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About chezdon1997

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  1. Chapter 6

    The walk to Port Melbourne along my usual jogging path was warm yet pleasant. I regret not wearing my sunglasses as I sit back, relax and sip the frothed milk and taste the roasted beans from the balcony of the usual café at the end of the tram line. My watch advises me there are just enough time left to get a natural high from caffeine before my morning appointment inside the public toilet with the stranger. In a case of good timing for a change, there are no messages or social media notifications distracting me from what I want. The intensity of the oppressive sun is burning my neck and exposed shoulders. A few sunbathers on Sandridge Beach stare at my glistening white skin from afar and point at me. I am confident they are laughing at how my untanned shoulders contrast against my tanned arms but I really don’t give a fuck. I take some time to feel the sand, look at the bay and admire the architecture of the beachfront property. Even with my dawdling, I have just enough time to get to Westgate Park before my untoward meeting is scheduled to commence. Normally, the small parking lot is at capacity. There are no cars here today which will mean that there will be few people in the park which will potentially interrupt proceedings. Am I just lucky? Maybe it is a coincidence or something that I should find queer? The sun is shining and the weather is glorious. There are a few black clouds on the horizon floating in from the southwest though that look ominous, which is concerning. It is as quiet as a morgue as I enter the picnic area near the public toilet. I check the time again on my phone only to learn that it is 10:30 AM exactly. My bladder is legitimately full and I have a legitimate reason to visit the shithouse. The cracked screen of my phone lights up and chirps as I had set an alarm to remind me of my date with destiny. I leave the watchful gaze of the bright sun and step through the open door of the public toilet. My eyes thank me for the more subdued light in the small smelly room. The now familiar metal trough remains in stasis waiting to drink my urine. A man slowly turns his head and grins at me as I walk forward the eager trough. I slow my pace and nervously rub the back of my hot damp neck which has been burned by the sun. The stranger continues to smile as I step onto the metal grate at the base of the trough. Despite urgently needing to vacate my bladder, I stare into the eyes of the stranger who is now standing next to me. I am certain that he is the bloke which so boldly gave me the piece of paper yesterday. He nods his head and then stares at my crotch with vacant and dead eyes. My new acquaintance reverts his gaze from my crotch and looks down at his massive throbbing erect penis proudly. It looks like an inverted exclamation point, something that resembles a punctuation mark used on a menu in a Mexican cantina. Despite my bladder causing me extreme duress, I resist the urge to pull out my cock and piss. I shuffle closer to the stranger; the shifting of my weight causes an odd sounding clunk to resonate from the metal trough. An alarm sounds and water begins to cascade down the back of the trough, effectively washing away the stale urine, spit and anything else that has been deposited in it. The flowing water stirs up a horrible smell and pipes begin to rattle. Not to be thwarted by these distractions, I reach over and grab the shaft of the stranger’s throbbing cock. Not having experience with a foreskin, I gently push it down and examine the pink penis head. My small soft hand gently slides down the shaft of the cock until its movement is arrested by big balls and pubic hair. My hand is so small that my index finger and thumb cannot touch whilst gripping the huge schlong which leaves me feeling inadequate as I caress the flesh. The pipes continue to rattle yielding a horrible clunking noise. My stomach and my left thigh begin to heat up. Is this what it feels like to self-immolate? My insides are beginning to feel as hot as my neck and face. The ambient noise in this dark room begins to become unbearably loud as I continue to stroke the stranger’s dick. An excruciating pain in my bladder lurches me from my dream state and back to consciousness. Like a pig, I return to the real world sprawled out on my bathroom floor rolling in a puddle of urine. I pissed myself during the dream sequence. Jayden kicked me in his rush to put his head in the toilet bowl. He begins to shout into the big porcelain telephone in the same manner that I did earlier. The wretched noise that Jayden is producing drowns out the sounds of snoring and music emanating from my bedroom. The urine which has saturated my underwear is cooling down, much to the relief of my body but I find it disgusting. Reality begins to take hold as I come out of my stupor. I am further revolted when I find Jayden's vomit on my torso and left leg. The retching sounds continue as Jayden's head is swallowed by the toilet bowl. I extricate myself from ground zero and prop myself up against the glass wall of the shower stall. The thumping pain in my head matches beats in time with my heart. "Fuck me," I whimper. “Fuck.” Messaging my head provides no relief. Urine runs down both of my legs as I use every bit of strength that I have left in reserve to stay standing up. Much like legs of red wine would run down the side of a Riedel glass, my body is now feels like it will soon fall victim to gravity. The feeling of nausea returns and the room starts to spin again. Without any concern for modesty or decorum, I pull off my saturated boxer briefs and step away from them. I leave them in a puddle of bodily fluids next to my best friend who continues to retch with his head in the toilet bowl. I try to ignore the dream that continues to play on a loop in my mind and will myself to get into the shower stall with my cock pointing at the ceiling. An ice-cold shower will make me feel better and hopefully cool my burning body down. Freezing water has never felt so good as it sploshes off my scorching skin. Out of desperation, I open my mouth and drink from the ejaculating showerhead, propping myself up against the tiled wall in the process hoping that my equilibrium will stabilise. Jayden rolls away from the toilet bowl and collapses against the cabinet under one of the sinks. He stares at me but I don't think in his condition he is watching me. All my senses are overwhelmed. Before I can reconcile the memories of the previous day, night and now morning, gravity once again grips me and pulls me slowly to the floor. My naked back presses against the wet ceramic tiles until I finally sit on my bare arse. I hold my knees close to my chin as I look up to the shower head. It continues to ejaculate on my face and from the safety of the floor, I close my eyes.
  2. Chapter 2

    It is a bit of a juggernaut to navigate and if you factor in all of the extras on Amazon, it could make the weak of heart gasp and throw in the towel. I am not going to give Amazon exclusive rights though as I want to get the final draft out on Google and Smashwords also. Sadly all of the business of self-publishing distracts me from writing. The day job does a good enough job of that, who needs the extra overhead? Good luck with your journey too btw
  3. Chapter 5

    Thanks for the support!
  4. Chapter 5

    Many thanks
  5. Chapter 5

    I retrieve the plastic water bottle that was thrown at me and sheepishly return inside the apartment, closing the door gently. The ominous sound of thunder rumbles from the south indicating that the storm is nearly here. The spirited conversation continues in the lounge room. The riotous laughter that remained constant as I escorted James out has suddenly stopped though. A crackle of lightning resonates near our residential tower. I take a moment to consider what is in store before returning to confront the eyes of my jury and executioners. Nearly three years ago and almost to the day, I recollect another lazy Saturday afternoon that was filled with angst within the walls of this grand apartment. I had just returned home with my father after a game of football that had been abandoned. The unpredictable Melbourne weather caused the match to be cancelled. Instead of proving my masculinity on the rugby pitch with my peers and running my arse off in the mud chasing an ovoid shaped ball, we instead had an early lunch at McDonald's and drove home. My birth mother did not expect her loving husband and only son to return home to this apartment so early. That was evident since we found her enjoying a session of intimacy with some other guy. Shouting and foul language that a thirteen-year-old teenage boy should not have been privy to by three mature adults was the result. I also had the pleasure of watching my mother's breasts bounce up and down as she took refuge from the lounge room since she was getting fucked where Bryce is currently sitting. Her lover scrambled to find his clothes and dress his naked body. His clothes were strewn over the kitchen floor and the lounge room. The lightning crackled in the distance and the sound of thunder reverberated against the glass just as intense and poignantly that day as it does now. The door slammed and the lock clicked after my mother left with a bag. She slammed the door not long after her lover did after exchanging insults with my father. I could not be bothered speaking with my mother again after that stormy day despite her many attempts at reaching out. Instead of her, I am left with the haunting sounds of the clicking and the snapping of the lock along with the thunder and lightning after closing the door which brings me from my reflective state. James left as fast as my mother's lover. I am left to stand in the foyer wondering what storm is brewing now in the same lounge room. I return to the gaze of my friends and notice that the adults are nowhere to be found. Mysterious Skin is still playing on the television. Ignoring the movie, I walk to the kitchen to retrieve another bottle of wine. I need to calm down and more alcohol in my blood seems to be a good way to achieve this state. From the kitchen, as I extract the cork from the bottle, I can hear my friends chattering. Bryce had previously lowered the volume of the television so everyone could share hyperbole and conjecture without raising their voices. I retrieve a clean large Riedel wine glass from the cabinet. I try to read my father's mind. He knows that I invited a twenty-five-year-old man around that nobody except for me knows. He wouldn't be pleased about that. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best decision that I have ever made. I vow to blame my bad decision making on the wine. Being somewhat intoxicated at least will dull the innuendo and any half-arse concerns for my sanity. My decision making hopefully will be the only thing that is called into question. The cork is finally exhumed from the bottle and the wine is delicately poured with my trembling hand. It is now time to face the music. Walking back into the lounge room, I give my undivided attention to the movie. The scene ironically involves Joseph Gordon-Levitt acting out his role as an indifferent male prostitute with perfection. I remain on edge with my nose pushed completely into the glass, smelling the wine. I consider asking Bryce to change the movie to something with a lighter theme since he is holding the integrated remote control. I reconsider it since my friends seem to be absorbed by the movie. Even Megan Fox running around like a fool being chased by Transformers would be better than the rape scene that is taking place on-screen, which acts as the catalyst for Jayden to speak. "Mate, do you have anything that you want to say?" Austin is picking at his teeth and Bryce suddenly starts to examine the ceiling. I wonder if he notices the irregularities in the texture of the ceiling. Repairs were carried out three years ago after inanimate objects that were thrown damaged it. Whatever wasn't nailed down was thrown at my mother's lover and then back at my father. I shudder when I recall the vivid memories of violence. I still don't know how my mother managed to throw something at the ceiling and miss my father by so many metres. Given her awful throwing ability, I am astonished that she managed to avoid smashing one of the many panes of glass which not only form our Western wall but enables our view out over the Melbourne skyline. I offer some commentary. "Look, we all do crazy shit when we have been drinking, I haven't done anything that bad. Don't worry about it and just watch the movie." I then begin to examine the ceiling myself and can easily spot the areas that were repaired. I lift my glass of wine and place it under my nose. I inhale as hard as I can which encourages me to cough. The smell of alcohol overwhelms my sense of smell and I cough again before pouring the contents of my glass down my dry throat. "What do you want me to say, you pricks? That I am into guys?" I pause and reach for Jayden's glass of wine that he has set on the glass table near me. I pick it up, smell it and then pour all the wine in his glass down my throat hoping it will calm me down. All eyes are on me. "Well, I do and if you have a problem with that, well you can get the fuck out of here." Bryce raises his glass in my direction. "Hear! Hear! brother! No big deal, but of course I already knew this trivia. Carry on everyone, nothing to see here." Austin doesn't look fazed. "I don't care Chezdon and being that it is a drunken confession time, I do too. I would rather this not be passed around but now that the cat is out of the bag, I suppose I shouldn't be bothered either. You said it, Bryce. Carry on, there is nothing to see here." He takes a sip of wine and looks out the window. Jayden starts to laugh and crosses his arms. "Mate, why didn't you tell me?" He cocks his head to the right. "What difference does it make?" I force a laugh before being distracted by more wine that almost magically appears in my glass thanks to Bryce's pouring skills. Thoughts quickly revert to Jayden and I masturbating next to each other only a few months ago. Jayden puts his feet on the glass table again. "I don't give a fuck if you are gay. I am just shocked you couldn't be bothered to tell me." He extends his hand toward me and I hand him the wine glass that I took. He refills it. "I don't want the glass, I wanted to shake your hand." "I promised myself that if you ever asked that I tell you that I like guys. You just never asked. What difference does it make anyway?" I grab Jayden's hand and squeeze it tight and then we fist bump. With confession time over for the time-being, I walk to the window and watch the drops of rain hitting the panes of glass. Bolts of the lightning strike land in the distance. Seconds later, a crackling boom first causes the windows to vibrate and then the core of my being. I mumble so only I can hear. "What have I done?" I feel relieved that I told my secret but I am still concerned that the dynamics will change between my friends and me. What will be said when the news gets out in the wild at school? I pull my phone out of my back pocket and immediately see a message that would have arrived during the most bizarre conversation of my life. It is James suggesting that we meet tomorrow as originally planned. I scratch my head and quickly respond in the affirmative. Jayden looks at Austin and smirks. I nearly forgot that he admitted he is into guys also. I was so absorbed in my little world that I completely ignored the confession of my friend. "Austin, you are too pretty to like guys. You will be leaving the ladies on this planet in tears with that proclamation." Jayden drinks from his glass and puts his feet back on the table. Austin continues to give the television his undivided attention and chews on his lip. He looks perturbed and first crosses his arms and then his legs. "That is supposed to work to my advantage but all of the wrong people seem to take notice of me lately." I find confidence and interrupt the conversation. "What are you saying, Austin? That my arse isn't round enough? My jeans are not skinny enough and my fringe not long enough?" I try to add some levity to the conversation and lighten the mood. Jayden snickers. "Honestly Chez, I can imagine you getting it up the arse. Not Austin though. He just looks like he would break in half." Jayden stares at Austin and continues. "So, would you hook up with Chezdon?" "Well, no. He wouldn't want me anyway, he likes older guys from what I can tell." All the eyes in the room look at me simultaneously. My transgression allowing James to come around and meet me and this rogue gallery of teenagers in my humble abode is the number one news story again. "What was that all about with James anyway mate?" Austin takes a sip of wine and wipes his lips with the back of his hand. "I reckon that I am just horny. I am going to see him tomorrow even after all that shit went down earlier if you can believe it. I still blame this awkward situation on this fine wine and finally mustering up the courage to come out. Maybe it is just a curious case of bad timing and a coincidence so many random events are playing out simultaneously. We need more wine I reckon. Hell, I need more wine." I look around like I will see a waiter conveniently appear. I then decide that I will need to serve myself but Bryce stands up and staggers to the kitchen. Mel suddenly appears in the lounge room which takes me by surprise. I forgot that the adults were still around. "We are going shopping. Please do not burn this place down whilst we are out boys." Mel catches my eyes whilst she speaks. They have mastered the art of not being confrontational with me and avoiding the obvious. This is most likely why my father ended up hooking up with Mel and never realised that my mother was cheating on him until it was far too late. "Don't worry we will get stuff for dinner." My father shuffles into the lounge room rattling a set of keys and holding his wallet. Mel follows Daniel to the foyer and not long after the front door slams shut and the same time more thunder roars in the distance. Jayden begins to fiddle around inside the pocket of his bastardised shorts. He retrieves the small plastic bag of white powder that was taken from my father's room earlier and tosses it onto the glass table. "Bryce and my faggy friends, look what we have here!" Jayden announces with glee and rubs his hands together like a mad scientist would. Austin reaches over and grabs the small plastic bag. He intently looks at it and shakes the contents. "Where the hell did you get this?" Bryce begins to shake his head and a smile gradually forms on his round face. "This is turning out to be one of the most bizarre but more interesting days I have ever had. You see Austin, young Jayden here stole that baggie from Daniel's room earlier. This is when Chezdon was going through his drawer taking his stash of cash so he can buy a new phone." Bryce chuckles whilst Austin shakes the bag of coke. "Mate, this is the stuff that destroys families and friendships. I am not trying to be the fun police because I have wanted to try coke, but I don't think Daniel is going to be very happy to find his drugs and cash missing. This will end in tears, mate. Trust me." Austin appears somewhat concerned after eulogising his words of wisdom. Jayden smiles. "You worry too much, pretty boy. I have a cunning plan and I guarantee you that no families will get ruined today. Let's do this." Jayden looks to be possessed and is certainly hell-bent on snorting the powder. "Look, let's just do this and I will solve the problem and replace it all. Trust me." "Have you even ever done coke mate?" Bryce asks quizzically. "There is no need to lie either after Chez and Austin made their proclamations earlier, nobody is going to judge you." "No, I haven't," Jayden admits. "I am excited now though. I really want to." "Well, I haven't either." Bryce then looks curiously at Austin. "Have you matey?" "Nope, but I am keen I guess. I want to see what it does to me. I just don't want Daniel to go ballistic and kill Chezdon or Mel when he finds his drugs are missing. That is all." Austin looks at me. "I haven't had the pleasure of ever dabbling with that stuff either. I am not even sure if it will be a pleasure." I laugh. "Jayden has an interesting plan. He told us earlier and I think it will work." "That is the spirit. Bryce another round of wine my good man." Jayden opens the bag and empties all the powder on the glass table. He then proceeds to push it all together into a mound using his ATM card. A picture of Hilary Clinton is on the front of newspaper glaring at us with a scornful eye. Bryce walks around the table and begins to methodically refill glasses with wine. We anxiously crowd around Jayden. He acts out what we have all seen collectively at least one hundred times in various movies. Praise Hollywood. Jayden begins to separate the mound of cocaine into four smaller ones and then like a magician uses the plastic bank card to transform each of the mounts into lines that appear equal, approximately four centimetres in length. We watch Jayden act like we know what he is doing and exchange amused and excited looks between one another. Jayden is in his own world. The only commentary is coming from the television. I reach for the remote control whilst Jayden continues to design four equal lines. I change the media content from the disturbing movie and instead opt for music to accompany the mood. I queue up the catalogue of Muse which seems to be appreciated by my friends judging by the nodding of their heads in the affirmative. "Done." Jayden happily proclaims, sits back and licks the edge of his ATM card. His reaction is like a baby who chews on a lemon for the first time. He licks his lips. "Does anyone have any cash on them?" "I do." Austin is the first to volunteer a twenty dollar note to the cause. He pulls it from his pocket and hands it to Jayden. Jayden rolls the polymer banknote into what could be confused with a bright orange straw. "Thanks, Daniel. Here is to you mate!" Jayden picks up his glass, raises it in my direction as if toasting me is the same as thanking my father directly for supplying the funny white powder. The next sound I hear mimics a nasal decongestant being snorted up Jayden's nose. If the pollen count was higher today, this snorting sound would have been expected but the sound you make vacuuming powder off a glass table through your nostril doesn't sound very attractive. Jayden has no problem using the orange twenty dollar note as the loading mechanism and ingests his line of white powder in one motion. It is a sight that looks ludicrous and one that I will never forget. I wonder if the person who has their picture imprinted on the polymer note would disapprove like I know Hillary Clinton would. Jayden hands the makeshift straw to Austin. He shifts his body weight into me indicating that I should move over and I comply. Austin moves into Jayden's former position. "So, what is your awesome plan to deal with replenishing these party favours, Jayden?" He then leans forward. He takes three long deep snorts as I gaze out the window long enough to see a lightning bolt strike in the distance. Austin then snorts every possible speck of powder off of the glass table that was originally part of his line. The sound of the thunder outside consumes me. "It is all very simple, Austin." Jayden smiles. They each sniff and wipe their noses with their fingers in unison. "We simply replace the contents of the little plastic bag with flour or something like that. I then put it back where I found it. Simple. What is Daniel going to do? Write a letter of complaint to the drug dealer?" Bryce begins to laugh hysterically and sets his glass of wine down on the table. Austin coughs whilst rubbing his nose and manages a hearty chortle. "It all seems so simple but I guess that will work." Austin coughs and then sniffs again and wipes his nose. He looks at the side of his finger and seems satisfied when he finds mucous glistening on it. He was probably expecting blood. "Give me that note and move over!" I shout. The stress of the day is beginning to take its toll. I never thought I would be so enthusiastic to do drugs. The boys shuffle to the left and Austin hands me the rolled-up orange note. I finish my glass of wine and then lean forward, greedily snorting the line in one fluid motion like I am an experienced coke fiend. "Goddamn, I say! Goddamn!" Why Uma Thurman's character from Pulp Fiction suddenly comes to mind makes me laugh out loud. I immediately wipe the bottom of my nose. "Are you sure that you have never done this before mate?" Bryce quizzes me with a look of intrigue and licks his lips. "You look like you are in your element. Move over bitches!" "Seriously I haven't. It has just been a stressful day shopping, meeting new people and coming out of the closet. You know what I mean? It is enough to make any normal teenager be driven to drugs and alcohol." We laugh and I hand the polymer straw to Bryce. He takes the helm in front of the last line of white powder after Jayden and Austin shuffle to the side. Another cycle of human vacuum noises is made and soon the only evidence of drugs occupying pride and place on the glass table is the quantity that remains in the plastic bag. "What are we going to do with the rest of this fine product?" I put a finger over one nostril and sniff hard taking the snot back into my throat and swallow. Jayden licks the edge of his ATM card again and unrolls the twenty-dollar note. "First, I thought we would do the rest, but it is better to be safe than sorry, so um, Chezdon get up mate. Follow me." I get out of Jayden's way. He shoves the twenty-dollar note into his pocket as he stands and walks to the kitchen and I follow him. In the excitement, Austin seems to have forgotten that the money belongs to him. "Do you have any flour?" Jayden asks. "I am not sure." I begin to rummage around in the cabinets looking for the baking powder or anything that looks like flour. I finally find a small bag after knocking bottles of paprika and cayenne pepper onto the floor. "Shit." I pass the bag of flour to Jayden who then sources a small spoon from the drawer of utensils. I begin to clean up the mess that I made on the floor. Jayden cuts the bag of flour open and scoops out a small portion of the baking product and puts it in the small plastic bag, and seals it before tossing it on the marble kitchen countertop. "Voila. That should be enough." Jayden proclaims, "problem solved." I pick up the sealed bag of hybrid drugs and traverse to my father's room. It would be best to return the cash that I took earlier from the drawer too. It would be obvious if I told him I borrowed some money there would be a good chance that he would assume that I saw this small plastic bag. I return to the living room hoping to pour a glass of wine only to find the open bottle along with all the empty bottles missing. My friends have moved the empties and lined up the bottles on the kitchen counter near where we store the daily rubbish. Austin is guzzling the contents of a large bottle of water. "I need to piss." Austin pours every drop of water from the bottle into his mouth and walks off out of sight. "Do you like sucking cock?" Jayden asks me whilst he swirls the wine in his glass. "I wouldn't know. For some strange reason, I thought I was going to try doing that today after bringing James back here. Obviously, I didn't plan that too well with you blokes around. I really don't know what I was thinking. I blame the wine." I laugh and wipe my nose with the back of my hand. "Maybe he would have blown us all if the parentals weren't around. He does look like he would be into such a thing." "I think if you and Austin hooked up it would be hot. I would watch!" Jayden takes a drink and rolls his eyes. "I could make a fortune filming a porn of you two and selling it on the internet." "I heard that arsehole!" Austin walks back into the kitchen and picks up his glass. "Jesus man, is your bladder as small as your dick?" Jayden looks astonished. " You were only gone for a minute." "It is my mutant ability. Why waste time dragging out the ancient art of urination?" Austin leaves the kitchen. I hear him trying to sing the lyrics of the Muse song that is playing; a song that sober people can't even interpret unless they look up the lyrics. With some additional effort, I can focus my eyes on the screen of my phone and read messages that recently arrived. My father wants to know if my friends have any dietary requirements, to which I respond in the negative. James wants to confirm the details of our date tomorrow at the Grace Darling Pub in Collingwood and I respond in the affirmative. The conversation begins to become more raucous. Bryce has dropped his guard. He starts a deep and meaningful conversation about the existence of not only God but man and why the Earth and humankind would be better off if a great plague wiped out ninety percent of the population. Intriguing thoughts coming from a Jew. I return to the lounge room feeling hyper and thirsty. Bryce is drinking directly from a bottle of wine and given that I am feeling the effects of the alcohol I assume that Bryce and Jayden are experiencing the same. I try to stay focused. I remember that Austin arrived after the party started so he hasn't been drinking as heavily as everyone else. I need to encourage him to consume more to catch up. I return to the kitchen and get a bottle of San Pellegrino from the refrigerator and polish it off in a series of continuous gulps before walking to the toilet. The conversation remains lively and a myriad of topics are discussed after I return. Hot topics like the terrorism that recently took place in Sydney, ISIS, the current government and gay marriage are all debated. When the conversation becomes too lively, Bryce successfully guides it to the banal. We resort to gossip and discussing who is hot and who is not, the size of Kim Kardashian's arse and other pop culture trivia. Austin shares his opinion that Kayne West is a homosexual. Bryce says that he wants to fuck Naomi Watts. Jayden emphatically states that he is going to dump his girlfriend. He states that she will only let him touch her tits which I find fascinating since Jayden bragged in the past about having sex with her. We collectively stop laughing when we hear the front door slam shut. A flat-bed trolley appears with boxes of food, beverages, toilet paper and cleaning products. Daniel pushes it past us into the kitchen. The adults must have raided Costco for supplies. "You kids seem to be having fun." My father looks at me suspiciously. Mel follows behind him. "Nobody else is coming over, don't worry," I reassure my father. He looks annoyed. It must be because he hasn't had the pleasure of gambling and drinking all day. "Jayden is going to break-up with his girlfriend because she has small tits." Mel scoffs. "Don't be so shallow, Jayden. Since when did you find a girlfriend anyway?" We all start to laugh. The adults migrate into the kitchen and out of sight. I can hear them putting the groceries away. They interrupt our ramblings by walking past us and going out onto the balcony with a plate with a massive amount of uncooked meat on it. We all follow like hungry dogs after being asked how we like our respective steaks prepared. My father turns the knob on the gas bottle, ignites the barbeque and quickly closes the massive lid. "How much have you boys had to drink?" "Not enough," Bryce claims. "In fact, I wouldn't mind a little more." He staggers back inside after saying he likes his meat prepared medium rare. "It is all good Daniel. I had a late start compared to these blokes." Austin then curiously skips back inside the flat after he says he will have his steak prepared in the same way Bryce requested his. "Same here." Jayden follows the others inside and like a wine-sensing missile, stands next to Bryce as he uncorks yet another bottle. I am left alone with my father on the balcony feeling drunk. "Who is that James character and how did you meet him?" He opens the lid of the barbeque after looking at the thermostat. Appearing satisfied with the heat he starts layering uncooked meat on the grill, which immediately begins to sizzle. "He seemed cool and I just started talking to him when I was shopping earlier," I say innocently. "I also liked his earrings. I want earrings like his." "You should probably get to know someone for more than an hour before inviting them around. Since your friends were here, I am not too bothered just so you know. I just don't want to end up robbed or taken advantage of." Two more steaks are tossed onto the hot grill. These would be for Daniel and Mel as they prefer their steaks rare. The conversation is not as awkward as I thought it would be. I am also relieved that nobody asked for their steak to be prepared well-done. If only to save Bryce from embarrassing himself carrying on about the Jews and the Holocaust and how he is a hypocrite. "I understand. It will not happen again." I turn around and step inside. "Do you want my unsolicited advice?" My father asks. I quickly turn around and lick my lips. "Not like I offer it much, but consider it a lesson learned." "Sure." I fold my arms across my chest. "If you are going to keep drinking tonight, have a glass of water in between each glass of wine. You will not only be the last one standing but you will not feel like hell tomorrow." He begins to flip the steaks one at a time. I can't feel like death the next day since I am planning on going on a date. My mind wanders as I ponder the topic. I have two dates I suddenly remember and smile. "A very good idea my one and only father." I skip to the living room in time to consult with my friends about the next music that we should put on. Bryce selects the debut album by 5 Seconds of Summer and I do not argue with the choice. "Hey Chezdon, it is your favourite band!" Bryce shouts over the opening riff of the first song on the album. "Which one of them would you fuck if you could make a wish and it would come true right now?" Jayden takes an interest in the question. I don't know where Mel is, but I choose not to answer the question. I laugh and then fumble around in my back pocket, removing my phone. A new message is waiting to be read and I use that as an excuse to ignore the inappropriate question as it would be hard to nominate just one of the band members to fuck. James has messaged stating that he is looking forward to seeing me tomorrow and really hopes that I don't end up grounded. I smile and stick out my tongue. I assume that he doesn't have to worry about being grounded. At least I hope not. Bryce slaps me on my back and it hurts. I let out a yelp. "You have posters of this band up in your room, mate. Surely it isn't just for their music since you are a fan of Muse." Bryce continues his interrogation. "Just tell us. It is okay, we will not judge you. I don't think." Bryce takes a sip of wine. "I think I need more wine." I walk into the kitchen. Mel is placing the elements of what seems to be a salad in a large crystal bowl. I rummage around in the wine refrigerator and find another bottle of Marsh Estate and return to the living room without making eye contact with Mel. "So" Bryce pushes his glass and the corkscrew in my direction. "Admit it, goddamnit!" Bryce pushes his wine glass even closer to me as I deftly remove the cork from the bottle. It makes a loud pop. I stand up contemplating the message that James sent me and begin to refill the wine glasses. "I would have the drummer." I finally say in a meek voice not loud enough to carry. If it does, I really doubt Mel will know what we are talking about. She wouldn't care about the drunken ramblings of teenage boys anyway. Of course, Bryce might be getting too rambunctious and she would eavesdrop just for her own amusement especially if he starts carrying on about genocide again. "Ashton Irwin?" Austin interjects with a renewed sense of vigour and pushes his glass at me. "What I would do to him if I had one night. No, wait, just five seconds are all I would need. It would be bliss." Jayden starts to laugh. "You cum in five seconds? No surprises." Bryce bursts out laughing which is infectious. "I knew it. Still, I don't mind their music." Bryce muses whilst I refill his glass. "Just don't tell anyone." "He looks so perfect standing there in his black skinny jeans and underwear." Austin attempts to sing along but fails miserably. My father walks into the kitchen holding the plate of cooked flesh. "And I know now that I'm so down. Sing it!" Austin shouts. "Too bad you don't have a guitar, Jayden. You could play it." "Children, can we eat at the table now and be somewhat civilised?" My father politely requests. The steaks are plated up and placed on the long black marble dining table that inhabits what could be dead space in the apartment between the kitchen, the living room and the panes of glass. We converge upon the dining room table, all holding a wine glass. Bryce guzzles the contents of his quickly and sits down. Mel places a large bowl of colourful produce on the table and then returns to the kitchen and begins to retrieve plates and silverware from the cabinet. "Fuck, I am starving." Bryce sums up what I am feeling. "I didn't really expect for this to turn into the Jimi Hendrix experience tonight guys." My father looks at us and judging by the blank look on our faces realises we have no clue what the hell the Jimi Hendrix experience is. Bryce starts laughing anyway. "Just try to keep it under control. I don't want to end up in the shit from your parents or have the Department of Children's Services pounding on the front door. I would prefer if everyone stayed here tonight especially if you are going to drink more." Bryce keeps laughing, picks a cherry tomato from the salad bowl and throws it up in the air, catching it in his mouth. "It is 5:30 PM, let's get on it! It is getting late!" Jayden shouts after looking at his watch. Mel sets a plate in front of him. "Don't worry Daniel," Jayden places his hand on Daniel's shoulder. "We are good for the long haul. If my mother asks, my friend Charlie and I drank a box of wine in the Sir Robert Menzies reserve near my house that he stole from his parents. No worries." "Hey, I know where that is. It is close to where I live." Austin offers. Mel sets a plate in front of him. "That is reassuring." Daniel removes Jayden's hand from his shoulder. "I would hope that you can keep it under control so you don't have to have the conversation with anyone." My father reaches for a bottle of wine after Mel places an empty Riedel glass in front of him. "You have a friend called Charlie? His parents named him after coke. How funny." Bryce snickers and then wipes his nose with the cloth serviette. I smile and motion for Bryce to settle down. "Just eat your food mate. Relax." I insist. I stand up and walk to the refrigerator and retrieve another bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water. I drink the contents of the 750ml bottle in thirty seconds flat. I put the empty bottle down next to the growing graveyard of empty wine and water bottles only to see my father watching me keenly. He gives me an approving wink. "Does anyone want anything whilst I am up?" I am ignored and return to the table, taking my seat. Mel finally takes a seat at the table. "So, school starts up again on Monday. I am sure everyone is excited." She starts to pull salad out of the glass bowl using large silver tongs. "That is an understatement." Bryce is the first to respond. " I can hardly wait. Not." "Hopefully you can say the school holidays have been filled with new experiences." Mel continues to transfer salad onto her plate. "After all, life is about doing new things." Every teenager simultaneously looks at Jayden who is playing with the slab of meat in front of him. He looks up at me and makes a sound that resembles a pig inhaling its feed. "Nothing too interesting I must admit." I take a sudden interest in cutting a portion of my steak into four strips, taking care to cut the pieces all the same size, mimicking the process that I witnessed earlier in the day. "Nothing too out of the ordinary." "Austin admitted that he wants to have a long and hard night with the drummer from 5 Seconds of Summer." Bryce slurs. "Admit it, Austin." "Revelations and experiences are different, mate," Jayden says before placing a morsel of steak into his mouth. "I am not very hungry now. Is it okay if I save this for later, Mel?" Mel being the most accommodating host in all of Melbourne is quickly on her feet. She takes Jayden's plate from the table and walks to the kitchen and pulls an industrial sized roll of plastic wrap from the cupboard. Jayden takes a sip of wine. "Chezdon never said which member of 5 Seconds of Summer he would do. I don't think." My father looks mortified. "This is not an appropriate thing to say at the dinner table, Jayden. Just calm down a bit, mate." "Whoops. Sorry." Jayden lifts the glass of wine to his nose, smells it and closes his eyes. "This smells wonderful." "This is damned good food. Thanks, Daniel. Thanks, Mel." Bryce finally stops giggling and begins to eat his dinner. "Yeah, I am not too hungry either Mel." After eating my four strips of steak I admit. "It must have been the big old burrito that I had for lunch." Perhaps the coke is affecting my appetite. "I bet you wish you had a big old burrito for lunch. Sorry, I don't mean to be rude. I apologise." Austin backpedals and shoves a strip of steak into his mouth. "What are we talking about again?" Jayden stands up and stumbles into the living room. He uses the integrated remote to scroll through the music on the media centre hard drives. "It is time to change this. Sorry, Chezdon." Jayden looks at Austin. "Oh Ashton, Oh Ashton, use my arse as a drum, Ashton Irwin." "Oh, give it a rest mate." Austin wipes his mouth with the serviette and stands up. "I really appreciate the hospitality, Daniel and Mel. Many thanks." He picks up his dish and silverware, only to be intercepted by Mel who takes everything from him and returns to the kitchen. ~ I slowly open my eyes and wonder why I feel like I am on fire. It takes a minute of irregular panting before I can focus my eyes and figure out that I am in my bedroom. Music videos are being screened on the Australian public broadcaster which happens every Friday and Saturday nights and continues into the early hours of the following day. I now have some perspective of time. The show is a continuous and commercial-free broadcast of music videos and I am rattled out of my slumber by Katy Perry singing something. I desperately look for my watch on my bedside table only to discover that is still on my wrist. It is 3:33 AM. Feeling like I am standing at the gates of hell, and after sleeping on sheets that are soaked with my sweat, I feel my bladder is at capacity. I find a body next to me. Austin sleeping on my bed and snoring loudly. He just his boxer briefs on. His body is illuminated by the light emanating from the television and looks beautiful. I do not spend much time looking at his bulge though as vacating my bladder is my top priority. I nearly fall onto my floor after rolling out of bed only to discover Bryce sleeping. He is resting on top of a mound of my filthy worn clothes which have been collecting en masse since the last time the maid turned up. Bryce has wine-stained lips which have taken on a morbid hue courtesy of the moonlight shining into the room. Bryce is snoring like an animal and somehow managed to wad up a wad of my dirty underwear, socks and a few shirts and converted the clothes into a pillow. There isn't enough time to stop and laugh as I stumble over Bryce taking a second to notice the waning moon in the distance hanging over the Melbourne skyline. I stumble over clothes, books and other rubbish, desperate to get to the bathroom. Upon arriving, I find Jayden asleep on the cold white tiles naked. There is vomit mostly in the toilet bowl however some of the purple mess rests happily next to him on the floor. I pull my boxer briefs down and expose my penis to the cool air. The feeling of relief is pure and utter bliss as I vacate my bladder and take my time shaking the last remaining vestiges of urine from my dangling manhood before tucking it behind the cotton fabric. Stepping around Jayden, I notice his exposed phallus and neatly trimmed pubic hair. When the lingering noisome odour from his vomit finally overcomes me, I lunge toward the large porcelain telephone. The contents of my stomach speak into it; up and out over and over until there is nothing left to purge. Rather than collapse next to Jayden and share the cold floor with him, I stagger to my feet and wash my mouth with water directly from the tap. I then pour mouthwash into my mouth, gargle and spit before yanking a wad of toilet paper from the roll. I wipe the tears from my face and blow my nose wondering if any of the drugs are still in up in my nostrils. I leave Jayden and his flaccid cock behind motivated to stumble to the kitchen and retrieve a much-needed bottle of water. The journey to the other side of the apartment feels like I am running a half-marathon. Fragmented memories begin to cycle through my head. I desperately try to process what happened last night. The lack of memory from the time Austin thanked my parents for his meal has escaped me. Upon entering the kitchen, I find twelve empty bottles of wine and numerous empty bottles of water. Did we drink a case of wine? Fuck. Barely able to comprehend math, I decide that conservatively my peers and I consumed at least nine of these bottles, which would explain why the feeling of death is so overwhelming right now. I pull a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator. I find temporary relief when I press the cold glass against my forehead and then move it to the back of my neck before enjoying the taste of the sparkling water. Never has my body been so happy as right now. A sense of absolute joy overwhelms me after I place the open bottle down gently on the countertop, which I conveniently use to prop up my haggard body so I don't fall. I stagger back to my bedroom with the glass water bottle and carefully get back in bed. I lay down next to Austin. I gently glide my hand over his shimmering warm chest and manage to prop myself up, finding the courage to lick his nipple. I admire him and listen to his rhythmic snoring. I then put my ear near his chest and listen to his rapid heartbeat. Will his eyes suddenly open and will he want to fuck me here and now? My hand continues to slide over his moist chest. It moves further down to his navel whilst I focus on his face before my hand holds the bulge being hidden behind his cotton black boxer briefs. Emboldened, my hand disappears down the front of his Bonds underwear first to find pubic hair and then his lazy penis. My hand continues downward and cups his ball sack. I start to feel dizzy and my hand quickly retreats from its sordid adventure. I stumble back to my toilet with some urgency only to have my mouth insist on making yet another urgent call into the large porcelain telephone. The contents of my stomach are liberated once again. Feeling absolutely spent, exhausted and dizzy, I fall back only to find comfort when my naked back is pressed against the cold tiles next to Jayden. I am jealous of him having found such a magical and cold resting place as the frigid floor quickly cools me down as I drift off to a deep sleep.
  6. Chapter 4

    Bryce fiddles with his iPhone. After remaining unusually quiet for what seems like an eternity, he finally speaks. "I just checked the Bureau of Meteorology's website and it looks like it is going to rain in about forty minutes." I vacillate between throwing open the front door and staying put. Do I lead my friends to the South Wharf shopping precinct so we can browse at the electronics superstore? Purchasing the phone of my wildest dreams is on my mind, however, my thoughts quickly revert back to trying to identify the voice that was just speaking to me on the phone. His voice was that of an older gentleman, which adds to my confusion and the whole situation is just adding to my frustration. "Let's just watch a movie or something!" Jayden exclaims after taking the best position in the lounge. He grabs the integrated remote control and powers on the Samsung television along with the other audio and subservient components by tapping a single button. My father invested a fair amount of time automating this system. He would become flustered having to look at five different remote controls which just adds to the clutter on the glass table. "Just get the phone from the Samsung shop the next time you are at Melbourne Central." He makes a good suggestion especially knowing that the storm is rolling in. I cross my arms and ponder what to do. "I was given a gift card for JB Hi-Fi so I want to use it. The gift card is only for one hundred dollars but it expires in a few days." I patiently wait to see if my friends show any desire to move off of the lounge. Bryce mimics Jayden's and gets himself into a comfortable position on the lounge. He places one of the red pillows between his arm and torso and watches the nasty weather that is slowly creeping into the city from the south. He slips off his faux-dirty Converse shoes and then peels his socks off. He places his feet on the lounge, and I notice his hairy legs just over his exposed ankles. I then gaze out the window to distract me from Bryce's hairy legs. The mysterious caller has left me unnerved. I grab at the back of my head and mess my hair up further. My dishevelled appearance will hopefully distract anyone who looks at me from the blood that is rushing to my cheeks and face. "The hell with going out and getting rained on," I confidently announce. The menacing storm approaching from the south coughs thunder. Taking up residence in the lounge room seems like the most comfortable, if not dry option. Jayden begins scrolling through the most recently added television shows and movies on the media centre laptop that is connected to the television. Mel walks past with a large bag of rubbish from the kitchen which gives him just enough time to select Game of Thrones. The score which accompanies the opening credits of the television show plays and everyone hums along in time. "Nope. I have already seen this." He taps the back button and returns to the homepage that lists the newest media that has been added. He curiously watches Mel as she walks toward the foyer and laughs. "It looks like you watched a movie called Eastern Boys. What the hell is that about?" Bryce reads the description of the movie courtesy of the synopsis that is being displayed on the television screen. "If you knew how to read, you wouldn't have to ask stupid questions. Jesus Christ. Don't they teach you how to read at your private school?" The front door slams shut which startles me. "It is actually a really good movie." I chirp. "It is about a gang of migrants from some old Soviet eastern bloc country that fucks over a gay bloke. The dude tried to solicit sex from one of the gang members at the train station." I do a double-take and ponder my recent experiences inside the public toilets and roll my eyes for added effect and point at the screen. "Look at the Rotten Tomatoes score of eighty-seven. There is no reason to judge it." The faceless men and women behind the Rotten Tomatoes scoring system seem to know everything. I point at the screen again so the uninterested eyes of my friends will hopefully provide some validation or at least some sort of clue that they agree with me. "I am not. It looks interesting enough." Jayden says and then begins to scroll through additional movies that are stored on the clustered hard drives. "Nymphomaniac, hey? Is that on your top-ten list, Chezdon? I read a review of this movie somewhere. It is supposedly ridiculously long. Shia LaBeouf fucks some chick in it and you can see his little cock." Jayden coughs and clears his throat. Bryce begins to laugh hysterically and we must wait for his glee to subside before he adds to the conversation. "Where do you come up with this shit? Have you watched it? How would you know that Shia LaBeouf has a small cock unless you took an active interest in the topic mate?" "It is the word on the street." Jayden insists and crosses his arms and then his legs. "I also read that LaBeouf got raped when he was putting on some sort of art exhibit somewhere. It was during some sort of live show in public. How can that be possible?" Bryce takes a keen interest in his phone and begins to read something on its screen. "One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for ten minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me. What the fuck?" Bryce looks mortified as he reads an article about Shia LaBeouf to us verbatim. "People just decided to do whatever they wanted to him. Since he was in an artistic moment, the bloke couldn't say no or even punch someone in the face when they crossed the line?" The situation puzzles me and I ponder the ridiculousness of the situation in general. The front door slams and it startles me again. Bryce continues to read out loud. "Hashtag IAMSORRY involves LaBeouf sitting silently behind a desk in a room in the Los Angeles Cohen gallery with a paper bag bearing the legend 'I am not famous anymore' over his head. For five days, members of the public queued to be able to sit alone with him in a room with a prop of their choice." We start laughing. "How many films can he ride a motorbike in and pretend he is cool? This is such a joke. Who would want to waste their time with this guy." Jayden interlocks his hands behind his head and appears very comfortable with his feet resting on top of the glass table. "I guess that just means that you can stroke his cock and shove a broom handle up his arse. Why wouldn't he rip the bag off and punch the person who touched him inappropriately?" Jayden offers in a very animated way. "Things like this make me really angry. What a dickhead." Mel overhears the tail end of our conversation and stops. "Who was raped?" Mel asks us with a sense of concern in her voice. "Shia" I curtly respond. "Oh, is she okay?" Mel asks and looks interested. Bryce makes it known that this is the bloke from the Transformers movie franchise and from what Jayden articulated, the movie, Nymphomaniac. I add that he will be just fine and was just part of an art installation that went wrong for too many reasons to list. Mel appears embarrassed and manages an uncomfortable laugh. "I am going to open a bottle of wine. Does anyone care for a glass?" "It is only 2:30 PM you know," I add to the conversation knowing full well that time doesn't matter when it involves the consumption of alcohol in this household. "I will have wine please." I offer Mel a wide smile and show her my teeth. Bryce and Jayden also respond in the affirmative. I did promise alcohol to my friends on the way home and fortunately, Mel is delivering. "Bryce, do you know the rule?" Mel asks. "There is only one rule." "The rule is if you start drinking alcohol in this place, we aren't allowed to leave unless it is straight home via Uber," Jayden replies as the rule has been ingrained into his memory. "Safety is Mel's number one priority." "That sounds like a Qantas safety message," I say knowing that even Qantas wouldn't let a gaggle of teenagers get on the drink so early in the afternoon despite their desire for increased market share. Perhaps a quantity of wine will take the edge off. I need to distract myself from what I assume to be nuisance phone calls and the other uncertainties that I am allowing to envelop my personal life. Bryce looks at Jayden and pulls on a few strands of his exposed underarm hair. "What is your drink of choice? Goon from the cardboard box mate?" Jayden quickly crosses his arms over his chest, depriving Bryce another opportunity to pull hair from his armpit. Jayden chuckles and swats at Bryce's hand. "My drink of choice is your mother's milk! I love sucking it from her hard-hairy nipples." Jayden squeals with joy and begins to scroll through the available movies again. Jayden stops when he sees Mysterious Skin and begins to read the synopsis out loud, proving to Bryce once and for all he knows how to read. He offers an enthusiastic assessment of the movie. "Aliens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Let's watch this." Mel returns holding two glasses of red wine. Bryce offers his thoughts on the movie in a lazy monotonal voice. "Not to spoil the movie for you mate, but your idol Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets bum-raped and plays a teenage male whore. It will be a bit like art imitating life for you I suppose mate." Mel sets the two glasses of wine on the glass table and begins to laugh. I can't hold in my laughter any longer and explode as Bryce starts to cackle himself, obviously amused. "Whatever." Jayden chooses The Shining and taps play on the integrated remote. "You remind me of the fucked up little boy in this film Bryce." Mel returns with a glass of wine and hands it to me. "Thanks, Mel." She places the bottle on top of the weekend newspaper and then returns to the kitchen. We drink wine and provide running commentary about the movie which we have all seen before. Half an hour later, we vanquish what is left in the bottle and I am tasked to retrieve another one. I walk to the wine refrigerator, taking care not to touch any of the bottles that I know my father obsesses about. The understanding is not to drink anything from the Barossa Valley since those varietals are always in short supply in our household. Instead, I remove a bottle of Marsh Estate, a wine produced in the Hunter Valley, not far from Sydney. The rain begins to pelt against the windows with some force. The front door slams again, which startles me. I return to the living room holding the open bottle of wine at the same time my father walks into the living room. "Hey, Daniel. How were the races?" Jayden hops to his feet and shakes my father's hand. "Have you met our esteemed peer Bryce yet? He is a tad antisocial, I know, and he apologises for not standing up." My father insists on being called by his first name, Daniel, and detests formality in the family home. "I am just fine and dandy mate. It was a good day at the races. Tom Waterhouse will not be retiring anytime soon." Tom Waterhouse is the CEO of the betting agency that my father bets with. "Yes, I know Bryce. How are you doing mate?" Bryce quickly stands up and shakes my father's hand whilst holding his glass of wine with his left hand. "Hopefully my favourite son is keeping you boys entertained." It was more of a statement and not a question and he is not looking for a detailed answer. Daniel walks to the kitchen and after hearing the clinking of glasses in the distance, I am not surprised when he returns holding an empty red wine glass. "I will have some of that Marsh if you would be so kind, sir." He sets the glass on the table in front of Bryce who is closest to the wine bottle. Bryce gets the hint and slowly pours wine into the depths of my father's glass. Daniel then starts telling us more about the wine. It seems to have the distinction of being the only wine in the Hunter Valley region that is only irrigated by rain. Therefore, it tastes so earthy. He insists that if we are going to drink his bottles that we learn something about what we are gulping from our crystal glasses. The scene in The Shining where the funny looking wife is explaining to the doctor that her husband broke their son's arm is playing out on the television. "Look at that doctor, she looks mortified." My father says and quickly drinks the wine from his glass in one fluid motion. "It amuses me that the wife can act so blasé that her son was abused. She smokes a pack of cigarettes in the process of telling the sordid story and that only takes thirty seconds." He places his empty glass in front of Bryce again. "Does Chezdon tell you boys that I physically abuse him?" "Only emotionally," I say and offer a smile. "I only say you abused me before I started puberty." We both look at the television and laugh. Bryce casually refills not only Daniel's wine glass but his own. Jayden grabs the wine bottle from him. "Jayden, you should only refill your glass when it is empty. This is one of the few things that upset me as you do not want to disrespect the wine. It will make for a different tasting experience as the wine opens up in the bottle and you don't want to mix it." Jayden gulps what is left in his glass and then fills it once again. "Look at this bloody weather. I had to leave the races early as the rain killed the track. The bastards were probably going to cancel the rest of the races anyway." "Why would they do that?" Jayden asks. He sticks his nose in the glass of wine and snorts. "Those in charge would be fearful that the horses would get spooked by the thunder and lightning." Daniel drinks from his glass and looks out the window. "Also, the public would frown on a horse getting struck by lightning for some reason." Mel returns from the kitchen holding an empty glass and kisses Daniel on his cheek. "Why are you bothering the boys, leave them alone and let them have fun." Mel pours what is left of the bottle in her glass and begins to take a sip. "He isn't bothering us, Mel." Jayden clarifies. "In fact, I am keen to hear more about the races and how business is going." Jayden loves to kiss my father's arse and treats him like he is related to him. He has spent so much time here over the last six months, I am not surprised that they have bonded. Jayden's parents are getting divorced and his father recently moved out of the family home to Western Australia which is thousands of kilometres away. Both Daniel and Mel sit down and start a conversation with Jayden about horse racing and the business. I skip to the wine refrigerator and retrieve another bottle, refill my glass and offer Bryce a top-up. I move the empty bottle that we just finished off to the side. "Another dead soldier." Having sat in an awkward position with Mel and Daniel obstructing my view of the television, I turn to the side and recline back onto Bryce, put my feet up and get comfortable. "Thanks, mate, I knew you would be good for something someday." I raise my glass and acknowledge my human pillow from over my shoulder. My father recants boring stories about his business which mainly involves conflicts with Chinese and Malaysian suppliers. Mel nods her head two hundred times and zones out, sipping from her glass. Jayden somehow manages to devise a thousand questions to ask and Daniel is happy to keep pouring wine and answering them. It isn't long before he is on his feet and removing another bottle of the Marsh Estate from the wine refrigerator. Another thirty minutes' pass and the movie continues to play. Daniel and Jayden continue to talk and I lean against Bryce with a glass of wine in my hand. He doesn't seem to mind. I always wondered how my father would react if he found out that I like guys. For a second I consider interrupting the story he is telling about corrupt overseas business practices. I can tell him a fact that I really doubt that he has never considered. The same goes for Jayden. I promised myself some time ago that if Jayden asked me a direct question about my sexuality, I would answer him truthfully. He just never has. Neither has Daniel. Eventually, my father excuses himself from question time. Mel follows him from the living room with the open bottle of wine, which encourages me to go to the kitchen to retrieve yet another dusty bottle of wine. "Hey Chez, I messaged Austin saying that we are chilling out. Can he come around?" Jayden asks as I return with the uncorked bottle. Austin is another friend from school and is the type of guy that is just everyone's mate mainly because he is so funny. Everyone just likes the guy and he is very easy to get along with. He is easy on the eyes also and he is my most attractive mate. There is some animosity between my father and his father which limits the amount of time that we socialise outside of school though. With the alcohol now integrating itself with my blood, I decide, what the hell. My father shouldn't care just because he is feuding with his old man. "Yeah, tell Austin to come around mate." I reach over and pick up my phone from the glass table after setting the bottle of wine down on the newspaper. I skim messages that have arrived over the last few hours and notice that three of them are from Austin. He was quizzing me as to what I am up to. He must have surmised that Jayden would be with me since we always seem to be attached to the hip these days. I then share a few text messages with Austin and he confirms that he will stop around shortly. My father begins to get nervous when I invite too many people over to the apartment. On my birthday last year, four of my mates and I decided to start drinking my father's wine. Each of us then thought it was a good idea to invite four of our mutual friends around to my apartment when my father was watching the horse races. When he returned home there were eighteen boys and two girls having the party of the year in this place. Guests were caught having sex in my room. I was aware of what was happening but because I was drunk, I didn't care much at the time. The other couple was caught by my father in his room also having sex. I don't know how many times he proclaimed that disrespected the property after the party concluded. He will go to the grave repeating that he saw some 'tart ride a boy like Damien Oliver would ride a bloody horse.' Damien Oliver is one of the most famous Australian horse jockeys and even nearly a year later I am reminded weekly of the dynamics of my ad-hoc birthday party. I have to continually swear it will never happen again. I continue to review text messages that I ignored and hold my wine glass by its stem. I review a series of messages from a phone number that is not saved in my contact list and quickly realise that it is James. He has announced that he has finished work and wants to meet for a drink today. Buzzed, I respond and suggest that we meet at the Belgian Beer Cafe, which is next to my building. "What are you doing arsehole?" Jayden shouts. Bryce is trying to pull Jayden's armpit hair again. "Stop it. Chez, pass me the bottle." I comply and hand Jayden the bottle and he refills his glass. Memories of the snails which are drowned in garlic and butter that is served at the place I told James to meet me flood my brain. "Oh, Jesus." I utter which draws the attention of both Bryce and Jayden. I must be drunk. What did I suggest? I quickly read my sent messages. "Shit." His last message said that he would be downstairs in twenty minutes. "Shit." Jack Torrance has frozen to death in the movie and the credits for the film are now scrolling up the television. "Hey Jayden, did Austin say when he will get here?" "About twenty minutes." Jayden looks up at me. "Why?" "I need your help. I need to fuck off outside quickly but I need you to distract my father and Mel if they come out. You know the rules. If they catch me outside of the unit after getting on the wine, I will be fucked." Not fucked like how Jack Torrance met his demise in the snow at the end of The Shining, but it will be a fate worse than death. Bryce places his phone on a cushion. He looks at Jayden and then they both look at me. "Where do you need to go that is so important mate?" Bryce smiles and licks the rim of his wine glass. "I am very keen to know." I think that I can manage to have a quick pint of orange juice with James whilst I leave my friends in the flat. It is with that silly thought that I come to realise that the red wine has clouded my judgement. My usually good critical thinking and time management skills are now rubbish. If I am away and Jayden starts asking Daniel an additional one thousand questions about work and Austin turns up it will be bad. Bryce doesn't know Austin from a bar of soap. My father will wonder where I am and will need to be supervised when speaking with Austin. More bloody drama. I slide towards Bryce, grab the bottle and pour another glass of wine, giving me some time to consider my options along with some courage. "Never mind, don't worry about it. I was just going to step out and meet James quickly." I hope my simple explanation will satisfy his curiosity as I take a sip. "Who the hell is James?" Jayden asks. "I have never heard you mention a James. Do we even know a James? Is there even a James at our school?" Jayden scratches his head and then at his armpit. "I don't know anyone called James," Bryce adds and looks at Jayden. He then tries to pull out one of Jayden's armpit hairs again. I return to the security of my phone and attempt to type a text message as Jayden shouts in pain. The tapping out of the message is much slower since I started drinking earlier and because I do not have auto-correct enabled, the message doesn't make much sense. "Hold on!" I demand and then send another message to James, asking him to meet me here, at my apartment. I glance at my watch and then look at my friends who are both staring at me. Whatever happens, it will at least be entertaining. "James is just a guy that I was talking to at the Emporium earlier. I am just trying to expand my social circle." I say as innocently as possible. After processing my reply, Jayden asks an apt question. "What school does this kid go to?" Jayden looks intrigued and sticks his nose in his wine glass and snorts yet again. James hasn't even agreed to come to the flat so I may be creating a drama for no reason at all. "When did you have time to talk to anyone earlier anyway?" More questions. My eyes quickly dart from the left and to the right quickly. I decide it is not in my interest to spin some lie so I come clean. "James is the bloke that sold me the clothes at Armani Exchange. We just started talking and he seems like a cool guy." I take a sip of wine and place the glass gently down on the newspaper. Jayden looks at Bryce who then looks at his phone and laughs. Like a dog with a bone, Jayden continues to probe. "You couldn't have been shopping for fifteen minutes and now the retail slut is your new mate?" Jayden has gone wide-eyed. "How old is this bloke?" At least by explaining the situation right now, my friends will not be so shocked that they embarrass me and themselves if he does agree to come over. He hasn't even confirmed if we will and I hope that he will find it too much of an awkward situation and decline it. "Look, mate, I don't know. He is in his twenties, I guess. Why do you care? I thought it would be fun to have a drink with him." I never thought that the wine would lead me to make such a spontaneous decision. An unpredictable decision is what it really is. I read another new message from James who claims he is keen to come around and asks for my address. I respond with the pertinent details. I recount my brief interaction with James to my interested friends. I explain that James simply asked me if I wanted to get a drink as some sort of thank you for helping him make his sales target. I finish the story by raising my voice and talk over their laughter and jibes. Jayden reads a message on his phone. "Austin will be here in one minute." Jayden's lips skew to the right like he is pondering what to say next. He swirls the wine in his glass and sets his phone on the table. The intercom on the wall rings and the video display comes to life. I walk over to it and see Austin's smiling face. I pick up the phone-like receiver and yell a protracted "Wassup!" and press the button that allows my friend entry into the building. He is then permitted to access the elevator and ride it to my home on the 72nd floor. He has been to my apartment many times in the past so he doesn't need further instruction. I walk to the foyer and out of sight of my friends and wait by the front door holding my glass of wine. Bryce and Jayden are laughing hysterically in the living room, most likely at my expense. A knock on the door encourages me to throw it open, revealing Austin. His dark brown eyes blend with his ripped black skinny jeans. My attention is drawn to his silver DC shoes and then his blond wavy hair which looks a bit more wild than usual today. He always dresses very trendily when he isn't forced to wear the school uniform on weekdays. We share the same greeting, which is always, "Sup!" I follow him as he enters the apartment which allows me to check out his arse unnoticed. "Hey Austin, do you want some wine, mate?" Jayden who is acting more like a host than me offers him a newly opened bottle. Austin looks around awkwardly at Bryce as it dawns on me that I should be playing the role of host, and not Jayden. Jayden stands up and walks into the kitchen. "Austin, this is Bryce Pistorius. Bryce, this is Austin McGuire." Bryce stands up and shakes Austin's hand. He compliments Austin on his shoes. This breaks the ice and the teenagers begin talking about where to find distinctively colourful clothes. Jayden returns with an empty wine glass, fills it and hands it to Austin. The conversation quickly turns to the dreaded topic of local sports. Austin and Bryce quickly find a common ground as they roar in unison when they discover that they both support the Carlton Football Club. Technically, Jayden and I should be mortal enemies with Austin and Bryce since we support the Collingwood Magpies, as there is a robust rivalry between the teams. Like the feud between the elders of my family and those that gave birth to Austin. I return with the wine glass and the inevitable question is asked by Austin. "So how did the two of you meet?" Austin's dark eyes dart back and forth between Bryce and me. I thought Austin would ask Bryce if he is related to Oskar Pistorius, the Olympian that murdered his wife since Bryce has a South African accent and they share the same surname. So much for that theory. I grab the bottle of wine by its neck and commence the much-anticipated pour. I open my mouth to answer the question but Jayden interrupts me. "Believe me mate that can wait. You should ask Chez about how he met the other bloke that is turning up here soon." Jayden then slowly raises his glass to his lips and drinks wine slowly whilst keeping his blue eyes focused on mine. The video intercom rings again and the screen lights up obnoxiously. "Oh fuck. Wait a minute." At first, I believe that I have been saved by the bell, but then realise I am just delaying the inevitable. I walk to the intercom wondering how this is going to end up. Daniel and Mel are not going to stay hidden forever as they will wonder for whom the bell tolls and what all the commotion in the lounge room is all about. Fuck my life. The messes that I create. "This is going to be awesome!" Bryce shouts. "There is nothing too sinister about how I met Chezdon mate, we met at an athletic carnival about a year ago. Did I mention you have some pretty cool shoes?" Bryce compliments Austin's silver shoes yet again as I answer the video intercom. "Are strippers coming or something? I don't understand." Austin asks looking confused. I turn around and look at him after confirming that it is indeed James who is waiting patiently outside of the building. He is looking at the small camera mounted on the keypad mounted on the outside wall. I pause and wonder if pressing the entry button will potentially be the worst decision that I have ever made or if I am just overreacting like usual. What could possibly happen? We are young adults after all. The wine has given me courage. "Press the button!" Jayden yells. "Press it, press it, press it." Jayden and Bryce begin to chant. "Who is it, Miranda Kerr?" Austin asks and begins walking towards me. I think of my father betting on races and how once he said that you win some and you lose some but you should never regret the choices that you make in the end. I press the entry button. The video display turns dark before Austin can look over my shoulder. "I am so confused." I turn around and place my hands on Austin's shoulders. He quickly backs up. "It is just a guy I know called James. He wanted to catch up for a drink at some point so I am killing two birds with one stone." I look over Austin's shoulder and raise my voice. "Besides, why should you blokes care?" I look at Austin. He quickly pours wine down his throat and then licks his lips. "I don't know anyone called James. Does he go to our school? Catch up for a drink? I didn't realise you were some barfly. What a laugh!" Austin smirks. Jayden realises there is no wine in his glass and reaches for the bottle sitting innocuously on the glass table. Bryce begins scrolling through the movies on the media centre and decides to play the movie Mysterious Skin which we discussed earlier. "I am so confused, I don't know anyone called James," Austin repeats to himself. He messes up his blond hair with his hand and pushes his fringe off his forehead. He takes a seat on the lounge, indicating to Jayden with hand signals to pass the bottle. "Just drink up mate and go with the flow," Jayden adds. There is a loud knock on the door. I pause, take a deep breath and walk quickly to the foyer. I take another deep breath before opening the door. What have I done? "Hey." I look at James. Laughter erupts from the depths of the lounge room. "Sorry mate, I am sure you were not expecting to come around to my place and be surprised by my obnoxious friends. They are harmless though." James looks over my shoulder. I turn my head and see Jayden standing behind me, which causes me to jump in shock. I look back at James. "Sorry mate, come in, please. It is good to see you again." "It has been, what? A whole four hours or something like that?" James smiles and walks past me. He looks Jayden up and down. "Is this your brother?" "No, thank Christ." I laugh uncomfortably. "This is my mate, Jayden McKenzie." I look at Jayden and it looks like he is going to start laughing. "Jayden, this is James. um. I don't know your surname." James looks at Jayden. "Wow, you look young mate. Sorry. It is good to meet you." James shakes Jayden's hand. I explain that we have been drinking for a few hours and not to take our nonsense too seriously. James follows me into the lounge room. Jayden stands curiously behind us sniffing the contents of his wine glass. I introduce Bryce and Austin to James. Neither one of them stands up, but simultaneously say "Sup!" and look at each other for a few seconds before taking a drink. "Okay. I didn't realise that I was going to be hanging out with One Direction today." James says trying to break the ice. I think Austin won't mind being associated with a boyband but the others might take some offence to that comment. Especially Jayden. "I still don't know what the hell is going on. Who are you?" Austin demands after interrupting Jayden as he starts to sing a One Direction song. "I am just so confused." Austin finishes the rest of the wine that is in his glass and reaches for the empty bottle. "What do you do James and how did you end up here today?" Bryce stands up and walks toward the kitchen. "I will get another bottle. Do you want some James?" "No thanks. I don't like wine. But yeah, I met Chezdon earlier today when he was shopping. We were going to catch up for a drink tomorrow but now I am here. So yeah." James can't take his eyes off Austin. "How do you know each other?" Austin continues to smell the inside of his empty glass and looks out the window. "We go to school together. Well, we don't go to school with this bloke." Austin motions at Bryce as he walks around the corner with an uncorked bottle of wine. Bryce begins to refill the empty glasses. "Where do you go? Melbourne?" James asks as he looks out the window at the Melbourne city skyline. "This is a great view." Jayden holds out the empty glass so Bryce can refill it. "I bet you like the view mate." Jayden winks at Bryce, who begins to chuckle. I follow Austin's lead and shove my nose inside the wine glass. The smell of oak from the barrels transports me back to a more innocent time when I was forced to go on a wine tasting tour with Mel and Daniel in the Yarra Valley. Austin stands up and holds out his glass. Bryce pours more blood of the gods. "Yeah, we go to Melbourne. Great guess." James must have realised that he has stared at Austin long enough so he decides to engage in small talk with Bryce. "Where do you go, mate?" "St Kevin’s." Bryce offers and reverts his attention back to the movie which is playing at a very low volume. "Where is that? Can I get a glass of water?" James begins to fidget. I offer to get him a bottle of water and walk around the corner into the kitchen. "Toorak. It is a damned all-boys school. It is a great place if you like boys." I nearly drop the bottle of water as I close the refrigerator door after hearing what Bryce says. He rarely misses much and his prolonged staring at Austin would have been noticed. "Oh, I see. I have never heard of that University. Is it some trade school?" James says. He catches my eye as I walk into the living room holding a bottle of water in one hand and my glass of wine in the other. I would have thought that Bryce telling him it is an all-boys school would have let the cat out of the bag. Jayden starts laughing and sets his glass down hard which makes a thud when it meets the table. "No, you damned fool, it is a boy's college. He is in year eleven." Bryce begins to laugh hysterically. The laughter is contagious and Austin joins the frivolity. When he gets himself under control he adds, "at least you picked us right. Melbourne Grammar is the place to be." Austin gives Jayden a fist bump and they roll their eyes. I hand James the water bottle just as he incredulously shouts "Grammar? I thought you went to Melbourne University!" This exchange is so ridiculous even I chuckle. Daniel and Mel walk into the room. My father looks at us one-by-one. "Hey boys, please keep the crowd limited to just you lot. I don't want this to turn into some party." Mel stands next to James looks at him in the eyes and extends her hand. "Hi. I don't think I know you." I just want to run away and die. I drop my head and realise this is not going to end well. Jayden asks the question that is on the tip of the tongue of everyone in the room. I knew this was coming, but I certainly did not want it asked in front of my father. "How old are you James if you don't mind me asking?" James drinks most of the water in the bottle before answering. "Twenty-five." He screws the cap back on the bottle. "What the fuck." My father stops speaking and considers his words. Austin returns to sniffing the contents of his wine glass. Bryce finds a sudden interest in the television again. Jayden starts chewing on his bottom lip and takes a sudden interest in the painting hanging above him on the wall. "Pretty cool painting isn't it Jayden." Jayden looks at me and I realise I need to start talking just to distract everyone. "The artist died not long ago thanks to a long bout with both heroin addiction and alcohol. He won the Archibald Prize in the year 2000. The painter is Adam Cullen." I regurgitate as much as I can remember. Daniel has told countless people about this painting and the tragic life of the artist. I hope that changing the topic to something more sociable will work. My father refills his wine glass. "You don't find it odd hanging out with a bunch of sixteen-year-olds on a Saturday afternoon, James?" I am so embarrassed. Oh, Jesus. Fuck my life. "Look, well, umm, you know, I have to go. It was nice meeting everyone but I have to go." James looks like he is going to hyperventilate. I follow him as he walks quickly to the front door of the apartment. He opens the door and walks down the hallway and stands near the elevator. I hear riotous laughter coming from behind me in the lounge room. James presses the 'down' button at least ten times in succession and looks like he would rather be held captive by ISIS instead of being here. I know the feeling and want to tell him that I can empathise as when I return to the lounge room, I will be facing my own judgement and perhaps even a beheading. "Message me?" I ask in a hushed whisper. The bell announces that the elevator has arrived. The doors will open soon. James turns and looks at me. He tosses the water bottle at me which rebounds off of my knee. The elevator doors open and James disappears behind them, presumably never to be seen again.
  7. Chapter 2

    For example, I used the aussie slang "bogan" in an earlier draft. The focus readers I had commented that because they didn't know what it meant, it distracted them from the story. Compared to using a word that would end up in dictionary.com, which can be interpreted or forgiven, I decided to get rid of the vernacular (but keep the aussie spelling of words) just because not as many readers are as enthusiastic to learn the aussie slang like your good self Besides, this story evolves and becomes much more complex and the slang would distract the reader from the other easter eggs and twists that I am leaving behind. Interestingly enough in the newest release of Kindle, I believe there is a feature called X-Ray, which is a bit like the research function in Word. The author of an e-book can embed definitions or notes within the text and they appear clickable in the ebook. I think this is useful to explain slang, but it is a nightmare for an author IMHO. The first book (Innocence Waning Part I) is around 110k words. To publish the text on Amazon and then once again review the text inline within the Kindle editor and add the notes is painstaking. Maybe someday when I have a team working for me, but for now, it is just one of those nice things to have I suppose.
  8. Chapter 2

    I worked hard to remove much of the vernacular from this draft. However, some words still present a bit of a challenge when I consider there UK-English, Aussie-English and US-English (sigh) - I have tried to at least put in a few sentences describing things in the story (kicking them off so they hit the Westpac ATM) so the reader gets an idea if there is confusion. It is hard work looking after the reader
  9. Chapter 3

    There is another character that gets introduced in the next chapter that will round out the cast nicely. There are some more part-time characters that involve themselves in the proceedings, but for the most part you are getting to know two of the MCs. When I decided to convert this tale to a long-form book, one of the biggest problems was reconciling the mystery caller and the story behind that. Trust me though, it fits into the overarching story
  10. Song of the moment

    RIP Dolores O'Riordan.
  11. Greetings. I am relatively new to GA. It is great to have come across such an active and diverse community. I am looking forward to sharing my writing with you. Currently, I am posting Innocence Waning, which is a novel that I completed earlier in the year. It took two years to finish it and since resurrecting the final draft and now doing the last edit, I will be lucky to have it posted on Amazon and Google Books in the next month. I have also started writing the follow-up to this novel but I thought I would put my head down and finish the first book before typing out more words for the world to read in draft form. Innocence Waning is the first book in a series of three set in Australia in 2015. It tells the story of precocious sixteen-year-old Chezdon Morrison. He is not only coming to terms with his identity but is dealing with an assortment of dysfunctional adults. He has an addictive personality, faces the rigours of attending a Melbourne-based private school and overcomes the unfortunate spoils of reality and how it reacts to the choices he makes. This is a realistic narrative of teenage life where Chezdon and his mates learn that in order to find themselves they have to lose themselves first. Self-rated as "mature" because of the multiple adult themes, this story involves complex plot-twists and is addictive as pizza. There is a good mix of adults and teenagers who all have disparate lives which ultimately intertwine. The book is actually broken into two parts. The total word count is 217k between the two books. I wrote the first part whilst in Melbourne, Australia. It started out as a short story but after some positive feedback, I converted into a long-form book. Seven chapters were written in London and then after taking yet another two-month break from writing to enjoy life (travel to Portugal, France, Mexico and the US) I retreated back to the south of France and finished the book, producing 45k words in 45 days. It has been compared to "Catcher In The Rye" and also "Trainspotting" so if that is any indication of what you are in for... That is the story of Innocence Waning. Hopefully, you enjoy the many words that form the book. [Note, I am posting the Final-DRAFT version. You may find the occasional error and for that I apologise.]
  12. RIP MLK. Legend! Here in the UK you only discover that it is, in fact, MLK Day when you e-mail someone in the US and receive the out of office reply saying so.
  13. Chapter 3

    The journey by tram into the centre of Melbourne feels tediously slow languishing in the warm carriage with my feet on the seat in front of me. The air conditioning blowing onto the back my head isn't sufficient to cool my body down. Musing that I should have followed my own advice and cut up my own skinny jeans would certainly have made this trip more comfortable. The morning sun is quickly becoming unbearable as it traverses the sky and shines through the window on my untanned arms, face and neck. Jayden looks up from his phone and stops tapping on the screen. "What the hell is wrong with you, mate? Your face is bright red." He cocks his head to the side and seemingly finds me more interesting than whatever is on his Twitter feed. "You look stressed out." I begin to rub at the nape of my neck and jolt upright. "Nothing, it is just fucking hot." I wipe the side of my head on my shoulder and cross my legs at my ankles, which is my signature pose. "I should have worn shorts." Jayden rolls his eyes. I am sure that he is thinking that he was the clever one after making alterations to his wardrobe thanks to my suggestion. I am jealous of his newfound comfort. "You are a strange kid, Chez." He returns his attention to his phone and begins to tap and swipe at the screen quickly using a single digit. My imagination goes into overdrive. Graphic images of what the stranger who passed the note wants to do with me inside the public toilets appear like a PowerPoint slideshow presentation. The bloke doesn't want to just talk about sports or the weather. That much I know for certain. I am equally intrigued and terrified at the same time. These vacillating feelings are causing me to sweat and have unneeded stressors in my relatively calm and sedate life. The strange man knows what he wants and I have no idea what to do or what to expect besides just turn up for our date. "Why am I strange?" I inspect Jayden from head to toes and attempt to distract myself from my lurid thoughts. "Look at you. You define the word strange, mate." The tram jolts to a sudden stop on Collins Street delivering our sweaty bodies back into the centre of Melbourne. We fight our way past the pole-huggers that selfishly obstruct the open door of the carriage and try desperately to push our way off the tram. The next battle is past the influx of rude commuters that try to advance into the carriage before passengers completely alight. It is a bit like a game of rugby I have found. I just put my head and shoulders down and if people don't get out of the way and let you off, they get knocked in the process. It helps to have a fully laden school backpack on weekdays though as you can casually hit people with it. I let out a sigh that is drowned out by the noise of the commuters and the city as I finally thrust myself off the tram. "Emporium, food, coffee?" I turn my head and shout at Jayden, feeling a sense of relief finally being able to enjoy the cool polluted air. "I am hungry." "Reverse the order and you are buying," Jayden yells in my direction. He then quickly takes the lead navigating through the pedestrians on Collins Street and I follow my friend. "Deal." I am not sure if I really need coffee since I am already firing on all cylinders, but I do like trying new places and take some joy in its taste if it is prepared correctly. "Let's get lunch at Emporium after coffee." We stop momentarily and watch a busker who is performing a cover of a Green Day song in front of one of the many shopping arcades. Jayden taps me on the stomach. "Come on. Nothing to see here, this bloke is shit. I still haven't heard back by the way." Jayden has been on pins and needles since trying out for X Factor Australia a little over a month ago. After the original try-out, he was called back to perform again so whenever he hears a Green Day song now, it causes him some angst as that is the band he covered in his first audition. I follow Jayden through the maddening crowd of shoppers and dawdlers. I check social media and respond to messages feeling as if I can walk, type and read at the same time as a true multitasker. I read a message from my mate, Bryce and a quick conversation is had with him. He states he is in the general area and is keen to meet up for lunch so I advise him where I assume that we will be eating in the local area. I have known Bryce for a little over a year and first met him at one of the school athletic carnivals. I first approached him and made small talk about what he was drinking at the time, Cherry Dr Pepper. I thought I was the only one in Australia that enjoyed drinking this beautiful sugary drink and just wanted to know where he bought it. It is a rare find outside of the United States and I rarely find cans of it for sale in Australia. Bryce educated me as to where I can source the soda in cases, and even directed me to an Aussie online forum that keeps track of oddities like Cherry Dr Pepper in Australia. Bryce doesn't attend our school so I found it easy to cultivate a friendship with him because he is not caught up in the political dramas, social circles and gossip rings that affect not only my peers but me. He has hung out with a few of my mates, including Jayden, and finds him entertaining. Since Bryce isn't directly involved with my cliques, it was easy to admit to him that I like guys. He asked me what my sexual orientation is a few months ago after first articulating that he wasn't trying to hit on me or demonise me in the lead up to the big question. Bryce, like Jayden, has a girlfriend and despite my penchant for the same-sex, I never felt sexually attracted to Bryce as he isn't my type. I once told him that I didn't know what I was looking for in terms of guys and if in fact if I was even really looking. He did make the sage statement that when the right guy comes along, I will certainly know it. Jayden and I continue to dodge the phalanx of weekend shoppers, tourists, mothers pushing baby carriages and more buskers. We stumble into one of the last surviving Starbucks in Australia, retreating from the crowd. I am on the hunt for more caffeine and I expect Jayden to spend most of the time on Twitter. Rather than fuss about other places that would be better in the area, we queue up, order, give our names and wait patiently staring at our respective phones. "Bryce is keen to meet up," I mutter nonchalantly and lean against the wall. "Do you want to get some Mexican?" "What does your butt-buddy want?" Jayden snaps a selfie with me in the background raising my middle finger. He posts it to Instagram as quickly as I can manage a witty response. "Do you hang out every weekend now?" "Just to hang out, nothing too sinister mate. I told him to meet us at the Mexican place at Emporium." My eyes scan the customers in the Starbucks. "I am hungry, mate. I am pissed that we didn't get to eat from the taco truck." I emphasise the last point just to reinforce the fact that I do eat food. "I finally get tacos!" Jayden shouts with unexpected enthusiasm. "Tacos! Tacos! More tacos! Give me tacos!" Jayden chants and looks at the ceiling and raises his arms. He shouts as loud as he can, "tacos!" All eyes in the Starbucks stare at him. He must have had his heart set on enjoying the spoils of the taco truck. At least I wasn't caught out in a lie about my earlier intentions for visiting Port Melbourne. "Jesus Christ, I love their tacos!" I smile and am thoroughly entertained by Jayden's antics. A Starbucks employee with a frozen and flat face from behind the counter shouts, "Jayden! Grande Mocha with cream!" "He loves the cream, give him extra!" I shout back which makes Jayden scowl. "He will show you his nipples for more cream." Jayden stands at the counter and expresses his appreciation to the worker. He offers his apologies for his obnoxious mate and I, in turn, offer some more words to further embarrass him. "Don't worry, he shows his body to anyone who wants a look for five dollars." I begin to laugh hysterically. Jayden quickly walks back holding his cup and shoulder charges me. His reaction just encourages me to laugh more. The now familiar voice from behind the counter speaks up again. "Cheese-don! Iced Caramel Macchiato!" I quickly stride to the counter, grab the drink, thank the server and jog through the open door of the store before Jayden starts to mimic how she pronounced my name. I am confident though we managed to bemuse the other Starbucks guests with our slapstick routine which renews the smile on my face. Jayden catches up with me outside the newly constructed Emporium building. We navigate the maze of corridors passing high-end shops and emerge travel many escalators to the top floor where the food court is. It isn't a typical food court that you find in a shopping plaza. The big-name franchises do not have a place here. Speciality food outlets that cater to those that want a more personal dining experience whilst shopping are on offer. We join a queue of other hungry people and wait to order tacos from the Mexican place that I previously suggested. When we finally get to the front of the line, Jayden orders frozen margaritas, however, the clever attendant behind the counter requests his identification and is promptly refused service. "Maybe if you dressed a bit more conservatively, someone might believe you are eighteen and not try to card you, mate." "Fuck off." Jayden shoves his hand inside his shirt and scratches at his chest. "It doesn't hurt to try." After locating an empty table and sit amongst the feeding herd, we eat our tacos, making pleased guttural sounds in the process. Wiping my mouth, I see Bryce in the distance and I wave at him and yell. "Bryce! Mate!" Bryce waves back and walks casually toward our table. "G'day boys, what's shaking?" Bryce asks with as much enthusiasm as Jayden had earlier knowing that he would soon get tacos. "No tacos left for me? I am cut." He quickly sits in the extra chair next to Jayden. "You know how it goes, eating tacos and talking shit. The usual, mate." I lament and notice that Bryce is wearing what appears to be the same skinny jeans as Jayden, however with all the fabric still intact. My eyes are drawn to his shirt, which is a lightweight hoodie with buttons undone which reveals his chest. He catches me checking him out and I feel my body temperature rise again and am confident that my face has turned red. "Yum. You turned up too late fool." I hope he doesn't confuse my appreciation of the tacos with his chest. "Hey man, how have you been?" Jayden asks Bryce whilst taping the screen of his phone. He then tosses it on the table and extends his hand. Bryce shakes Jayden's hand. "I am a bit fucked off actually. Thanks for asking. You blokes will have a good laugh even though it isn't funny. I was woken up at around 4:00 AM. My parents were shouting. From what I overheard my mother farted on my father whilst she was sleeping, which woke up my father. He wasn't impressed so he started shaking her and swearing at her." He tells the specifics of the story a bit like a newsreader would report the weather. "I guess my father has a habit of holding my mother at night when she sleeps. When she farted it woke him up. I guess it has happened before at least if the hysterical shouting that I overheard can be believed. She got pissed off and left as she will 'not be shaken like a goddamned rag doll whilst in a deep sleep' so she drove down to our holiday house down the coast." Jayden begins to laugh and I take a drink from my bottle of Coke. Jayden's laughter combined with Bryce's sardonic tone breaks me down and I join Jayden and begin to laugh. Tears flow from Jayden's eyes as the volume of his laughter reaches the volume you would expect from a jumbo jet. Diners in the food court begin to stare at us, no doubt curious as to what is so bloody hilarious. "You have to admit, it is funny. Tragic, but funny." I offer in between sips from the plastic bottle. "Yeah, have a good laugh boys. I guess it is funny. Sort of." Bryce stands up and stretches his arms out wide and yawns. "I am going to get a burrito. Do you blokes want anything?" Jayden continues to laugh and recounts parts of Bryce's story in-between gasps for air, slapping the table with glee and wiping at his eyes repeatedly. After many seconds pass he manages to speak coherently. "No mate, I am fine. Brilliant story though." I shake my head and Bryce understands that I don't want anything else from the Mexican takeaway. By the time that Bryce returns to the table with a burrito and a Coke, Jayden has nearly calmed down. "That is the best story ever!" Jayden continues. "It beats the article that I read earlier about a woman who lost custody of her children in the United States because she decided to party with her sixteen-year-old daughter and her male friends. The funny part is that they played naked Twister if the media can be believed. The mother thought it would be a good idea to get out a dildo and use it on herself before doing some drugs with the kids." Bryce and I begin to chew on our fingernails at the same time as Jayden continues. "She later got fucked by some sixteen-year-old boy. I guess it became too real for her daughter as it was reported that her sixteen-year-old boyfriend supposedly has a ten-inch cock which he tried to put in the mother when she was passed out after fucking his eighteen-year-old friend in the toilet." "Jesus Christ, that is crazy!" Bryce blurts out and begins to chuckle, spitting rice from his mouth in the process. "Did the daughter complain to the cops or something? How did something like this end up in the news anyway?" "From what I read, the mother decided to turn her life around after that incident and went to Alcoholics Anonymous. She told the whole sordid story to her sponsor. Her sponsor rang the coppers and narced on her." Jayden pauses and stares at me. I start to giggle which causes him to laugh like a maniac once again. Bryce chews on his burrito, seemingly lost in his thought. I start to ramble on without considering my audience. "That is fucked up. I would think that the daughter, when she saw the ten-inch cock at one point in her life would have said that it wasn't ever going inside of her. Period. I wonder what would have gone through her mind when she saw her supposed boyfriend try to shove it into her mother." I notice the table next to us which is occupied by professional dressed gentlemen are intently listening to our conversation. Bryce interrupts me and touches Jayden on the arm after leaning towards him. "Jayden, doesn't Chezdon have a ten-inch cock? Does it hurt when he rams it up your arse?" Bryce starts laughing having amused himself but I am for once in my life at a loss for words. The men next to us start to giggle and when we collectively look at them, they find their food all the sudden to be much more interesting than listening to our juvenile banter. "Mine isn't ten inches. I will happily admit that. I wouldn't want one that big. What I have already has scared some women so I wouldn't want it any bigger." Jayden says matter-of-factly and I roll my eyes. I know his experience reflects what he has viewed on porn sites. "I know my lady wouldn't want something that huge in her anyway," Jayden claims to have had sex with his girlfriend, but I don't believe him. "Where did you read that story mate?" I pick up a morsel of chicken that previously out of my soft-shell taco. "That is hilarious." Jayden smiles. "It was posted on the Murdoch news website. I read the story when I was taking a massive shit in that nasty toilet block earlier that you took me to." Jayden grabs the bottle of Coke that is sitting in front of Bryce and drinks all of it. "Thanks, mate." Bryce verbalises what I have been thinking. "Farting, shitting and ten-inch cocks. Such lovely conversation to have whilst I eat this fat thick uncut burrito. Hey Jayden, are you going to Commercial Road later?" "No why?" Jayden looks confused and then scratches the top of his head. "Why would I go there?" "I thought since you are dressed like a whore today that you would be joining the others walking the streets tonight offering your shit to the highest bidder." Bryce starts to chuckle again having amused himself. It took a while for Bryce to comment on Jayden's outfit today. I expected the prodding to start as soon as he saw him. The body language from the professionals at the table next to us makes it appear that they agree with Bryce too. "Are you jealous of my hot body mate? Have you had a good look? I always thought you were checking out my hot arse." Jayden stands up and sticks his arse towards Bryce and starts to slap it repeatedly. "Have a good look mate. Want to grab it?" Without getting a response from Bryce, Jayden sits down. "Are we going shopping or are we just going to spend the day fucking around here?" I break the silence after Jayden's spontaneous dance routine. "Let's get out of here." "Why don't you just say what is really going to happen, mate." The way Jayden stares at me foreshadows him stirring the pot. "This is how it will play out if we go shopping with you. Let's say we are silly enough to follow you to the Armani Exchange. You will then buy a shitload of clothes in five minutes flat and then complain that you can't pay fast enough. You will then proclaim that you are over shopping and will want to go home. Isn't that about right?" Jayden kicks my leg. "Am I right or what?" I wince and then kick Jayden. "Am I really that predictable?" I pick up another morsel of chicken and toss it into my mouth and then interlock my hands behind my head. Bryce and Jayden simultaneously shout, "Yes!" They look at one another and then yell, "jinx!" I roll my eyes and stand up. "Jesus. Whatever. How about I go follow your script and meet you boys back here in fifteen minutes?" Bryce and Jayden then simultaneously agree that following me around shopping isn't very fun especially since they don't have any money to buy anything. I am left to my own devices to explore the Armani Exchange shop by myself. I am very brand loyal and like their clothes, mainly because I know my size and I don't have to waste time or suffer the indignity of trying clothes on. As my routine never changes if my friends can be believed, I walk into the store, browse for items that I like and strategically not remove anything from the racks until I am ready to leave. I then dash around the shop and remove everything that I want so I am not hounded by the workers especially when they assume that I am just some foolish teenager that most likely is going to steal some overpriced clothes. My routine also keeps the banal conversation with the employees to a minimum. I walk a short distance from the food court. I casually enter and browse the Armani Exchange shop conveniently inspecting various items and look at the tags which display the size. Minutes later, after looking at everything in the relatively small shop, I begin to systematically remove clothing from the racks. Once the nearest sales associate notices my frenzied activity, he sprints over and asks me if he can assist me in finding my size. I tell him that I know my size and start handing him one piece of clothing after another. "I will just buy these." The look on the face of the salesman changes dramatically. He passively mentions that other items in different colours stored in the back would match my green eyes. I brush off his sales pitch and for once am honest and say that I am in a rush to meet my mates. He gets the hint and begins to scan the clothes using a wand at the terminal and beings to remove the security tags. "I assume that you are part of our VIP club?" The salesman asks as he presses keys on the keyboard. "Do you have our VIP club card?" "Of course, I do. I don't have the card on me but can I give you my phone number?" When he replies in the affirmative, I offer my mobile phone number and he then retrieves my profile from the database. He continues to scan clothes and then proceeds to fold the apparel mindfully and places each piece of clothing carefully into a large bag. He looks up at me and smiles. "Did you know if you spend a mere sixty dollars more in this transaction, I can give you a VIP discount card today, which is completely stamped so the next time you come in, you will save one hundred and fifty dollars?" "Oh wow, fine. I am sure I can find something else to buy." I scratch the back of my head and my head moves from right to left scanning the store, as I contemplate which way to walk. "Give me a minute, please. I have a suggestion for you." The salesman disappears behind a closed door. True to his word, a minute later he appears with a shirt that immediately reminds me of the one that Bryce is wearing today. "This will go well with your green eyes and your dirty blond hair if you don't mind me saying." I reach out and take the blood-red shirt and hold it up and admire it. "Sure, whatever. It looks good, I will have it." I push my debit card over the table toward him. After the final amount owing is calculated and after I enter my PIN, the large bag of clothes is handed to me along with a card and an outstretched hand. "It is good to meet you Chezdon, my name is James. I hope you come back soon. Here is your VIP card. Don't lose it." I take the card from him and then shake his hand. "Thanks, mate. Bye." I take one last look at his scruffy yet professional appearance. He is not surprisingly dressed in Armani Exchange clothing from head to toe and with a wave, I turn and walk out of the shop. I return to the food court to find Jayden eating a taco and Bryce speaking to someone on his phone. "You bought the store I see." Jayden smiles and then takes the bag of clothes from me and starts to scavenge around in it, looking at what I bought. My phone begins to vibrate in my back pocket. Jayden begins to remove clothes from the bag and tosses items on the chair where I once was sitting. He is identifying the clothes that he will later want to borrow. I am confident of that. He stays overnight at my apartment frequently and always borrows clean clothes and rarely returns them. "I like this shit!" Jayden yells as I place my smartphone against my ear. Whoever is calling would have heard Jayden. I scoff and smile. "Hi, this is Chezdon." "Hi Chezdon, this is James from the Armani Exchange store at Emporium Melbourne. You were just in here." I am confused as to why this guy is now ringing me. Did I leave something in the shop? I immediately put my free hand in my pocket and feel my debit card. "How are you?" "Fine. Okay. I am fine." Bryce ends the call he was on and watches Jayden sort through the clothes that I purchased. "What's up?" "I just wanted to say thanks for coming in." With added enthusiasm, James continues. "Your purchase helped me make my sales target for the week, so I just wanted to say thank you again." "That is good to hear." I really don't know what to say and feel like I am conversing for the sake of it. I recently read an article about Richie Benaud, the cricket commentator and former captain of the Australian Cricket Test team. He only spoke when he had something of value to add to the conversation. I thought that was apt considering we seem to live in a society where you feel like you need to be communicating in some form non-stop. James clears his throat. "I am hoping that I can buy you a drink sometime to say thanks." I like to think that I look my age and wonder how old this guy thinks I am. I would imagine if I was wearing the outfit that Jayden was wearing, there would have been no doubt in his mind that I am sixteen and the question literally shocks me. For the second time today I have to search for words, which is a rare occurrence. "Sure. Cool. Great." If my short responses did not give away that I shouldn't be served a pint of beer in a licensed premise, maybe admitting my age will. "What do you have in mind?" "How about we meet up tomorrow after I finish work?" James asks. "Drinks are on me." "Fine. Just message me, I have got to go as I am with my mates. Chat with you tomorrow." I end the call. The awkward look that I know I must have on my face spurs Jayden to ask the obvious. "What is wrong, mate?" Bryce tilts his head to the right and licks his lips. "What happened?" Jayden demands to know. "Nothing mate. It is all good." I try to recall more of the details of what James looks like. I was going out of my way not to engage with him or even look at him inside the store. I assume that he is in his twenties. I am more intrigued by the black studs that he has jammed into his earlobes which I originally thought were cool. My phone vibrates in my hand, interrupting my total recall. A text message appears from a number that has not been added to my contact list. It is in fact from James who suggests that we meet at Transport Bar at 5:00 PM tomorrow. Transport Bar is in Federation Square oddly enough and they take the responsible service of alcohol seriously. Not only I but most of my teenage peers have found out the hard way in the past by trying to order booze from that bar. The bouncers have only ever allowed me into the bar when I was accompanied by my father too. I respond suggesting an alternative venue, the one pub that my friends and I have found that doesn't enforce verifying the age of the wayward thirsty youths as robustly. It is easy to hide in the low-key beer garden, especially when you have someone else buying the rounds. After offering this place as an alternative venue, James responds in the affirmative and says that he will see me there. "What are we doing?" Bryce looks bored. "I don't want to sit here all day watching Jayden eat tacos. How many can you eat mate?" Bryce tosses his phone on the table which gets Jayden's attention. "We can go back to my place and watch a movie or something." I offer my own hospitality as I selfishly want to drop my big bag of clothes off at home and not haul it around with me. "There is booze there at least and I don't think there will be any responsible adults around." Both Bryce and I smile whilst Jayden shoves the last of his chicken taco into his mouth. "Sounds good!" Bryce exclaims and slams his hands down on the table in unison. "Let's get the fuck out of here." He doesn't want Jayden to have a say and stands up quickly after grabbing his phone. We walk the less travelled path back to Southbank, meandering along the laneways that give the city a distinct character. Ironically, we walk past the bar where James agreed to meet me tomorrow. Horse racing is being broadcast on the wall-mounted television in the beer garden. The afternoon revellers appear to be enjoying their pints and the atmosphere. Different scenarios then play out in my head. I wonder if I should just ask for a juice when I see James tomorrow. It would be awkward getting caught out and being refused service from at the bar. Acknowledging the fact that I am only sixteen-years-old and embarrassing me or him begins to play on my mind. I then wonder if he is going to treat this meet-up as a date or if it will be just like two mates enjoying a beer innocently and talking about sport and his sales targets. I rub the sweat off the back off my neck and wipe it the sleeve of my shirt. Mindless conversation makes the walk back to my apartment tower in Southbank feel very short. After a quick ride in the elevator and unlocking the front door, we enter my air-conditioned home in the sky. "Chezdon?" A woman's voice comes from the kitchen. "Is that you?" "Oh dude, have you ever met Melisandre?" Jayden says to Bryce whilst tapping on him on the chest. He has a blank look on his face. "She is so cool." Melisandre is the 'Red Woman' in the show Game of Thrones. I once told my father that the woman who he has been dating for many years who is called Melanie looks like the 'Red Woman.' My father agreed and even bought her a red robe that she wears on occasion. She has never seen Game of Thrones so I don't think she understands the connection or why the association amuses not only my father but me and of course my friends who are privy to the joke. "The red bitch from Game of Thrones? What does she have to do with anything?" Bryce asks. Mel walks into the living room from the kitchen and offers her greetings. I didn't expect her to be around and thought she would be with my father at the races or out with her friends. "It looks like you have been shopping. Can I see what you bought?" "Sure, go for it." I hand her my large bag of clothes. Mel goes out of her way to act like my friend. She is cool and never tries to take on the role of being a mother. She goes out of her way to treat me as her peer. She has a great relationship with Jayden and they share all sorts of inside jokes, many mostly being at my own expense I would imagine. As she doesn't want to have children herself, I suppose it makes it easier to act as friends. At least that is what I surmise. She is never going to bear a child at least from my father as after I was born he got a vasectomy. My natural mother has always claimed that he got the operation because he didn't want a child to begin with. My natural mother is an evil bitch. To imply anything so heinous is just pathetic. I leave the bag with Mel who happily begins to sort through the clothes in the same manner that Jayden did earlier. My friends and I retreat to my room once Jayden and Bryce exchange their hushed conversation for simple snickering. I am sure that Bryce is just amused by the uncanny resemblance of Mel and the character of the Red Woman. Jayden walks into my bathroom and takes the fingernail clippers off the basin. He cuts the price tag off of the blood-red shirt that he absconded with before Mel took the bag of clothes from me. He pulls off his slutty cut-up singlet and tosses it on the floor. He fumbles pulling on the shirt that James went out of his way to sell me and I feel the impression of the VIP discount card in my pocket and then my penis twitch against the pressure of my skinny jeans. "Thanks for the shirt," Jayden unbuttons three of the buttons so he can continue to fulfil his destiny to represent all the trashy looking teenage boys in the world. "I like this. Good job, Chez." "You are such an arsehole mate." Bryce summarises what I am feeling with only a few words. "You have some balls though." "It is no big deal. I didn't even want that shirt." I lie. "It was forced on me at the last minute so I could get a one hundred fifty-dollar voucher. I really don't give a fuck." Although I want the shirt and feel like ripping it off Jayden, I decide to write it off. "It does look good on you Jayden, take it." "Aren't you going to buy a new phone today?" Bryce looks at me. "You have been carrying on about it for weeks." "Oh shit. I almost forgot. Thanks for reminding me." My eyes go wide and I move my hair behind my ear again. "I will be right back." "Where are you going?" Jayden asks as I walk from my bedroom and quickly walk to my father's room. I spent all the money in my savings account on clothes so I need to get into his stash of cash that I know he hides to buy the new Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone. I rummage through the middle drawer next to his bed and find a wad of cash. It must be leftover winnings from gambling but I really don't care. Whenever I need money, I just come to this drawer. I begin to count out multiples of fifty dollar notes so that I can purchase the smartphone. "Jesus man!" I jump after Jayden frightens me after speaking into my ear. He leans over me and I momentarily lose my balance. He points into the open drawer. "We could have a good party with that." I continue counting bank notes, making a mental note to tell my father later that I took some of his spare cash. He won't care if I just tell him as he has plenty of money. "Mind your own business mate." I keep counting currency, ignoring Jayden. He rummages around in the open drawer. "That isn't your business mate, fuck off!" "Wow, look at this!" Jayden holds up a small plastic bag which contains white powder. "We don't have to guess what this is. We could have a good party, hey?" "Put that back mate!" I raise my voice and shove my body into Jayden. I didn't know that my father dabbled in recreational drugs. "Let's do it and see what happens." Jayden slyly suggests. "I really doubt my father would be too pleased if his stash went missing." I try to reason with Jayden. I can imagine some awkward conversation days or even weeks from now where my father musters the courage to ask me if I stole cocaine from his bedside table. I giggle. "If he asks, just blame it on your cleaner. She is Columbian, isn't she? Oh, I know, we can replace it with baking powder or flour. Is your father going to write a letter of complaint to the drug dealer? He will just put the flour in his nose and be none the wiser." Jayden pushes the small plastic bag into his pocket. "We are doing your duty to help him. Think of it that way." I push my father's money into my pocket and close his bedside drawer. Jayden follows me back into my room and pulls the small plastic bag from his pocket. He dramatically waves his score in front of Bryce's face. "Let's get fucked up mate. Let's party!" "Where did you get that you druggie?" Bryce asks incredulously. "Holy shit!" "Chezdon's father is the druggie. He has a drawer filled with cash and coke. I love it." Jayden is really hamming it up. "Fuck, I am so excited." "Shut the hell up. I mean keep your voice down!" I tell Jayden. The last thing I want is Mel coming in and asking questions. "You make it sound like my father is some version of Walter White. This isn't Breaking Bad, mate." "No, it is Game of Thrones judging by who is in the kitchen." Jayden and I both chuckle. "I wonder how much that coke is worth." Bryce wonders out loud. "My sister would probably buy it." "Let's do it later," Jayden proclaims and then changes the subject. "Are we going to go out again or what? Chez can buy his phone." "Yeah let's go." Bryce is looking at the poster of the four boys from the band 5 Seconds of Summer which is affixed to my bedroom wall. "Is there a JB Hi-Fi around here?" My phone begins vibrating again. The caller ID is blocked so I ignore it. Seconds after the vibrating stops, it starts in again. Annoyed, I answer the call this time. "Hi, this is Chezdon." It doesn't surprise me that there is no response. I repeat my greeting and add, "Goddamnit! Why do you keep ringing me and not bother saying anything? Jesus Christ!" A voice finally speaks to me. "Those are some pretty harsh words from such a little boy." My friends look at me. Jayden taps the small plastic bag against his nose repeatedly. "Who is this?" I ask tersely. The male voice sounds familiar but I can't identify it. The call suddenly ends and I get lost in my thoughts. Bizarre phone calls, a scheduled meeting in a toilet block, a quasi-date arranged at a pub, my best mate with a bag of drugs and a wad of cash in my pocket. What could possibly go wrong?
  14. Song of the moment

    I read that Bring Me The Horizon will be playing in Manchester on a day that I am scheduled to be there. I looked up tickets and I ended up on the Natalie Imbruglia page. I am absolutely Torn as what to do. I really don't want to see the ex of the lead singer of silverchair perform, I want BMTH. 30 Seconds to Mars and Fall Out Boy are also touring so their respective albums have been in heavy rotation whilst I work.
  15. Chapter 2

    I am roused from my slumber by a familiar voice shouting from the room that shares a common wall with my bedroom. A vivid memory of a dream about being in a public toilet quickly begins to fade from my weary head as I stretch, knocking a pillow onto the floor. My father has an irritating habit of talking on his mobile phone using the speakerphone functionality so he can type on his laptop at the same time, thereby disturbing the peace in our happy household. Why he is up at 6:45 AM on a Saturday morning working instead of nursing a hangover is confusing at this early hour. Slowly coming out of my sleepy haze and wiping crust from my right eye it dawns on me that my dream was in fact linked to a very intriguing reality from yesterday. I remain in stasis holding a pillow across my chest like how I dreamed what I would do with the throbbing cock that I watched dance in the public toilet. A cold shower is followed by using the hair dryer on my mane which alerts my father in the distance that I am conscious. I receive a text message asking if I want to go out for breakfast. This is how he prefers to communicate with me when I have my bedroom door closed. I assume he is afraid of throwing open the portal to my little kingdom and seeing me pleasure myself like he has in the past. Instead of shouting through walls and closed doors, we agreed that messaging is the easiest, especially at such a god-awful early hour. I respond with a simple 'sure' to the invite for 'brekkie' as Australians call it since it has been a week since I have even seen my father. I begin to sort through one of the many heaving bags that are filled with new Armani Exchange clothes that languish on the floor of the closet. These unworn clothes were recently purchased from the spoils of my father being lucky and winning a few horse races where he generously passed me a wad of sweaty cash and told me to make myself happy and I went on a shopping spree. Flemington Racecourse I expect will be his destination again today and selfishly I not only want him to win every racing meeting so I will profit, but it will mean that there is a good chance that I will have the apartment all to myself. Since he wants to get breakfast and bond, it is a tell-tale sign that he will be going to the track to yell and shout at the beasts running in circles all afternoon with his mates. We dine and chat at a café on Southbank Promenade which overlooks the murky Yarra River which is near our residential tower. Breakfast turns out to be a very sedate outing as my father is more interested in sending messages to his mates and reading the latest tips on the nags that will be running. I enjoy a plate of roasted chorizo in a tomato sauce with two poached eggs whilst simultaneously fielding a thousand questions about school, friends, girls and my thoughts on current events as he sends numerous text messages. The conversation evolves to the point that he begins to denigrate the names of horses that are running later and like a galloper himself, my father suddenly bolts to meet his friends after I give him my sincere wish that he backs winners today. Before leaving the cafe, I quickly drink two cups of black coffee and occupy myself by sending messages to my friends. My best mate Jayden is the first to respond saying that he will take the train into the city centre to hang out. With some plans in motion, I can relax with a glass of water whilst my best mate navigates the intricacies of the Melbourne public transport system. We agree to meet at Federation Square, which is across from the iconic Flinders Street train station after some negotiation. Federation Square is a short walk from the cafe and is a popular meeting place because of the many bars and restaurants. There is also a huge outdoor television screen which broadcasts every iteration of sport and there is an abundance of improvised street furniture so tourists, teenagers and the corporate lunch-time lovers have a place to chill out. It is also a great location to people-watch and lately I have found more and more people watching my friends and I hanging out in this public space compared to the other way around. I have been approached by trashy girls that can barely string a sentence together since I am often there waiting for people to turn up simply passing time and listening to music. The girls all ask me silly questions which always proves tedious, but as I learned from my father, it is always best to be cordial to everyone since you never know how silly words or abrupt actions will impact you in the future. Like clockwork, Jayden turns up at the time that he said he would arrive. He is by far my most punctual friend and he even found a few spare minutes to buy a blue Slurpee from the local 7-11 convenience store. "How can you drink that shit?" I shout at him when he is some distance away after I spot him with the fluorescent drink in his hand. Jayden matches my volume and returns serve. "It is good to see you. You fucking arsehole! How is my anorexic best mate?" His question motivates the nosey tourists taking photos in the immediate area to stare. I feel uncomfortable for a change after the question which is a rare feeling, so to have some fun I begin to make retching noises and hold my stomach. The routine doesn't entertain the those languishing in the public area as much as it does me. They move along but not before taking a few photos memorialising the wayward youth and how they spend their downtime on a Saturday morning in central Melbourne. Jayden is wearing black skinny jeans and an over-sized white singlet. As we quickly embrace and slap each other on the back, I wonder why he dresses the way he does. "Why the wife beater mate?" He has a girlfriend who complains about how he dresses. He wants to appear like he is fashion forward but just comes off looking like a teenage male slut most of the time. What I do find refreshing though is that he really doesn't care what anyone else thinks. His nipples alternate being on display for the world to see since he removed fabric from his singlet so that his neck, chest and shoulders will all be very visible. After slurping blue ice through the straw, my friend nods and looks across the street and then lets out a sigh. "I don't care what we do today, but I am not taking that goddamned train again. Every idiot in this city is coming in to watch the footy today." He takes another slurp and coughs. I scratch the back of my neck and then push my dirty blonde hair forward over my ears. "Screw the train and the footy today, mate. Why don't we head down to Port Melbourne?" The suggestion spits from my mouth without giving the logistics much thought. I really don't know what I am hoping to achieve by taking Jayden to Port Melbourne. I am not going to tell him what happened in the public toilet block yesterday at the park, that is for sure. With that knowledge, he wouldn't understand my motivation just to have a casual look at the park. I really doubt he would be very supportive if casual sex was offered up either. Jayden leers at me with a disturbed look on his face. "Why the fuck would you want to go there? There is fuck all to do there." He takes another slurp from the cup of blue ice and coughs. "There is a beach!" I exclaim feigning confidence in my plan. "It is going to be a nice day for a change so let's take advantage of the last of the warm weather for the season." I sound like the weatherman from the breakfast show that I watch on television. "The sun is shining; the birds are singing." I look up in the sky hoping to see birds and Jayden notices me roll my eyes as a helicopter passes overhead. Jayden laughs. "Look at me, mate. Does it look like I am dressed for the beach?" Jayden intently watches a middle-aged couple walking past us holding hands. "You know I am not much of a beach kind of guy." I cross my legs at my ankles. "I think it would be a good change. It is a little less out of control compared to the beach at St Kilda and you did say that you wanted to get away from the bogans. I don't want to sit around here all day looking like an arsehole. Oh, my father gave me two hundred dollars so hey, we can spend it." Paying for my friends to partake in various activities, feeding them and giving them hydration are now just an expectation since my father started simply giving me large amounts of money as an 'allowance' as the result of his winning streak at the horse races as of late. We casually walk to the Collins Street tram stop. Jayden continues to slurp the blue ice from the cup and walks without his gait being inhibited by his very skinny jeans. As it is going to be an abnormally warm autumn day, I briefly wonder how musty the smell of his crotch would be after walking around this city. Lurid thoughts quickly turn into ones of self-preservation as we navigate to the tram stop, which is positioned in the centre of the busy street. After playing the old dangerous game of dodging yellow cabs, traffic and trucks with the skill of Frogger, we make it safely to our oasis. The tram arrives and is packed with travellers and their luggage. The commuters were most likely residing at the Grand Hyatt and the Westin hotels which are in the immediate area, travelling to Port Melbourne to catch the Spirit of Tasmania vessel which I assume is leaving at some point later today. My father always rubbishes that boat and refers to it as an overpriced tourist trap. You can fly from Melbourne to Tasmania for around $79 in an hour. Why would you go to all the effort to take the bloody boat that hauls humans and cargo which would be an expensive overnight trip? The thought process doesn't make much sense even to me but the gullible tourists still think it is a good idea since it remains in business. We travel without saying a word to one another during the twenty-minute journey and endure the abrupt stopping and starting of the tram which jolts me from side to side. The route follows parallel to the pedestrian footpath which I usually run along. The tram terminates at Beacon Cove where frazzled tourists pull their bags off and onto the platform and we follow. I suggest that we purchase a coffee from the café that occupies the former train station, where I enjoyed my caffeine hit yesterday. One coffee turns into three and with some urgency I announce that I am ready to go. Jayden wants to languish on the deck and bask in the sun like a lazy seal which frustrates me. Not only did the owner of the café look at me with a curious look as I powered through the coffee like a man obsessed with imported beans, but Jayden provides a running commentary of everything that is happening around us to amuse himself. "The boy won't eat but will live on a diet of coffee and water. You should go into politics or try to be a model!" My friend likes to take the piss, sometimes so incessantly that it becomes exhausting. "Did you eat anything today?" "Why do you care that I like coffee so much? You drink damned blue Slurpee's and single-handedly manage to keep that 7-11 franchise open in Federation Square. Of course, I ate today you fucking arsehole. I don't know why you have this idea that I don't eat anything." I scoff and pour the remaining coffee down my throat before abruptly standing up and swatting in the air at a fly. "Yeah sure, you eat. I never see you eat anything." Jayden winks. "Prove it." Jayden pushes his chair back, stands up and follows me. "What is wrong with you? I eat all the time. I just don't eat the shit that you like to eat." I pause and watch the tram that we arrived on glide away from us along tracks back to the centre of Melbourne. "Speaking of food, I read a tweet saying that the taco truck is in this area right now, so I will buy tacos if you want and prove to you once and for all that I eat." Being an average 5' 8" and 65kg, I could have easily pulled on the skinny jeans that Jayden is wearing and not struggle to walk. His discomfort is causing his consternation. I lied when I proclaimed that the taco truck is in the area. It does randomly turn up in the industrial estate not far from here as I have hunted it down on multiple occasions in the past. I really like Mexican food, but I have no intention of walking into the industrial estate today. Most of the streets are not even pedestrian friendly and it is the last place that I want to spend my Saturday. I want to saunter along the beachfront and towards Westgate Park, which Jayden agrees to do in principle with the promise of tacos and guacamole. The footpath deviates from the sandy beach that follows the bay. Walking near the industrial estate which borders Westgate Park is when Jayden starts to whine more. He claims that he is hot and wants to know how much longer we must walk. I suggest that we can use my key to tear up his skinny jeans and turn them into skinny shorts. He declines because he knows he would look like a fool with his untanned white legs and high top black Converse shoes that he is wearing. Sacrificing comfort for fashion seems ridiculous as who really cares? I point at the footpath that leads into Westgate Park and proclaims that the coffee has filled my bladder and that I desperately need to piss. "Maybe you shouldn't have drunk so much coffee." Jayden lifts his singlet up and then wipes his face with it. "Just go ask them across the street." I roll my eyes and do my best to lead Jayden to where I want him to go. "It isn't like I can walk into one of those warehouses and ask them to use their toilet mate!" I continue to traverse along the footpath and Jayden follows. "Jesus Christ. Let's just go to the park mate. There has to be a toilet but if there isn't I will just piss on a tree." Jayden nods his head and I feel satisfied that I am getting my way. Being high on caffeine and acutely aware of my surroundings this time around, I notice that there is a contingent of motorcars parked in a small lot on the periphery of the park. Most of the vehicles have a single male occupant just sitting in their car, staring at us. At first, I think it is weird that people drive to the park, only to just hang out in their car in but then assume something more sinister is afoot. I am glad that I dragged Jayden on this adventure even though he is cranky as I begin to feel wary of my surroundings. Jayden gleefully points out the familiar public toilet block even before I catch sight of it. My head is turned and looking over my shoulder at all the men sitting in their cars staring at us as he taps me on the shoulder. Jayden leads the way into the shithouse which surprises me. This wasn't part of my master plan. I really wanted him to innocently wait outside this public facility whilst I went in to piss hoping that someone would be in there wanting to look at me, and more importantly, I look at them. Disappointed, I follow my friend through the open door to the public toilets. He jogs into a vacant cubicle and slams the door close. The latch clicks and secures the door from the inside. This is a poor place of rest as the result of all the years of graffiti on the walls of the structure; both on the floor and to the walls. I stand at the familiar trough alone wondering why I wanted to come here on a Saturday. I take a deep breath and release an audible sigh wondering what is wrong with me. In horse racing, a trifecta is when you place a bet on three horses to win in a certain order. Gamblers can make great returns betting money in such a way, however, I think it is too complex and risky. Why bother adding extra variables when it hard enough to pick just one winning horse? I stand at the trough and decide to piss. I unbutton my skinny jeans and pull down on my sweat-soaked boxer briefs. I pull down on them, pulling the cotton fabric from my arse before pulling my cock out into the musty air. I release a stream of piss so mighty that it reflects off the aluminium trough and I need to quickly side-step on the grate so that my urine doesn't splash back on me. The hollow reverberating noise that my piss makes off the dead cold metal distracts me and I do not immediately notice that someone has walked into this five-star facility. When I first spot the bloke next to me, I jump and my heart begins to beat faster as I watch him shuffle up to the trough and stand on the grate. He stands about a metre from me and begins to unfasten his belt. He liberates his soft but thick hairy cock and begins to piss. Jayden releases the longest and loudest fart that I have ever heard in my life from behind the closed door. It lasts for at least five seconds and could be considered as unnatural. "Goddamn! I feel like a new man!" Jayden shouts and his words echo through the chamber of stale piss, shit and bleach. "Yeehaw!!!" He bellows like a cowboy. My phone begins to vibrate violently in my back pocket. It is a custom rapid-fire vibration indicating that it is my father calling. He gives me a fair amount of freedom if I remain at the top of my class but more importantly if I answer the phone when he rings promptly. Time is money or so he says. I try to hold onto my cock and finish urinating. I desperately try to suppress my laughter as the commentary that Jayden is providing from behind closed doors is hilarious. I fumble my phone from my back pocket with my free hand as my skinny jeans are pushed down to my knees as I struggle to keep some sort of control of my body and the situation in general. The guy next to me, who most likely had untoward intentions at first begins to cackle noticing that I couldn't manage to retrieve the phone out my tight back pocket and piss at the same time. Jayden starts to sing some pop song, clueless as to what is taking place on the other side of the closed door as his words echo through the room. I greet my father in a huff. "Hey, dad." My jeans are still down around my knees and I desperately try to pull them up with one hand, much to the amusement of the random bloke next to me. He begins to laugh. I wedge the Samsung phone between my ear and my shoulder and grab at the sides of my jeans and yank them up. I must hop in place so the late morning free exhibition can finally come to an end. I quickly walk away from the trough desperately trying to fasten the top button of my jeans, embarrassed as the stranger is still watching me with a smile on his face. "Where are you? You had better not be at a pub. Who is singing?" I am quizzed over the phone. "Chezdon's father is my hero!" Jayden sings in a falsetto from behind the security of the closed toilet door. "There goes my hero, watch him as he goes!" He decides to imitate Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters fame as I scurry outside the chaos that the restroom has devolved into so that I can have a conversation devoid of distractions. "No, don't worry, I am at Port Melbourne with Jayden, and honestly I was just taking a piss if you really must know." I am confident that my father would have detected a fair amount of agitation in my voice as beads of sweat start to tumble down the centre of my back. "What's up?" "Why are you in Port Melbourne of all places? There is nothing to do there!" My father both exclaims and asks in a mysterious yet bemused way. I tell him that we are on the hunt for the taco truck and just had coffee at a cafe in Beacon Cove. As usual, too much information bores my father and he proceeds to explain that he backed a winner running the first race at Flemington and if I want to buy a new phone that I can today. He continues to explain that he bet a trifecta and there are only good times to be had. I consider telling him that I seemingly won a trifecta also. A random guy was getting his cock out next to me. Win. Jayden farting, commentating and singing in the public toilet. Win. Me losing control of my trousers as my beloved father decides to randomly ring me to tell me that he won the meeting of the beasts literally. Win. Trifecta. I watch the horse bolt from the public toilet so to speak. The mysterious gentleman who just a minute ago was smiling at me whilst standing at the trough walks past me laughing. My father tells me to enjoy myself and ends the call. If he only knew what his only child had on his mind when he rang and what he was up to. He would be mortified. I could be written out of his will. Who knows how he would react. Jayden emerges into the sunlight with sweat on his brow. "Why are you so red?" My face turns red easily from either heat or embarrassment. "What is wrong with you?" I try to distract him. "Why the hell are you sweating?" It was musty in the public toilet, but it wasn't too hot. "Who do I complain to mate? What council oversees this area? There was no goddamned toilet paper so I had to wipe my arse with my socks and my underwear. Whoever has to clean that shithole will have a surprise waiting for them." Jayden stretches his arms over his head and locks his hands together which exposes his dark brown armpit hair. I always notice armpit hair on guys and I am not sure why. I smile and am at a loss for words for one of the few times in my life. "Oh god." Images then form in my mind of Jayden wiping his arse with his underwear and his filthy socks and I begin to laugh hysterically. "Oh fuck!" "Yeah, I left the shit-soiled underwear and socks on the floor, mate. I am sure there is some sick fuck that will get off in there with them too." Jayden yawns and then smiles, knowing that he is entertaining me. "I don't even want to think about what happens in that shithouse. It is disgusting." I continue laughing like a lunatic. So many bizarre themes have managed to converge in a matter of minutes. I can't stop laughing and the sheer ridiculousness of the situation and morbid curiosity draws me back into the toilet to examine the carnage that Jayden left behind. I open cubicle door that Jayden occupied only to see two socks with shit smeared on them laying innocently on the concrete floor next to a pair of pink Bonds underwear with a black waistband that has also met the same horrific fate. I scamper outside into the bright light of the autumn day and continue to chuckle. "Pink underwear?" "Shut the fuck up, I like them." Jayden turns around and starts to walk in the direction of Beacon Cove and the tram stop. "I am over this shit." I continue to laugh and jog to catch up to Jayden and slap him on his back a few times. "You did like them you mean." Jayden appears flustered and wipes the sweat on his upper lip using the back of his hand. "I never should have come to this shit area. Now I am going to get a chafe." "Whatever, let's just go. Do you want to go find the taco truck?" I take a deep breath and hope that he will not want to go into the industrial estate and try to locate the truck that certainly will not be in the area today. "No, I am over it. I just want to get out of here." He lifts up his wife beater again and wipes his face. For the next fifteen minutes, Jayden complains that his skinny jeans are now rubbing him in all the wrong places, which makes him provide a blow-by-blow commentary like we are watching a boxing match on television. We eventually get back to the waterfront, but his mood has become feral. His complaining is starting to give me a headache and I long for the box of painkillers that I have sitting next to my sink in my bathroom at home. "Stop whining! Jesus Christ!" I shout. "That is what you get for wearing jeans that are too small for you." "Whatever arsehole." Jayden sits on a wall that borders the shared footpath and bicycle path, leans back and puts his hands in the planter and looks thoughtfully over Port Philip Bay. "Look." I point. “There is an IGA. It is a shit grocery store, but they probably have some socks at least." I have stopped in this IGA before to buy Gatorade during one of my previous runs through the area. Jayden quickly walks into the IGA and I follow. It doesn't take him long to locate a pair of underwear that is devoid of any style. Plain medium sized white briefs are hanging on a hook next to where mops and brooms are sold. We both look around for socks and given my surprise that they have underwear for sale, I am shocked to not find any socks. Jayden has a clever idea of his own as he takes a pair of scissors from the office supply area and shouts at me from the checkout area, demanding that I bring a fifty-dollar gold-coloured note. I happily oblige just to keep the boy calm. Outside he looks at my feet. "Give me your thongs." I methodically kick them off and they hit him on his shins. He sits on the low brick wall and unties his black Converse shoes. He kicks them off with such force that they hit the Westpac ATM machine on the wall of the store. I am sure many things, including foul language, has been thrown in the direction of that ATM, but never a pair of shoes. "What are you doing?" I ask. "Can I do anything?" "I'll be back." Jayden walks away. "Where are you going?" I push my blond fringe off my forehead and out of my eyes so it is wedged behind my ear. "Look!" I follow the invisible line that Jayden is pointing at and before I can utter one word he continues. "You see that toilet block next to the café where you decided to down a litre of coffee? You could have used that and we could have avoided all of this drama!" Jayden walks away with my thongs on presumably because his shoes were making his shuffle painful. He disappears into the toilet block which gives me an opportunity to catch up on my social media feeds. Not finding anything interesting, I put his shoes on, which are a bit big for me but not so big that I have to walk like a clown. Five minutes later, Jayden emerges and I immediately notice that he took my original advice and cut his skinny jeans and made them into skinny shorts. Now that he is wearing my thongs he doesn't seem to mind making the alternation as he does not look like a fashion catastrophe let alone a fool. His snow-white and hairy legs contrast somewhat against the short black skinny shorts, which are probably cut a bit too short. He looks a bit silly but I don't bother saying anything being fearful of being abused again. Besides, who am I to judge? At least he has stopped whining and his mood has noticeably improved. My phone starts to vibrate in my back pocket again. As my own clothes are properly affixed to my body this time, I can retrieve the device without much effort. "Hi, this is Chezdon." There is no response once again from the 'Unknown' person who is ringing me. I repeat myself again and then the other party terminates the call. "What the fuck," I mumble. "Who was that?" Jayden scratches his knee. "You look pissed off." "I dunno, I keep getting random calls from a silent number and the person just hangs up. It is getting annoying." I push my phone into my back pocket. "Oh well, fuck 'em. Let's go spend your money. What did your father want?" Jayden yawns again and stretches his arms behind his back. I smile and recall my father saying that I should buy a new phone and celebrate his win. "He won some cash and is partying." I notice the tram gliding towards us along the tracks in the distance. "The bloody tram is coming." "He is always in party mode. I love your father!" Jayden exclaims with a new sense of vigour and enthusiasm. He follows me to the platform. I hear my thongs making a clicking noise against the balls of his feet as he catches up to me. "Excuse me mate, you dropped this." A voice from behind me says as we approach the tram stop. I quickly turn around and recognise the man as being the one that was thoroughly amused by my antics in the public toilet earlier. He has a smile locked on his face and even after some time has passed since my embarrassing display, he looks to be enjoying himself. He hands me a folded-up piece of paper which I push quickly into my pocket. "Thanks, mate" is all I can say as he walks away. My heart begins to race again as I am keen to know what is written on the piece of paper. It certainly does not belong to me. It takes Jayden a few minutes to be engrossed in the world that exists on his phone. Only then do I stealthily remove the piece of paper from my pocket and examine it. Tomorrow. 10:30 AM. Same place. With some subterfuge, I roll the piece of paper into a small tight ball and shove it back into my pocket. "Look at this!" Jayden thrusts his phone in front of my face. I briefly see a photo of his girlfriend's breasts. Not only do I admire it but I notice the elderly couple behind us have a look. I push the phone back towards Jayden's face. "Nice. Do you want to go shopping or something? I can buy you some new skinnies and some new pink underwear." I chuckle and yank my phone from my back pocket. "I can't believe you actually wear pink underwear." "Don't take the piss mate, but yeah. Let's go." Jayden again takes interest in his social media accounts as we ride the air-conditioned tram towards the centre of Melbourne. "I really did like that pair of underwear. A damned shame." I can't admit it to Jayden, but I did too.

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