Cairns

[This excerpt gives you the full description of what happened on that messy night in Cairns]

I approached slowly, my flip-flops dragging through the water. He was wearing a tan mackintosh coat that covered him completely below the neck. Rivulets of water streamed down it.  From underneath a sagging tam-o-shanter hat, he eyed me with his usual crooked, cocky half grin.

I said, ‘Alright?’

‘William.’

‘You’re soaking.’

‘Aye.’

‘C’mon, get under the umbrella. Climb up.’

He took my hand. A foot appeared in a pointed leather boot, which he pressed against my calf and rappelled up onto my back. The ends of his coat dragged over my leg and hung over my backside dripping. His legs pressed tightly into either side of my ribs.

‘Did yous have a nice time then?’

‘Yeah, we did, really nice.’

‘Ye shag her?’

‘Davy.’

‘Only askin. Where’s the love ae yer life away tae the now then?’

‘Ach. She’s away… she’s… just away for the night.’

‘Well then, since the Swedish bint’s oot the way, ye gonnae crack on tae a bit ae the Irish?’

‘Davy, come on. Yer gettin predictable.’

I turned to go back to the hostel. Davy tugged on my hair.

‘Ow.’

‘Waitaminute. Are we no headin tae the pub?’

‘No. I don’t think I’m up to it tonight.’

‘No up tae getting yer hons on Orla’s big mammaries?’

‘Bloody hell. Will you just leave it? I’m not interested.’

‘Calm doon son. I’m jist windin ye up. Anyhow, there’s nae chance a that.’

‘How d’ye mean?’

‘Yon Orla copped off wi that Harry bloke last night.’

‘She did? How would you know?’

‘I saw them.’

‘Saw what?’

‘Them, hingin aff each other, goin intae her room. I wouldae taken a wee sneaky peak, but they’d fuckin locked it, the cunts. Tell ye, it sounded like they wus havin a rare aul time anyhow.’

‘Ye were listenin?’

‘Fuck aye. Whit that means but, is ye dinnae need tae worry aboot Orla, eh? Aul Harry’s no gonnae gie up that wan in a hurry.’

‘Aye, well, he was definitely after her the other night.’

‘He fuckin goat her. Ye sure no wannae go an huv a pint while we’re oot. Better n stonnin here in the pishin rain anyhow.’

‘Ach, no. I’m just not in the mood at all.’

‘Aw ye miserably wee soul. Think yer gonnae get any cheerier sittin aboot that wee room wi jist Palm and her five finger sisters for company? C’mon, just a couple. It’ll perk ye up a bit.’

‘I spose. Why not? But just a couple, right?’

‘Err we go.’

The pub was part of a hotel that stood in the middle of a garden full of broad, rain-rattled leaves. Just inside the entrance there was a pile of damp brollies.  I folded mine and Davy slipped down. He pulled off his coat and dropped it on the umbrellas. The coat had wet through to his clothes – a weird combination of frill-collared shirt, tartan three-quarter troos and the pointy boots.

‘Eh… Davy, do ye think yer dressed for the pub?’

‘Whit d’ye mean?’

‘Have you been at some sorta pixie convention?’

‘Hauw, dinnae knock it. I’m turned oot a lot better than you, ya scruffy wee nyaff.’

I was dressed the same as ever, shorts and a t-shirt. The same way he’d been the last time I’d seen him.

‘Where’d ye get the clothes from Davy?’

‘They’re mine, orright? I’m gonnae ston under the hand dryer in the bogs. Get a beer in, an I’ll see ye in a minute.’

I couldn’t see Paula, Orla or any group of students inside the bar, but I heard them. They were out in the garden, underneath an awning and around a long arrangement of tables. A few guys on the edge of the group were getting wet, but they seemed to be having fun. Cheers went up and glasses were being raised. I saw Paula, rosy-cheeked and with her arm wrapped round some young woman. Most of the students looked Japanese, the boys all surfer types, the girls pristine pop teens. I think there were a couple of Europeans as well, some that were maybe Arabic or South American and generally they were being raucous, having loud drunken fun. There were different gaggles in animated conversations, but Orla was holding court, standing up and calling over everybody.

When I stepped out, she shouted, ‘Ho! The man himself. Everyone, welcome William.’

And a multinational mass of faces shouted, ‘Helloooo William.’

Orla squeezed through. ‘Hi William. It’s good to see yer. Were ye away or what?’

‘Yeah, we went up to Port Douglas. Me and Beata.’

‘Ah, that’s nice. It’s lovely up there, ain it? Where’s Beata tonight?’

‘She’s gone to see a friend, that Swedish lassie she met in the Woolpack.’

‘Oh aye. Right.’ She nodded with a wicked grin. ‘So, ye decided to come and join the madness down here?’

‘Looks like they’re having fun.’

‘There a good crowd.’ She pointed out a few of her students, told me some names, where they were from, what state of inebriation they were in. They had started drinking on the boat in the afternoon, as soon as the diving had finished. For a moment, we stood surveying the bubbling party of classmates, then Orla said, ‘Oh, here, I met a mate of yours last night.’

‘Mine?’

‘Aye, Dave or Mark or something like that.’

‘Can’t have been a mate a mine.’

‘Aye, I’m sure it was. We’d worked out that it musta been you – a Scottish bloke called Will. He told me what a wild card ye are as well. Must admit, I wouldn’t have put it past ye to get a few jars down, but Jeez that’s some mad stuff he told us about yous.’

‘No, it can’t have been me, I don’t know anyone in Cairns.’

‘Aw sure, musta been. There’s not that many of yous about. Were ye not telling me ye were on that banana farm?’

‘No, really. I don’t know him.’

‘Aye, well, we’ll see. He said he’d probably be out again tonight.’

‘Naw, well, no… Is Harry here?’

‘Aye, him and Brando are inside there.’

‘I didn’t see them.’

‘Look, just over there. But come on, come and join us here for a while.’

‘No, I’ll just…’

‘Come out in a bit then.’

‘Sure.’

I got myself a beer and went to join Harry, Brando and Troy.

‘How you doin boys?’

They were surly in response, barely looking at me. I saw Davy heading across the bar towards us.

I nodded towards the group in the garden. ‘You not joinin the madness then?’

Harry said, ‘Fuck off. They do my head in. Can’t get a sentence out of any of them.’

‘Eh, right. But they’re your students too, aye?’

Harry glowered at me. Troy answered. ‘Sometimes it gets a bit much, you know, trying to make small talk in broken English all the time.’

‘Orla and Paula don’t seem to have much problem.’

‘That’s cause they’re a pair of slags.’ Harry was not in a good mood.

Davy got on to the edge of the bench next to me. ‘Whits the matter wi the cheery boys?’

I tried to whisper out the side of my mouth, ‘I don’t know. What do I say?’

Troy looked at me strangely. Davy said, ‘Ask em if they’ve hud thur hole recently.’ I nudged him. ‘Naw? Then just ask aboot the divin.’

‘So, did yous have a good divin trip today.’

Brando perked up. ‘Yeah, it was brilliant. Really good visibility.’

Troy joined him. ‘We saw reef sharks.’

‘That’s great. Are they big ones?’

Harry barked, ‘No, they’re fuckin tiny. Everybody sees them when they go out.’

‘Harry didn’t make it,’ Brando explained. ‘He slept in and missed the boat.’

Davy tapped my leg. ‘See, told ye. He wus up aw night shaggin Orla.’

Troy added, ‘And he’s been in the pub all afternoon, haven’t you son?’

‘Fuck off.’

I whispered again to Davy, ‘What can I do about Harry?’ All three of them looked at me funny. I smiled.

‘Ask him aboot Orla, on ye go. Ask him.’

I was thinking, I cant ask him that, I can’t, but Davy kept on. ‘Gwon. He’ll be well chuffed. Might cheer the fucker up a bit, talkin aboot his shaggin.’

‘So, Harry, you and Orla, eh?’

‘What?’

‘Well, I mean, I saw the other night, ye looked pretty keen.’

‘Are you being a smart arse?’

Brando and Troy snatched a look at each other and then stared into their drinks.

‘No, I’m just saying the other night in the Woolpack, I thought that…’

Harry glared. ‘Are you talking about the other night when you fuckin went off with her?’

‘What? I didn’t…’

‘Yeah you did. I saw you.’

‘But I just helped her home.’

‘Is that right? Are you trying to say that nothing happened between you and Orla?’

‘Yeah… nothing.’

‘Nothing in the women’s shower room, no?’

‘What? No, nothing happened there. It was just… it was her that… we just got a bit… wet.’

‘I bet you did.’

‘No, Harry, I thought that you an her…’

‘Fuckin what? Me and her what? You’ve got a real fucking cheek. Waltzing in with your Swedish bird and then trying to pull anything else that’s moving. You’re not making many friends that way, I’m telling ya.’

‘I… it wasn’t…’

‘Just leave it, right?’

Brando and Troy kept their heads down. I stood up and left them.

Davy was at my heels. ‘Hoo hoo. He’s a sensitive fucker that Harry, eh?’

‘How did he know?’

‘Knaw whit?’

‘About the shower room?’

‘Well, it wisnae me.’

‘You’re pretty quick to defend yerself.’

‘Fuck off. It couldnae huv bin me. I’m jist a figment ae your imagination.’

‘What?’

‘It’s no ma fault he foun oot aboot you n big tits. Fuck, it was you that was in the shower wey her.’

‘But you told me Harry n Orla got together.’

‘I was just tryna dae ye a favour.’

‘How was that a favour?’

‘Stopped ye worryin aboot Orla.  Got ye oot in the pub.’

‘But ye lied to me.’

‘I did not. I told ye whit I saw.’

‘Ye didn’t see them but, did ye? Ye just heard noises. They coulda been fightin, or playing cards or…’

‘Fuck it. It disnae matter anyhow. Yer oot noo. Fuck that pissy wee lassie Harry an enjoy yersel.’

‘I just don’t like gettin on the wrong side of people.’

I stood inside the doors looking out into the crowd in the garden. A diving snorkel was being passed around with a funnel in the end of it. The students were taking turns at holding the snorkel in their mouth while Orla poured beer down the funnel. Most times it ended in the drinker spluttering into the snorkel and beer splattering all over their face, their clothes, the people sitting around them. There was a lot of squealing, laughing and chanting to encourage the drinker to get it down.

Orla started waving the snorkel at me.

‘No. No, yer alright. I’m OK.’

‘Come on William. Give it a go.’

Suddenly, Harry grabbed my shoulders from behind and bundled me forward. He shouted, ‘Go William! He said he was dying for a go at one of these.’

‘No, I…’

Orla shouted, ‘Come on, William. Where’s yer bottle. C’mon. William. William.’

And the chant went up among the whole gang of students. ‘Will-yim, Will-yim, Will-yim…’

Harry’s hands pushed me down into the seat vacated by the Japanese boy who was hanging over a bush bringing up the beer he had just drunk, the rain soaking the back of his head.

Davy sat in front of me on the table. He punched both his hands in the air and chanted along. ‘Wull-yum, Wull-yum.’ The tips of his pointy boots were scuffing against my thighs.

I tried to speak. ‘I don’t really…’ The snorkel was pushed into my mouth and beer poured in. It caught me on an in-breath and almost choked me. I spluttered and beer coughed out of my mouth and nose, but it kept coming. I started to swallow in gulps that stretched out my gullet for a long time and a lot of liquid. My tongue could squeeze into the snorkel and stem the flow, but then the crowd started to bay.  Davy gave me thumbs up and shouted, ‘Go on son. Nae bother. That’s only wan glass. Ye’ve gottae finish the wan glass.’

My insides bloated with the liquid and the gaseous feeling that I needed to belch, a feeling that grew until it was painful and I could swallow no more. With a large burp, the snorkel fell out of my mouth and the last of the beer sprayed over my neck and chest, but there wasn’t much left. A loud cheer went up.

Orla raised my arm and shouted, ‘Way-hey. Our first three-schooner boy!’

The weird mix of rosy cheeked Asian girls, shock-white haired Prussians and whoever else, were all looking at me, beaming and shouting, ‘Well done.’ Davy’s legs were swinging, his fists held up either side of him as he gave a guttural roar of approval.

‘Thanks. Aye, it was easy.’ I said. ‘But no more, OK?’

Orla grabbed me as I slipped out of the chair. ‘That’ll be right. You’re well up for it, aincha?’

‘Naw, Orla. I’m barely holdin it together the now.’

‘A wee breather an ye’ll be rarin for another go. Here park yerself next to Yukiko.’

I took a seat between Yukiko and a dark-skinned guy. He introduced himself as Andreas from Argentina, and then introduced me to some of the other students. My head was spinning, so while he talked, I smiled and took nothing in. I got out the question, ‘Did you have a good day diving?’ which had him and a few others get excited about the wonders of the deep and let me sit and wait for the sediment to settle. When I did get into conversation, I found them a very amiable bunch with very mixed abilities in English. Some were fluent, able to talk in almost faultless streams, and there were those who had few words and a lot of smiles – yet they all seemed to be getting along extremely well with each other, helped no little by Orla’s animating presence – she dotted around the table, joining conversations, joking with them, knowing everyone’s name. She gave me a nudge and a wink as she passed.

Someone bought me another beer, which I sipped cautiously. It didn’t go down too badly. In fact, as a cheers was raised, I though, just a couple more maybe. Davy strode up the middle of the table, holding his glass out to join the clink, but caught his foot on an ashtray and stumbled. He landed on his belly in front of me but didn’t spill a drop.

‘Davy, have you been drinking?’

‘I might huv managed a few shcoops.’

‘Schcoops?’

‘Aye well.’ He sat up, raised his glass and clinked it against mine. ‘It’s a good laugh in here the night, eh?’

‘It is but I’m birlin. Just this one more, then we’ll shoot off, OK?’

A shout went up, then all of the students started calling out and applauding. One of the barman was making his way over holding an extremely large glass. He had one hand at the top – the wide end of a length that tapered down into a large round bowl at the bottom that rested in his other hand. He moved gingerly through the swaying group.

‘Davy, what’s that?’

‘Whit, ye never seen wan afore? That’s a yard a ale, is it no?’

‘I dunno.’

‘Errs Orla. Ask her.’

‘Orla is that…’

‘For you? Aye.’’

‘No, I meant…’

‘We always get one for whoever does best on the snorkels, three-schooner boy. That’s you.’

‘Oof, yer jestin. I can’t drink a… yard of beer.’

‘It’s not as much beer as it looks.’

‘Seriously, Orla, I can’t do that. I’ve only just got over that snorkel.’ Another burp gurgled out to punctuate the point.

‘Go on. Ye don’t have to drink it all, just get up and make a bit of a display of it for the guys. They’ll love it.’

She grabbed me under my arm, then someone else grabbed the other, someone else pushed on my back and everyone began the chant again, ‘Will-yim. Will-yim.’

Davy shouted, ‘Gwon son. Ye cannae let the Scots doon when it comes tae drinkin.’

I was impelled towards a chair placed in a space between tables. The barman stood next to it holding the huge glass. Looking at it filled me with dread, but the cheers and the expectant faces of everyone crowding round encouraged me – it was ridiculous for me to be the top drinker of the group, but if felt good to be getting the attention.

I sat down on the chair.

‘No, no.’ Orla said. ‘Ye have to stand up on it.’

On top of the chair, I was already feeling wobbly when the glass was handed up. It was extremely heavy.

‘How much beer is in this?’

‘I tink it’s about four schooners.’

‘Oh bloody hell.’

I held it up to my mouth and felt the froth against my lips. Everyone was quiet and then I started to drink. Another cheer, then the chant started again. I swigged and slurped. I paused and let the glass down for a moment, but everyone shouted, ‘Come on William’ and I had another go. I could see that the beer was dropping in level down towards the bowl at the bottom and reaching that felt like a challenge I could face.

Orla shouted, ‘Ye’ve got to turn the glass when you reach the…’

When the level reached the bowl, the remainder of the beer suddenly rushed forward up the glass. I had my mouth open, but only a fraction of it went inside, the remainder caught me right in the face and cascaded everywhere over me. The surprise unbalanced me and I tipped, but hands reached up, grabbing my elbows, propping up my back and I didn’t fall. I let the glass down, and blinked away great drips of beer. Everyone was laughing and clapping.

Orla said, ‘I tried to warn ye.’

My head spun.

Someone took the glass from me, and a couple more stepped up to give me a hand down, but as I stepped off the chair, I’d swear that a hand grabbed my ankle. I tipped forward, fell and came down between the people standing in front. My hands come out but still my forehead met the floor with a whack. There was a gasp, and an instant of shocked silence, although at least one voice was cackling in laughter.

Things started to blur.

I was helped to my feet. With no blood showing, it was taken that I had survived my dramatic fall, in fact, that I had done it to add drama to the whole event. I was patted on the back in congratulations. Each pat sent a thump of pain through my head. Faces moved in and out of focus, Andreas and Yukiko, Paula, and I thought I saw Harry leering at me.

Orla took my arm again. ‘Ye silly bastard. Here, lets get you to a seat.’ We moved inside the bar. ‘Wait here a minute.’

I slouched in my chair. Davy was talking at me, and others skirted around me. I don’t know how long passed before two shots of tequila were put in front of me.

‘Eugh.’

‘No, serious, it’s the best thing for it. Here.’ She took one glass, put it into my hand, then took the other herself.

‘I couldn’t.’

I heard Davy, ‘Naw son, she’s right. Fire intae that an ye’ll no notice yer headache.’

Orla held her glass up. ‘Come on. Have the shot then I’ll leave ye alone.’

I looked at it. It looked innocuous. The front of my head throbbed. ‘Man. It’ll kill me or cure me.’

‘That’s the way.’

I tipped my head back and chucked the booze in. My throat burned, then it hit my gut and a shiver rose from tail to gullet where I felt the bile rise. My whole body suddenly remembered that it had just taken in half a gallon of beer and decided it didn’t want it any more. I clamped my lips and clenched the muscles in my stomach in a huge effort to hold its contents down.

‘Jeez William, are ye alright? If yer gonna chuck, ye better head into the toilets quick.’

I couldn’t move. I knew if I did, it would be the floor of the bar that would get it. I lent forward with my hands on the table, brought my head down onto them and closed my eyes. Everything spun and the sick moved closer to my mouth. I opened my eyes, looking down at the fag-end scattered floor and took deep breaths. I didn’t know any more whether I had a sore head or not.

‘Ha ha. Lookit the state ae you. Yer a right fuckin piss-artist ur ye no?’ I couldn’t see him, but he was near. ‘Fuckin William, stupid cunt that ye ur. Wid ye believe anyhin that somewan fuckin telt ye? Ho. Tequila on top ae aw that beer, what an arsehole. Orla’s stickin by ye, but. She’s fuckin gettin ye at evry turn. Yer in there the night big man. Ye gonnae, eh? Ye gonnae? Fuck her. Fuck her brains oot. Suck her tits. Squeeze her buns.’

I felt her hand rest gently on my back. ‘Are ye alright William? I’m sorry about that, maybe tequila wasn’t such a good idea.’

‘Uuhh… Uh, no. I can’t feel my head.’

‘Hold on there. I’ll get ye a glass of water.’

I sat up and Harry took the seat next to me. He leaned into my ear. ‘You think you’re a right fucking flash bastard, don’t you? What the fuck’s your game? Trying to be some sort of fucking hero? Trying to get everyone to love you? Well, I’ll tell you what. I don’t like you and when I get the chance, I’m going to make sure you fucking suffer.’

Davy was at my other ear. ‘Tell him tae fuck off. Go on, tell him. Fuck off. Fuck you. Fuck you ya wanker.’

‘Fuck you.’

He grabbed my shirt, pulled me out of my seat. ‘What did you say? What did you say to me? Do you want a go or what?’

‘Oi, Harry. What the fuck are you doin?’ It was Orla. ‘Stop fuckin bullyin him. Can’t ye see he’s plastered?’

‘Yeah, right and you’re jumping right in there to rescue him. Aren’t you the little saviour. Saint Orla.’

‘Fuck off Harry.’

‘Look the bloke’s a wanker. You better get him away from here or I’m gonna do him some damage.’

‘Oh, like you’re such a hard man, Harry. If he wasn’t pissed you’d be hiding in the fuckin corner.’

‘Piss off and take him with you.’

‘We’re getting away from you. Come on William.’

She grabbed an arm, and pulled me towards the door. I let myself be dragged again, unsure what I was doing for the best, but happy to get away from Harry and away from more booze.

‘Ye bring anything with ye, William? A coat or a brolly or anything?’

‘Erm, a… a brolly, aye.’

‘Did ye, well, we’ll take one o these and someone can have yours.’

It was still lashing down with rain. Orla tried to hold the umbrella over us while holding me up. I got wet again, but the rain was at least a little refreshing and would wash some of the beer off. She fizzed away in anger at Harry. ‘Who’s he think he is? Fuckin smart arse. He’ll fuckin get it. Got it comin…’ Her voice and the sound of the rain fazed into a background static against my struggle to keep the contents of my stomach down and my feet propelling forward. My stumbles and occasional tip towards the pavement brought ejaculations of sympathy from Orla. ‘Aw William, ye alright there? Come on now. Yer doin fine.’

The comic meanderings of our walk eventually overtook her anger and she laughed at me. ‘You’re a right sorry state, so ye are.’

‘This is dead kinda you. Sorry I’m… sorry I…’

‘Funny, ain it? Last time, it was you that was carryin me home. We’re makin a habit of this. A good team you n me.’

‘Aye, team. Aye.’ I was careening along the edge of the kerb, feeling my flip-flops running its lip. Davy was next to me, on the roadside striding through the gutter, laughing and barking, ‘Hoi, hoi.’ He gave me a push that sent me out of the path of the fire-hydrant and against Orla, shoving her over into a hedge.

‘Hey, William, calm down would ye? We’re nearly home.’

I bumped against Jolly Joe and ricocheted towards the door. I think there may still have been someone at the desk, but Orla dragged me through to the stairs as quick as I would go.

‘Can ye manage these William? Yer no that bad are ye?’

I pulled myself up. ‘Nae bother.’ And stuck my foot out for the stairs. I caught the first one awkwardly and stumbled up the next few in succession. The momentum got me up to the first landing, and we both laughed at my efforts.

‘I’m sorry Orla. I’m a bit oof… ya know a bit…’

‘I know ye are. I know. It’s my fault.’

We put our arms around each other and took the second short set of stairs. At the door to my room, Orla propped me against the wall. ‘Ye got the key William? Where is it? In yer pocket?’ She went in, jiggling her hand amongst my loose change. ‘Ooh, there we go.’

Inside, I fell back on to the bed, my feet hanging over the edge.

‘Ha ha ha. Oh William, yer something else.’

The room spun, and my head throbbed, but lying down I began to feel just a touch more together. ‘Aw thanks Orla. I think I definitely needed to get out of there. They’re lucky they don’t have my guts decorating the walls.’

‘We all are. Ye feeling a bit better now?’

‘Aye. Yeah, thanks. It’s good to be home.’

‘I’m totally soaking. Have ye got a towel?’

‘Aye.’ I waved a hand in the direction of bathroom. She came back out rubbing her hair, arms and down her legs.

‘How about you?’

‘Uh.’ She rubbed the towel over my legs, pulled my flip-flops off and rubbed my feet dry, then threw the towel at my head. I had a go at drying my face and arms.

‘Have you got a t-shirt I can put on?’

‘Aye.’ I waved in the direction of my pack. She rummaged around.

‘Do you mind if I borrow this one?’

And there was her chest again, unbuttoned from the shirt she was wearing and let fall from her bra. She leant over me to grab the towel and rubbed it around her top half standing next to the bed. Her breasts shook. She pulled the t-shirt on, then slipped her shorts off with a flash of buttocks. She rubbed her bottom with the towel looking at me sprawled out on the bed, looking at her.

‘Look at the state o you. I can’t leave ye lying wet all over yer bed. Here, take yer t-shirt off.’

She climbed on to the bed, straddled over me and started tugging up my t-shirt

‘No, I can do that myself.’

‘Sure, let me help you.’

As I twisted to grab the corners, she pulled the wet material up over my head so that my arms were caught up in it, then left me to struggle the rest of the way out.

‘And here.’ She pulled at my shorts. By the time I had managed to disentangle myself from the t-shirt, she had them off too.

I had on white boxers. They were wet through.

‘I don’t know if I can let ye keep those on.’

‘I’ll be fine.’

‘Your poor little fella must be frozen in there.’

I chuckled. Then was shut up by the feel of her hand inside the fly of my pants. She wrapped her fingers around my flaccid, cold, damp penis. It instinctively twitched with a pump of blood.

‘Aw, the poor wee thing. I can feel he wants to say hello.’

My breath came short.  I tried to say, ‘Orla, no.’ But she gripped a little firmer and pulled gently.

‘Come on, ye can’t keep these on.’

Orla gripped both sides of my boxers and tugged. I got one hand to them and said, ‘No,’ but she pulled them right off, stepping off the bed, then jumped back, straddling me. I could feel the damp material of her underwear against my thigh. She pressed down onto it and brought her face in close to my chest, looking up at me.

‘I know that you’ve problems…’ She ran her hand from my chest down towards my crotch. ‘…with women.’ Her fingers twirled in my pubic hair. ‘That you can’t perform.’

‘H… How could you know that?’

‘Something told me.’ Her hand moved down and cupped my testicles. ‘I want to help you. I had a boyfriend before, like that and I was able to do something for him.’

‘Orla, I’m sorry. I don’t…’

She slipped down and put my penis in her mouth. The wet warmth shocked me. All my muscles clamped ridged. I was still soft but the strong pushing of her tongue rapidly aroused me. I raised my head and saw a mass of damp blonde hair swirling around my crotch. It gently stroked across my lower belly, my thighs and my groin. She moaned and gasped. I dropped my head back and let out a long breath that had been held for far too long.

Since we’d arrived in from the rain, Davy had been in the room with us. At first I could hear him stumbling around and banging into stuff, his breathing laboured from too much booze or too much excitement. But when Orla started having sex with me, I heard that rasping, wheezing breath draw close, falling into a steady hiss as if pulled through his teeth.

I lay anticipating my guilt like an ejaculation, knowing that I wanted Beata with me, that I was betraying her now, but my determination slipped away with the strokes of Orla’s hair, her hand, her mouth.

I let myself go. I sat up and lifted Orla’s head. I guided her up the bed, pushed her over and pulled her knickers off.

She said, ‘Yes. Yes. Come on.’

I knelt in front of her. My willie stood up, pointing past my bent knees between her spread legs. ‘I better find a condom.’ The momentary halt started the wilt, and I began to form the thought, I swear, that I would stay off the bed, not go back, but she grabbed me.

‘No, it’s OK.’

She pulled me on top of her. Her fingers closed around me again and guided me into her.

‘I…’

The warmth spread from my centre throughout my whole body. A gentle pressure squeezed like a hug. I felt a shimmer of elation like I had achieved something I had been seeking for a long time. Slowly, I gave myself over to the sensations: the throbs of happiness pulsing up my intestine; the shockwaves of energy that coursed my limbs and made them cling and clench; the need to move deeper and deeper.

I closed my eyes and saw Beata. Something animalistic took over, something that drove me wild, aggressive, something that had me saying, ‘Yes. Right. Fuckin. Right. Here. Here it is. Take it.’

Orla’s legs clasped around my buttocks and she shouted, ‘Holy fucking Jesus, yes, yes!’

The smell of sex filled me, overwhelmed me. I opened my eyes and Davy was there, crouching next to Orla’s lolling head. She looked up at me with a slack-mouthed smile. He looked into me with a leer of joy and triumph, his eyes shining, showing the reflection of my own face, every muscle in it taught. I stopped my thrust, shocked at the vision of how far I had let myself go, disgusted at me and at Davy, this thing, my life.

Orla screamed, ‘Holy Mary mother of God.’

Then the door opened and Beata walked in.

*           *           *           *

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