Free short stories about Generation End

Archive for the ‘Jude’ Category

THE PURPOSE OF VAIL

the purpose of Vail

The scene started off like this: Vail and I were on Jude’s balcony, and the sun had been down for a while and Vail, wearing something black, was humming something I didn’t recognise.

“It’s so, so easy to do what’s easy,” she said.

“That’s why it’s called easy.”

Vail said nothing to that. She looked out, at the traffic. I hadn’t seen her in months.

She lit a cigarette and exhaled in silence. She checked her phone, typed something, then glanced up at me. “What’s the difference between love, and fog?”

“There are a lot of differences between love and fog.”

She giggled, shrugged. “Someone sent me text asking me that.”

“And what did they say? What is the difference?”

“The difference is in the spelling,” she said. She looked me up and down and scowled a little. “You seem different,” she said. “You don’t look as angry.”

“I blame Christie for that.”

“All that dreaded contentment. It won’t hurt your writing, will it?”

“I don’t know if I should aim for being a better writer, or being a happier person.”

Vail poured herself another glass of wine. But instead of taking a sip she stole another puff from her cigarette. “Definitely a better writer.”

“You’re a great friend.”

“You know,” she smiled slightly, starting to say something but then stopping – her mind drifted somewhere, to some man or drama maybe. I suddenly remembered a road trip we did once, to the north somewhere.

“Do I know what?”

“The afterlife, eternity… like, even when people talk about afterlife and eternity. It scares me.”

“It scares me too. And Christie tells me a lot about heaven. I mean, what would it be like to live forever?”

Vail exhaled smoke from her nostrils as she killed her cigarette for good. She texted someone something and then put down her phone, leaning it against the bowl of coins in the middle of Jude’s table. “You know it’s not good when the only two people in a room are scared.”

“Good, because we’re on a balcony.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I never know what you mean.”

She slapped my shoulder. “One person always has to be the brave one. Shouldn’t you be the brave one? You’re like, the only man on this balcony. You need to protect us.”

“That’s sexist.”

I watched her phone glow, then vibrate, then topple off the edge of the bowl. She picked it up, glanced at it, muttered “Instagram,” then put it back down. “You see my post about Mick? It got three hundred likes for some reason. It wasn’t even that funny. My other posts were funnier.”

“I’m brave, but not all the time.”

“You need to be brave all the time.”

“No one is brave all the time.”

I loved and despised Vail. She’s the type who would ditch her friends for her man. She’s the type who wouldn’t speak to you for months, but would drive fifteen hours for you if it was truly urgent. I watched the view from Jude’s balcony for a moment before picking up an iPad from the chair between us and playing some folk song on Spotify that sounded like it had a point about something.

Vail poured some more wine into my glass. “Somewhere along the line I’ve forgotten who I was supposed to be. Did I ever know who I was supposed to be? I’m sure I did know who I was supposed to be, at some point in time. Maybe I was six years old. Maybe I was twenty years old. But I’m sure it was there, somewhere. I mean, there are so many things wrong in the world, and here I am, like, looking out of a balcony.”

I watched the skyline, imagining God speaking to a six-year-old Vail, telling her who she was supposed to be.

 

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Book I’m reading: Saga

JUDE’S GIRLFRIEND

hall room glitter

“My girlfriend has a gut,” Jude told me in the car, “and the idiot, she doesn’t realise it. She keeps drinking, she keeps eating crap and putting photos of what she eats on Instagram. But she sleeps without her top on, so lately I’ve been videotaping her stomach as she sleeps, her gut just getting bigger and shrinking, getting bigger and shrinking. It’s gross.”

“Maybe she’s just pregnant,” I said.

“She’s not pregnant. She’s just fat.”

“Tell her this. Tell her you’re concerned.”

“Nah,” he said waving his hand dismissively.

We parked the car and sat down and ordered our food. Jude sighed. “I hate my girlfriend.”

“Why?”

“I just hate her.” He checked his phone and scrolled up and down his Instagram feed, not really observing any of the images he was double tapping, not really reading any of the captions. “She just pisses me off.”

“Then break up with her.”

“Nah. Not until I send her the video.”

“Of her stomach?”

“Of course,” he said as he continued to mechanically scroll up and down his phone. “It’s going to be a collage of videos, of forty days of me filming that disgusting gut of hers. And she’s going to notice how it gets bigger and bigger after these forty days. And maybe she’s going to finally stop stuffing her face in.” He furrowed his brows. “Man I hate her.”

“How else have you been?”

“Fine.” The food arrived and he took a photo of it and sent it to me on Snapchat.

“I can see the food in front of me. You don’t need to send it to me on Snapchat.”

“The other day, on my birthday, she decorated a hall, this basketball hall I used to play in as a kid, and she filled it with flowers and photos. You’d think the fatty was obsessed with me,” he smirked, thinking about the awful birthday memory of his. “She put a table in there, right in the middle of the hall, and she hired a butler to serve us food that she spent the entire morning cooking. And the food, this will piss you off – she tracked down my mum and found out my favourite recipes as a kid, so she cooked that. But I loved shit food as a kid – it was all carbs, and I just kept thinking about how big her stomach would get if she kept eating and eating all those carbs she cooked. And then she hired this old school projector. You know the ones you have to put actual slides in? Right there, on the wall of the other end of the hall, she presented not just our favourite memories together, but my most favourite memories in life.” He shook his head disgustedly, as if he was talking about a crime he never wanted to take part in. “Then I realised why she’d been so busy that past week. And then I also realised she spent so much time doing this instead of giving me my stress handjobs. You know how desperately needed those handjobs? But you wait. You wait when I make a projector presentation or how big her stomach is getting.”

“She sounds like a horrible girlfriend. I feel so sorry for you.”

“I’ll get her,” he said, putting his phone down. He looked up at the ceiling for a second, thought about something, smiled a little and then continued eating.

 

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LICKING FOR FIFTY THOUSAND

licking for fifty thousand

We ended up hanging out with this woman who cut my hair in South Bank once. She was this loud ball of fire who loved to talk about sex and dildos a lot, and that night, in the back of an Uber, she described her dildo collection like a guy would describe his sword collection: she had this proud, dazed smile on her face as she described the length of each dildo, the girth of each dildo, the texture of each dildo, the functionality of each dildo, the occasions she purchased each dildo. I pictured confetti gently trickling down her face as she said this, sparkles of starlight flashing in and out of the background. She was drunk and Jude was drunk but I was sober and completely over everything in the entire universe.

“What is a dildo, really, if you think about it?” Jude asked the Uber.

“That’s deep,” she said, “that’s really fucking deep.”

“You know the dildo was invented by a Spanish bullfighter named Ronaldildo,” I said.

We went to Hot Gossip and for a good three minutes I pretended to act like I knew what I was doing on the dance floor. I ducked out and sat somewhere, scrolling up and down my phone, trying to appear as though there was a purpose to my scrolling.

“What’s wrong?” the woman ran over, taking my phone away from me. She was sweaty. “You’re so boring, Dean. Why don’t you grab a pussy?”

“What?”

“Just be a Trump and grab a fucking pussy!”

We stayed around before heading out to have some pancakes, and bla bla bla we ended up at her place.

“You know what’s wrong with people?” The woman asked.

“What?” Jude asked back.

“Like they should just leave celebrities alone. Justin Bieber works harder than you, has more money than you, is better looking than you. Why make fun of him for? I mean, you’d totally lick his hole for fifty thousand, right?”

“That’s deep,” Jude said, “that’s really fucking deep.”

Jude told her to take off her top, so in response she took all of her clothes off. She had freckles around her chest. She tried to suck her stomach in to hide her pear shape before giving up and cackling loudly. We all laughed with her and took turns slapping her stomach. Jude took off his pants and I watched them go at it for a while, taking photos at random times. Sometimes, on Instagram, I see good looking couples share photos of themselves in beaches, having fun, smiling, laughing, and as I looked at the scene in front of me I wondered: is this what’s in store for those of us without the looks, or the money, or the six packs? Are we doomed to this fucked up depravity?

The woman sat down next to me when it was all over. “I caught this Uber once, and I complained to this Uber driver about my day, and I asked him, ‘What do you do to feel better?’ He said, ‘My life is tough, so I sleep.’ I asked him, ‘Why is your life tough?’ And he told me his family is still in Afghanistan, and he’s worried that they can get bombed any day. I didn’t know what to say, but when I got home, I had some red and I cried, then I put Neighbors 2 on and rubbed myself dry for the entire movie. I’ll tell you what, I really wanted to suck a dick that night.”

“That’s deep,” I said, “that’s really fucking deep.”

 

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Book I’m reading: Mastery

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

ANNA’S PHOTO AND JUDE’S FIRST GIRL

Annas photo short story

Anna jumped in my car and we went for a drive and we parked somewhere and she went wild on me and everything seemed okay. Her mobile phone background, which used to have an image of her fiancé, had been replaced by a giant photo of a polar bear. Photos of him had vanished from her social media pages. But I was suspicious of these things, and I was sure there was a truth that neither of us had time to mention. As she sat on me in the driver’s seat she took a photo of the both of us, and as she sank lower I took her phone from her hand and recorded a video.

I drove her to work, and she kissed my cheek and said goodbye.

“Are either of us happy?” I asked her.

“Why wouldn’t we be?”

As I watched her walk off I suddenly wished for something pure.

In the meantime, I spent my other hours boxing, working, writing a novel or visiting Jude or Vail. We went to a wedding one evening, and Jude, drunk, told us both about his first girl. He was twelve years old, and the girl was a twenty-year-old “neighbour or something” of his, and she’d always come over with McDonald’s for him. They’d watch movies together, and she’d always find a way to turn their conversations into something sexual. One day, as she stroked on the straw of her cup of Coke, she asked him if she could look at him completely. Everything after that went quickly, and after a week or so of rather dark experimentation with her he told his father everything and he never saw her again. “I kept her panties, but,” he said as Vail gave me a strange look.

 

 

INSTAGRAM

Instagram - short story

The sun wasn’t rising and it wasn’t setting, either – it was about three in the afternoon and time was what it was. Jude was smoking and Vail was typing something on her phone. “We’ve changed, but we really haven’t, if you think about it,” Jude said. “Want to go to Alfred & Constance?” Vail asked without looking up from her phone. I wondered what the both of them would be like thirty years from now. Uglier, obviously, but I wondered what kind of things they’d say. Would they both still be single? We drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we didn’t end up going to Alfred & Constance but instead went to this hipster-looking café in Newstead or New Farm or something, and I ordered something with salmon and Vail ordered something with a lot of prosciutto and Jude ordered something I don’t remember. Vail took a photo of everything we ordered and put it on Instagram and made us like the photo. Vail then took a selfie on Snapchat and sent it to her friends. Afterwards, she took a series of photos and uploaded them all to her Facebook. Jude picked up a piece of prosciutto and pegged it at Vail’s face. She swore at him and began to cry. Jude didn’t apologise, so she ran to the toilet. I walked after her and spent the next half hour listening to her complain about Jude and about her work and about the world in general. We walked back, and Jude looked bored and drunk. We drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we ended up in West End, at this dance hall, dancing slowly to strange music. When the novelty of it all evaporated we drove, and we drove, and we drove, and we ended up at Jude’s apartment. He played a track by Drake (Buried Alive Interlude) on his expensive looking sound system, and he brought out drinks and just like before, Vail Instragrammed, Facebooked and Snapchatted various photos and videos of the drinks. We drank, and at some point I walked out to the balcony. This whole scene, this whole experience, this moment: the drinking and the laughing and the gossip and the voicing of opinions and the photos – they were good things, but they were things that had happened before, and they would probably be things that would happen again, and again, and again. I was lucky, and I wouldn’t trade my life in to be in a war-torn country or anything like that, but I was still bored of it all. I looked out at the view. My eyes were taking it all in but my mind was elsewhere. Vail joined me, and I said something witty to her and she giggled. I missed looking at her naked. She mumbled something before checking her phone, and Jude yelled for us to see something inside, and she yelled, “Okay,” and she walked back inside. I stayed outside for a while longer.

 

LOVE AND MONEY

hostesses - short story“Have you ever thought about God?” The pretty hostess asked me.

I was with Jude and this guy named Alfred or something, and we were in a private room with four or five or so hostesses. They were all pretty, and they made love seem so easy and so accessible for men like me. All you need for them to love you back is to talk to them. And to buy them drinks. And to give them all of your money.

“I think you need more drinks,” the tall one said, glancing at the manager, who was watching over the whole thing.

“Sure,” Jude said. I smiled. My plan was for Jude to pay for everything.

The shorter hostess, the one with the tiny skirt who kept asking me questions, took a shot of this blue coloured drink that Jude ordered for everyone before placing her arms over my shoulders and sitting on me again. She grinded and giggled and I could smell her. She had some glitter on her flustered cheeks, and she leant forward, and she asked me: “Is anything possible? Can we fly if we truly wished it? Can we create planets all on our own?” And I looked at something at the other side of the room and mumbled something I no longer remember.

When the madness was all over the manager handed us a bill for eight thousand dollars. We argued with her until she called in four guys. They were big guys, angry looking guys. Jude looked at them before sighing and passing them his credit card.

We walked outside and the shorter one ran after us.

“Take me with you!” she yelled.

“You’re too expensive!” I yelled back.

She frowned and gave me the finger. I wanted her, though, as terrible as it was. She looked incredible. Do women know that? That they can permanently ruin a man by simply existing?

We got the hell out of there and wondered towards the lights, talking about everything that happened. Eventually Alfred left, and Jude and I caught a cab back together to his place.

“Well, that was shit.”

I nodded, realising that the short hostess left a strong, sour smell on my jeans. “I’ll help pay you back.”

“No you won’t.”

“Well I might.”

We walked inside his apartment and crumpled down on his couch. “That was a huge waste of time and money.” He checked his phone, sighed, texted something, placed his phone back into his pocket. He stretched backwards and yawned. “Imagine if we could escape whenever we wanted to.”

“Escape what?”

Jude looked around his apartment. “This. Life. Our choices.”

“If you wanted to, you probably could. You have the money.”

“Money isn’t the solution to everything.”

“Yes it is.”

“But I guess there’s no fun in running away. All you’ll feel is a rush, but that’s it. Because you’ll make the same stupid mistakes all over again if you don’t learn to face the problems you currently have.”

“Well aren’t you an inspirational bastard.”

Jude lit a cigarette. “The girls tonight reminded me of Ariel.”

“Ariel is dead.”

He scratched his arm. “I know, Dean.”

I stood up and turned on his TV.

 

JUDE RETURNS FROM AFRICA

The sun - Jude returns from AfricaJude returned from Africa on Wednesday. Nothing about him seemed that different, except that maybe he’d lost a little weight and his eye bags were deeper; he tried to hide some of it with foundation.

“I saw a video online of twins making out,” Jude said after putting his drink down. “Like actual, biological twins. I mean the idea is hot and shit, but seeing it in reality almost killed my boner.”

“How was Africa?” I asked him.

“Good,” he said. “How’s your life?”

“Okay,” I said. “I mean, it’s–”

“I spent fourteen hours just wanking yesterday,” he said, pumping his fist up and down. “And I didn’t go once. I’m so bored.”

“I wish I had fourteen hours to jerk off.”

“Of course you have fourteen hours.” He pointed at my eyes. “Look at your eye bags. You’re still not sleeping, are you?”

“At least I’m not trying to hide mine with makeup.”

“I spent fuckin’ hours trying to hide my eye bags.” He looked irritated. “You’re just bullshitting me, right?”

“I can see all the foundation on your face. It’s thick and disgusting.”

“Fuck you.”

I returned his BMW keys to him after we had a few more drinks. “Thanks for lending me your car all this time.”

“You better have cleaned it,” he said.

I said nothing.

We drove to Sunnybank, had some ramen in silence, then drove to the city. I spent an hour watching Jude approach random women to ask them if they’d hook up with him for a hundred bucks. Eventually, a girl said yes. She was maybe nineteen years old. One side of her head was shaved and she had the words, “FRIENDZ! FAMILY! FUN!” tattooed on her right bicep. Her teeth were a little crooked and she had a tiny belly and she had an annoying way of saying how “redundant” everything was. But she looked like someone who still cared about things, like maybe books or podcasts or something.

We went back to Jude’s BMW and parked at Kangaroo Point, at this place that overlooked the river. I sat in the driver’s seat, playing with my phone as they sat in the back, kissing each other and mumbling things. Eventually, Jude told me to turn around and start filming them with his phone.

“Are you zooming in on my cock?” he hissed. “Make sure to zoom in on my cock.”

She strangled him for a while, and then he strangled her, and then she strangled him again. They both looked like they were going to die each time. At the end of it all he slapped her, and then she thanked him and slapped him, hard, across the face. Afterwards Jude went out for a smoke, and the girl and I sat in silence for a moment, just watching Jude, cigarette in one hand, iPhone in the other.

“Sorry, but are you a vegan?” She asked me.

“No, why?”

“Just asking. My friend’s a vegan, that’s all.”

“You know what year I’d like to be in again?” I asked her.

“Two thousand and five?”

I turned around and faced her, surprised. “How did you guess that?”

She shrugged. “You just seem like that kind of guy.”

“Like that kind of guy?”

“I don’t like answering multiple questions in a row. It just seems, like, redundant.”

“This car smells now. You guys fucked up the smell.”

She then told me about the movie Her, about how it has some of the best quotes in a movie she’d heard in a long time. She told me that one of her favourite quotes had something to do with the fact that we have short lives, and it’ll be unfortunate if we denied ourselves a little joy. Then she told me about her mum, how she used to do ballet even if she had fat legs.

Jude returned and gave her eighty dollars and we dropped her off to a bus stop and drove, drove, drove. We parked in front of my place and we spoke and laughed about a lot of things, and as seven in the morning approached he told me that he had to go and have morning coffee with his father.

 

***

 

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JUDE GOES TO AFRICA

Jude goes to Africa

While everything else with Ariel was going on a lot was also going on with Jude, who, as the days went by, became more and more of a prick.

“You know sometimes I wish I was someone else,” he said while driving us to some party in the west. “But then sometimes I don’t. Shit, I don’t know.” He pulled something out of his glove compartment and threw it on my lap.

I looked it over. It was a book by Paul Theroux. “Dark Star Safari?”

“I’m going to Africa. I want to fuck girls in Africa.”

I flicked through the book before putting it down. “What the hell are you going to do in Africa?”

“I just told you.”

After going on a bit more about Africa and why he had to go there Jude began telling me stories about his life, about a new girl named Megan, about a paintball session over the weekend that I “totally should’ve went to,” about this poor looking but probably extremely rich German guy he met in Eagle Street. He couldn’t tell whether the German guy was joking or not when he said that he believed in UFOs and aliens: apparently he saw a small UFO about the size of his bed in his backyard last year – it just hovered there for a good ten minutes before flying off forever. As Jude kept talking about UFOs and whatever the hell else he was talking about I began thinking about other things, things I don’t really remember or cared much about until I received a message from Ariel asking me how my day was. She said that she wanted to take things “a tiny bit more seriously” with me and stop having her drinks with other men. She didn’t mind if she’d lose a whole lot of money from it, she just wanted to spend more time with me. I looked out of the window and asked Jude something about the German guy and he said, “I don’t know, I think, like, Korea or some shit.”

We arrived at the party. I’d been drinking almost every other night with Ariel and was kind of over the whole thing but I ended up drinking anyway. It wasn’t that much of a party: I was in the wrong crowd; no one laughed at my jokes and nothing clicked. Everything looked expensive. After about an hour or so of mindless drinking I walked around, irritated for some reason, and found Jude sitting against a wall, red-faced and slouched, ignoring a girl who was laughing and trying to pull him up.

“Why are we even here?” I asked him. “We barely know anyone. Let’s go.”

“I’m going to Africa!”

“What, like right now?”

“Why not right now?”

“It’s midnight.”

“He’s drunk,” I told the girl.

“I’m not fucking drunk,” Jude said from his spot on the wall. “I’m going to Africa.”

I left the two of them and took a bottle of some kind of beer and walked outside of the party, to the front lawn, at a spot behind a tree. I leant there, just drinking the beer for as long as humanly possible…

Jude was a wreck by the time I headed back inside. He was stumbling around, yelling at girls to shut up and listen to his story about the German guy he met at Eagle Street. “UFOs are real, UFOs are real, you bitch! I’m going to Africa.”

“Let’s go,” I told Jude.

“Fuck off.”

I shrugged and walked off, found some finger food and discretely downed three shots of Black Label. I came back to Jude, who was dancing by himself to no music.

“Let’s go,” I told him again.

Instead of replying, Jude punched my chest and laughed. It was a stupid, cowardly punch. But it hurt.

“You cunt,” I winced. I took a swing at him and missed. He laughed some more, so I grabbed him by the throat and pulled him down to the ground and began strangling the hell out of him. A girl screamed and we were quickly pulled apart.

Jude kept laughing. He pulled away from a guy who was holding him back and walked to me, breathless, his keys in his hand. “Want to go now?”

“Yeah, alright.”

The drive was a long one: Jude was drunk and rambling; I feared for my life about a thousand times in a row. After a while I realised that he wasn’t driving me home – he was driving to the airport.

“Listen, Dean. You keep my car while I’m gone.”

Jude wasn’t joking. He was actually going to Africa – he’d bought a ticket and everything. We arrived at the international airport and parked. The sun was rising and everything was damp. We exited Jude’s car; he opened the boot and pulled out his luggage. We stumbled to the terminal in silence, and once in a while Jude would giggle and mutter something I didn’t understand.

I watched Jude check in before we both headed to a table in front of Red Rooster and sat there, looking at each other for a while, not saying anything.

“Why are you going to Africa?”

“Why not?”

I played around with my iPhone for no reason whatsoever. I looked back at Jude. “I’ve nearly finished my book.”

“No one cares.”

“I do,” I said.

“If you don’t make any money out of it, I’m going to kill you.”

“You punch like shit, you know that?”

Jude pressed his fingers into his forehead and, eyes closed, moved them up and down, up and down. “I wonder if there ever was a time when I was innocent.”

“I don’t think there was.”

“There must’ve been. It’s just that… I was a really good little kid. I don’t know why, but somewhere along the line I became an enormous dick. I’m bored. I’m lonely. I don’t fit in much anymore.”

I crossed my arms on the table and sleepily hid my head behind them for a while. “When you’re here, I get to be the more behaved one out of the both of us, but if you leave, like…”

“I saw this girl the other day,” Jude said. “She was wearing these really short shorts and a loose, short shirt. She almost looked naked. What killed me was that she had a great body, great legs, a cute face, the nicest fucking hair. She looked like walking sex, and I thought about how she could get any man she wanted. Even guys in any kind of committed relationship would consider cheating if she smiled and touched their arms.” Jude paused, texted someone on his iPhone before concluding with this: “I want to fuck her, every single day, until her brain just explodes.”

That was the last real thing Jude told me. We both stood up and he gave me his keys. I didn’t ask him where in Africa he was going, if he was meeting anyone, if he’d be there long. I just assumed that he’d call me a week later, asking me to pick him up. We did a brief hug and I watched him take the escalator down into immigration.

The drive home was a boring blur. The sun was out; it was hot for winter; everything was littered with traffic and red lights; The National kept playing from the CD player. I parked in front of one of the cafés Ariel and I usually go to after drinking. I looked at it for a while before driving home to take some Hypnodorm and fall asleep.

PART TWO.

Laser Eye Loneliness - part 2 - generationend.com

Time is something you don’t necessarily have to hold on to. I don’t know why, but that evening, last year, when you walked out of the third party we’d been to that week with your stupid friends who didn’t understand us – who didn’t understand me – I couldn’t help but feel hollow – is hollow a feeling? I know I’ve met hurt and anger and happy and glad and all of those others guys before – but hollow? Where does hollow belong? As soon as you left, as soon as the ‘hollow’ came my pleasure in being social and any reason for me to smile and nod and make new friends vanished for good. I stood there in the lonely dark corner of the party and I looked around and I leant on a wall and I fumbled with nothing in my pocket and I thought of excuses to leave and I thought of time; the time it took to call someone, the time it took for a war to end, the time it took for a car to start, the time it took for an evening to rest and an evening to start and for us to die and for us to live all over again. But I stayed, and I stayed, and I stayed, and people came and went and I drank and eventually forgot about you and actually had a good time. As two in the morning came along and as this guy I met some time ago slung against my shoulder and told me how drunk he was I looked out of the balcony of the house on the hill we were in, past the passed out couple on the lawn and past the fences and into the complete black canvas outside. When had it become so completely dark? Were vampires real? Would I be awake in time for breakfast? What am I happy about? What am I sad about?

The second day after my PRK laser eye surgery wasn’t much better. It still hurt whenever I opened my eyes, which was annoying because I missed writing. I wasn’t allowed to participate in any sort of physical activity and everyone was either at work or out having fun. I spent most of the day taking pills, putting on eye drops and listening to the TV shows on my laptop.

Jude came by later in the evening. “You smell,” was all he said about me before telling me about his life: he spent the weekend at some hotel room with his new girlfriend and a bunch of other friends, and the week before that he worked a lot, and he drank a lot, and he smoked a lot, and he went to the gym a lot, and he also tried this new place in the Valley that apparently had lots of alright not-too-slutty looking girls.

“I hate not being able to do anything,” I told him.

“You should be lucky,” he said. “You know how many people are looking for excuses to do nothing? Doing nothing is fantastic. It’s what we all work hard for: to do nothing when we’re old and irrelevant.”

“Your wisdom never ceases to impress me.”

“I want you to try something.” Jude put something in my hand. “At the Coast, right, we rolled up old weed and crushed Panadol and tea leaves and smoked it up.”

“I’m not trying this.”

“Try it.”

I played with it with my fingers. “Have you tried it yet?”

“Of course,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

We went outside and I lit it and tried it and nearly vomited. Jude laughed and said he’d never tried it before. I tried to punch him but missed, causing him to laugh even more. He took it off me and finished it off, coughing hard and saying how terrible it was each time he took a puff.

“How’s your book going?” He asked me.

“Slowly.” I sighed. “Even when I wasn’t blind. I want people to learn from it, I want people to read it and see the world differently afterwards, you know? To make changes. But I feel like I have nothing much to teach.”

“Listen,” Jude said, “as your really good friend, just write whatever the hell as quickly as possible and put it out there and sell it. Even outsource a writer from Philippines or Mumbai or South Africa or some bullshit to finish it for you – did you know that you can do that? That you can outsource your shit? I know you want to be artistic and pure and shit, but you can’t. You can’t do that. Your fucking Generation End blog or whatever, I mean, you’re getting all these readers but you don’t even have ads. How stupid can you be? You blew ninety percent of your savings to make yourself blind, you’re paying all these bills, and you go out and you party and you’re wasting it all away to the point where one day you’ll tell me that you’re homeless… you’re a man, Dean, a man, not a loser – men don’t do this to themselves. I’ve seen you be poor for the entire time I’ve known you and you’re going nowhere. Vail and I are moving higher in this world and you’re in exactly the same state as when we met you. Just finish it; who cares about the quality? You’ve written manuscripts before, right? I mean, where are they now? How have they helped you improve your life? You’re taking way too long. You’re single and you live alone and you’re jobless. Like, at least get a job or something, because your situation is just depressing, and no one is telling you this, but they pity you. I pity you. Get a job. Do something to make you money. This writing is getting you nowhere.”

I don’t know if you’ve ever cried one night after receiving laser eye surgery before, but it’s painful. I squeezed my fingers against my palms. I wanted to say something but I couldn’t. Nothing would come out. I couldn’t explain why I needed to do what I needed to do; I couldn’t even explain it to myself. We both said nothing.

“I’m thinking of running away,” Jude eventually muttered.

“What do you mean, run away? You don’t live with your dad anymore. You just gave me a huge lecture.”

“I mean from Brisbane. From this place. From my commitments. I want to see different things. I want to have sex with an African girl – in Africa. I don’t know. I’m bored.”

“Do it,” I said. I would’ve been glad to see him go.

“I mean it, Dean.”

“Why?”

Jude shrugged. “I have a few hundred thousand dollars saved in one of my accounts, just getting shit all interest. I might as well spend it on changing my life.” My eyes were closed but I knew he was thinking hard. Eventually, he stood up. He patted my shoulder and said, “I’ll visit you again,” just like Vail did. He made me a glass of water before saying that he had to go now because he had to meet his girlfriend for coffee at Milton and then perhaps have anal sex with her at her parents’ place afterwards if she wasn’t feeling so damn up herself.