditioner causes me to shiver a bit, but I quickly get used to it. I say hello to the girl behind the counter who looks about my age whose name tag says Belinda and I grab a book and sit down on a chair and read with my iPod playing some nice ambient music that doesn't distract me too much.
After reading uninterrupted for a long time the girl whose name tag says Belinda offers me a coke that she tells me she bought before work, but I say no because it's a quarter to nine and I need to be at school soon. I hurry on my way but I soon start sweating. I decide to slow down and let my eyes wander around the park. I can see a couple sitting on a bench and the girl laughs and I catch myself smiling. For some reason, I feel like people are looking in my direction, so I decide to speed back up again.
When I get to school, there's no one outside, I look at my watch and see that I'm five minutes late. I swear to myself as I rush to philosophy, my first class. I walk in and feel the collective gaze of twenty or so people, all seemingly amazed that I've arrived at all, so I look at my shoes and I scratch the back of my head and apologize for being late. I sit down alone.
During the class, I have a lot of questions that I don't ask. A guy who I'm vaguely familiar with catches me talking to myself while I'm writing. He gives me a look of confusion and pity and I look back down at the work that I don't have to ask any questions about.
When class ends, I head towards my locker. In the corridor I
spot my ex girlfriend talking to a friend of hers. I pull out my
phone while I'm walking and pretend to send someone a message
while I make my way to my locker. Instead, I look at recent
pictures of Alice and me. I look tired.
I turn my lock correctly, but it doesn't open, so I try again. It doesn't open a second time and a pair of blonde girls behind me giggle and whisper. I can't help but wonder if it's about me. The lock opens after my third attempt and I breathe a sigh of relief while I get out the books for my health class that starts after recess.
Once I join our clique recess has only ten minutes left. I'm
greeted by James and Ben and Patricia and Anne, the rest of
however many people are with us today are having conversations of
'You look tired' Anne greets me.
I shrug and rub my eyes a bit. Apparently this will make me look awake, even though now I look more than a little bit high.
'Are you guys having another party tonight?' Ben asks me, it is Friday, after all.
'I think so,' I reply.
The four of them quickly shuffle away to join the others so I lie down on the nearest bench and put my bag on the ground and close my eyes and open them again to see Patricia looking down at me.
'You do look tired.'
I feel tired.
I'm roused a short time later. I'm being poked. I tilt my head
to the left and open my eyes and I see a guy who hangs around
with us named Brandt who is prodding at my arm with his finger
and looking me straight in the eye.
'If you're tired, why don't you just sleep more?'
I groan and roll over to face away from him. He keeps poking me.
'Did you hear what I said?'
The school bell rings but Brandt keeps poking me and repeating himself. Eventually he gets bored and leaves. I sit upright on the bench and realise that everyone else has already left for class.
I'm still late for health, but it's much less noticeable. I sit
down in between a guy named Jack and a girl whose name escapes me
right now. For some reason the name Jill comes into my head and I
chuckle to myself and almost consider greeting her as Jill and
imagine the two of them falling down a hill together but I'm
already asked what I've got planned for the weekend by
'Not much' I say.
'Going anywhere?' I'm asked, by Jill this time.
Jack tells her that he's going camping. The two of them start talking so I look down at my books.
Class is over and I'm getting ready to leave, Jill approaches
'I hear you know Marcus, Marcus Knight'.
'He's my roommate.'
'Well,' she begins, she starts playing with her hair just like the girls that she's likely seen in a movie of some kind, 'I read on Facebook that there's gonna be a party tonight at your place, I know you're going anyway, but do you want to come with me?'
'I've got a girlfriend, sorry.'
Her face drops.
'Oh, sorry, I didn't know.'
'Don't be sorry then, you didn't know, but either way, I'll see you there, okay?'
I walk away before she can reply. I have a free class now, and then lunch. I walk back to the book shop, hopefully there won't be anyone poking me.
The initial wave from the air conditioner doesn't surprise me
this time, but I shiver anyway. The girl whose name tag says
Belinda smiles and makes a joke about me paying rent. I don't
laugh, but I do blow air out of my nose and smile back.
The book I was reading this morning isn't there now, so I pick up a different one and start at page one. The girl whose name tag says Belinda reminds me that the offer for her coke hasn't changed.
One of Alice's ex-boyfriends comes in. He takes a look around, but doesn't recognize me. I can't remember his name, but I know his face. I find myself staring at him. I need to leave. I'm sweating and my hands are shaking and I go to walk out and the girl whose name tag says Belinda asks me if I'm okay and I can't calm myself enough to tell her anything.
I take a walk to the music shop to see Marcus while I wait. It
doesn't take long to get there, and he greets me with a
'Hey man, why are you here? Don't you have school?'
'I have an hour off.'
'Ah,' a pause 'awesome.'
I look for something to say.
'How's work going?'
'Not too bad, boss man told me off for filing the new Justin Bieber under "Garbage" as a joke, but that's about it, it's been good.' He chuckles to himself and I join in. 'How's school been?'
'Not too bad so far.'
'Oh well, that's good. I can't wait for tonight, it should be great. What a way to start the long weekend.'
'Yeah.' I start turning away 'I guess I'll see you at home.'
'Yeah, I'll see you then.'
I browse the music section for about ten minutes until I get bored, as I go to walk out the door I see Alice's ex-boyfriend again. I start to think that he's following me, but I don't know why he would.
At the lunch break everyone goes into town and buys their
lunch. We go to McDonald's today, it is Friday, after all. People
ask me questions about the party tonight that I don't know the
answer to. I say 'Ask Marcus' a lot.
People order food and talk and eat and talk and leave and talk.
After school I walk back down to the same bookshop and the girl
whose name tag says Belinda is still working at the counter. She
gives me a concerned look as I'm walking over.
'What happened before? You left in a hurry.'
'Oh, nothing, I just had to go.'
'Are you okay?' she's looking at me in a strange way.
'Yeah, I'm fine.'
'Okay' she still looks concerned.
'I hope I'm not being forward, but do you want to come to a party tonight at my place?'
'I've got a boyfriend.'
'I've got a girlfriend. You just seem nice.'
'Thanks,' she says, her voice goes slightly higher 'um, where do you live?'
'I live at sixteen Booker Street, it won't be hard to find. Just turn up whenever really.'
'I think I know where that is. I guess I'll see you there.'
'I'll see you there.'
Belinda and me share an awkward handshake like a pair of businessmen who don't know each other and I mention that I have to leave quickly to catch my bus and I walk out and look behind me slightly and flag my bus down before it goes. The bus is only on time when I'm late.
I get home at about five o'clock and head to my bedroom straight away to dump my school things. Alice left a note on the bed on a piece of paper apologizing because 'we didn't see each other before I have to go for work, but we'll make up for it later'. She also drew a small stick figure drawing of two people having sex which makes me laugh.
Marcus' girlfriend Chris comes home at about five fifteen and I
ask her where Marcus is and she tells me he's out "buying
supplies for tonight." That could mean anything.
'How was your day, anyway?' she asks me in monotone.
'Good, didn't do much.' I say, bored. 'Yours?'
I don't get a reply because she's already in the shower.
James and Ben and Patricia and Anne turn up together at about
six thirty. Marcus is still out "buying supplies" and Chris is in
her room. I have them all sit down on couches and make idle
conversation until more people come.
'How many people are coming tonight?' James asks me.
'I don't know' I say.
'I don't know.'
'How much booze is there gonna be?' this question comes from Patricia.
'I don't know.'
'Is there gonna be weed?' Ben this time.
'I don't know.'
After the torrent of questions that I swear I've already answered the door bell rings and they all jump eagerly. I open the door for Marcus so he can move vast amounts of alcohol into the backyard. I tell the four visitors to help Marcus while I sort out music, but Marcus hates my taste in music so I sit on the couch and watch them earn their keep.
I ask Marcus how the rest of his day was while he passes through the lounge room, and in brief fragments he tells me that it was "boring as fuck".
The doorbell rings pretty steadily for the next half an hour, and soon the house is filled with familiar faces that I can't put a name to. Occasionally someone comes in with a bottle of vodka or red wine or a bag of chips or a big bag of weed or some coke that they bought from someone's brother's uncle's cousin, most people bring nothing at all, except a thinly-veiled apology, it is Friday, after all.
Belinda gets here at about eight. She's wearing jeans and a t
shirt sporting the logo from a band I haven't heard of called
"The Cheez Whiz Champions". I usher her into the backyard and
introduce her to the people I know and ignore those I don't and
we sit down around a fire that's been going for an hour inside a
large metal drum with a few people who I think I recognize from
'Are you guys going to the party tomorrow night?' somebody asks me.
'I didn't know there was one' I reply, not even feigning interest.
'It's at Ashley Baker's place, apparently her parents are away for the night, so she's going all out.' I don't know who Ashley Baker is.
'What does "all out" mean?' Belinda whispers to me.
'What does "all out" mean?' I repeat.
'Apparently there's gonna be coke, X, LSD, all kinds of shit. I hope there's gonna be some chicks there. This place is a fucking sausage fest so far.'
'We're gonna go circulate and such,' I announce as I urge Belinda to stand up with me, 'I'll see you 'round.'
'Do you know who those people are?' Belinda asks me as we walk away.
It's about half past nine and Belinda and I are sitting on the
roof. I don't remember how we got up here. I see a group of
people sitting around the fire and a couple tenderising each
other's faces and Marcus screaming like a lunatic and a girl
crying alone with a bottle of Jack Daniels in a corner about her
dad who left her and a kid who looks about thirteen who's telling
anyone who listens about that one time when he "totally did meth"
and a few guys who can't decide whether or not they want to break
up a girl fight and a guy with dreadlocks slumped down on a chair
looking up the stars and talking to himself.
'Do you want to talk at all?' Belinda asks me.
'Not really.' I say, not taking my eyes off the crowd.
I can see Belinda looking at me in my peripheral vision.
'Are you okay?' she asks.
After a long pause, Belinda talks again.
'Do you like watching people?'
'Why are you watching them then?'
'I don't know.' I say, keeping my gaze on the crowd. Nothing has changed so far. 'I guess I'm just curious. I get dragged to these things constantly but I can't understand why people act the way they do.'
'Do you drink at all?'
'Do you?' I ask.
'Not really, I used to go to these sorts of things a lot when I was young and stupid but I lost interest eventually.'
'I guess that makes two of us then' I say and I turn to her and smile.
We both lie on our backs and look at the sky, there aren't as
many stars as I expected, but the moon is as big as ever. I
wonder if the moon views me differently than the people down in
'I have a confession to make,' Belinda says, she looks nervous, 'I don't really have a boyfriend.'
'Why did you tell me you did?'
'I didn't want to get your hopes up, I'm not looking for a relationship.'
'Sometimes they find you anyway.'
I can see Belinda looking at me in the corner of my eye but she doesn't say anything.
Alice comes home at eleven or so and the noise has died down a
bit and Belinda and I have come down from the roof. When I see
her she's already out of her lightly stained Tony's Pizza uniform
and has a bottle of vodka in her hand.
'How was work?'
'Not too bad, this cunt of a customer tried grabbing my arse one time, so I punched him in the face.' 'Aside from that,' she goes on, 'nothing out of the ordinary.'
I nod and smile a bit.
'I'm going to go out for a walk to get some fresh air, but I'll be back soon.'
I kiss her on the cheek on my way out. She turns around in the hallway and lets out a loud 'woo' to let the party know that she has arrived.
I spend about an hour lying down on the road looking at the night sky, but I feel guilty about leaving Belinda alone and start to head back. On my way I see two girls who may or may not be from our party with their hands down each other's pants. It is Friday, after all.
I get back at about twelve thirty and a lot of people have
left, but there is still a bit of a crowd. It doesn't take me
long to find Belinda, who is looking noticeably uncomfortable
with the people around the fire.
'Is your girlfriend here?' Belinda asks me.
'Yeah, she's around somewhere.'
'Do you want to look for her? I feel like I should meet her.'
'You've probably seen her already, she's not exactly the quiet type, but sure.'
We look for about half an hour and don't find her. We look all around the backyard and the lounge room and the front yard and the bedroom and the kitchen and we don't find her. We give up.
When Belinda leaves I ask her if she's working tomorrow and she says no and she steps into her mum's car and her mum looks at me in a strange way and she drives away.
Everyone has left. Marcus and Chris and Alice are idly talking
while we clean up the aftermath.
'Did you guys hear there's another party tomorrow?' Marcus asks us. I kind of wish I didn't.
'Do you know where it is?' Alice asks him.
'Yeah, one of those kids gave me the address. It's at thirty five Andrews Street. Do any of you guys know where that is?'
'It's near the bread factory, I think' Chris says.
'Sweet, we're going' Marcus says, cheerily.
'I'm not.' I feel like I'm butting into their conversation.
'Oh come on man, why not?' Marcus says to me. He makes a sarcastic pouty face.
'Oh come on,' Alice says as she starts walking over to me, 'so am I, but I'm sure as hell going.' There's a long pause, and she gets close to me and whispers in my ear 'I'll make it worth your while.'
I chuckle and kiss her and go inside the house to clean. The house is fine, thankfully, but I check every room a second time, just to be sure.
I go to have a shower but when I step in I see a used condom
hanging from a water tap I step back and I shout and I wave my
arms and yell into another room in an exaggerated way so somebody
else has to deal with it. As Marcus takes it out with a tissue
covering his hand he waves it to me and laughs loudly.
'You can have a fucking shower now, there are no monsters in here.'
'I think I'll wait until the morning.'
As I lie awake in bed in the dark next to Alice sleeping I realise that I didn't see Jill.
I wake up around midday and I'm still tired from the night
before. Alice is asleep, so I take care not to wake her up as I
get out of bed. I get a bunch of clothes together and take them
with me into the bathroom and have a quick shower and throw my
clothes on without fully drying myself.
There's no one else in the kitchen, I must be the first one awake. As far as I know, no one has to work today.
I'm going for a walk and I bump into a guy who looks about my age but a foot taller than me and no visible neck. He says 'watch it, faggot' and turns around to look at me for as long as he can while I walk away. I should get off the street.
I find myself wandering into a McDonald's by myself and I sit
in the corner and eat my apple that I bought somewhere else and
read the newspaper. A group of four girls who are all dressed
differently in black are giggling in front of me and I can't help
but wonder if they're talking about me.
A girl in a black shirt with a name tag tells me that if I'm not a paying customer I have to leave. So I leave.
I get back home sometime in the afternoon, probably late, and everyone is either still asleep, or out. I text Marcus asking him where he is but I don't get a reply. I sit in my room and listen to music and think too much and eventually I fall asleep again.
The sound of crinkling paper wakes me up at the time that my
clock says is six. In the kitchen, everyone is pulling out their
burgers and chips and drinks that they bought and asking me if
I'd like some of theirs and apologizing and reminding me that I
was asleep and telling me to get dressed for the party.
'I'm not going.'
'You slept all day, you can't still be tired' Chris moans.
'If you go as our designated driver,' Marcus says, 'I'll let you borrow my car whenever you want for a month.'
'Deal' I say without hesitating. I think about driving it into a ravine and killing Alice's ex boyfriend with it and setting it on fire and driving to Belinda's house and running it into a tree and hitting that guy who called me a faggot in the street today and I don't know why.
We arrive at the party later than most people, everyone is drunk by the time we get there. Marcus and Chris and Alice and me are offered a bottle of a strange blue liquid at the door and I wave it away and people call me a pussy and laugh. I feel some splash the bottom of my jeans and I wonder why they would waste their precious alcohol.
I can't find a chair so I stand leaning against a door frame as I watch people. A guy behind me pokes me in the shoulder and mumbles something that I don't understand and I get out of his way and apologize. He gives me a thumbs up and says something else that I don't understand.
A chair becomes free around the fire so I sit on it before
anyone else can. People I don't know or recognize start talking
'Hi, mate' a guy says to me, loudly.
'You havin' a good time?' he says, almost as a single word, but slurred all the same.
'You wanna have a drink?'
He gets angry and says 'Why not?' like he's accusing me of a crime.
'I'm driving later.'
He mumbles something I don't understand and gets up and walks away.
'You smoke weed?' a girl asks me. 'Most people I know who don't drink smoke weed.' The conversation is starting to feel more and more like an interrogation. Maybe I have committed a crime of some sort.
'It's not my thing, really.'
'Well, if you want to, come talk to me and I'll hit you up. I have everything.'
I nod and fake a smile. She talks again.
'You see that guy in the corner?' She points to a guy who's slumped over in a bean bag with an arm looking like a pin cushion. 'He's been out for three hours, my stuff will fuck you up.'
'One of my friends is calling out to me,' I lie to her, 'I'll see you 'round.'
I walk to the bathroom and I look at my reflection and I look tired and I tell myself that I'm okay and that everything's fine and I start crying and I don't stop until someone knocks on the door.
'Hey man, can I use this?' He talks in a very slow voice.
'Sure' I say, trying to hide the quiver in my voice.
The guy walks in with a glass pipe and what looks like a bag of meth. He looks very thin.
'You want some?' he asks me, I don't think he sees the redness of my face. I don't think he can see much of anything.
'Oh well, your loss man.'
'I guess it is.'
'If you're not gonna have any, get the fuck out. I don't like people watching me.'
I say 'fair enough' as I leave. The guy shuts the window and pulls out his lighter and I lose sight of him.
Marcus is face down and gyrating. Chris calls me over and asks me what's happening. I yell at her to get him onto his side and she rolls him off a small puddle of his own vomit. She asks me to take care of him until he's okay and I ask her why she can't and she tells me that she's too drunk and she staggers away and begins to move, almost as if she's dancing.
After a little while, I ask Marcus to give me a thumbs up if he
can hear me and he slowly smiles and gives me a thumbs up which
makes me feel better, but he can't move his body at all.
A group of guys start walking over. There's five of them. The guy at the front has a permanent marker in his hand.
'Stay away from him' I say. 'He's not well.'
'So?' one of the guys asks me.
'Look, just stay away from him, come on.'
'I want to draw on him.'
'Because I can.'
The guy has his fist clenched, so I start walking away.
I look back as the guy starts leaning down and he takes the cap of the marker and I run back and kick the guy in the head and I turn around and sprint past the crowd and try to find a place to hide in the house. I can hear voices following me, like a lynch mob or something. I hide in the walk in wardrobe and I stay there for a long time.
I walk back to Marcus and the guy who I kicked is still
unconscious but Marcus is fine and walking around now. He thanks
me for looking after him and I say 'I had to.'
'I could hear shouting before, what was that all about?'
'You see that guy?' I say and point towards the guy who I'm getting slightly worried about.
'Yeah, I woke up under him. Why?'
'He tried to draw on you, so I kicked him in the head' I say and for some reason I feel proud of myself.
'Holy shit, thank you so much' he says and he smiles and he hugs me.
'It was nothing.'
There's a long pause and both of us don't know what to say.
'Hey,' Marcus begins, 'you wanna draw on him?'
I say 'You're joking, right?' but I don't know whether I'm surprised or not.
'Come on, he's out of it, let's draw on the cunt.'
'Why?' I ask, the same question I asked the guy who is still unconscious and still worrying me.
'Because we can.'
I mumble 'I can't fucking believe this' and begin to walk away and Marcus grabs onto my arm.
'Dude come on, he tried to get me.'
'"So"? So let's fuck with him.'
'I'm not doing that' I say as I shake my head.
I pause and collect myself.
'Why's he on the ground?' I ask, pointing.
'Because you kicked him. What a stupid fucking question.'
'Why did I kick him?'
'Because he tried to draw on me.'
'And what are you doing now?'
'Drawing on him'
'Suit yourself,' Marcus says, 'but you're being a prick right now.'
I walk away and Marcus mumbles something about the guy being a cunt or me being a cunt or somebody being a cunt and eventually his voice is drowned out by the crowd.
I head for the door and Marcus grabs me on the shoulder.
'I'm sorry, okay?'
'Are you still gonna draw on him?'
'I'll leave him alone as long as you stick around.'
I tell Marcus it's a deal and shake his hand and his face lights up again and he rejoins the crowd. The soft jingling of Marcus' keys in my pocket reminds me not to get my hopes up.
I'm sitting at the fire, surrounded by a horde of people who
I've never met before and will never meet again and they're all
talking at me like I'm their friend.
'You know what the problem is with heroin?' a girl asks me.
I raise my eyebrows slightly in an expecting way.
'It's too fucking hard to find' she goes on. A bunch of people nod their heads in agreement.
'I don't have that problem,' a guy begins, 'I never have. I know a few people who know a few people. If I want some powder, I'm getting some fucking powder. Money's not a big deal either, my dad's so loaded he doesn't even know when it's fucking gone.'
The lovely pair start talking directly to each other and I wonder if they've ever met before. I don't think they know each other's names. Then again, neither do I.
I tell them I need to take a piss, which I do, and they both say 'see you round' as if they will.
I rush to the toilet but I can hear people fucking in there, so I wait outside.
I knock after a while and I get nothing in reply but moaning
and a rhythmic noise that sounds like someone slapping their arm.
I get desperate and shout 'come on' into the bathroom and
suddenly I hear the moaning stop abruptly. I hear frantic
whispering and I start to wonder what's going on. The door opens
and a guy I don't know meets me with a grin and says 'Hi, sorry I
took so long'.
'It wasn't just you in there' I say.
'Yes it was' he replies back at me like a deer in headlights.
'Who's in there?'
'It was seriously just me.'
'Bullshit, let me in.'
'No, I need to uhhh, clean up if, you know what I mean.'
'Fuck you, let me in now.'
'I told you mate, just hang the fuck on.'
I push my way past the guy and see Alice cowering in the corner, trying her best not to look me in the eye. He tries to tell me that he didn't know and that he's sorry and that he took advantage of her because she was drunk and that he's sorry that he didn't know and that he's sorry. I scream at Alice and ask her if the condom was hers last night and she doesn't answer me and I ask again and she still doesn't say a word and the guy touches me on the shoulder and apologizes again and I see a bottle of vodka on the sink and I pick it up and it explodes as it hits the guy's head and I throw the remains in my hand above Alice's head and she screams and I walk out and leave the guy lying on the floor next to Alice who's staring at me.
I'm driving. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know how the
others are going to get home. I don't know if I just killed
someone. I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know if
Marcus is going to draw on that guy's face. I don't know where
Belinda lives. I don't know if Alice is going to tell anyone. I
don't know if I saw Jill last night. I don't know where I'm going
to live. I don't know if I'll see any of those people from
All I know is that I'm scared and I'm crying and I'm a pussy and I'm a faggot and I'm not going to a party tomorrow night and I look tired and I don't know anything and I'm not okay.