An Evening’s Entertainment

by Luke Otley

And he that sat upon the throne said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Book of Revelations 21

I am an honest scribe. I ask: were there men of God present on July 13? If so they hid in their holes like rabbits. The darkness may feel like it brings safety, but it does not…

Tommy hosted a gathering – of sorts – to mark his return from the land of the free. He is a soft man, with a hairy back like a gorilla and the immaculate dress sense of a homosexual. I was the first to arrive, three hours early. I wore a tattered pair of my dad’s shorts, sunglasses, and my new favourite accessory – a straw hat. I looked like a sick caricature of Steve Irwin, and throughout the evening I heard more than one person mutter behind my back “Oh,that’s in poor taste”. Around  2pm, almost as soon as I had staggered through the front door, I had a cool glass of Pimms in my hand: “Well it contributes to your five-a-day” I winked, as the beautiful nectar slipped down my gullet. I chased the Pimms down with a pale ale and practiced Friz-knock lazily in the sun while we waited for others to arrive.

Tommy started pouring vodka, sambuca, beer and raspberry ripple squash into a huge urn. “What is this junk?” I protested, to which he replied with a wry grin: “Pink panty droppers”. Immediately, I dropped my undies to the floor and began to swing my hips like Huey Lewis in his iconic music video Hip to be Square. “No you idiot!” Tommy groaned as he tried to maneuver around my gyrating hips, “Pull them up! There’s kids around”. I glanced around, but I didn’t see any kids, not after that foul scene anyway. With one hand I swiftly pulled up my stained yellow undies, and with the other I poured myself a PPP. At that point I had to take a knee, mumbling “Repent…repent…repent!” I clutched at my chest like a man moments away from cardiac arrest, and the sticky pink substance foamed from my blue lips.

I was cracking the seal on my forth beer when Jon Bailey walked through the door. He carried a satchel and was dressed head to toe in burgundy. I grabbed Jon a warm beer from a bucket that was directly exposed to the burning sun, and we nattered like school girls for a while. Gradually the place filled up. The barbecues were heating up, and the lager was slipping down a dream…a dream you never, ever want to wake up from. I bartered that, like Mrs. Dalloway prancing around in her wedding dress, “if it were now to die ’twere now to be most happy”. Unfortunately I didn’t drop dead at a quarter to five, but lived to see the evening get weird…

The strength of the party lay in the games, of which I participated frequently and fully. I played to the best of my ability – and if my ability was marred at any point from inebriation, I don’t think a fitting punishment is to be chased from the scene with burning torches and pitchforks…Which is exactly what happened after a cruel game of ‘Flip Cup’. I don’t know the rules, and if you do, so what? All I remember is a ringing in my ears like a flash-bang just went off and my numb and buckled fingers trying to flip a cup off a table’s edge. For what purpose? I don’t know. But I turned away from that table more depressed than I’ve ever felt in my life.

There were other games, such as cider apple bobbing. The general rule seemed to be the more white-trash drunk you were, the deeper into the bucket you delved. Looking back on the photographs is like looking at freeze-frames of some strange and twisted baptism. Sam Burgues, who later was caught jabbering; “I can fly, but not right now, because I’m sick of it”, pinned his auburn locks to the back of his neck, let his eyes roll back in his head and went for the bottom of that sucker. He surfaced minutes later, howling like an injured coyote but with no apple to show for it. I heard rumours that afterwards Tommy’s mother took him to the toilet and flushed his head down the bowl, high-school style, to try and clean him up…

I can’t remember the garden getting dark. A girl I know, but don’t know how I arrived sitting next her her, prized the sunglasses from my face: “Why do you still have these on?” When I looked around me, it was pitch black. I must have been operating on some level of navigation similar to bats or whales, that only becomes available to you when drunkenness has stripped you of all your customary senses. More likely I was staggering around like a blind mouse drunk on cheese; a gurning goblin grinning grossly at faces that turned away in horror and disgust.

A moment of clarity late in the evening. We stood five-a-breast at the now cold and rancid food table. What was left had been sweating and picked at by a hundred grubby paws for fifteen hours. I stood next to Keith, who is normally a very sophisticated gent, but was at this moment grabbing handfuls of filthy gherkins and stuffing them into his face, screaming “I’ve found some cocktail sausages!”. We had the insatiable drunken hunger only copious amount of meat can cure…and there were only a few pucks of gristle left on the table. I settled for the next best thing, cheese, and proceeded to scavenge through the salad seeking feta – much like a war-torn family might look desperately for their possessions in the bombed-out ruins they used to call a home… I’m sure I heard Keith hiss quite loudly when the salad was taken away from us, before dropping to his haunches and weeping like a little boy.

As far as I know I didn’t inflict too much damage on those unaccustomed to my ways. One conversation with a stranger though, regarding literature, swiftly became emotional. I was riding high on the tide of sloppiness, and latched on to this poor girl as she tried to leave; her eyes darted nervously to her friends as she nodded and smiled distractedly, evidently trying to do anything to shut this goon up as quickly as possible. I was appeased when she offered book recommendations, but I didn’t leave without stroking her face, completely inappropriately, to show my appreciation.

As I settled to sleep in an armchair, I suddenly jumped out of my skin. I had just remembered the curious case of Ismail Ahmed. Of course, of course…what a fool I had been! I negate any memories of our conversation, but I remember his terrified eyes, like two shriveled dates – tired and scared. He flitted in and out of the party all evening, and I faintly recall staring over the fence at him bent double, his arm pinned behind his back by some unknown assailant and being jumbled into a car…

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out other than foam and froth. I gestured wildly but nobody paid any attention. “Freak” someone spat in my direction. “Idiot” hissed another. So I turned my back…there was nothing I could do. He was doomed from the very start…