Short story by Michael Botur
We’re on the bourbons out on the rivermouth having a maaass piss-up. It’s a Saturday night Cigarette Party and me and my best bud Benny Kalynchuk are selling cigs for ten bucks a pack and bro: you wouldn’t belieeeve the stacks we’re making. It’s black and cold and windy as fuck but who gives a shit. A piss-up’s a piss-up. The yellow flames of our bonfire stretch like spikes reaching out to spear the people from school that’ve showed up, each of them with a little rolled-up fifty in their hand and a hoodie with a decent pouch to hold their smokes.
I try to wrap my arm around Benny so we can chant that song we made up about the rammy we done last month to get the cigs but he grabs my wrist and flips me into the sand and kneels on my chest. Fuck Benny’s schizo sometimes. He has his sunglasses on, as if that’s gonna stop people from knowing he’s tweaking. We got 358 packs of ciggies when we crashed into that Mobil – fuck it was a blast counting those bad boys – but since half our stock’s gone already it’s time we raided another gassie. I’m tryina tell the bro I wanna do more projects with him cause he’s a natural but he’s wayyy agitated. Benny gets distracted as he spots Ogre pulling up so he gets off my chest and strides away, barging through a group of people like he’s so high he doesn’t even spot them. I want to yell at Benny to keep a lid on things cause he’s a wanted man, not to piss off anyone that’ll squeal and tell the cops where he is, but Benny’s already away, picking up a flaming stick. He’ll be lucky if the Armed Offenders Squad hasn’t got him by the morning.
First thing I see as I get up and dust the sand off is little Cathy Kalynchuk, with her hair pulled back in pigtails so tight they make her skull and eyes poke out. She’s a pixie, little Cathy is, darting in the dark behind the flames, pretending to gasbag with her girls but really she can’t stop staring at me. I’m the most average-size dude you’ll ever meet, heaps of people have given me hidings over the years, but I guess from Cathy’s perspective I’m like a big deal or something. It was when she was 11 and I was 15 that the glances started, the secret smirk, the pink cheeks, the way she’d suddenly slam her bedroom door as you walked though Mrs Kalynchuk’s house then she’d open it straight away and bury her face under her eyelashes if I looked back.
I shoot a quick voddy into my throat and we trudge through the dunes into the maze of pine trees. The beats and treble and vocals fall away and the firelight fades then we stand amongst the tall cold columns, shiny wet wood. Little bits of bonfire dance in her eyes. First she nips my neck, then nibbles, then I’m scoffing her face, eating the skin off her chin. We can’t keep our lips off each other’s flesh for more than a second. We’ve been on mute for years and suddenly the volume’s cranked up. We pour into a bed of pine needles. I wriggle into her and she shakes and bites her knuckle. There’s wayyy more pashing than any other chick I’ve rooted. Afterwards I roll over and pretend to sleep. I’m so drunk, I want to cry. I’m a fucking idiot. She rubs my back and I tell her she’d better go and hang with her brother. Keep an eye out for cops with cuffs.
When I wake up, embers are hissing in the grey rain and there’s only a couple of emo losers left. They tell me I missed some maaaassive drama ’round sunup. The cops came out all this way and Benny knocked out this massive black cunt then they tazed him in the ocean. I shoulda seen it.
That’s big news, that’s serious shit, no doubt, but way more serious is where the fuck is Cathy? Cause we didn’t use protection and she could be telling anyone right now, and you’d think my luck’s amazing and I haven’t had handcuffs put on me, but if you look at the thing with Cathy, I’m cuffed as fuck.
Mrs Kalynchuk smokes so much that she’s crazy-thin, like with zero tits and yellow fingers, and I’ve never seen her eat, but she makes this epic lasagne that – no shit – has actual pumpkin literally in it, like the world’s grossest vegetable somehow converted into deliciousness. Ever since I was started school, Mrs Kalynchuk’s been like a second Mum, just chilling at the dinner table smoking, enjoying the fact that there’s a male enjoying her cooking. That part’s good, I can eat lasagne and bring some balls to the table, but when the lasagne runs out, it’s Mrs Kalynchuk and Benny’s little sister at the table and they’re both studying me as I scoff my cheesy pumpkin and glug my milk and once the pan’s had all the cheese scraped out, we have to talk about how come Benny’s locked up and I’m on bail.
Yeah: the 5-0 got me when I got home. They were just sitting at the table waiting for me. No cuffs. It was kind of an insult.
I keep saying how sorry I am Benny caught a lag and not me but Benny’s Mum keeps trying to make out like it’s all good, busting out these little philosophies like “I guess it’s karma for the dharma” and other hippie shit she picked up back in the Seventies when she moved a lot of acid from India.
Cathy doesn’t say anything at the table. She speaks with her body. She listens with her eyes. I feel her toes on my ankles. We wash the dishes together and she thanks me with a peck on the cheek. Soon as her Mum’s got Antiques Roadshow on the TV and her Southern Comfort and cigs, Cathy tugs me into the laundry and we go at it, humping on the floor, no time for condoms, afraid to miss a single second. Our mouths are pulled together with elastic. We can only separate our tongues for a second before they’re slurping and wrestling again. Cathy sends electric shocks through my blood. The washing machine shudders and spins at 100 miles an hour and I throw my head back as the floodgates open and chemicals smash through me. Cathy sniggers a little. She’s so much tinier and weaker, but she’s controlling my body like a puppet.
The biggest thing in my life right now is supposed to be court. Just cause I didn’t get cuffed at the same time as Benny, doesn’t mean I’m not in trouble. My Legal Aid’s tellin me I’m lookin at six months jail or some biiig, big hours of community service, but the second biggest thing, a real close second that I can’t even fess up to is how I’ve gone absolutely mental for a girl I used to chase around the backyard with a jar full of wasps, hunting her til I trapped her in the woodshed, approaching slowly, watching her chest puff, the fearful O of her lips. Right now, though, it’s me that’s afraid of what’s approaching, cause there’s guaranteed to be a baby in her.
That’s the first 1000 words.
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