An Aftermath

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The aftermath of a party. Hazy heads.

‘Give me a hand'

She knocked his head with her foot again. Hard enough for it to be a classified as a kick this time, if anyone were measuring. His back was sore from the hard cement floor. Close by his head, a half filled tumbler with an unidentified, pungent-smelling liquid and tobacco floating on the skin.

‘I’m cleaning up. Give me a hand’ she repeated.

He moaned as his eyes opened, squinting as daylight knifed the cracks in his eyelids. He moaned again, half-formed words. She could just make out his uncomfortable protests, muffled by the dirty sleeping-bag.

‘If you don’t get up and help, I’m going to punch you in the face’

Finally his eyes opened.

He looked around the room. It was transformed, every surface now covered in natural light, revealing the dirt and grime inflicted by the three day party. His memory of preceding days consisted of faceless people coming, then going, then being replaced by tides of more people. He remembered bumping noises from rooms above, his hearing them and his ignoring them, perched on the edge of oblivion and trying not to puke. It was darker a few hours ago. He felt alive, there was music, there were people. Nothing like now, with that shrill voice warning him from above and the feeling that his entire body was in a caustic splint.

He sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and looking at the girl who was trying to engage with him. Long, brown hair in ringlets. Chubby cheeks and pouting lips sticking out from them. He didn’t recognise her.

‘Who are you?’ he asked, his voice an alien, hoarse murmur.

‘I’m Beth. This is my friend Elaine’s house. Who are you?’

‘Elaine?’ He assumed Elaine was Jack’s girlfriend. Jack, who he knew through Corrine? The mathematics were too difficult to figure out.

‘Yep. I know Elaine’

‘Well, I don’t know where Elaine is and being as her parents arrive home in…’ she checked her watch, ‘eight hours, we’d better get tidied up. So come on, help me out’. She started picking stray litter from the floor.

‘Just us two? Cleaning the entire place? You’re kidding?’

‘Well who else is going to help?’ she shrugged, looking vulnerable now, not unattractive he realised, as his eyes cleared. Wordlessly, he began to assist in clearing the more obvious debris.

‘What’s your name?’ she asked.

‘I’m Tom’. He was trying to prise chewing gum from a stained rug.

‘I’m Beth’

‘Pleased to meet you’

‘Same goes, big nose’

Wordlessly, they continued the clean-up until the room was clear. It required a vacuum cleaner and some repairs, but it was in better shape than it was previously. He found half a stubbed joint in an ashtray, the very end of it wet with beer. He dried it out using his lighter and sparked it into life, feeling the nicotine immediately cleanse something, mentally, while the smoke forced a cough from his lungs.

‘Hey – do you know what day it is?’ he asked.

‘Yeah. It’s Tuesday now’

‘Wow. Long party’

‘Yep’ she replied, nodding.

‘Tuesday. I have to be at work this afternoon. At midday. What’s the time?’

‘Around nine forty-five’ she replied, checking her watch.

‘I have to go soon. I have to open up for my boss. He went on holiday yesterday’.


‘I’ll help for a while longer though’ he reassured her. ‘Where next?’

‘I guess the bathroom?’ she raised an eyebrow.

‘Ok. Lead the way’

They walked through a small utility room into the bathroom, where the main mirror over the sink had been smeared with lipstick, covered in spray foam and finally smashed. Shards of glass lay in the basin. Others surrounded the base, sparkling like glitter on the carpet.

‘Someone’s going to pay for that’ Tom remarked, smiling.

‘Uh huh. Poor Elaine’

They kneeled opposite each other, being careful not to place their knees on the jagged mirror pieces as they scooped up the bigger fragments, leaving the tiny, dusty splinters for the vacuum cleaner.

‘Apart from the mirror, this room isn’t actually too bad. Have you checked the toilet?’ she asked.

‘Why me?’

‘You’re bigger than I am. You can take it’

He opened the lid and despite their fears, the bowl was empty. On top of the cistern a paper wrap still contained dusty residue. They each licked a finger and tidied it up, rubbing the vague remains against their gums.

‘Take it where you can get it’ he said, as she smiled at him.

‘Okay. Master bedroom?’ she asked.

At first he assumed that she meant they should go there to tidy next. But there was a hint of suggestion in her voice. Just in case, he followed her up the staircase. She turned the handle on the first room they came to.

‘Shit’ she said. ‘There’s someone under the duvet’. Tom chuckled and went to open a window. The room smelled of human sweat – feet, underarm moisture and bad breath.

‘Come on sleepy man. Wake up!’ she commanded. She began to shake the mass on the mattress but it didn’t respond.

She whipped the duvet from over the heap. A dead clown lay on the bed, motionless. His eyes were wide open and his make up was immaculate. There was no sign of how the body had come to be there, no sign of struggle. A bald wig with wild red hair was stuck on his pate. Huge arched eyebrows painted over white, porcelain face-paint. Eyes, yellow and dry, opened wide and staring straight forward without staring at all. There was a dead clown in the bed. In its late forties, stocky and in full costume.

‘Fuck’ Tom exclaimed, quietly, covering his mouth and falling back against a wall.

‘Wow’ Beth said, walking over to him and grabbing his shoulder. ‘Is he dead?’

‘Looks it’

‘Oh… wow’


There was silence for a couple of seconds, then Tom and Beth stood over the body.

‘What do you think happened?’ she asked him.

‘No idea. I was downstairs all night. I have no idea…’

‘This is not good. Do I call the police?’

‘Yes. You call the police’ he replied, panic ebbing around his temples as he backed away.

She reached for her mobile phone and started pushing buttons. As it began to connect, Tom pointed at his wrist.

‘I really have to go to work now’ he said, before returning downstairs.

He located his jacket under a pile of empty CD cases and then left, shutting the door behind him and gritting his teeth as he began walking home.

Submitted: January 21, 2008

© Copyright 2023 Swineshead. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Wow interesting story.

Tue, January 22nd, 2008 12:19am



Tue, January 22nd, 2008 3:20am


Great...lots of mystery...also, I read one of your blog posts that reminded me of this...was that the inspiration? (Re: the "cool" party commercial, guy in bathtub, etc.) Your comments on that were classic.


Wed, January 23rd, 2008 5:40am


Ah - Skins. I think it might have been the inspiration, now you mention it. Entirely subconsciously, mind you.

What a depressing thought.

Wed, January 23rd, 2008 4:15am

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