The tragedy of 2014 is that we were all so young, and youth is only enjoyed by those who are no longer. 2014 was a year that reminded me about life when I thought I needed an escape from it.
When I think of 2014, I see us in the back of a borrowed car. It’s nearing 2 in the morning. It smells like cheap wine, cigarettes, and single malt whiskey. The windows are rolled down, and they’re reluctantly letting in cool air. A Third Eye Blind song is playing. The wheels are spinning. On the other hand, we hardly seem to be moving at all. And what follows is the best conversation I’ll ever have. Show Less
When Giacci finally made it to my door, he paused for breath to declare “Where’s this fucking planner at?”
Giacci spoke like he was perpetually trying to imitate someone else. Kobe Bryant, in particular. Given his high top basketball shoes, his ridiculously loose basketball shorts, and his number 24 Lakers basketball jersey - you could easily be convinced that he also dressed like he was trying to imitate Kobe. It was at this exact moment that the overwhelmingly musty stench of his cologne assaulted me. As is often the case with wealthy 17 year old white males, Giacci wore cologne solely for the purpose of wearing cologne. I motioned towards my room with a nod of the head. He held out his Bacardi in a way that clearly said “you okay?”, I grabbed it a little too quickly in a way that said “no” and motioned towards my room. As Giacci made his way to it, I took 2014’s first swig of liquor. It was painless as it slid down my throat, but once I my lips separated from the glass bottle, the aftertaste of mistakes deeply stung my throat. So I made a sound that could have been that of a cat coughing up a fur ball, and took my second swig. I vaguely heard Giacci laughing from my bedroom.
Once I’d recovered from the typical burn of the sugar cane liquor, I found Giacci brandishing what I presumed was a nail gun staring intently at my wall. The coke zero can had found its way to the floor.
“You sure you’re in a state to wield heavy machinery?” I said, ignoring the fact he’d already driven here under the influence.
“Yeah boy, I got this.”
Then he shot a nail into my bamboo floor, and we both concluded that he did not, in fact, have this. In a surprisingly smooth motion Giacci simultaneously snagged the Bacardi from my right hand, and slapped the gun into my left. It was moist from having spent the last minute or so in Giacci’s sweaty mitts.
“This doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea.” I announced, loosening my grip on the nail gun.
Giacci said “na mate, you’ll be right. Just don’t shoot me in the hand” and picked up the seventy inch cardboard planner off my bed. He then sat on my short white cabinet, and shoved the planner against the wall. It was at a serious angle to the horizontal, and Giacci’s girth was preventing access to the vast majority of its surface area. Rather than trying to rectify the situation, which I would probably have done two swigs ago, I leaned against the wall and fired into it four nails. Giacci then slid down to the floor, sighed, and took a sip of rum. Miraculously, the planner failed to join him. To this day, it is still unclear to me how a piece of cardboard with three nails in one of the top corners, and one in the other stayed on my wall. Giacci must have been pleased with our combined efforts because he stood up, and dragged the both of us onto my bed.
We didn’t say anything for so long that it would have been uncomfortable for the majority of people. The only sound was the occasional slosh of the terrible white rum hitting the top of its bottle. I find it hard to describe the therapeutic properties of Giacci’s silence. It was generally understood that we were not to discuss matters that burdened us. Independent of the magnitude of our sadness, Giacci and I were never sad together.
“Fuck her.” Announced Giacci, his arms behind his head, staring vacantly at the ceiling. The Bacardi had taken up residence on my bedside table and had very recently crossed the half empty line.
“Fuck her.” I agreed, sitting up to retrieve the coke zero can from the floor. I poured it into the remaining liquor, and very slowly swirled it. There was a great deal I wanted to say. But instead, I took another drink and gave Giacci the bottle.
“So are we really doing this?” He inquired before letting free a tremendous burp. Whilst Giacci could handle the rum just fine, his stomach disagreed with coke entirely.
“You know you don't have to do this with me.” This was not strictly speaking true. The plan I had developed to get my life together relied on Giacci’s unlimited access to his mother’s car, and on my unlimited access to Giacci.
“No way am I letting you fuck off without me” said Giacci as he sat up beside me. “But why Swanny? Why bloody Swanny!?” He laughed. I joined in. That was a mistake.
“I need to barf.” I stated plainly.
“Tac yack?” Inquired Giacci.
“Tac yack.” I acquiesced. Then I grabbed the bucket that was sat next to my bed for precisely such a necessity, and emptied my stomach of its liquid contents. The tacticality of the tac yack was far more evident before the gastric acid flowed up my trachea and into my mouth. Already feeling far better, I grabbed the rum and coke to rid my throat of the taste and the pain. Not a particularly effective remedy to that ailment.
“To answer your question” I said between coughs. “Swanway College is perfect for a number of reasons. Chief among these is the fact that their uniform is pretty sick.” I thought It must have been fairly clear from this that my decision was thoroughly well researched.
“Yeah, right, but it’s a shit school for preppy creeps.” Giacci said, greatly emphasising the preppiness of said school.
“You are aware that you drove here in your mother’s Range Rover sport, you live in Manny Grove, and I’m willing to bet you’re wearing Armani underwear, right?” That question was necessary, there’s a good chance Giacci was genuinely unaware that he was not Kobe. “I promise you, you will fit right in.”
That seems to have put a decent end to the conversation. I think Giacci knew I was withholding information in an effort to maintain our agreement. I also think that he didn’t care. I reached for the top drawer of my bedside table, and opened it. In a single exaggerated motion I whipped my letter of application out of it. Giacci stood up and hobbled to his bag to extract his own. We threw them onto my white desk together. It was more symbolic than it was useful in getting us to Swanway. But it was one of the two things I needed. The other came in the hours that followed, where Giacci and I got drunk enough to forget 2013.
On Monday the 13th of January at 8:07AM I checked my mail for the first time in far too many days. At 8:10AM I discovered that I had received a letter from Swanway College. At 8:12AM I was informed that I was required to sit a placement test and an interview. At 8:13AM I realised that said placement test was on the 13th of January at 10AM. So I called Giacci who was rather predictably unaware of our impending doom.
“I’ll be round in a sec. Just let me prepare.” Giacci said calmly.
Giacci was, indeed, ‘round in a sec’. In fact, when the Stallion screeched into my driveway, I was still trying to tame the unruly mop that was my chestnut brown hair. I shoved a pop tart into my mouth, and another into the right pocket of my skinny jeans, and rushed out the door.
“Shotgun!” I screamed through the pop tart crumbs.
“You’re the only other one in the damn car.” Replied Giacci, clearly done with my shit. I hopped in the passenger seat. I was briefly surprised by the fact Giacci had relinquished his traditional Kobe outfit in favour of an outfit that looked like money. He was wearing a blue sports jacket, a white button up shirt, and beige short. None of it fit him particularly well, and he looked the slightest bit like a preppy creep.
For as long as I could remember the Stallion had been new. The smell of hard liquor and tobacco had started to creep into leather. The seats had also taken on the faintest trace of Giacci’s cologne. But it never made the car feel old, it gave it character. Giacci slapped his 120gb iPod Classic into the cable that he kept in the centre compartment. A playlist called “Pre-Exam” that we’d both composed came on. Giacci put the car in gear, pumped up the stereo, and we both started screaming off beat Watch The Throne lyrics.
One of the reasons that Giacci was part of the Swanway plan was the hour drive required to get there. Unfortunately, at the halfway point of our journey singing along to the playlist (dank as it may have been) became tiresome, and the proximity to the destination made conversation seem pointless. By the halfway point, Giacci and I were also pretty thoroughly cooked by the heat of Giacci’s car, despite the expensive air conditioning. Fortunately, Giacci and I developed a solution to one of these problems.
“Pocket snack?” I asked knowingly.
“Pocket snack.” Giacci agreed with a slight nod of the head.
I find it hard to pinpoint when exactly pocket snacks began. But I do recall an English class several years prior where Giacci looked to me and said “pocket muffin” before removing said muffin from said pocket and devouring it. Since then, it has been tradition to store various cibarious items in our vestimentary compartments before major events in case of emergency. I reached into my jeans and removed the poptart. I held it so close to Giacci’s eyes that he could no longer see the road, and I started grinning.
“Tart of Darkness.” I whispered into his ear. The laughter that followed was characteristic of a terrible pun. A wonderful mix of derision, annoyment, and inescapable pleasure.
Eyes fixed on the road through my poptart visor, Giacci reached into his sports jacket and revealed a party pie.
“Lord of the Pies.” He announced, visually proud of his ability to reference a single piece of literature. We both continued our laughter. There was a brief pause as we tried to consume our unhealthy pocket goods. This was unsuccessful, our laughter grew hysterical, and we completely lost the plot.
Swanway College was an immense school. It was several orders of magnitude larger than our previous school, Pastor’s College, and it was also several orders of magnitude more serious. Swanway looked as if it was built with purpose and a clear direction. It was inhabited by this great sense of propriety. At the centre of the roundabout that guided Giacci and I to the visitors parking there was a tremendous bronze statue of what I presumed was a past headmaster. A serious mustache garnished the man’s serious face, and his impeccable bronze suit commanded attention. The emptiness of the visitors parking surprised me. I had expected it to be filled with potential candidates sitting the placement test, but there were only five cars. Giacci parked the Stallion and looked up to the building in front of us.
“Latin?” He said, incredulous “their school motto is in Latin?” Giacci did not seem particularly pleased with that.
“Opus et vincit” I said. “Work and conquer. And their crest is a lion. A great big lion. I hate to say it, but that’s a bit pretentious.”
“This whole place is pretentious! Even the fucking walls take themselves seriously.” said Giacci, his Kobe imitation failing through the indignation and agitation “Why did I let you bring us here?” He nervously started tapping on the leather steering wheel. Giacci was not a fan of pretentious things, something to do with his father.
“Well, first of all, you drove here. Second of all, you came here because you couldn’t stand Pastor’s without me.” I replied, hopping out of the car.
Swanway smelled intensely like freshly cut grass. An odour that was likely caused by the fact that the vast majority of campus was covered by an obsessively well trimmed lawn. The rest of the school was populated by paths and buildings that looked older than the country they rested on.
The size of the college was such that a map (with a scale bar no less) was required to navigate it. The placement test was conducted in a building that went by the name of Pally Hall. Giacci and I arrived a handful of minutes before the test began, and we discovered that the building was just as majestic as its name implied. The entrance was a grand archway garnished with gold, and I could have sworn I saw gargoyles sitting atop the vaguely Gothic architecture. Giacci stopped me with his large arm just before I entered the building. He reached into the pocket of his sports jacket, the very same pocket where the party pie was some time ago, and pulled out his hip flask. He took a sip, and gave it to me. I poured some of the liquid into my mouth, and winced briefly at the taste of Bacardi. Of course it was Bacardi.
Pally Hall was greatly unwelcoming. The marble floor clumped thunderously at the thump of my wood soled shoes. The entirety of its interior donned a red and brown hue. It smelled of dust, expensive paper and even more expensive ink. It had been lined with desks, though I guessed that only rarely was the patterned floor plagued by such studious furniture. Three other students sat at the front of their rows.
“Preppy creeps.” Whispered Giacci. I couldn’t help but agree with his analysis. They were all wearing polos in slightly different hues of blue. Grey pants and grey shoes outlined their (presumably grey) legs. They looked like little wooden soldiers that someone had forgotten to bring to life. The hall did not feel like it was part of a school. Instead, it had the feel of a noble European church with its red faced headmasters outlined in gold adorning the wall. A man with a face that probably belonged on the wall stood proudly at the end of the desks. He, much like the school, looked particularly serious. He also did not look particularly glad to see us. He nodded solemnly towards two seats at the front of the rows. We were separated by one of the toy soldiers.
I found an almost guilty pleasure in the placement test. I felt terribly important being taken so seriously. I never found tests particularly difficult, and this one was no exception. A series of questions that had each been so carefully plucked from a textbook. Sufficed it for me to regurgitate information onto the paper, and I would be showered in marks. My memory was far from perfect. In fact, it was terrible. I could hardly remember people’s names, and I had no idea when Giacci’s birthday was. But I was excellent at regurgitation. At several points throughout the test I was vaguely aware of Giacci asking to go to the toilet. He was followed every time by a woman who I’m certain materialised out of thin air.
When the headmaster/invigilator/supervisor rang the bell that indicated the end of two hours, I felt completely relaxed. My legs, mind you, felt terrible - so I stood up to stretch them.
“Down!” Said the man of unknown rank. I sat immediately, and that made me feel very well trained. Half a minute later (yes, I did count) we were dismissed. Giacci and I, unsure of what we were to do, followed the soldiers to another room in the hall. It was far more modern, and even had carpets. It smelled even more of dust, but in a stuffy way. The walls were lined with chairs that ominously led to a door with a painting of another well dressed man. Giacci and I sat next to each other, and the toy soldiers sat on the opposite row. They were eerily well spaced out, refusing to sit in front of us. For the longest time neither of us knew whether we were allowed to say anything. I, for one, feared the wrath of another serious person. Then, I looked to Giacci, and saw him grin.
“So how did you do it this time? “ I asked softly. I looked over my shoulder to ensure no one had heard.
“My dick,” exclaimed Giacci “I wrote it all on my dick!” He burst out laughing, and I was too surprised to even think about not joining in.
“You cannot be serious.” I said while laughing. “I doubt you can fit that much on your todger.” Giacci was not an intelligent man by most definitions. He was, however, an absolute genius at cheating.
“And my chest, and my legs, and I even wrote the quadratic equation on my left foot.” Giacci said “But my man sausage was the main event.”
That was fair enough, I'd heard from several people I trust that it was spectacular.Our laughter ended abruptly when the door opened to reveal the man from the portrait in the flesh. He was significantly shorter and dressed more poorly than the image led to believe. His shirt was very slightly untucked, his hair looked tired, and I sympathised deeply with the bags under his eyes. He called a name that might have been “James”, and the toy soldier closest to him made his way to the room. I hated waiting for my name to be called. I was always plagued by this odd sensation that I would fail to recognise it. So I was afraid to do anything in the moments leading up to events like this. Giacci, however, had no such fears. He was listening to music and playing some form of game on his Blackberry. I recognised ZZ Tops by the filthy guitar leaking from his earphones.
“Edward Taylor.” I heard the man say in his tired voice. It sounded like the very words were an effort for him to utter. That being said, Edward is a bit of a mouthful. But it was my mouthful. Though I was prepared to hear my mouthful, it still took me a few seconds to react. I stood up and made my way to the door.
The room where I was to be interviewed was the only homely place I had seen in the school. The brown sofa, and elegant wooden desk reflected a globe’s warm yellow light elegantly. Old books lined old bookshelves in remarkable disorder. The tired man made his way to the desk, and I offered my hand to shake. He didn’t take it. He sat down in front of me, and invited me to join him with a deliberate hand motion. He looked at me with an almost concerned expression before opening his mouth.
“Edward Taylor.” He said plainly.
“Yes,” I said “sir?” I added quickly, unsure as to the proper etiquette in such a situation.
“I was not done.” He said. I think I saw a brief glimmer in his eye. “Edward Taylor,” he said “I am the Vice Chancellor of Swanway College. My name is Atle Myars. How has your day been thus far?”
“Fantastic. You have a fantastic school.” I declared terribly awkwardly. “Sir.” I added equally awkwardly. I faintly detected another glimmer. I wondered if he knew that I had no idea what a vice chancellor was.
“Tremendous.” said Mr. Myars. “Tremendous.” I heard the clock tick for several beats. I was very much unsure how to feel, and maintaining eye contact was starting to become testing. “Tell me, Edward, why do you wish to attend my college?”
I suddenly heard a strong ringing in my ear, and my vision went blurry. Why did I want to attend Swanway? Fuck, what was I doing here?
“I…” I bumbled nervously “I want to attend Swanway College because…” then I stopped. I knew exactly why I wanted to attend Swanway.
“Sir,” I said “have you ever had a dream?” I didn’t give him time to reply. “I’ve had a dream for as long as I can remember. I don’t mean the American dream, or any of those other mundanities. I can’t stand the thought of that level of mediocrity.” I paused for breath. For the first time in 2014, I felt a vigorous euphoric rush. “Sir, I want to be remembered. I want my name to be etched deep in the collective consciousness. I want to be indelibly recorded in the annals of history. I want to be remembered.” I felt it in my bones. The future was close that I could almost taste it
“Why?” Asked the tired man. The glimmer in his eyes growing, he seemed a little less tired. Though it could very much have been my own excitement growing.
“Why?” I said, filled with so much passion that I was ready to leap out of my chair. “Because I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t want to be James or John. I don’t want to wear a suit and tie and drive my nice car away from my nice pretty wife to my nice stable job. I don’t want to be buried with my achievements measurable with a dollar amount. And for that to happen, I simply cannot graduate from Pastor’s College. I do not wish to attend Swanway College, I need to.”
I exhaled for what felt like the first time in several minutes.
“Well,” said the vice chancellor, “thank you for the monologue. Is there anything in particular you’d like to be remembered for?” He inquired.
“No, sir.” I admitted. “I don’t care what I’m remember for. I just want to be remembered.” The vice chancellor gave me a tired smile.
“What would you do, Edward, if you did not receive a place at Swanway College?”
“Probably move to the French Alps and live out the rest of my days as a marmot rancher.” I said absentmindedly. I then realised that I seemed to have used up the entirety of my brain’s capacity for intelligence, and I should probably get out of here as soon as possible.
“I was not aware you could ranch marmots.” Said the chancellor pensively. He seemed genuinely interested by the idea. I was preparing an apology for my odd outburst, but my thoughts were cut short by the Mr. Myars. “Do you have any questions for me?” He asked. I was rather confused by this question, as I was under the impression that I was meant to be the interviewee. Fortunately, there was one thing I wanted to clarify.
“Why are there so few students here today?” I asked
“It is very rare for people to join Swanway College for their final year of school.” Said the vice chancellor. “Most parents see Swanway as a journey for their children.”
Well that was a concerning piece of information. I saw visions of Giacci and I as outcasts, and my confidence took a hit.
“Speaking of parents,” he said, interrupting my train of thought “would you like me to speak to yours about the experience that Swanway College provides.”
“Oh, that won’t be necessary.” I answered nonchalantly.
“Are you sure?” He insisted
“Yes.” I answered, probably a little too quickly.
Having apparently gotten the message, he leaned back into his chair and sighed. He scribbled several words onto a sheet of paper with a beautiful fountain pen, and looked at me.
“Well, Edward Taylor,” he said “I’d like to see more of you.” He paused to sigh again. “Can you fetch the boy you were sat next to for me. Please.”
“You may leave.” He said with a hint of a smile. So I did.
I sent Giacci in, and sat down in my earlier spot. For the next quarter hour I heard his intermittent booming laughter through the door. He walked out seeming far more full of energy than I felt. Mr. Myars was behind him, and he seemed envigored too. Giacci was excellent at sharing his vigour. I saw the strength leave Myars as he called out the next name, and he returned to that same tired man who interviewed me.
We navigated the school shaped maze to return to Giacci’s car. I was exhausted, and once we found the visitors parking I almost fell into the Stallion. We rode home to the sound of Bob Seger, Don McLean and Bruce Springsteen. I think I fell asleep.
January 15th was my birthday. I was born at 3AM, and so ever since I was old enough to do so, I would crack open a beer at that time. January 15th 2014 was my 17th birthday, and it was no different. Little Creatures Pale Ale, leftover from a part of 2013 I’d rather forget. As far as beer goes, it was delicious. Not so delicious, though, at three in the morning.
At half past 8 in the morning I heard the repetitive thump of Giacci’s rap songs pull into my driveway. Fuck I thought of course he’s here. I was not a fan of birthday celebrations. In fact, I was not a fan of being at the centre of any kind of celebration. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed parties as much as the next guy, I just disliked the idea of a party for me. The way I saw it, partying was its own sake. Giacci disagreed wholeheartedly.
“Come outside.” Read a text from Giacci. I wondered briefly if he actually thought I couldn’t hear and see him from my bedroom. I decided to indulge him, and stepped outside wearing black short shorts and a white singlet. It was summer, too hot for fashion. I wiggled through the gap in my gate and was terribly pleased to see Giacci without his sports jacket. He stepped out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition. “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West was playing. Giacci was wearing thick framed aviators that he was probably a bit too fat to pull off.
“Yo, I need you to help me carry something.” He said, pointing to the rear end of the Stallion. We walked over, and he pressed the button that activated the boot’s mechanism. Few things struck me as more awfully middle class than a self-opening boot. The back door finally revealed a large piece of what I thought was limestone roughly carved into a very approximate shape.
“Happy birthday! It’s a pineapple!” He said, visually profoundly pleased with himself. It did not look anything like a pineapple. Though after careful observation I was able to deduce that it did look vaguely like a rock. I was now put in the very awkward position of trying to be grateful for a gift that is clearly shit.
“It’s brilliant. I love it!” I said, trying my best to sound overjoyed - though I think I only made it to underjoyed. Giacci didn’t seem to mind
“Where’ll we put it?” He asked. I didn’t really fancy the idea of putting it anywhere. Perhaps a quarry?
“I reckon we should keep it in the Stallion.” I said, putting on a thoughtful expression. “That way, we can always have it with us.” For some utter bullshit that sounded pretty convincing to me. Two birds, one stone: I kept this atrocity out of my house, and Giacci seemed pleased.
“Yeah right, sounds tight.” He said. I noticed that he couldn’t stop admiring his creation.
“So,” I said hesitantly “when did you even make this?”
“I’ve been having classes for a few weeks now. I wanted to learn carving because stone is hard as a motherfucker, and it’s something I know I can be stronger than. Teacher reckons I’ve been getting pretty good.”
“I would have to agree.” I did not agree with the majority of what he’d just said. But stone was probably hard as a motherfucker, so I did agree with that.
Fortunately for me, limestone was not the only thing Giacci had brought. We found ourselves in my basement drinking Bacardi and smoking menthol cigarettes for a great portion of the day. My basement was a very fragmented place. It was decked with a television, my collection of guitars (none of which had known the touch of a human hand for years) and my alcohol cabinet. But the main attraction was a collection of books that lined my walls to such an extent that not an inch of the wall was visible. And yet despite all this, my basement had no chairs. But it did have two chaises longues on which Giacci and I were sprawled on by four in the afternoon. I was profoundly drunk, and several deep thoughts were crossing my mind.
“Do you reckon,” I slurred “I should paint a mural of myself on the ceiling?” That sounded like a fine idea to me, and the vocalisation of it only made it more excellent.
I heard no reply, and looked over to find Giacci passed out on his chaise longue. That, too, looked like a fine idea - so I joined him.
At 9PM, I was awoken by the powerful bass that is characteristic of huge subwoofers. Something that is particularly odd, given that I do not own huge subwoofers. I opened my eyes, and the first thing I realised was that my hands were down my pants. I remedied that, and the next thing I saw was a crowd of people I barely recognised in my basement. Giacci had vanished, and it seemed the dreaded birthday celebrations had begun. I extracted myself from my chaise longue and let out a soft groan. No one seemed to notice. My brain felt as though it had been given a proper beating, so I decided to quest for water. After I’d made my way up the stairs, a group of people I’m convinced I’d never seen before wished me a happy birthday. My garden was swarmed with more people than I thought lived in Perth. They were drinking from red solo cups, strongly reminiscent of an American frat movie. Antoine, a friend of mine who had convinced himself that he was a DJ, had commandeered my gazebo. He’d brought with him his set of speakers and he was playing EDM. Antoine’s mad DJing skills consisted of putting on a spotify playlist, doing a line of blow, and passing out. We were currently at step two of this process. Before I could find water (which, by this point, I was pretty sure I would never find anyway) someone grabbed me by the arm and pulled me violently towards my car port. It was Giacci, he had a bottle of Bacardi duct taped to his right hand, and he looked terrified. I had to start running in order to stay upright.
“Why the..? “ I said, confused and a little drunk.
“Edward liquor hands.” He cut me off, now guiding me towards my gate.
“Yeah, but, why?”
“Because Edward Scissor Hands. y’know. Off that one Depp movie.”
“Yeah, no. I get that. I just… Never mind.” I lacked the patience necessary to obtain constructive information from Giacci. Sometimes, it was best to just leave it. “Why are we running?”
“I fucked up.”
Fucking up was far from unusual for Giacci. Something that was likely a product of his extremely poor decision making, even at the best of times. In order to deal with this, we slipped out of the gate gap and started heading for the river. The Swan River was a monstrous body of water around which Perth had grown. As the name would indicate, it was inhabited by a large number of black swans. Giacci firmly believe that these swans were merciless beasts of burden. I, for one, was not convinced as I was pretty sure I could take a swan.
The river’s foreshore told stories of underage sex and street drinking. I had contributed more than my fair share of those. Giacci and I broke into a playground (which had no fence), and we both sat on the swings overlooking the river. He took a sip of the Bacardi, then I grabbed the top of the bottle and angled some of the liquid into my mouth. We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“What did you do?” I asked, still staring into the open river.
“Just the usual.”
That presumably meant he’d stuck his tongue somewhere it didn’t belong. Typically, this took the form of a woman’s throat, but it could very well be a hot stove. Abiding by our agreement, I left it be. We sat on the swings pondering life. At least, I was, but Giacci found a way to fall asleep again. Through means unknown to me, he managed to remain perched on the black plastic. Given his situation, I concluded that I should free the Bacardi from his grip. I’m fairly certain that I ripped off the entirety of the hair on his wrist, and I somehow managed to push him to the sandy ground in the process. On the other hand, I did successfully obtain a half empty (and now very sticky) bottle of liquor, and Giacci didn’t wake up. So he would probably have seen that as a win for the both of us.
At half past eleven I saw someone walk down the hill to the foreshore and sit in the sand with their feet in the water. Since my Bacardi was running low, and Giacci had yet to return to the land of the living, drunk me thought it would be best to accost them.
“When you smile” she said (because it was, indeed a she) “do you mean it?” she kept her eyes on the river. Her voice sounded like warmth, and I bet her mouth would have tasted the same.
“Hey, ” I said “I’m doing very well thank you. Isn’t that an odd question to ask a riverside stranger?”
“We don’t have time for small talk.” She proclaimed as if it was the greatest truth the world had ever known.
“Why, are you going somewhere?”
“Anywhere but here.” She replied swiftly
Apparently, that wasn’t the answer she was expecting. Because, for the first time, she made eye contact with me. Well, I say eye contact, she was wearing black Ray-bans so it was more akin to lens contact. She wore a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt (the one with the Born In The USA album cover on it) and blue jeans. I thought she must have been terribly hot in those, though she also looked terribly hot - so it was probably worth it. Her chest strained lightly against the fabric of her t-shirt. Red lipstick matched her brown eyes and her long brown hair perfectly. I knew nothing about hairstyles. Since I’d cut my own for as long as I remember. So I could only tell that it was simple and it looked damn fucking good.
“No, seriously, what are you doing down here?” I decided to say, realising that I’d been gawking for a little while.
“Some fucker up the hill’s having a birthday party. I hate big parties. You know, you just look up from your drink and see this swarm of teens. They take another drink, or they fuck someone new. And you can bet they’ll be back at it next week. Just makes you wonder: what’s the fucking point.”
Then she fell over me to rip the Bacardi from my hands. I think I saw her snap a pill from her bag, and wash it down with the rum. She stayed lying on my legs in a position that I couldn’t imagine being comfortable.
“No, not me. I medicate to fight the feeling.” She said, in response to the judgement she imagined coming from me. Though I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any. “Fuck me, you drink this?” She coughed “You should try whiskey.”
“I’ll be sure to.” I said, more as a reflex than anything else.
“I should get back to this shit party.”
She left, not giving me a chance to reply. She didn’t give me a name either, and I thought that was a veritable tragedy.
On the 31st of January 2014, I received a letter. In an unprecedented turn of events, I had learnt from my previous mistake, and started checking my mail every day. Most of the time, that was an exercise in receiving junk (despite my mailbox very politely demanding NO JUNK MAIL), and various letters addressed to the previous owners of the house. Today, it was a very respectful letter containing a very respectfully printed text that respectfully informed me I had been respectfully accepted into Swanway College. So I decided to give Giacci a respectful call.
“Giacci, you fat fuck, get here now.” He moaned, which I assumed meant he would arrive soon.
At midday, Giacci knocked on my side door carrying two bottles of Bacardi and a bottle of Jack Daniels old number 7. There was no coke zero. We drank until the sun went down, and then long into the night. We didn’t talk about anything in particular, but we did occasionally joke about how fucked we were. Whiskey, I thought, ran smooth down my throat. I found in it a warmth I never had in Giacci’s white rum.