Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 7

Hangovers can be held responsible for many forgotten things, for example; the location of your car, the whereabouts of your phone, and sometimes; the location of your eyebrows, and even, on very rare occasions; your own location. Charlie wondered this now. He didn’t recognize the ceiling. This isn’t normally something he would notice, and for the life of him he couldn’t remember what his own ceiling looked like, but this definitely wasn’t it. He decided to sit up to get a better idea of his surroundings. The messages from his brain to his body normally get around quite quickly. Not today. Today his brain was so dehydrated that every thought had to pack extra precautions and hike around his body like an old rambler through mud. Long gone were the days when electric thoughts could swim freely through a youthful, well watered, nervous system. Eventually his body responded to his wishes and he lurched out of bed. His head spun, the room joined it.

Keep had fallen asleep on the stairs. It’s amazing how comfortable stairs are when you’re drunk. But when you wake up you feel like your bones have seized together and you spend the next month walking around like a severe motorway pile up. Keep squirmed onto his back and half slid down the stairs. He groaned with pain but managed to stand up and walk to the fridge. He stretched and straightened his back. He grabbed a bottle of orange juice from the fridge and began replacing all that had been lost in his brutally battered and poorly treated system. He drank the whole thing and threw the empty carton into the sink. Miraculously he was already thinking relatively well and didn’t feel at all sick.

He peered over the breakfast bar. Simon was still asleep. A little oasis of spit had formed on the floor against his cheek. Keep was only slightly disappointed to discover that he hadn’t pissed himself. He thought about waking him up but decided to leave that to Charlie.

Charlie appeared, as if by magic, at the bottom of the stairs. A thunder cloud crackled above his head. Keep smiled.

‘Good morning!’ he said.

Charlie scowled.

‘Breakfast?’ asked Keep, ‘I can cook us all something, if you like?’

Charlie didn’t respond. He managed himself into the kitchen and looked at it. It was a kitchen alright, that much he knew, but how to make it work?

‘Coffee,’ he said.

The kettle had just finished boiling so Keep happily made them both coffees.

‘Simon?’ enquired Charlie.

‘He’s still on the floor. Do you want to wake him up?’

Charlie grunted and walked out of the house.

‘Where are you going?’ said Keep.

Charlie slammed the door. Keep opened it and went outside after him.

Charlie was standing half way down the drive in his t-shirt and boxer shorts.

‘Where the fuck am I?’ he said.

‘Simon’s house,’ said Keep.

‘Where does Simon live?’

‘At home.’

Charlie turned around and went back in to the house. Keep followed. Charlie went over to Simon and woke him up by shouting loudly and shaking him. Simon’s eyes sprang open and a look of primal fear grabbed his face.

‘What!? What do you want!?’ he shouted.

‘Where do you live?!’ shouted Charlie.

Simon looked around in a panic, ‘here!’ he responded.

‘Charlie,’ said Keep, ‘everything ok?’

Charlie stood up and stared at Keep. He started to approach him menacingly.
Simon gathered himself into a more or less vertical standing position and put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder.

‘Sit down,’ said Simon. His body felt like a volcano and his voice was ashen and brittle.
Charlie grappled with the idea for a moment but sensibly obeyed and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. Simon opened a drawer and took out a pack of cigarettes. He took one out and put it in Charlie’s mouth. He lit it. Charlie sucked on the fag obediently and a fog cleared in his mind. Simon was clearly used to dealing with Charlie in this frame of mind and Keep nodded in appreciation at Simon’s wherewithal.

Simon sat down in the chair next to Charlie.

‘I don’t think I’ve been this hungover before,’ said Simon.

Charlie finished his cigarette and let it drop out of his mouth on to the table.

‘Mmh.’

Keep pulled out a chair and joined them.

‘I feel like a derelict building. Oh god, how do you fix this?!’ said Simon, holding his heads in his hands. I say heads, plural, he felt like he had more than one. He tried to keep them up with his two hands.

‘You just wait it out,’ said Charlie, ‘or drink.’

Simon looked at the bottle of whisky on the table and considered it for a moment.

‘No, Jane would kill me.’

Keep and Charlie looked at each other and then Charlie lowered his eyes. Having realized Simon hadn’t remembered yet he thought he would do what all good friends would do and asked for a lift home before he does.

‘Can I have your car?’ asked Charlie.

‘No, you can’t have it, why would I give you my car?’ asked Simon, through the immense pain that came with the construction of each word. Thinking and conveying said thoughts into speech, in this state of mind, is a bit like trying to piss after having your cock glued shut.

‘Take me home,’ said Charlie.

‘Simon?’ said Keep to Simon.

Simon looked up in response. Charlie glared at Keep.

‘Do you remember anything from last night?’

Simon frowned for a second and then thought back. As soon as he did so everything from the night before blossomed like a metaphorical flower of horrible memories and he sagged in his chair and started, once again, to sob.

‘Good work, retard,’ said Charlie getting up, ‘you deal with him, I’m going home.’

Simon looked up at Keep through teary eyes.

‘How come you’re so damn chipper? Don’t you feel like shit? I feel like shit.’

Keep rummaged through his jacket pocket and pulled out a bag of pure white powder.

‘God’s personal stash,’ said Keep with a smile, ‘the Wizard’s Dandruff. Want some?’

Simon was angry and upset and yes, he did want some cocaine!

‘Yes,’ he said.

Drugs; Charlie was not a fan. Charlie was a man of alcohol, and, as a wise man once said “alcohol is not a drug, it’s a drink”. Keep was to drugs what Einstein was to classical physics. He even had a lab. The lab, as all good labs should be, was in the basement of his home; The Basement, which is why The Basement was not, if you follow. The Basement is Keep’s bar; it is on the first floor. The lab, which doesn’t only cater to drugs but also fulfils Keep’s curious scientific mind, is located in the basement. His apartment is on the ground floor. Keep’s other scientific interests include, zoology, chemistry, physics, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, ecology, and anatomy. He also has a love of words, his favourite word being; Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, which is the word given to the phobia of long words.

‘Whoa, Simon, are you sure about this?’ asked the ever thoughtful Charlie.

‘Yes, I’m sure.’

‘Have you done drugs before?’

‘No, but there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?’

‘Yes, but…’

‘Come on Charlie, he’s a big boy,’ said Keep.

Charlie decided to stay a bit longer. He had no interest in doing drugs but was very interested in watching Simon do it. This would be a day of Kodak moments for Charlie. He opened a fresh cold beer from the fridge and smiled at it. The beer smiled back in its own, cold, crisp, refreshing, soul curing, hangover killing, delicious, sparkling, and fantastical way. Charlie supped his hangover into oblivion. His mind was clearer now. His eyes sparkled with delight and he watched Simon lower a ten pound note, which had been installed into his left nasal passage, onto a pure white line of that evil moreish dust.
Simon inhaled. Particles of magical powder rushed up through the note and settled on the back of his nasal passage where they began to infuse with the tissue causing the synthetic compound, known to science as C17 H21 NO4, to affect his brain in a curious way. The reuptake of dopamine in his brain became impossible and so dopamine flooded his system. The dopamine played havoc with his emotions, his ability to experience pleasure and pain, and his ability to control movement. His pupils dilated, his heart quickened, and a feeling like a buzz saw swimming in a sea of sugar ran through his body at the speed of light. Something new in the drug caused Simon to hallucinate.
Simon’s head flew back.

‘YAAAARRRRRRR!!!’ he shouted in one long breath.

‘Is that normal?’ asked Charlie.

‘Wait for it,’ said Keep.

As if by force a smile scraped its way across Simon’s face. His eyes widened and his pupils marched across his whites and turned them into black holes. The result was quite spectacular.

Simon saw an angel. It was sitting on Charlie’s head watching Simon with mild interest.

‘Hello,’ said Simon.

‘Hello,’ said Charlie.

The angel fluttered off Charlie’s head and landed on the table in front of Simon. Simon stared at it.

‘Can you see me?’ asked the tiny angel.

‘Yes, I can see you,’ said Simon.

‘Who?’ asked Charlie.

‘I’m going to feed you,’ said the attractive bird-like angel.

‘Ok,’ said Simon.

Charlie tried to share a miffed expression with Keep but Keep was laughing with silent hysterics.

The angel leapt from where it stood and dived into Simon’s mouth. Within seconds it had swum down Simon’s throat and into his stomach.

‘AAAAAAAHHHH!’ Screamed Simon, clutching his throat.
He fell backwards off his chair and started wrestling with himself on the floor. Keep burst out with uncontrollable laughter. Charlie wanted to join in, in fact a childish grin had already adorned his face, but he wanted to hold back until he knew Simon wasn’t going to die.

‘Keep, you twat, what did you give him?’

Keep tried to calm down and wiped a tear from his cheek.

‘Oh dear,’ he said, ‘this is fucking funny.’

‘What did you give him?’

Simon was still writhing around on the floor.

‘Err, not sure, I discovered it two days ago by accident. It’s really quite a remarkable drug.’

‘Is he going to die?’

‘Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be lethal. I don’t think it is.’

‘Doesn’t seem to be?’

‘None of the rabbits have died.’

Charlie likes puzzles; he turned his frown into one now and showed it to Keep.

‘One of the sheep did though. But then he was an unusual sheep.’

‘What are you talking about?’ said Charlie.

‘It would be easier to show you,’ said Keep, ‘can you help me get him to his feet.’

 

Keep opened the door to his lab and the musty smell of science ran at them and escaped out of the building. The very air of a lab, or at least Keep’s lab, has a life of its own. It’s been subjected to gases, explosions (both expected and unexpected), smells, delusions, and stagnancy. It has been hot, cold, confused and surprised. This lab has been used to its full potential, and just recently it had been rewarding Keep for his efforts. A table in the middle of the lab had the usual array of chemistry paraphernalia; test tubes, Bunsen burners, beakers, froth, elaborate framework, tubes, corks, teapot etc. A curved low oak door concealed a room full of various kinds of live stock in various states of mind. Glass cabinets were pregnant with carefully labelled bottles. A bookshelf in one corner played hypothetical chicken with physics as it held, beyond all likelihood, twice as many books as it was capable of.

Keep put his jacket on a hook and invited Charlie in.

Simon was still on his way down the stairs, he was trying to figure out how the wallpaper was playing such beautiful music, and how the pattern of the wallpaper was able to leave the walls and hug him. The music was actually his phone, it had been patiently collecting missed calls and frantic answer phone messages from an anxious casting director for about half an hour now. He decided he didn’t mind how it was happening and hugged the wonderful wallpaper back with all the love he could give. Charlie grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the lab. Simon hugged him. Charlie pushed him off and he landed on the floor.

Keep took a large corked bottle out of one of the cupboards and filled two beakers.

‘Are you going to show me an experiment?’ asked Charlie.

‘No, it’s whisky,’ said Keep, handing one to Charlie.

Charlie accepted it.

‘Is it safe to drink?’

‘Yes, it’s just whisky, I promise.’

Charlie looked around and tried to figure out what was going on.

‘Are you… What’s, err… I don’t understand,’ said Charlie.

‘I dabble with science.’

‘I think dabble is an understatement. What’s in here?’

Charlie opened a door.

‘Don’t open that!’ shouted Keep.

‘A fucking horse!’ shouted Charlie.

‘Close it!’ Keep ran over and slammed the door, ‘you do not want that thing loose on the public.’

‘Why? It’s just a horse. It’s a horse. There’s a horse in here? Why do you have a horse?’ said a clear minded Charlie.

‘Just don’t open or touch anything.’

Simon stood up and ran upstairs.

‘Can you get him,’ said Keep, ‘I’m going to quickly sort something out in here, there’s something interesting I want to show you.’

Charlie shrugged.

‘This better be good,’ he said, and went off after Simon.

Keep opened the small oak door at the back of the room and led out a fairly mellow sheep. The sheep’s eyes sparkled. Using a soft vibrating device Keep extracted a healthy portion of semen and then put the sheep back. The sheep had a wonderful life. It dabbled with drugs, had lots of sex with soft vibrating machines, slept a lot, life was perfect. All the sex and drugs made it feel warm and fuzzy. The sheep let itself tumble over in its pile of hay and went to sleep.

Keep heated the semen in a beaker until it was dry and then ground it into a white powder. He then opened a container marked with the words ‘pure cocaine’ and mixed it with the dry bovid love juice.

Charlie came down the stairs with Simon in tow.

‘Right,’ said Keep, removing his safety glasses, ‘this is a fresh batch of what I gave to Simon, it is 100% natural and organic. It cannot kill you, and will not give you a come-down.’

‘Why are you telling me this? I don’t do drugs.’

‘It also gives you full control over your hallucinations.’

‘That’s interesting. How come Simon doesn’t seem to have any control over his?’

‘He doesn’t know he can control them.’

Those words found their way into Simon’s magical world and settled on a purple beach somewhere in the back of his mind. Simon went to the beach and stared at the giant 3D words and smiled. They read ‘YOU ARE GOD’. Simon turned around and found himself in Keep’s lab. He looked at Charlie, and with barely a thought, turned him into a giant baby.
Charlie was looking at Simon. He was a bit worried about the way Simon was looking at him.

‘Baby want a bottle?’ said Simon.

‘No,’ said Charlie.

‘I think he’s just figured it out,’ said Keep.

Simon turned Keep into an Asian plumber, for reasons even I’m unsure of, and fell to the floor laughing. He remained there for some time.

‘At least he’s happy,’ said Charlie.

‘If people found out that a drug existed that gave you the ability to control your hallucinations, your fantasies, and not have a comedown, then it could make me very wealthy indeed!’ said Keep.

‘The whole world would go insane and everyone would die,’ said Mr. Optimistic, otherwise known as Charlie; the somewhat unlikely voice of reason.

‘I want you to try it,’ said Keep.

‘I gathered. But why?’

‘Why not?’

‘You present a good argument,’ said Charlie, ‘Ok, but only a bit.’
Keep cut half a line of the mystical new drug on the lab table and handed Charlie a rolled up bank note.

Charlie inhaled. The drug rampaged through his system and set Charlie’s mind alight.

‘I have an idea for a book!’ Charlie shouted, and ran upstairs.

Keep quickly gathered the new batch in a pot and stuffed it in his pocket. He grabbed Simon by the collar.

‘Come with me!’ he said, and both men ran up stairs after Charlie.

 

Tripping the Night Fantastic is available now on Amazon.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 6

Jane was looking at herself in her bathroom mirror. She had a towel wrapped around her freshly showered body and her wet hair caressed her bare shoulders. She wiped her hand over the steamed glass of the mirror and picked up her glass of wine. She felt nervous. How ridiculous, she thought to herself, nervous at my age. She finished her wine and put the glass down. Right, she thought, you can do this.

Amelia lay under Jane’s duvet and stared at the ceiling. The room was slowly spinning around her and her body tingled with nerves. The duvet felt heavy against her naked body. The mixture of alcohol and sexual anxiety caused her to practically buzz with anticipation. She heard Jane come out of the bathroom but didn’t look. The weight of the duvet lifted and she felt the cool air rush in. She felt the mattress move as Jane climbed into bed. The softness of Jane’s smooth, clean skin brushed against Amelia’s and two coy and loving bodies became entangled.

 

Keep entered Jane’s phone number into his phone and was about to dial when Simon came stumbling back from the toilet.

‘Right then!’ said Simon, ‘Are we going to do this or what?!’

‘Yes, let’s go,’ said Keep, hiding the phone.

Charlie picked up the full bottle of whisky and stuffed it in his inside jacket pocket.

‘Keep, you grab the other bottle and we’ll sneak it out without the bouncer seeing.’

‘You fucking idiot, I own the pub!’

Charlie laughed, ‘Fucking hell, I, fine sir, am completely, and irrevocably, drunk!’

‘But you can still say irvacu… ira voc ab. Err… you can still say… irre… voca… bly. Ha!’ said Simon.

Keep laughed.

‘Ok,’ said Charlie, ‘this is the plan.’

Charlie stood in front of Keep and Simon while Keep and Simon tried to stand still in front of Charlie.

‘We go to Simon’s house and see if Jane is fucking Sarah.’

‘Amelia,’ said Simon, raising his hand.

‘Oh yes, Amelia, and then… err, that’s it really. We’ll take it from there!’

Charlie turned on his heel and marched down the stairs and out of the pub. Simon and Keep followed suit.

The doorman grabbed Charlie by the collar as he marched past.

‘Ere!’ shouted the doorman, ‘Next time you come ere don’t think I’m gonna’ let you in so easy, you can join the back of the queue like the rest…’

Keep tapped the doorman on the shoulder.

‘Like the rest of what?’ asked Keep patiently.

‘Err… I was just sayin,’ began the doorman.

‘Yes?’ said Keep.

‘Err… that he needn’t queue when he next comes by. Err… he can just come straight in. What with him bein personal friends of yours and such.’

‘Good. We’ll be back shortly, make sure nothing goes wrong while I’m gone,’ said Keep.

‘Yes sir, of course.’

‘Oh, to be friends with the king,’ said Charlie, as he removed the doorman’s hands from his collar.

‘You know, I’m a bit nervous about all this,’ said Simon.

Charlie put his arm around Simon’s shoulders and eyed Keep to stay back a bit so he could phone Jane.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Charlie, ‘Everything will be fine.’

Keep hung back and dialled the number again. The phone started to ring.

 

The squeals of delight that were coming from under Jane’s duvet were enough alone to cause an entire school of teenage boys to suddenly die of spontaneous sexual combustion. To see them moving together like they were would cause your groin to turn inside out and the back of your head to explode. The duvet rolled over their hot and pulsing bodies, lips and legs locked together and hands stroked and caressed.

On the floor next to the bed, deep in the vast depths of Jane’s handbag, a mobile phone quietly vibrated with no hope of being heard.

 

Keep hung up the phone and shrugged at Charlie.

Shit, thought Charlie.

Charlie stopped under a street light and urinated against the lamp post. Simon staggered onward with a new sense of righteous determination. Keep held his phone, swaying out in front of him, and navigated his finger to the call button. He pressed it and put the phone to his ear. He hiccupped. The phone rang out again. Keep joined Charlie at the lamppost and started urinating against it too.

‘She won’t answer her phone.’

Charlie looked at him blankly, ‘Who?’

‘Simon’s missus.’

‘Oh, shit,’ said Charlie, with a blank drunken look on his face. He thought for a moment and said, ‘Try again.’

‘I tried t-wice.’

Charlie frowned, ‘t-wice?’

‘I’ve got hiccups. I tried twice… hic.’

Charlie zipped up his fly and looked around.

‘Where’s Simon?’

Keep turned, taking his stream of urine with him, and looked around for Simon.

‘I don’t know’ he said.

Charlie spotted him scaling a drainpipe up the side of his house.

‘What the fuck are you doing!?’ Charlie shouted, as quietly as he could.

Charlie and Keep ran up to the house and stood looking up at Simon. Simon put a finger to his lips and pointed up to his bedroom window. Keep stared up at him with his hands on his hips.

‘Why aren’t we using the front door?’ said Keep, in a shouted whisper.

Simon reached the window and peered in. It was too dark to see anything.

Charlie turned to Keep.

‘Keep… put your cock away,’ he said.

Keep looked down but didn’t seem surprised that his manhood was sharing the moment with them. He tucked it away. Charlie continued.

‘We have to stop this,’ he said.

‘I have an idea!’ said Keep.

He picked up a stone and threw it at the window. It missed and hit Simon on the head.

‘Shit, sorry!’ said Keep.

‘What the fuck are you doing?’ said Simon.

‘I don’t know,’ shouted Keep.

‘Shh!’ said Simon.

‘What can you see?’ asked Charlie.

Simon peered through again.

‘Nothing, it’s too dark.’

‘Come down, we’ll use the front door,’ said Charlie.

Simon agreed and made his way back down the drain pipe.

‘What were you thinking?’ said Charlie, when Simon got down.

‘I thought she would hear us coming through the front door,’ he said.

‘Is there another way in?’

‘We could go through the French doors round the back and come in through the kitchen!’

 

The duvet was half off the bed and Jane and Amelia were still kissing passionately. They stopped with a few more kisses and Jane rolled on to her back.

‘We need more wine,’ she said, looking at her empty glass on the bedside table.

‘I’ll get a fresh bottle,’ said Amelia getting up.

Her glass was still half full. She picked it up and downed it. Then Amelia picked up Jane’s dressing gown and began to slip into it.

‘Go naked,’ said Jane daringly.

Amelia smiled and let the dressing gown fall to the floor. She walked provocatively to the door and turned when she got there. She brushed her body against the door frame and raised her leg and swung her head back letting her hair touch the small of her back. She swung her body sideways out of the room and peered back in. She blew a kiss and winked. She giggled and skipped off downstairs to the kitchen.

Jane smiled and pulled the duvet up to her chin. Her body was still tingling. The Alcohol in her system added to the warm and cosy feeling that rushed around her body.

 

Simon opened the French door and let Charlie and Keep in. Charlie went straight to the fridge and took out a bottle of beer. He popped the lid off with his lighter and had a swig. Simon went over to the door and looked into the lounge. The TV was on but the room was empty. Keep was leaning over the breakfast bar picking at the cold leftovers from dinner.

‘So, what do I do now?’ asked Simon, ‘Just go upstairs and catch them at it?’

Charlie thought for a moment.

‘What are you going to do if they are up to something?’ he asked.

‘Join in,’ said Keep.

Charlie and Simon ignored him.

‘I don’t know,’ said Simon.

The light suddenly turned on and a drunk and naked Amelia skipped in. She stopped in shock and covered as much of her modesty as she could with her arms.

‘What are you doing here!?’ she said.

Keep put the piece of chicken he was eating down.

‘We’re here to rescue you,’ he said.

Charlie looked at Keep in bafflement and then back at Amelia. Nobody said anything.

Simon ran upstairs.

‘Rescue you?’ said Charlie to Keep.

Keep shrugged, ‘First thing that came to my head.’

 

Amelia was already outside and running down the street with a pillow she had grabbed from the couch covering her lower modesty. Her breasts would have to face the weather and hope for the best. Charlie ran out of the house after her.

‘Wait!’ he shouted.

She turned but carried on walking backwards at a considerable pace.

‘I’m not getting involved,’ she said.

‘You kind of already are.’

She stopped and walked up to Charlie, ‘I’m sorry that I slept with Jane, but this really is nothing to do with me! It was her idea!’

‘I don’t care, it’s not really my problem either. But you are making me quite horny.’

She smiled.

 

Keep was still in the kitchen absently eating bits of chicken and cold potatoes. He popped open a bottle of beer and made himself comfortable. He could hear Simon and Jane shouting at each other upstairs but it didn’t really worry him. He had food and beer and he was contemplating lighting a cigarette. He had seen a drunk naked girl, he had drunk whisky and smoked cigs, and now he was fed; perfection. He leaned back on one of the wooden chairs in the kitchen and blew a smoke ring. A door slammed upstairs and Jane came running down and out of the front door in her dressing gown. She grabbed the car keys from the small table by the front door on the way out.

‘JANE!’ shouted Simon, running down the stairs after her, ‘Please! We can figure this out! I’m sorry!’

‘Why are you apologizing?’ asked Keep.

Simon fell to his knees and sobbed.

‘I don’t know,’ he said, and then let himself fall onto his side where he would cry quietly for a few emotional minutes before spreading out onto his back to shout at the ceiling for a while.

The sound of Jane’s car leaving the drive brought with it a less tense air. Keep burped and picked up another potato.

 

A short while later Charlie and Amelia appeared at the door. Amelia no longer looked like the pure love goddess Keep had seen her as. Now she looked like she had been manhandled into a bush, which in fact, she had. Charlie looked as nonchalant as ever.

Simon had joined Keep in the kitchen and had tasked a bottle of scotch with the job of wiping his memory.

Amelia went upstairs to get dressed.

 

‘How did it go?’ asked Charlie, sitting down.

‘What?’ asked Keep.

‘The invasion of Poland in 1939.’

Keep frowned.

‘Jane and Simon you fucking idiot,’ said Charlie.

‘Oh, that. Not good,’ said Keep.

Simon downed the last bit of whisky in his glass and started sobbing.

‘He’s making that noise again,’ said Keep.

‘Has he drunk that whole bottle on his own?’

‘Yep.’

Simon leaned forward and picked up the empty bottle. He tried to pour another glass with no avail. He brought the bottle close to him and peered into it with one eye closed. His vision was actively working against him, as it does when you’re drunker than a balloon artist at a child’s party, so he brought the bottle to his lips instead. As he tilted his head back to take a swig he forgot to tell his body to stay put. Lacking this important information his body tilted back with him and Simon and chair soon met the ground. Charlie leaned over the breakfast bar to see if Simon had survived his little adventure floor-wards. Simon had managed to become horizontal while remaining seated; a remarkable feat. He was fast asleep.  Charlie leaned back again.

‘Beer?’

Keep nodded and got two bottles out of the fridge.

 

Tripping the Night Fantastic is available now on Amazon.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 3

The rustle of a newspaper; the sound of two happy people sipping tea and spreading pâté on toast, the sun beaming down on the clean patio garden, the sleeping dog by their side. Simon and his wife couldn’t look like a happier couple if they tried. Actually they didn’t have a dog, I made that bit up, but they probably would have a dog if they had it their way. If they did have a dog it would probably be called Ruffles or something, which is why I’m not letting them have one.

‘Poor Charlie,’ said Jane looking up from her paper, ‘Why do the papers make him out to be such a bad guy.’

Simon stared at her, ‘We are talking about Charlie Deavon aren’t we?’

‘I know he swore on TV, and I’m not saying I agree with that, but I’m sure he’s really a nice guy at heart.’

Simon’s stare was unmoved.

‘Charlie Deavon; hates people, drinks too much, smokes too much, swears too much, sleeps too much, arrogant, offensive, demanding… are we talking about the same man?’

She ignored him, as most people seem to, and carried on regardless.

‘In the paper it says he’s a disgrace to mankind. It says that young people should stop looking up to him like some kind of idol and that his books are only successful because they’re controversial.’

Simon considered this for a moment, ‘They’re right on most of those points but you have to give him credit, the quality of his writing is always a pleasant shock.’

Jane folded her paper and put it down.

‘We should invite him round for dinner.’

‘No.’

‘Oh why not, it will be fun.’

‘It really won’t, he can’t behave himself.’

‘He’s not a child Simon, I think he acts the way he does because he’s lonely.’

‘No, he acts the way he does for attention.’

Jane folded her arms.

‘Invite him round for dinner tonight, I’ll go out and get something nice.’

‘Are you really going to make me do this?’

‘Yes.’

‘I’ll ask but he won’t want to come.’

‘Thank you, it will be fun.’

 

Charlie was sitting on his couch staring at the courgette he had just pinned to the wall with a hunting knife. The phone rang. He looked at the phone for a moment and then picked it up without saying anything.

‘Charlie? Are you there?’

‘Yep.’

‘Jane and I were wondering if you would like to come over for dinner tonight?’

‘I stabbed a courgette today.’

‘You did?’

‘Do you think that’s normal?’

‘Not really.’

‘Do you think I was wrong to swear on TV?’

‘Since when do you care about that kind of thing?’

‘I wonder if my parents still care. Do you know you’re the only person I talk to? I don’t know a single person other than you.’

‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘And I haven’t had a drink for nearly two days. I don’t like being sober.’

‘You get used to it. Are you coming over for dinner tonight?’

Charlie stared at the courgette, which for him, at this moment in time, made him question his life, ‘Ok, I think that might be good for me.’

‘Ok. Come over for about 7:30.’

Charlie hung up the phone and looked at the mess in his apartment.

‘I need a drink.’

 

Simon put the phone back in its receiver.

‘What did he say?’ asked Jane.

‘He said yes.’

‘I told you he would come.’

‘Something’s wrong with him.’

‘Why what did he say?’

Simon sat down.

‘I think he said he’s lonely.’

‘See, I told you he was lonely,’ said Jane, a bit too smugly.

‘Well, he didn’t actually say it, but… I don’t know, something’s wrong.’

‘We can talk to him about it tonight. Does he have any allergies? He’s not vegetarian is he?’

‘No and no. Don’t go over the top with it tonight, just keep it simple.’

‘Don’t worry, Simon.’

 

Charlie rummaged through his drawers trying to find something to drink. He found a bottle of vodka with less than a gulp left in it. He drank it anyway. He opened a box; one of many that he is yet to unpack, and a picture fell out and landed on the floor beside him. He picked it up and looked at it. ‘Claire’ he said to himself. He sat against the sofa and stared at the picture. It was a photo of a young blonde haired girl wearing a summer dress. Ten years, he thought.

Charlie almost screwed up the photo out of a mixture of anger and love. He dropped the photo and let his head fall into his hands. He ran his hands through his hair and picked the picture back up. He put the photo in his pocket and left his apartment slamming the door behind him.

 

Charlie got to the bar and ordered before the barman had a chance to acknowledge him.

‘Whisky!’

‘Single or double?’

‘Bottle.’

‘I don’t think I can.’

Charlie took two fifty pound notes out of his wallet and threw them at the barman. The barman looked over to his manager for advice, his manager shrugged. The barman took the bottle out of the optic and gave it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and filled up his glass. He downed half of it and took out a cigarette.

‘You’ll have to smoke outside.’

Charlie stared at the barman to see if he was joking and then remembered the recent smoking ban, of several years ago.

‘Fucking smoking ban,’ he said, picking up his bottle.

He went outside to the smoking area. He sat as far out of the way as he could and lit his cigarette. He began to relax and poured a second glass.

A girl’s voice interrupted his solitude.

‘Charlie Deavon?’

Charlie looked up, ‘Oh, God, help me.’

‘It’s you isn’t it? Charlie Deavon!’

‘No.’

‘Yes it is! I am your biggest fan!’

She sat next to him.

‘What you doin’ here?’

‘Drinking.’

‘I’m Amelia,’ she said.

‘I don’t care.’

‘Can I drink with you?’

This time he took a good look at her. She’s about twenty years of age, nice figure, fairly classy, brunette, definitely attractive… slightly drunk.

‘What are you doing tonight?’ He asked.

‘I’m free, are you asking me back to yours?’ She replied flirtatiously.

‘How do you feel about dinner?’

‘Sure.’

‘Good we’ll leave in an hour, go and get yourself a glass.’

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 2

Knock, Knock, Knock. Simon waited for a few seconds.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Inside Charlie’s apartment something stirred under a bed sheet.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie!’

Charlie opened his eyes, a little confused and world weary thanks to a large bottle of Jack Daniels the night before.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie! Open the door!’

Charlie sat up and climbed out of his bed.

Bang!…

‘Shut up! I’m coming.’

Charlie un-chained the door and opened it. Simon Squeezed past him and went straight to the kitchen.

‘What?’ Charlie demanded wearily.

‘It’s Tuesday, we have to be at the studio in an hour.’

Charlie’s face tried to respond and failed, so far only his legs, eyes, part of his brain and at least one of his arms was completely awake. He tried speech ‘nmph?’

‘GMTV. I’ve got you three cups of coffee, drink this.’

Charlie took the coffee.

‘And a bacon and egg sandwich,’ continued Simon.

‘mm.’

‘Eat your sandwich and get in the shower, I’ve got you a new shirt and some razors.’

‘You’re ever so nice.’

‘I know, now get in the shower.’

Simon edged him toward the shower and gave him his second coffee as he entered and closed the door behind him.

‘Make sure you shave!’

‘Alright, stop shouting.’

 

Fifteen minutes later the shower door opened and out came Charlie. To Simon’s astonishment he actually looked close to presentable.

‘Right, you look good, let’s go.’

‘Wait, wait… wait.’

‘What?’

Charlie looked around his room and grabbed his keys, a small cantina and half a cigarette out of the ash tray.

‘Ok.’

 

In the underground car park Simon unlocked his car. Charlie looked at him with an expression like pity.

‘What are you doing?’ said Charlie.

‘Getting in the car.’

‘We’re not taking your car we’re taking mine.’

‘Really?’ Simon ran a disapproving eye over the trashed vehicle, ‘why don’t you buy a proper car?’

Charlie composed himself and prepared his fragile mind for coherent conversation.

‘It’s not about how new and shiny a car is that makes a car great. I’m not getting in your car; it has no handbrake and no keyhole, so in my book it’s not even a car. Having no keyhole is like a woman having no vagina.’

‘Charlie it’s a modern car, this button is the hand brake, and it doesn’t have a keyhole because you start it with a button.’

‘Your sexless freak of a car is the automobile equivalent of a blonde-tipped, spiky haired prick with no penis, whereas my fucked up little Jaguar is the car equivalent of dishevelled rough sex.’

Simon closed his car door and got obediently into Charlie’s.

 

Concise and in control is how Charlie would describe his driving. Most others would describe it as erratic, dangerous, fast, and suicidal. Neither is right, he actually drives in a way that is both oblivious to other road users and apparently, as he has never crashed, safer than flying. In-fact, his record is so clean that being driven by Charlie is statistically safer than driving. It is frightening nonetheless.

Charlie spoke loudly over the sound of the engine.

‘Now your wife has a good taste in cars.’

Simon looked at him suspiciously.

‘How do you know what my wife drives?’

Charlie took no notice.

‘A 1971 British Leyland pick-up 4×4. Cool car.’

‘I’ve never introduced you.’

‘It even has a damn snorkel and a roll cage!’

‘Charlie!’

Charlie looked at the slightly panic stricken face of his agent.

‘Not getting paranoid are we Simon? She dropped a box of books to my last book signing. You weren’t in so she offered.’

‘She’s been acting strange recently, that’s all.’

‘Of course she’s acting strange, she’s a woman. It’s when she starts acting normal you have to worry. It is a cool car though.’

‘It’s not hers her dad left it to her.’

‘Simon, fucking relax.’

‘You’re right. I’ll start acting like you shall I? Get drunk for days on end, eat shit, swear at everyone?’

Charlie pulled the car up outside the studio and stopped the engine.

‘Sure, if you want to.’

‘I wasn’t agreeing with you.’

‘Ok.’

Charlie gave him a friendly pat on the back.

‘You know, it’s a pretty easy life, just doing what you want.’

‘Yes, I’m sure.’

 

A man in a suit was waiting by the entrance of the studio. He noticed Charlie and Simon and waved them over.

‘Ok, that’s the producer. He’ll brief you before you go on. You must do what he tells you. Marcus, how are you!’ Simon called from a distance.

Marcus ushered them to hurry up.

‘Simon, I didn’t think you were going to make it,’ said Marcus.

‘It’s nice to see you again,’ said Simon.

‘And Charlie,’ said Marcus turning to Charlie, ‘I’m a big fan of your work, very funny stuff, glad to have you on the show.’

Charlie considered this interesting critique of his work and replied dryly, ‘My next book is about a blind alcoholic orphan. She gets raped by a ghost and spends most of the story sitting in a dark room swearing at the walls until she finally dies of aids.’

The good thing about people like Marcus, or anyone who has a job that involves holding a clip board and having a wire leading to your ear with people telling you to tell someone else to hurry up, is that they never really hear anything anyone says to them. This is why his response to Charlie’s reply was, ‘Looking forward to it. The green room is on the right. The makeup girl will be with you in a few moments.’

Charlie looked at him like a wizard looks at a clown.

‘I fucked your dad,’ he said.

‘Hm?’

 

Charlie sat in the green room staring at the mirror.

‘Simon.’

‘Yes?’

‘Do you really think people who watch GMTV actually want to read my books?’

‘Yes.’

‘The only people who want to read my books are either drunk students or bored serial killers.’

The makeup girl came in wearing a short mini skirt and a low cut top. I would describe her in more detail but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

 

To Simon’s initial relief Charlie seemed to be behaving himself on set. He answered the questions well with a light sense of humour and gave witty anecdotes about how the book was written. He even offered to sign a copy for the interviewer, Ben Shepherd. (It later transpired that Charlie had just drawn a picture of a penis with a smiley face on the tip and the word BEN in big letters along the shaft). The segment came to a close with a final question.

‘Thank you for coming on the show. We’re all big fans. What do you have planned for the rest of the day?’

Charlie smiled and said, ‘I think I’m going to fuck your makeup girl.’

Ben went red.

‘Err… sorry about that ladies and gentleman. We’ll see you after this short break.’

 

Charlie and Simon hurried back to the green room to get their things and get out before the producer had a chance to come down on them.

‘What the hell is wrong with you?!’ said Simon.

‘What? He was asking for it.’

‘How does Ben Shepherd “ask for it”? He’s the most unthreatening man on TV!’

‘He said he was a fan of my book.’

‘How is that a bad thing?’

‘He’s never read the book.’

‘How do you know that?’

‘It’s Ben Shepherd! He’s never read any book! He would struggle with The Very Hungry Caterpillar!’

‘What!?’

‘Exactly!’ Said Charlie.

‘You won’t be allowed on ITV again and the BBC probably won’t have you.’

‘I don’t really care.’

 

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 1

A monster, of indescribable horror – ravaged by booze and lack of sleep – sat at his laptop. Charlie Deavon; an unholy disgrace, stained shirt, stained boxer shorts, wild hair, harassed unshaved face, a dying cigarette hanging from his mouth, and on his desk beside his laptop, the potion that keeps his appearance so ruggedly shambolic; a half dry bottle of scotch.

The room was dark and his tired nicotine-aged face was lit up from the light of the monitor. He took a final drag from his cigarette and dropped it in a half empty glass of whisky where it turned grey and died with its two dead cigarette companions.

The cursor blinked. Only six words were on the screen:

Amelia Heart, is going to die.

 More words try to find their way to Charlie’s fingers but fail miraculously. Not because he has writer’s block, he is just a lazy drunk with no appreciation for deadlines; a common ailment for many writers.

He turned his head and stared impassively at his bed in the other room. He looked back at the monitor for a moment, made a sound like ‘mph’ and then closed the lid. He managed to slump from his study to his bedroom and land on his bed with less effort than is possible to describe.

His bed was a stained mattress on a carpet-less floor. The wallpaper was old and nicotine stained. The ceiling lights didn’t have light shades and the curtain was an old damp towel slowly getting heavier with mould.

The digital clock on the floor blinked slowly. He turned his head and looked at it, unsure if his eyes were tired, hung-over, still drunk or simply still closed. He could just about make out the time; 6:30am. He stared at the ceiling.

3 hours later the alarm went off. Not a nice tune or the radio, just a beeping drone. A few dramatic moments later and the towel landed heavily on the lawn outside followed by a shower of glass. Inside the towel the alarm clock beeped lamely on. A neighbour shouted the word ‘cunt’ in Charlie’s direction. Charlie stood naked in the smashed window. He showed his neighbour his middle finger and then headed into the kitchen.

The kitchen occupies the same space as his lounge. The fridge consists of one rasher of bacon, three cans of beer, four empty cans of beer and a courgette. In the cupboard are one can of beans, a full packet of pasta, a packet of custard creams (half empty), some tea bags, a jar of coffee, and a pile of newspapers. In the toaster is a failed experiment; it turns out that it is not quicker to cook an omelette in a toaster. In-fact it takes longer and is far more dangerous.

After several minutes of staring at the courgette, and wondering where it came from, he slammed the fridge door and stared blankly over at the laptop for a minute. He opened the cupboard again, stared for a while, and then came to a decision and grabbed the closest things to his hand. Tea with a spoon of coffee and a packet of biscuits would be today’s breakfast.  He sat on his couch and wondered once again why he doesn’t own a TV. He leaned back to reach for the half-full bottle of scotch on his desk, nearly knocking it over, and poured some into his coffee/tea. He made a sound ‘urghmph’ and had a sip of his brew.

A phone started ringing. A slight dread fell over Charlie’s brain. This ringing sound meant he would have to impart some brain activity, some physical movement, and finally speech. Three things he had absolutely no interest in doing. He looked left and then right and then down. He dug it from under him and looked at it. He answered it and put it to his ear.

‘Charlie?’

‘Eurh.’

‘Charlie! It’s Simon, what are you doing today?’

‘Mmpth.’

Charlie stared at his tea/coffee/scotch and wondered if he’d rather talk to that instead.

‘When can I come over and see a few pages?’ said Simon.

‘No.’

‘Ok. I’m coming over. I’ll bring Starbucks and some food.’

‘Fuck off Simon.’

Click.

 

 

Ring Ring.

‘Charlie, I’m in Subway, what sandwich do you want?’

‘Don’t come to my house.’

‘I’m having a Foot-long Meatball Sub, I’ll choose something for you shall I?’

‘I’m not letting you in when you get here.’

‘I need to see you.’

‘Fine. I’m coming to your office. If I get there before you I’m going to dismantle your desk.’

‘Charl…’

Click.

 

 

Simon put his phone back in his pocket, gave the girl behind the counter £10, and grabbed the sandwiches. He checked his genuine Rolex watch and ran outside and across the road to his car.

 

 

Charlie left his apartment and stumbled haphazardly into the bright offensive sunlight outside. He shielded his eyes from the day’s carelessly cheery mood and got in to his car.

Charlie’s car is a 1993 V12 Jaguar XJ-S. Its dark blue paint is faded from years in the sun, the passenger door is a faded race-car green colour from where it was replaced but never re-painted, the rear bumper is held on by wire ties, the air conditioning doesn’t work and only the driver side window goes down without requiring a mechanic to get it back up again. But the CD player works and the engine starts with the kind of rumbling purr that makes your heart fill your lungs.

Charlie sat in the driver’s seat. This is one of the only times during Charlie’s normally miserable day when his smile is actually genuine. Even the dry heavy feeling of a hangover takes a back seat while pure juvenile pleasure takes over for a while. This is Charlie’s perfect car.  The engine misfired causing the exhaust to vomit black smoke and the car turned a corner and drove off towards Simon’s office.

 

 

Simon parked in the underground car park of his office. He slammed the door of his brand new white Audi A4 and made for the fifth floor as fast as he could. His secretary was sitting at her desk looking slightly violated. Simon sent a questioning glance her way which was returned with a worried look towards his office door, which was slightly ajar. Simon relaxed and prepared for the worst.

He edged the door open and looked inside. Everything seemed in order. He looked to his right. Charlie was sitting on one of the comfortable chairs against the wall in his office with a smile on his face. Simon looked suspiciously at him and sat down behind his desk.

Charlie had his right foot resting on his left knee in the most nonchalant way imaginable. His boot-cut jeans were torn around the heel of his scuffed brown shoes. Three buttons remained un-fastened on his shirt, the sleeves were half rolled up in a way that suggests the wearer couldn’t care less if they were up or down and, although his shirt isn’t tucked in, you could just make out a brown leather belt being held tight by a pretty average and uneventful belt buckle. Simon looked suspiciously around the room. Charlie spoke.

‘I pissed in your plant.’

Simon looked over at the plant and then back at Charlie.

‘I got you a turkey Sub,’ he said, handing it to him.

‘What do you have in yours?’

‘Meatball.’

‘Give me yours.’

‘No.’

Charlie stared at him.

Simon gave in.

‘We can split it,’ said Simon.

Simon gave Charlie half of his Sub and took half of Charlie’s. Simon took a bite out of his and decided now was the best time to talk.

‘Mm, So, mmph, how many err, pages have you done?’

‘You’re the reason I hate people,’ said Charlie.

Simon swallowed.

‘I don’t mind if you haven’t written very much, I just need to see what you have written.’

‘If you carry on being nice to me I swear to god I’m going to kill you.’

‘Charlie, I’ve arranged an interview with GMTV for next week, they want to talk about the film deal and re-release of your first book and they’re really eager to hear what your plans are for your next book. And there will be some fans there so take a pen so you can sign things.’

‘I’m serious. I will throw you through the fucking window. I know there’s a bastard in there somewhere!’

‘Come on, Charlie, stop being a twat.’

‘Oh! Simon! That’s more like it! Come on, touch me.’

Charlie lifted his shirt and twiddled his nipple with a finger.

‘No. Are you finished?’

Charlie folded his arms.

‘I haven’t written anything,’ he said.

‘I know.’

‘How?’

‘You’re always like this when you can’t write.’

‘I can write. It’s just the lack of plot that’s the problem. And the lack of characters. Just the lack of book in general is the problem. What’s the rush anyway?’

‘If you’re off the shelf for too long people will forget about you.’

‘Good.’

Charlie opened a bottle of scotch from Simon’s alcohol cabinet and poured two glasses.

‘Are you finished for the day?’ he asked.

‘No, Charlie, it’s 10am.’

‘We’re going to the pub for a business meeting about drunks,’ Charlie smiled ridiculously at his own infantile sense of humour.

‘Charlie.’

‘Stop being a fucking cunt and drink with me! I’m shit bored and hanging out with you here is making me more bored so if we have to spend time together you have to be pissed! That’s the rule from now on. Ok?’

‘No.’

Charlie put a glass of scotch down in front of Simon and downed his own.

‘Charlie, I have a lot of work to do.’

Charlie put on his best Simon impression, which sounds more like Bugsy Malone than Simon, and shouted.

‘Receptionist, hold my calls! I’m going to be away from my office for the rest of the day!’

Charlie, feeling pretty proud of himself, looked smugly at Simon. Simon looked wilfully back.

Amanda poked her head into the office.

‘Do you want me to hold your calls?’

Simon threw what was left of his sandwich in the bin and brushed bits of sandwich off his shirt.

‘Yes, hold my calls, thank you.’

‘HA!’ exclaimed Charlie, feeling victorious.

Amanda left the office without looking at Charlie.

Simon picked up a schedule from his desk and walked over to Charlie.

‘I’m giving you a schedule, there are only two things on it, GMTV and casting auditions for the film, I need you to remember them.’

‘You’re not coming to the pub are you?’

‘I’ll pick you up on Tuesday morning at 6am for GMTV, please try to be awake.’

‘I make no promises.’

 

Charlie left the office and wandered around the building for a couple of hours trying to find something interesting to do or disrupt but no one took much notice of him. A receptionist gave him a funny look when the elevator opened to reveal Charlie’s rear mooning at her. A security guard told him he wasn’t allowed to beg on the premises, and an old writer friend stopped him to congratulate him on the success of his last novel to which Charlie replied, ‘Go fuck your book’. Finally he went home to immerse himself in his favourite, if only, past time; drinking.