In 1965 I went to a Kinks concert. I loved music but I wasn’t willing to sleep out to get prime tickets so I was prepared to sit right up the back. My two female friends and I got dressed up in our tiny mini skirts and chose not to wear bras because, quite frankly, at sixteen, we did not need them. We lined up to collect our tickets and a man came up to me and asked me where I was sitting. I told him and he shook his head. ‘The band will want to see a pretty girl like you enjoying their music,’ he said. He pulled a ticket from the inside of his jacket and held it out to me. ‘Care to be a little closer?’ I took the ticket and turned to my friends. They were waiting to be given one too, but the man had already left. The way they looked at me suggested they weren’t expecting me to take the ticket. I never saw them again. So I’m in the middle of the front row and I’m screaming at Ray Davies, the lead singer of The Kinks. I am extremely familiar with his expressions because he is plastered all over the walls of my bedroom. I’m so comfortable in his company that when he points at me and beckons me up to stage I manage not to get hysterical. And then I’m sitting on a chair on sage and he’s singing You Really Got Me into my eyes whilst the crowd loses its shit. After the song, a bouncer collects me and I am expecting to be returned to my seat, but I am not. Instead I am handed a glass of French champagne and given a handful of multicoloured pills. ‘Take the green ones now,’ the bouncer says, ‘the purple ones when you’re leveling out, and the yellow ones before you go to school tomorrow.’ The rest of the night was a psychedelic, series of flashes. Flash! I’m in the band’s dressing room and they’re competing for my attention. Flash! Ray Davies wins (he was always going to). Flash! Ray is kissing my neck as he drops me home. Flash! Lola was a man. The next morning I woke up feeling for the first time that I had a purpose on this planet. I was born to be a groupie. The question I am asked the most is, ‘why?’ My answer is because I love fucking, rock and roll, and free shit in equal measure. And if you could find a way to get the things you want, and make a living out of it … need I say more? When you’re on a plane, cramping it up in economy, know that I am doing coke in first class. When you’re at a concert trying to see over the dickwad in a hat, know that I’m doing coke side of stage, flirting with the guitarist. When you’re doing coke, know that I’m doing coke too … better coke. Pure coke. Coke that makes you wonder if your face is still there. Coke that would have you suddenly fascinated in motherhood. Coke that changes your life for the better. Even the day after. When people ask me which rock star I enjoyed screwing the most I am unable to recall only one. There are three that immediately spring to mind. The first was Jimi Hendrix in London at some point in the mid-sixties. Round about the time the picture was taken of him setting his guitar alight. We were in his hotel room doing heroin, to come off all the diet pills, that we took because of all the joints, that we smoked because of the acid, that we popped because … we could. Jimi and I were bored with making out in front of his band so we moved into the bathroom for a bit of privacy. With us we took, Jimi's favourite acoustic guitar, a bottle of whiskey, and a candle because the lights were too bright. We took our clothes off and made love in the shower while Jimi whispered gently into my ear. Afterwards he brought the guitar in and sang me a song. The water deadening the strings in a way I’d never heard before. It was special. Glorious. You would think James Hetfield, the lead singer of Metallica, would’ve put me through a wall. You’d presume he’d treat fucking like he would his music; hard, fast and over in three minutes, but he wasn’t like that. There was no denying he was hit and miss … after a couple of bottles of spirits and a carton of beer, who wouldn’t be? But during sex he was a wonderful communicator, making sure he was pleasing me, checking he wasn’t too hard, or too soft (which was often the case), and he would never come before me. Kind of like a gentleman holds the door open for you, ‘after you’, he’d say, and then he’d come explosively. After, he’d trot off to the bathroom get some toilet paper, and lovingly wipe me down. Then he’d spoon me as he slept. He was one for nightmares. James seemed terrified of sleep. Then, of course, was the luscious John Lennon. I’ve never been a Beatles fan to be frank. I find their music generally sentimental but so did John. He was more of a Stones’ man. John and I would fuck away whilst he sang Painted Black and bitch about Paul McCartney. John hated Paul before it was popular to do so. The other thing about John was the size of his wang (his word not mine) John’s wang would roll out of his trousers like a snake awakening from hibernation. There was something luxurious about his cock. Looking back, his wang reminds me of Baz Luhman … handsome, always over dressed, and a little pretentious. I for one do not sleep with drummers. But that’s not a rule … because I sleep with drummers. It’s complicated. When they fuck me in four four, they keep wonderful time, and their fingers are so quick and delicate. It’s when they start showing off that I get bored. Drummers find it difficult to go longer than 30 seconds without adding a drum fill … or a rim shot … or a paradiddle. Syncopated sex is very difficult if you’re not a particularly talented percussionist. It just feels random and out of your control. And sex is about a meeting of bodies and an understanding of what they are there for. The list of rock ‘n’ rollers I regret sleeping with is short but pertinent. To start off the list is Bono in 1980 in Prague. But that was to save myself from The Edge. I really dislike his pathetic pleading eyes … and he never takes his beanie off. Also, any guitarist that uses more than 4 pedals is not going to be of any service in the sack. There is a personality disorder that I can’t quite put my finger on with anyone that tecched up. That kind of information sits in a part of their brain that always comes first. That much information cannot be bypassed. Although the rest of my regrets pale in the blinding light of Bono they should be mentioned; Phil Collins (short man syndrome), Brian Eno (tall man syndrome), Bob Dylan (he moans during sex like he sings), Liam or Noel Gallagher (no need for extrapolation here), Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen (too happy), Katrina from Katrina and the Waves (too sad), and Bananarama (too much banana not enough rama). In 1989 on the eve of my 50th birthday I received my first rejection. Bret Michaels from Poison was backstage at a Nirvana concert in Seattle and I deemed myself high enough to give it a go. I leaned into him and whispered something complimentary about his penis even though I’ve heard from friends that it looks like a pterodactyl on fire. He pushed me away and called me grandma. This was particularly depressing because he’d just finished screwing a billiard table. I left the dressing room we were sitting in to cry and contemplate retirement. I found myself in the loading dock with my heavy mascara running down my face. There were footsteps behind me, so I turned and saw Kurt Cobain standing there, with his blonde messy hair about his head like an aura. ‘How do you know when a lead singer is at your door?’ He asked. I shook my head. ‘Because they can’t find the key and they never know when to come in.’ I grinned. ‘What do you throw a drowning bass player?’ He asked me. I shook my head. ‘His amp.’ I laughed. ‘What do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians?’ I did nothing except wait for the punch line. ‘A drummer.’ ‘You better not tell Dave Grohl that.’ Kurt smiled, took me in his arms, and held me.


I’m no gossip.

I try to stay away from the type of person who uses the affairs of others as a source of trite conversation. At the same time though, I understand that sometimes you need to thrash it out, so you don’t harbour it inside and end up walking around with your tail between your legs. What I’m trying to say is that a lot of stuff has gone down and I need to talk. So here it is.
I am a great person to live with. I’m happy all the time. They’re the ones who fought, and if I said anything during one of their altercations I was ignored. On occasion he’d even march me to the back door, and ask me to leave. I never had anything to say to that, so I’d slink past them and have the door slammed behind me – which never ceases to give me the shock of my life. Sometimes our neighbour poked his head over the fence. I’d always say hello to him, but at times like this he’d be more concerned with what was going on inside. I don’t blame him.

If I wasn’t thrown out, I’d go hide somewhere anyway. To his credit he’d always seek me out when they stopped shouting. I’d try to stay hidden for as long as possible so I could relish in the post fight lilt he’d give my name, but in these situations I generally cave in because I know I’ll get a cuddle. I’m a pretty tactile being.

Living arrangements: I crashed on the couch and they slept upstairs. I’ve only seen it a few times, but the bedroom is unbelievable. In the beginning a scent used to come from there at night, which wafted all the way down to where I curl up. I don’t know – if a smell can be important yet lusty this was it. As time passed I smelt it less and less. And then I couldn’t smell it at all.

Some back-story: She moved in seven years ago. I sensed something was up on the day of her arrival. I didn’t know what it was – he didn’t approach me about it – but there was a different feeling in the air. He was pacing in the living room and occasionally he’d turn to me and say, ‘Is this a good idea?’ I didn’t respond because I didn’t know what to say. Then I heard someone and ran to the door, but he pushed me aside and told me to be quiet. It always hurts to be treated like this, but when he opened the door and they laughed and hugged and she turned to me and spoke so affectionately, I couldn’t help forget my minor woes. I love a good party.

When he was at home she was great. She seemed really happy for me to be around and the three of us would have a great time sitting on the couch or alike. When he was out however, she treated me like I didn’t exist. I might wander into the kitchen and attempt a bit of banter only to have her finish up the dishes and walk straight past me. It was confusing. I never brought it up with him because I didn’t think he’d understand. So I just dealt with it – and I wasn’t left alone with her that often – I had the home to myself most days anyway.

Once every seven years, he is amazingly nice to me. I know when this day is because in the morning he calls me into his bedroom. I am never allowed in there except on these days. I always run up the stairs and literally leap onto the bed – I’m that excited. He pays me an almost overly generous amount of attention, and then it’s on: Breakfast is a hundred times better than usual – I get gifts, and some serious lovin’.

Things began to take a turn one day when he came home and threw his briefcase across the kitchen (it almost hit me). What I gathered from his tone and body language was that someone, from wherever he went daily, had told him off quite seriously. In fact, whatever had happened had been so bad they he was now home every day. On paper, this seemed ideal to me, but in reality, it didn’t prove to be a positive step. I like to drink – I think it’s necessary – but now he was always drinking, and not after a big run when you really crave it. It made him smell sour, I didn’t care for it much and after a while neither did she. She would come home, smell him, and then they’d fight.

He started to carry himself differently around this time; like he was wearing a collar that was too tight and made him hunch. When she was home they wouldn’t even sit in the same room. It was all so heavy and I felt like a middleman; wandering from room to room trying to be helpful but being told in a tone I didn’t like that my presence wasn’t welcome.
There was a brief moment when things went back to normal. One morning she left the house earlier than usual with a bag on wheels. An hour later I heard feet at the door. For once he was friendly, and the female was nice too, but they weren’t around for long. They rushed upstairs and were groaning at each other until that waft drifted to where I lay on the couch. It was like a pleasant memory and I could’ve savoured it forever. But then she came back.

There was a key in the door and I ran to dish out my obligatory welcome. Her head poked around and she called out. I answered, but she ignored me. She came inside and called again. I stood in her path, trying to get a little attention. She looked down at me and said something horrible and kicked me as hard as she could. I yelped, crashing against the wall as she strode past. I hid as I heard her making lots of noise upstairs. They were screaming at the top of their lungs. The female who I didn’t know ran past me putting shoes on and doing up buttons. The screaming continued until she came down with two suitcases with wheels. She shouted something out, flung open the door, and slammed it behind her so hard a picture fell off the wall and smashed right next to where I was hidden under the couch. I could see the photo; it was of the three of us down at the park. Although I’ve got my tongue out, it’s a great photo and it was a stark reminder of how quickly things can go wrong.

It got dark, but I stayed under the couch (I’d had enough drama for one day). Finally he came downstairs, but instead of seeing the picture she’d smashed, he saw what I’d done. When she’d kicked me I got so scared that I … made a mess on the ground. He called me and when I came out he grabbed me by the neck and forced my face into the mess. I couldn’t believe it. As if all this was my fault! At that point I lost control of my emotions and started to howl. His face changed immediately and any anger that was inside him dissipated and was replaced with genuine remorse. He took me out the back and hosed down my face and dried me off. He cuddled me and told me he loved me. I couldn’t count how many times he said sorry but every one of them was as sweet as the one before it. I followed him around as he began collecting bottles from different places around the house. After he’d picked up every last one (he filled the bin), we sat on the couch and watched some trashy TV.

A week after she left it was that day I mentioned before: Where I get gifts and surprises for apparently no reason. That evening he and I were having a bit of a wrestle on the couch and the bell at the door chimed. Since my kicking, I’ve been a little reluctant to have guests over, because I fear it’s her returning. But it was a man with a box that smelt like I’d died and gone to heaven. There was a brief exchange and the box was brought over to me. It was opened and there laid a delicious looking circle topped with delicacies I had never even seen before. My best friend pulled a triangle from it and yellow stringy tendrils stretched until they finally gave way. He handed it to me, smiling, and when I was done (under three seconds), he handed me another and told me he loved me.

It’s the simple things.


Complete Fiction

Before I begin this post I would like to say that it is complete fiction.

This does not happen. If it did, and I was actually doing it, I don't know anything about it.

Thank you.

I'm a high end shoplifter. I steal from major supermarkets and - when I'm drunk - Seven Elevens. The information that I have gathered from both my reliable and unreliable sources is that these joints are pretty much covered for this kind of anti-social behaviour. Essentially, as far as I can tell, all stealing makes me makes me is a statistic.

What I'm saying in a roundabout kind of way is that I have justified my minor ... um ... well, it's a misdemeanor I suppose, but I might even say that I'm a little proud of myself.

Don't get caught. I hear you offer in a, dare I say, slightly too parental tone. That tone that will have you saying, 'I told you so', if I do ever feel that hand on my shoulder.

I won't get caught.

My craft is a simple one.

I simply hold it in my hand. I offload my legitimate purchases on to the conveyor belt or alike whilst always carrying the hot item right in front of them. Because it's right in front of the cashier's eyes they presume I bought it somewhere else, and if they have the courage to ask me if I bought it at their shop, then I apologise and pay for it.

'I am an idiot.' Then casually I laugh. 'I am so tired.'

They too are tired and they empathise with me.

Do you see why this is flawless if you can handle the heat?

Here's some shit I've got for free this month:

Berocca $7.45 (Coles)

Goat's Cheese $9.95! (Harris Farm)

Caviar $4.35 (Sydney Fish Markets)

Creme Fraiche $5.75 (Coles)

White Costello $7.45 (Woolworths)

Starburst $0.99 (Seven Eleven)

Give it a go. But don't panic and stick it in your pocket.

Hold it in front of them, look them in the eyes, and dare them to mention it.


Take Away.

We picked him up at the prison, and he got in the fucken car. He was straight out with it too, no pussy fucken footin’ to be found here.
‘Are you two on?’
‘Yeah and what fucken of it?’
Whether we was on or not was none of his fucken business. Here I am, picking the shit up.’
‘I hoped you might –’
I interrupt the prick right there.
‘Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to detox at the state’s fucken expense like yerself, have we?’
‘They don’t tax drug dealin’ though, do they?’ He says.
‘I smoke, smarmy cunt,’ I says. ‘Government takes more than half of the price of ciggies.’
‘All I’m sayin’ is, I’m tryin’ to clean up. It just woulda been nice.’
Listen to him. This is when family gives you the shits, so I let him know.
‘If you wanna a fucken fight of words, let’s roll.’
He wasn’t gonna argue that, cos he’d never win. I can’t be beaten in a fight, fists, or otherwise.
Then I saw him look at Amanda. She was riding up front with me.
When we were waiting for him to be released, she said she’d move to the back so he could sit front, but I told her she’d stay put. He’d ride in the back, and he’d fucken get used to that. There was a time we rode together, but those days were long and well and truly fucken gone.
‘How you doin Mandy?’
One dodgy look at her, and I’d stop the car and kick his fucken arse. I don’t care. Mandy needed the junk, so she wasn’t going to be a problem. I didn’t mind her talking to him. I mean … what’s she gonna do?
‘How was inside?’
‘Boring. As long as you can keep your head down, it’s just boring. ‘
There was a lot of bad blood between us. I’m not shitting you. But I was willing to give him another chance.
‘Well you’re out now, and I’ve got you a job.’
The cunt had the nerve to laugh. One of those – what’s the word – fucken condescending laughs. I almost punched the prick, but I let him talk.
‘Not selling anymore. I’m out, and I’m not going back in.’
‘You went in cos you were stupid.’
Another one of those fucken laughs.
I’m runnin on empty, and I see a petrol station. We had to ride across town to pick up, so I pull in and park. I turn around, pretty fucken menacingly. The cunt doesn’t flinch, but once again, I show good manners, and let it go.
‘You wanna pay for this petrol?’
‘Sure. Why not?’
‘Thirty should cover it.’
He fishes it out. We both know that it’s too much cash to hand over (my flat isn’t far from the jail), but the pussy’s too weak to complain.
I snatch the money from him, and get out to fill up.


A Brief Conversation In Regards To My Beard With A Friend.



E: Woah. You're in a relationship, aren't you?

T: You know that.

E: If I didn't, I'd know now.

T: But...you did...you do.

E: If I didn't, is what I'm saying.

T: What are you saying? Where are you going with this?

E: Not to a good place.

T: If I buy you a drink can we not go there?

E: Oh, I am flat broke, you'll be buying the drinks today.


E: What?

T: I was grumbling.

E: Fair enough, I suppose. I would too if I looked homeless.

T: Is it the shirt? I love this shirt.

E: The shirt complements your ragged facial hair. But...that...your awful facial hair, is what makes me want to throw coins at you and give you a bath.

T: You don't have any coins, arsehole.

E: If I had folding money I would give it to you.

T: You don't like my beard?

E: That, my friend, is not a beard. It's more crop circles than beard.

T: But if I grow it out it will thicken.

E: If you work out how to thicken water, you may have a chance of working out how to thicken that beard.

T: Ice.

E: Hm?

T: Ice.



Black Market.

Shelley and I are going out tonight. She comes to my house around seven. I’m all out of ecstasy so I go out and buy some more before she arrives so we can drop immediately (they’ve got ‘no deal’ on the tablets; from the game show). We want to go and see a movie before heading to our favourite music venue. She comes over and is a bit speedy because she had a work report due that required the focus amphetamines offer on a short-term basis. She’d mainlined that morning and spent the day at her computer. ‘The problem with working on speed,’ she says at the door with pupils like dish plates, ‘is that you get too much done. You can complete a weeks’ work in less than six hours.’

The movie is great. It’s a feel good piece and we laugh and sigh our way through it – not that we need to feel good, we feel awesome. The two lead characters bicker through the first half of the film – although it’s obvious that they like each other. And it’s only when their two equally hilarious flat mates spike their drinks with MDMA that they find true love.
After, we head to see a band and catch up with Patrick who’s had a little too much heroin. He keeps rubbing his nose and his eyes droop closed on more than one occasion (more than five). I have a crush on Patrick. Shelley knows this and leaves us alone for a while. I took a little more ecstasy after the movie and I’m pretty tactile, I keep putting Patrick’s hands on my body; over my breasts, but he’s too smacked out so I give up after a while.

The band is awesome and Shelley and I dance up front whilst Patrick buys a Coke and then drops it, his hand makes a circle where he was holding it. Buys and drops, buys … and drops. The soft drink vendor laughs at him. ‘You took too much, man,’ he says, pointing. Patrick swipes at the extended finger missing it continually. The bartender plays with him for a while, like a puppy, then gets bored and serves someone else.

Around midnight we jump in a cab and drop Patrick home. Shelley and I continue on to my place and we stop by a convenience store to pick up a couple of joints and a handful of Xanax, so we can sleep. We both have to work the next day. Shelley always stays at my place. She still lives with her family, with the exception of her father who is in prison. You probably read about it in the papers a couple of years ago, when those two trucks were involved in that police chase along the Hume Highway going from Sydney to Melbourne. He was the driver of one of them and was caught with five hundred cartons of beer.

The street value of a can of beer is about twenty-five bucks. Times that by twenty-four it equals about a five hundred dollars. Times that by five hundred and you’ve got at least a five year stint in maximum security.

Shelley’s family have stood by her father and that freaks me out a bit I guess. I once caught Shelley smoking a cigarette. She was staying at my place for a couple of days and I came home from work early. When I opened the door I immediately smelt tobacco. Shelley was on the couch and she hurriedly stubbed something out in the ashtray. I asked her what it was, she said a joint, and we left it at that. But if it were to happen again … I suppose what I’m saying is that I do not want to be a part of criminal activity. I wouldn’t give her in to the police or anything; she just wouldn’t be welcome at my place any more. And that would be a shame.

We lounge around on my couch still feeling really good. We’re chatty and our conversation dives deep into themes of the heart, and soul. I talk about Patrick the lovable junky lawyer: Always on, but hard working and a vigilant prosecutor. He only ever has too much on the weekend, and I’ve never had to poke him with the shot of adrenalin that users have to carry at all times, so essentially he’s a big tick for me. Shelley agrees and feigns jealousy. I feel really close to Shelley right now. I know I can tell her anything and she won’t judge me. This is due to her family’s plight obviously, but I think it’s a good example of how positivity can come out of a bad situation.

Shelley starts talking about the government. We’ve never openly discussed her family’s situation and I really hope that she’s not leading us there. It’s … I’m not comfortable with it. She asks me why it’s okay to smoke pot and not tobacco. ‘They both grow naturally’, she says, ‘why is one okay and the other taboo?’ I shrug my shoulders and quote the ad that we both grew up with, ‘Dope will make you feel great, tobacco is weed fuelled hate: Cancer!’

‘I barely understand what it means,’ Shelley says. I begin to explain to her what we’ve all read on the pamphlets a hundred times, but she interrupts me, ‘Yeah, that’s what they say, but all the politicians smoke and drink.’
‘They do not.’ I say, shocked.
‘It’s well documented.’
‘Do we have to? I mean, I’m still high.’
‘We’re all high. Everyone’s high all the time.’ Shelley’s arms are waving. ‘Tobacco just sort of calms you down and alcohol makes you feel positively giddy. They want us on psychotropic’s or painkillers so we don’t kick up a stink about the state of the world.’
‘You can die on a couple of beers. Or you go crazy and fight everybody. You’ve seen the footage.’
‘It’s all staged. Tell me you know that they’re actors.’ Shelley folds her arms and waits.
‘Well … yes, I know they’re not real, but they’re examples of what’s …’
‘Lies.’ Shelley’s interrupting me now. ‘It’s all bullshit. They want us munted. They want the entire population fuck-eyed.’
‘This is an illegal conversation. I don’t want to talk about it.’ I can feel anger and fear pierce the bubble of my ecstasy high. I light up a joint to ride the wave.
‘You should try beer.’
‘No!’ I say, sputtering on the joint. ‘Please Shelley, stop talking about it, we’ll get in trouble.’
‘You can’t tell me lots’a people don’t.’ Shelley says this pulling something out of her bag. Emotion rises up in me and I can barely keep a lid on it. The ecstasy is making a come back.
‘It’s like Animal Farm. They’ve learnt to walk on two legs and drink liquor whilst we’re still working on the windmill.’ Whilst Shelley anecdotally jams, she holds up what I know from the television is a six-pack. ‘Well I’m not going to take it anymore. If I want a drink I’m going to have it.’

I am lost for words. Shelley is peeling the plastic layer off and extracts a brown bottle. Within my horror there is a fraction of disappointment. In government messages the image of the beer is ominous and coupled with music that I still hear in my nightmares. In real life it looks harmless. Like it could’ve been bought at a store.
‘You have to leave. And take that with you.’ But my words sound hollow: Too much reverb.
‘Will you call the police on me?’ Shelley winks and takes the lid off the beer. It makes a fizzing sound. She holds it in front of her mouth.
‘Don’t do it, Shelley. I’ll call, I will.’ Due to the high impact nature of What I Am Seeing, nothing is registering. I am frozen.
Shelley slowly brings the bottle up to her lips and rests it there. She looks at me, and throws her head back. I watch, stuck in the headlights. She finishes the half the beer and I am beside myself. I’m expecting her to drop dead instantly. She wipes her mouth and a rumble emerges from her. She covers her mouth as she burps and then she laughs.
‘Oh my God!’ I say. ‘Shelley, we have to call an ambulance.’
But Shelley won’t have any of it. She waves me away as she pulls another bottle out of the six-pack. The fizzing sound again, and she holds it out to me. I recoil.
‘It’s okay. I feel great.’ She nods at the bottle in her out stretched hand. ‘Just have a sip, it’s not gonna kill you.’
‘No way.’ I stand and tower above Shelley who is smiling and still holding the beer out to me.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ she says, ‘you don’t have to drink it. Just hold it.’
Slowly I sit again, but I’m still agitated. I take the beer off Shelley and I’m shaking as I hold it. It feels cold, but not cold as in temperature-wise, it feels cold like it’s emotionless and waiting to kill me.

I don’t know if it’s the ecstasy or the pot or what, but I have a sip. I’m not expecting the bubbles and I cough a little. Shelley laughs. She’s taking the top off another and she starts drinking. I take a deeper sip. My face is grimaced as I wait for my heart to stop. Or a blinding headache to kill me on the spot, but nothing happens. I drink again and grimace a little less. Then I gulp and something warm and friendly is bursting inside me.
All of a sudden I’m on my second. I am laughing and talking now, and everything I thought is going out the window.
Then the six-pack is gone and Shelley produces another. This time I don’t protest. In fact, if I’m to be honest, it was me who asked for it. After my fourth Shelley pulls out a couple of cigarettes from a packet that you would buy from a store that usually holds joints. I don’t even frown; I pull one of the slender home rolled cigarettes out of the packet and light it. A part of me expects to choke on this ‘poison fuelled stick’ but nothing happens. The smoke is warm and invigorating and it doesn’t taste half as bad as the amphetamine-spiked joints you can buy from the corner store.

I’m on cloud nine. I feel liberated and I tell Shelley exactly this. She smiles. I can see in her face that this is nothing new to her, but I also recognise that she is not hampering my experience with what she already knows. We talk about her family, and the difficulties she has gone through, and the stigma that has been attached to her that she is reminded of by people on a daily basis. I apologise for not being there for her more but she stops me and says that my friendship has been very much appreciated. We hold each other whilst our cigarettes burn away in the ashtray. We look at each other dead in the eye and something important passes between us. Our already strong friendship fortifies even more and it’s a powerful feeling.
‘People die all the time,’ Shelley says, ‘and it is acceptable because they’re dying within the boundaries of our rules.’
I love the music that’s playing over my stereo at the moment. It’s a song by a shock band from the early 90’s, and their once subversive drinking songs now carry a sense of truth that is really hitting home for me.
‘And if they legalised booze, there would be no crime.’ As Shelley says this she hands me my fifth. I hungrily open the bottle and swig away listening intently and agreeing with it all. I’m feeling like Shelley’s student, and a euphoric state falls over me. But not in the drugged out sense, it’s knowledge and understanding that is making me high.
And the beer.

It’s hard to explain. But it’s like I’ve been reborn. Rules and regulations that had been drummed into me from infancy seemed superfluous - more than that, ridiculous. What right do these fuddy duddy politicians have to tell us how we choose to relax or even escape? I feel angry that I’ve been blind for so long, that everything I thought was right is actually wrong, and I vow to do something about it. Somehow.

The door breaks apart and 6 men in SWAT uniforms enter. One holds the door open whilst the others enter in formation, checking each passageway before continuing forward, with their guns leading the way. Shelley makes a feeble attempt to hide the contraband but it is too late. They are screaming at us to put our hands above our heads, and soon we are cuffed and heading to the station, and all of a sudden, I can’t look Shelley in the eye anymore.

I did not like testifying against Shelley, but my hands were tied (or … they would’ve been if I didn’t). The lying wasn’t fun: My lawyers said for me to say that I thought the alcohol was mescaline in fake beer bottles. I had no prior convictions so it wasn’t hard for the judge to believe I had never tried beer before. Shelley didn’t take it well, but there was no point in both of us going away and she supplied it so … I suppose one must lie in the bed that one has made. I was vulnerable and she exploited it. Hopefully her time away will teach her what is and isn’t appropriate, and although she’s not in the same prison as her father, the fact that she has been incarcerated might bring them closer together (preferably not too close, for her sake, but still).

I’ve had to undergo alcohol counselling which can be trying at times. They make me feel like a criminal and although I know what I did was wrong, I don’t appreciate the looks I get in the street when people recognise me from the paper. I am not like Shelley. I strayed for a minute but now, with the aid of a healthy regiment of morphine and selected uppers I am back on track and feeling … well not much at all.