Free short stories about Generation End

Archive for the ‘Days Out’ Category

YOU NEED MORE MONEY

you need money

Sometimes I see the earth as this tiny marble occupied by these even tinier dots called people, and all these people are looking up at a giant sun made of money, and they’re all bowing to it, talking about it night and day, thinking about it night and day, and when they’re not talking or thinking about money night and day, they’re talking or thinking about sex night and day: these vast fields of moist, succulent cocks and pussies and bumholes and mouths all fucking each other endlessly – then all these people, these tiny, tiny people on this tiny marble, their minds are so filled with money and fucking, money and fucking, money and fucking, that their brains actually explode from the immensity of it all, and because of this the marble they live on shatters to pieces, but then you know what? The sun made of money keeps on living, imposing its brightness on anything else that stumbles beneath its path.

“I’m tired of being poor, Christie.” This is what I said to Christie.

“Then stop being poor, Dean.” This is what she said back.

“It’s not that easy.”

“Of course it isn’t.”

“Why can’t it be easy?”

“Nothing good comes easily.”

“But is money good?”

“Hmmm.” She put her finger on her chin.

“What would we do if we didn’t have to make money?”

“Travel, I guess.”

“Everyone says they want to ‘travel’ but in the end we’ll get sick of travelling. Plus I think people are secretly afraid of travelling or of change or of anything they can’t complain about.”

“Then what do you think we would do, Dean?”

“We’d kill ourselves from boredom,” I said, trying to sound philosophical and wise.

“Compared to everyone else, are you even that poor? It will never be enough, no matter how much you make.”

“I’ll be fine with thirty-eight billion dollars.”

“Just trust in God.”

“I don’t think God rewards lazy, trusting people that much.”

“You say the prayers but you also have do the work.”

I thought about this guy in the city who asked me for money. He said he needed it for the bus home. I gave him money and watched him walk into a McDonald’s. “I just want to sleep.”

“You spend more than you earn, Dean.”

“I just don’t like being limited by life and all its limitations.”

“You don’t want to be someone who takes but never gives.” Christie looked up from her iPad. She’d just finished ordering a new dress online. “Want to go out for dinner or something?” she asked.

“Where you thinking?”

“That Indonesian place in New Farm?”

Sure. I looked at my bank statement from my phone and frowned.

 

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SOMETHING IN YOUR STOMACH

Someone from work once gave me a moleskin, and for some time I just let it sit at the back of my car.

“If you don’t want to write in it, why don’t you draw something in it?” Christie asked me from her hospital bed.

“Yeah okay,” I complained. “Like drawing is so fucking easy.”

She got mad, so I drew something:

kanye west standing on 3 heads“How much drugs are you on?” she asked me.

“Nothing!” I lied, so I drew something else:
an evil spirit about to give you a handjob

She laughed at this one. Well it was a tiny laugh, but I still considered it a laugh.

Christie was in hospital for something they’d found in her uterus that was causing her to bleed.

“Apparently, there’s a chance I can’t have kids,” she said, her eyes turning a little red. There was a tube in her arm and she looked small in her hospital bed – she hadn’t been properly eating in days. “Will you still be with me if I can’t have kids?”

I looked at her and her family members standing behind her. They were pretending not to be listening to our conversation. “Of course.”

I remember once thinking that if I were to ever be a dad, I had to be a young dad, like a nineteen-year-old dad, or a twenty-one-year-old dad. I didn’t want to be some old dad who couldn’t relate to my kid. But then I grew older and older and I became almost thirty, and then I thought that if I were to have a kid, maybe I should adopt a twenty-one-year-old or something, someone who’s already grown past that shitty rebellious adolescent stage of life and is graduating and has an entry level job at some large and stable company, and is in a stable relationship, and any disturbing vices they may secretly carry would have nothing to do how I treated them when they were five years old, because I wasn’t there when they were five years old. Can I handle a child? Can I hold one, and feed one, and understand one, and love one no matter what? No matter what? I mean, why make one when you can adopt one, right? Can you even adopt a twenty-one year old?

And then I realised that I was actually rambling the above monologue out loud to Christie, and her whole family was watching.

“The hell are you on about, Dean?” her brother asked me.

I continued holding Christie’s hand, and we continued talking about other things, and her family left, and I stayed until the nurse said I had to go. I leant my head against Christie’s chest, and I told her that I wanted to listen to her heart, and I listened to her heart, and then I stood up and said goodnight and I walked all the way home.

 

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HAPPINESS AND ARMPIT PLUCKING

happiness and armpits“You know what I’ve realised?” Vail asked me.

“What?”

“I like the idea of doing charity work more so than actually doing it.” Vail had just finished an afternoon of volunteer work with troubled kids. “It’s a lot of work.” She sighed, sipping on her latte or whatever the hell it was. “It’s so much work.”

“You know what I’ve realised?”

“What?”

“That I have no idea what I want or what’s going on. I mean, I have goals, but…” I began mumbling, trying to figure out what I was trying to say.

She giggled. “I have no idea what you’re saying.”

“I mean, all it takes is one emotional speech to persuade a group of people to completely change what they stand for… I don’t think people really know what they want. It’s like we’re driving cars in vast open spaces, looking for anyone to tell us where to go.”

“I guess that’s the cost of freedom.”

“What do you long for?” I asked Vail.

“I don’t know.” Her phone vibrated and she quickly picked it up. She texted someone, then put it aside. “What do I long for? A cold shower. What do you long for, Dean?”

“Constant sex. Constant reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. Constant wealth. Constant happiness. Like some escape somewhere but I don’t know where. I mean, we can escape to somewhere better, but for how long will it be better for, right? Happiness is always something temporary? I don’t know, I think I need help.”

“Yeah I suppose…” Vail’s mind was back on her phone. She texted someone again, a selfie this time. Eventually: “My mum makes me pluck her armpits.”

“How often?”

“Not too often.”

“Does she pluck your armpits?” I asked her.

“Sometimes.”

“How often?”

“Not too often.”

Vail finished her drink and I did too. We drove to the shopping mall, looked at a few things; I helped her choose a few Christmas presents for her relatives and friends. Afterwards, we smiled and hugged and said bye to each other and walked towards our cars, which were parked in two completely different car parks.

When I arrived home I saw it. It was a tiny creature, about the size of a ruler. It stood on two legs and had the face of a good luck troll. It horrified me, but it only moved once: it turned its head and it smiled at me. I watched it for a while until I went to bed and fell asleep. It was gone the next day.

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Book I’m currently reading: Here I Am.

WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

whatta fuck you gonna do - buy and sell real estate

“It’s my birthday soon and I’m all grown up,” I yelled to Jude over some blues track playing from his car stereo and a freestyle by Eminem streaming loudly from his friend’s phone in the back of the car somewhere. It was about two in the afternoon and Jude was speeding along some road in a suburb in Logan that had digital signs that said things like YOU’RE DRIVING TOO FAST SLOW DOWN while flashing what speed you’re on, but none of this mattered because Jude was trying to catch Pokémon while texting his girlfriend at the same time. I was also trying to catch Pokémon. I hadn’t seen a real vagina in over two weeks.

We ended up in a seminar Jude signed the three of us up on Facebook. It was a free ‘how to make millions in real estate’ seminar in an RSL club’s conference hall somewhere. The speaker, this rather buff looking guy about five years older than I am, asked everyone, “Who here thinks they’re poor?” and about ninety percent of people raised their hands. He asked everyone, “Who here hates their job?” and about ninety percent of people raised their hands again. He then asked, “Who here wished their relationships were better?” and once again most of the room raised their hands. Then, rather accusingly, he glared at everyone in the crowd and screamed, “WELL WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?”

He went up to this oldish looking lady. “How about you, young woman, WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT? WHAT?”

“And you?” He pointed at someone else. “WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?” I glanced at Jude, who was just laughing while trying to catch Pokémon.

“YOU!” The speaker pointed at me. “Mr. Giggles over there!”

I looked around before pointing at myself. “Me?”

“YEAH. WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?”

“About what?”

“ABOUT YOUR LIFE!”

“Work harder?”

“You damn right you’re going to work harder! And what else?”

I glanced at Jude again, who was still snickering while swiping at Pokémon across his screen. “Sell more books?”

“NAH YOU’RE GOING TO SELL REAL ESTATE!”

He directed everyone to the screen that showed a photo of him before he became buff and rich, back when he was skinny and poor. He was a scrawny guy, smiling at the camera from a small kitchen somewhere. “See how poor I was?” he boomed. “This was before I got into real estate.” He changed the slides to show various photos of the present day, buff version of himself. “Now this is me when I got into real estate.” There were photos of him in sports cars, in Europe, in penthouses, with celebrities. He then went on about how he discovered ‘bulletproof systems’ to buy and sell real estate with no money down. He showed countless testimonials from ex students of his who had made hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars worth of real estate deals thanks to this system. But to learn his system fully, he said, you needed to pay four thousand dollars to attend his ‘Weekend Millionaire’s Real Estate Bootcamp.’

By the end of the seminar he’d become so worked up about real estate his face was red and there were sweat marks all over his tight business shirt. “If you remember anything from this seminar, remember this: whenever you complain about your money or your health or your relationships or your jobs, ask yourself, WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT? And you know what you do next? You buy and sell some fucking real estate.”

We left the seminar, confused about life in general. I arrived home early in the morning, and as I lay alone on my bed I felt the loneliness of the world creep up on me. Everything felt incomplete. I needed a hug, a kiss, a blowjob – anything to fill my void. WHATTA FUCK YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT? I texted every girl I knew but most were asleep or now disliked me. I looked at Carol’s name on my contacts list, stared at it for a while and decided to skip it.

Eventually someone replied to one of my messages.

“Hey Dean,” she said.

“How’s life?” I asked her. “You’re up late too!”

“Good. Hahaha I guess we’re both up. How you?”

“Alright lol. Want to watch a movie at my place?”

“I would but I’m sad,” she said.

“Why are you sad?”

She then went on to write to me the longest text I’d seen in my life. She told me about her boyfriend, about how things weren’t going so well, about how he put all of his savings into this real estate deal and about how it all went to shit and now he was going to lose a hundred thousand dollars he didn’t have. She then concluded about how she loved him and that it was all just a test, and that she was going to help him no matter what. She then asked me if I had any advice for her and her boyfriend.

I deleted her message and went to sleep.

 

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Book I’m reading: Dance Dance Dance

8 DINNERS WITH CAROL

Carol - dinner

I knew that things were never going to work out with Carol but I went along with it anyway. I met her at some place I don’t remember and she was drinking some drink I don’t remember.

“We won’t make a good match,” I told her, showing her a photo someone took of us. “We just won’t.”

“You’re right,” she said. “You’re right.” She looked like the sun and I looked like Antarctica.

Carol had small ears and a tattoo of an elf playing the Playstation on her lower back. She looked great with makeup on, but looked like a stranger from space with it off. Carol hated it when people took photos of her, so I took them when she wasn’t prepared, when she was at her most honest and vulnerable. When I look back at her photos, I laugh.

Our first dinner was at Chermside Shopping Centre. Our second dinner was at my place. Our third dinner was at South Bank or something. Our fourth dinner was at her place, and the fifth was at her place again, and the sixth was at the city, and the seventh was in the Valley, and the eighth was at her place again, and I think that was about it. That eighth dinner marked the end of the thing that we had.

HOPES AND FEARS FOR 2016

spaceship ufo - short story

Carol took a sip of her drink. “My only wish is that I find good music this year. I mean the music in two thousand fifteen was great, and like, I really got into Spotify and Pandora and that, but like, I mean, The Weeknd’s album was pretty good, but really, I wanted more, you know? Do you ever get that? Like, you listen to a new album by like, Adele, for example, and you absolutely love it, and you tell all your friends about it, and for a straight month you can’t stop listening to it: at first, there are certain songs you can’t stop listening to, like Adele’s Hello, for example, and then after you’ve listened to it enough times you start getting hooked on other songs in the album, songs you didn’t like initially, like that one on track ten, I think it’s called Love in the Dark, and then you really love it, right? So you listen to that a hundred times in a row like you listened to Hello a hundred times in a row, but then once you’ve ploughed through all of the songs over and over again, one day, you’re listening to Love in the Dark, and all of a sudden you think, ‘Why am I listening to this bullshit?’ and you change to track eleven, then track four, then track eight or whatever and it’s all the same – you can’t stand her voice anymore, you can’t stand anything to do with her and you start to panic a little, because you loved her album and told of your friends to listen to it, right? And now you don’t anymore. So you rush on over to the shops or go online or whatever and look for other albums to satisfy your need for music and none are as good, so what do you do? Why do we even need this much music? Why can’t we just cling to one song and be done with it? And don’t even try and sell me Coldplay’s latest album.”

Carol told me this as we were having whatever at some overly priced café that no one will ever remember in the long run.

“How about you, Dean? How was your two thousand and fifteen? Was it any good?”

“I loved it.”

“I read some of your stuff, it’s really depressing. Have you tried positivity journals before? That’s something I want to do this year. I want to exercise more and be more positive, like have more smiling selfies, you know?” She giggled a little at that, but I wasn’t sure if she was joking. She’s the kind of person who’s dumb and smart at the same time. She leant forward. “Look, I know I’m talking a lot and I know you’re dying to tell me some stories, but I want to tell you a quick story, can I tell you a story?”

“No.”

“Once upon a time there was a space fighter. He had orange hair. He was seventy years old. He wasn’t the best space fighter in the world; in fact he was pretty forgettable. But he was handsome when he was young, and he did enjoy a lot of his life and spent a lot of it eating or whatever with the ones he loved. One day he woke up with a sickening feeling: he couldn’t prove it, but something in the pit of his stomach was telling him that the moon was going to explode. He had to get to the moon, like, ASAP. So he packed up his things, sat in his spaceship and turned on the engine. Just as he was about to leave, however, his best friend the Green Man stopped him for a second. ‘Where are you going?’ the Green Man asked him, and the space fighter said, ‘Ya wouldn’t believe it but, uh, I think the moon is going to explode.’

‘Is that so?’ the Green Man asked curiously. The Green Man had known the space fighter for like, decades or something, and he knew one thing for sure: the space fighter had, like, unbelievable instincts. But then the Green Man was also now incredibly senile. ‘Okay but before you go I want to tell you a story.’

‘What, like right now?’ the space fighter said irritably.

‘My daughter, you know my daughter?’

‘Yeah I know your daughter!’ the space fighter grunted.

‘Even though she’s never met an actual dinosaur, she like, loves them. She loves everything about them. Their shapes, their bones, their history. One day, when you were out on one of your space missions, I didn’t tell you this, but she and her husband conducted a dinosaur symphony, attended by thousands of their fans. The first track was called… Dinosaur One. The second track was called… Dinosaur Two. The third track was called… Dinosaur Three. The fourth track was called… Dinosaur four. As you can see, it kept going like this. One day I asked her and her husband, “Why didn’t you name your pieces? Dinosaur Four sounds like a T-Rex, why didn’t you just call Dinosaur Four T-Rex?” And you know what they did? They shrugged! That’s all they did! They just shrugged at me!’

The space fighter ignored everything about that story and waved his best friend goodbye. He flew to the moon, and he like, stopped it from exploding and stuff, and then he flew back home to hang out with his best friend again.”

Carol and I spent the next hour talking about her friend with herpes before she paid the bill and drove off to a New Year party. She texted me the next morning, HAHAHAing about how her sister lost her wallet and virginity on the same day.

PART 5: THE TRUTH ABOUT CHEATERS

the truth about cheaters

This year has been all about cheating. I cheated, I helped people cheat, my friends cheated, I was even cheated on for a while. Funnily enough, there was a brief period of time when the loads of cheating seemed abnormal – immoral, even – but the more it absorbed me this year the more it seemed like a natural, expected thing to do. It was something you bragged (but kind of pretended to feel guilty) about when you’d meet your friends for coffee.

The number of paths we have the freedom to take in life are virtually infinite. Why do we even consider choosing the paths that hurt those who care about us? Do cheaters ever get punished? Someone has to suffer for our actions, but who, and when?

Hayley had been cheating on her boyfriend for months. It started off innocently: she danced with a guy when she went clubbing with some friends. Then she started kissing guys in clubs, then she started talking dirty with guys over the phone, then she started sending them photos, then she started flirting with colleagues, and then the fucking started and bla bla bla. I even met her boyfriend once. He was a great guy who wore a ring with her name on it. Anyway one day the guilt consumed Hayley and she broke up with her boyfriend for good.

A few weeks after the breakup, Jason told me that he bought flowers and drove to Hayley’s work and told her everything: that he’d loved her all along, that she was his heart. Apparently she cried, and apparently they went to her apartment and kissed.

“That’s great news, man,” I told him, thinking about his girlfriend and a few other things.

He patted me on the back. “And her pussy’s perfect, mate. I thought she’d be loose and shit, but nah, I love it, aye.”

“What about your girlfriend?”

“I’ll have to deal with it.”

“You won’t.”

“Want to know the truth about cheaters, mate?” Jason asked me.

“What?”

“They cheat.”

Jason left to see her again. I lay on his couch, playing with my phone, scrolling up and down my Facebook newsfeed. I clicked on this article an ex-girlfriend of mine shared about this Japanese artist who cooked his penis and served pieces of it to his guests. I wondered who the fuck would want to try his penis before standing up and walking into Jason’s room. I turned on his light and rummaged through his drawers, looking for nothing in particular. I looked at his pillow and considered rubbing my balls all over it, but didn’t. I looked under his bed. I looked at his vision board. I browsed through some of the documents on his desk. I walked to the kitchen and made a sandwich and ate it, thinking about nothing. I still haven’t returned to Brisbane. I’ve stayed here, north, spending my savings and sleeping on Jason’s couch. I’ve been away from Brisbane for so long that I’m afraid to return to it. It’s a tiny, dense fucking ball. I’m not trapped, but I don’t feel free. I’m simply here, and that’s about it.

 

PART 4: HAIRY ARMPITS AND A VISION BOARD

Hayley - short stories

If I gave you the opportunity to escape the life you’re currently in, would you take it? Where would you go? What would you do? How would you make things different?

Being up north was my escape, even though I had no idea what I was escaping from or how I wanted to make things different. All I was doing was wasting my time: I spent hours on the couch in Jason’s house just scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat. I’d open up the file of the new book I was writing, read a few words and then minimise the screen to put on Netflix. I would’ve loved to blame society for making me this way, but really, it was all me.

I woke up to the smell of Jason’s cooking. I opened my eyes and walked over to his kitchen table, where there was bacon and eggs and milk and cereal. Jason’s girlfriend was sitting by the table. His girlfriend didn’t like me much, which was fine because she was easily one of the ugliest old women I’d seen in my entire life. I believed that she was ugly on all levels: she was physically ugly and her personality was well beyond repair. I’d confronted Jason several times about how ugly was, but he’d always reply with the same fucking excuse: “She’s the mother of my child. What the hell can I do? Seriously, what can I do?” She was fifteen years older than Jason.

“Dean!” she screeched, tucking her hands behind her head so I could see her armpits. I stared at her armpits. She’d shaved them, but only parts of them. There was once a brief moment in my life when I adored women with hairy armpits, and even remember trying to force an ex-girlfriend not to shave. She cried, and I apologised with flowers. “Good morning, love, how are you?”

“Good, and yourself?”

“Really good, mate.”

“Good.”

Jason poured some coffee into a mug. “Come join us. I made you breakfast.”

I glanced at his girlfriend, then at the food on the table. “You know what? I’m going to go for a walk outside first to like, get some exercise.”

“You don’t exercise,” Jason said.

“Yeah I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yeah I do, Jason.”

“No you don’t,” Jason insisted. “You told me just last night that you weren’t going to do any exercise while here.”

“Don’t you want to join us?” His girlfriend asked me.

“Not really.”

“Come on, Dean, mate,” she said, pulling a chair for me. “Jason tells me all about you and I’d love to get to know you.”

“Nah it’s okay.” I walked outside and wandered the hell around, letting my mind also wander the hell around. I eventually got bored and sat by Jason’s driveway, scrolling up and down Instagram for an hour until his girlfriend left the house for work. I went back inside the house.

“I left you some bacon,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“I’ll eat again with you.”

“Cool.”

We sat around, eating bacon. Things between Jason and I improved after Hayley took the both of us to the beach.

“Listen,” I told him. “I know I’ve been here for a long time now. You have to let me pay you rent.”

“Nah, mate.”

“I insist.”

“Look, it’s fine. I know we haven’t been getting along that well, but you’re still like my brother. You can stay here for free, but at the same time, you need to get out of here soon. And I’m not just saying this because you’re annoying me, I’m saying this because you need to do something more productive with your life.”

“I know,” was all I could say.

“Have you seen The Secret?” he asked me.

“I’ve heard about it.”

“It’s all about positive thinking. You need more positive thinking.”

“What are you on about? I’m a really positive guy.”

“Fuckin’ liar, I read your blog. It’s so depressing.”

“It’s depressing because you see it as depressing.”

Jason took me to his ‘vision board’, which is where you’re supposed to visualise the goals you want in life. He had a picture of Fiji (where he wanted to go on holiday at the end of the year), a picture of a young man graduating from university (the future he wanted for his son), a picture of a BMW (the car he wanted) and a picture of Hayley, which he kind of brushed over.

“You should have your own vision board,” Jason smiled.

“Nah.”

Jason left for work and I drove to the ‘city’, which was really just two rows of tallish buildings. I walked inside a bookstore and browsed through its books. I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five, read through a few pages, put it down. I picked up Modern Romance by that Aziz comedian guy, read a few pages, put it back down. I did this a few more times, but nothing seemed to click.

I got back into my car, drove to Jason’s house. I looked at his vision board, at Hayley. I touched her photo and couldn’t help but frown. I wondered what or who would be on my vision board. I tried to imagine what I wanted for my future, but all I could think of was this: a ball flying through a galaxy that looked exactly like the galaxy desktop wallpaper on Apple computers. The ball would keep flying through as the stars would spin and explode and diamonds would piss all over the universe.

 

PART 3: KAZAA VIDEOS AND CIGARETTES

Sunrise short story

My friendship with Hayley grew stronger as my friendship with Jason began to fade. It was exactly how it was that year when we both turned sixteen: she’d call me in the middle of the night and we’d tell each other everything. It was love, but it wasn’t the love you’re thinking about.

“What are you doing here?” She asked me over the phone. “Isn’t Jason sick of you yet?”

“I don’t know,” was all I could say.

“I’m staring at the ceiling.”

“I’m not.”

“I’m not sure if my boyfriend is the right one for me.”

“You just told me that he was. Then before that you said he wasn’t. Then before that you said he was.”

She giggled. “I know I know, I’m a walking contradiction.” She remained silent for a while, until finally adding: “He yells sometimes.”

“We all do.”

“I don’t know. Whatever. Hey, you know what? I’m picking you up.”

“It’s three in the morning.”

“Don’t be so old.”

“What do I tell Jason?” I asked her.

“I’m taking with him with us.”

“He and I haven’t really been talking,” I said.

“Why the fuck not?”

“He’s just pissing me off. Just his face. It just fucking pisses me off.”

“Don’t be so old.”

She came over and we both woke Jason up. Jason glared at me, but his face softened when he saw Hayley. We hopped in her car and headed for the beach, and by the time we got there the sun was peering out of a mess of clouds. The wind was strong, and the universe was slowly falling apart. Hayley and Jason ran around the sand, and I stood there and watched the sea and tried to look dramatic about it all.

Although we grew up with each other, Hayley and I only really started talking to each other when we were sixteen. She’d just broken up with Jason, and she called me in the middle of the night and said, “I hate music” and I drove over and we watched porn downloaded from Kazaa and smoked her dad’s cigarettes. We spoke about garbage every day and Jason hated me for that (and I kind of liked that he hated me for that), and she became my best friend until I moved to Brisbane.

I looked outside Hayley’s car window on the way home as Lessons by SOHN blared over her sound system and asked myself: What the hell am I doing here? I thought about Brisbane and the people in it, and I thought about where I was now and the people in it and I was afraid all of a sudden, and I could come up with no answer.

PART 2: HAYLEY

hayley clouds - short story

 

There were plenty of things I thought of while up north: money, girls, boxing, the point of it all, the ups and the ups and the downs and the downs. I spent most of my time and money on driving and music CDs, and it was always sunny, and something about the heat and the beach made everyone tired and tan and different from what I was used to.

Jason seemed to have a lot of friends that he never wanted me to have. Every weekend he’d invite me out to some dinner or some house party he’d either organised or been invited to, and he’d introduce me to all these people and we’d eat and drink and laugh, then afterwards I’d never hear from them again. He’d always tell me about “hot birds” that he wanted to set me up with, and he actually did follow through and introduce me to girls, but whenever I’d get close to any of them he’d stop talking to me or I’d find out he told them that I had a girlfriend, or herpes, or both. He was angry sometimes, and he was happy sometimes, and once in a while, after dinner, he’d tell me stories about a prostitute who used to love dipping his balls in hot and cold water.

One thing that would’ve pissed Jason off the most was if I ended up doing anything with Hayley, which would’ve been impossible for a number of reasons: I wasn’t her type, she had an on-and-off-again boyfriend, she was too tall for me.

“I like your boots,” she said as she entered my car. We said nothing to each other as I drove, and once in a while I’d glance at her legs. We parked and entered a shopping mall; after looking around at bullshit for a good hour or so we entered a café.

A waitress brought us to a table, but Hayley wasn’t happy with where we were seated so she asked for us to be relocated somewhere else. She grinned. “Isn’t this better?”

“It looks the same.”

She ignored me and glanced around. “Wouldn’t it be cool if it was like back in the days, and you could smoke in places like this?”

“Why the hell would it be cool?”

“I don’t know it would just look cool, like that Coffee and Cigarettes movie. You know, like you and me smoking, not smiling… like, talking about serious shit. It’d be in black and white and it would just look hot.”

“How’s your boyfriend?”

She sighed. “How’s anything? I’ve only talked about myself for the past few times we’ve met. Tell me about you.”

“I met a girl who was engaged. It ended badly. I lost my job for the hundredth time. Now I’m here.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“First I have to cancel a contract I put on a townhouse I was going to buy. Next I’m going to either start writing another book or look for another job. Maybe I’ll even start my own business or something.” I thought about what I just said. “I just want to be rich enough to pay for all of my thoughts to go away.”

“You know where I’ve always pictured you?”

“Where?”

“New York. Writing books. Making most of the fact that you’re single with no baggage. No baggage. Don’t you understand how lucky you are?”

“I’m almost thirty and I only have eight thousand dollars in my bank account.”

“That’s a lot of money,” she said, surprised. “That’s more than me.”

“Don’t bullshit me.”

“I’m not bullshitting you.”

“You are. You’re bullshitting me.”

Hayley sipped her latte or whatever the hell it was for a while with an expression that said: I did something fucked up. Should I tell him? Eventually, she decided to speak. “Can you keep a secret?”

“Probably not.”

“I haven’t been the most faithful girlfriend.”

“Is anyone faithful anymore?”

She grinned slightly. “No gross, I haven’t done anything sexual or anything… Well, here’s what happened: I’ve been talking to my ex a lot–”

“No one is supposed to talk to their ex a lot.”

“And this sounds so bad, but we’ve been talking really dirty to each other on the phone.”

“How dirty?”

“Well, for example, like, the other day, we were on the phone, and he told me about how he misses coming all over my face, and I told him how I missed licking it up. And like, he told me this while my boyfriend was right in the other room.”

I thought about the sorts of things I’ve done or encouraged in the past few months. It all seemed relative, but I didn’t say that. Instead I said this: “Dat shit nasty.”

“Remember when we were young?” Was all she could manage to say in the end.

We spoke for a while longer, and I paid the bill. We walked outside the café, outside the glass doors, towards the road and the cars and the heat. “It’s still cold in Brisbane, I think.”

“I see.” Hayley put her sunglasses back on.

I drove Hayley home. I felt both sad and happy whenever I hung out with her. I didn’t want to return to Jason’s place yet, so I randomly drove around until I found a parking lot by a secluded beach spot. I parked and sat in the car, playing with my phone. I texted Anna:

Hey

Go away, she texted back.

Have I ever been in love? I suppose I have, I suppose I haven’t. When I was young I used to equate love with sex, and when I became a little older I only ever fell in love with those who rejected me. I suppose I’ve been in relationships in the past where I’ve said, “I love you,” and they’ve said, “I love you” back. But they never lasted, and after some time everyone simply decided to move on. Can true love ever exist for those who don’t deserve it? As I thought about this, I received several Snapchats from Jude: the first was of his penis, the second was of some girl’s arsehole, the third was of his penis forcing itself into her arsehole, the fourth was of him inserting his penis into her mouth. I took a screen shot of each photo, blocked him from my contact list, sent the photos to a few friends and turned my phone off.