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The Truth: Part 22 and 23

Part 22

I made a trip to the sexual health clinic. I’d like to say it was my first time getting a sexual health screen, but that would be a lie. A few months prior when I was still living in Canada I had to get one done. When I had sex for the first time, it was unsafe. The guy I was sexualising with didn’t have any condoms, and I had lacked in knowledge about sexual health. I had been naive enough to risk it. I secretly booked an appointment with my family doctor and told my parents I was going to hangout with friends. When I arrived to my appointment and told my family doctor why I had come, she scolded me. “Cody,” she said, “I cannot believe a good boy like you is in here for that. How could you be so stupid?” She gave me a stern look, “I better not catch you in here for the same reason again. Legally I’m not allowed to tell your parents, but I’d have a good mind to!”

The sexual health clinic for prostitutes in Sydney is cleaner than expected. It could be easily mistaken for a normal walk-in clinic sans the giant posters on the wall about safe sex, how to properly inject drugs, info about methadone meetings, etc. I forced Nick to come with me because I had been scared to go by myself, but when the nurse called my name I told him to wait outside. I looked back towards Nick before entering the screening room, he was slowly shifting his weight away from a woman in the waiting area who was scratching all over her body and mumbling to herself. A brief moment passes where I thought about bringing him with me. But in the end I entered the screening room without saying anything.

The health screen took longer than expected. She asked me a series of questions about my sexual health history, which sexual roles I engaged in (“Do you give, receive, or both?”), info on HIV, and the last time I had unsafe sex. She asked me if I was a sex worker and I felt uncomfortable when I said yes. She dealt with prostitutes all the time, yet I was embarrassed and my face turned red as she ticked Sex Worker off on the form.  Then I had to do a blood test, rapid HIV throat swab, normal throat swab, pee in a container and stick a swab stick up my butt. The rapid HIV tests came back negative, but the full blood results would return in a week, as well at the other results. The nurse explained to me that the main STD/I’s they looked for were Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Herpes, and HIV. I was relieved to hear that the nurse personally thought I was negative on all counts, but I would still have to wait a week to get the official results.

Nick and I went straight into work after the health screening. Dave opened the door for us and said, “You boys should really just go home now.”

“Why?” Asked Nick, “We are scheduled on for tonight.”

“Yeah,” replied David, “You and thirteen other boys.”

The Boy’s Room was packed. Bodies of boys were strewn all about. They were sitting in each other’s laps, some were sitting on the floor. Dave told us that no clients had come in all day. Pete had just arrived as well for the manager change-over to take on the night shift. As the owner of the brothel, Pete wasn’t pleased that there had been no clients. Pete never vocalized his displeasure, he would have a weird, almost worried look come across his face and say methodically, Hmm that’s interesting. He would then come up with a bogus story about the stock market and the economy and use it to excuse the lack of clients; They are holding onto their money, he would say, because they are scared of the falling economy.

There wasn’t any room on the sofas so I grabbed a pillow and sat on the floor. All the boys in the front half of the room were yelling, laughing and talking over one another. The other half seemed moody and remained quiet. There were a few boys I couldn’t recognise but I didn’t really care to make an effort to introduce myself that night. Trying to get a word in was nearly impossible, but a boy finally confirmed a question I had about there had been no clients that day.

“Yeah,” said the boy, “ There has been nothing. Its been so fucking boring!”

A boy shouts, “Everyone fucking leave so that I can get a client!”

“You ugly fuck, no client would actually want you.” Said another, and the boys broke out into a laughter.

Brendan was in the corner of the room and spoke up, “It doesn’t help that half you cunts have the same look as me. If another skinny blonde guy starts working here then I’ll be out of business.” More laughter erupts. I wonder if Brendan thought that when I had first started. I notice that two new blonde skinny boys were on the silent half of the room, talking quietly to themselves.

I turn to Nick and say, “Well, Brendan isn’t wrong,” and then motion towards the two new blondes.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Nick says, “I’m gonna give Pete a piece of my fucking mind. Between you, Matt, Brendan and I we have enough skinny blondes. He doesn’t fucking need more.”

I had agreed with Nick and stepped outside for a cigarette. I found myself glaring at the new blondes through the sliding glass, thinking about how they might ruin my business. I had been getting a good chunk of the clients for the past couple weeks and didn’t want my winning streak tarnished by new blood. The problem was that the clients loved new boys. I was worried.

Jake stepped outside even though he didn’t smoke, which had me annoyed because that meant he wanted to talk.

“What do you think of the new blondes?” Jake said with goofy grin.

“I’m kinda mad. There is so many of us now.” I reply, taking a drag of my cigarette.

“Yeah it’s kinda funny how there is so many twinks here. I am lucky because I’m basically the only muscle guy.”

“Fuck off.” I say, not even looking at him. I continued to watch the boys through the sliding glass door.

“But it’s true,” he gave a guilty laugh and then continued, “I get the most clients here. I’m not ashamed to admit that. A lot of clients like a muscle top.” I glare at Jake and am about to tell him to fuck off again when he continues, “But, you have got the second most clients out of all the boys here. I’d hate to see you lose clients, you were here before those two so you deserve it.”

I hesitate before saying, “Thanks.”

Jake adds, “That’s why I am going to talk to Pete and try and get rid of them.”

“What?” I respond, “You mean get them fired?”

“Yeah,” Jake says, “Because it’s totally not fair to you or to Nick or anything.” The client bell rings and rejoice floods over the Boy’s Room. Jake says, “Finally,” and goes back inside with me following him.

The client asked to interview all the boys, which took a really long time since there was fifteen of us. Almost half an hour later the interviews were over and Pete went to see which boy has been chosen. Dirty looks shoot across the room as the boys wait in anticipation. A lot of boys had desperation on their face, and I felt bad for them. We all needed money to survive, and some boys had it harder than others. Boys like Jake made thousands of dollars, others barely made anything all all. For most boys, escorting was a last resort, so it was sad to see the desperation on their faces and know that getting a client could mean the difference between going hungry or not. When times were tough and the brothel was slow, boys would look at other boys who got jobs in animosity. Although we knew it was out of our control, we would feel a deep jealousy towards the boys that got too many clients. Some boys even got angry about it.

Pete simultaneously swings open the door and says, “CAAAAAAAAARRRRRL!”

The boys all moan and turn to stare at me. Most of them looked bitter, a few looked angry. I didn’t help the situation by saying, “Who, me?”

“Yes, he wants YOU,” Pete replies, “Hurry up.”

I carefully tip-toe around the boys and make my way to the door. Everyone is relatively quiet as they try and mask their disappointment. In ways it felt good to be picked over everyone else. I quickly glance to the new blondes and think to myself, I’m doing just fine.

Part 23 

Most of the boys had gone by the time I was done with my client. They had grown fed up with waiting and no other clients had walked in the door. Jake was one of the boys whom had left, along with Blake and the two new blondes. Nick had been waiting for me with Brendan and I found them in the back having a fag.

“How was the client?” asked Nick, making room for me to sit beside him on the wooden slats.

I sat down and replied, “Meh, it was alright.”

Brendan spoke up, “I saw you doing the strut up to the door when your name was called.”

I put on a flaming gay voice, “It felt so good,” I put my hand on my heart, “to beat out all you skinny bitches. I wanna thank jesus, my good looks, and…”

Nick cuts in, “Yeah you probably went into the interview and told him you’d do it for free you little slut.” Nick and Brendan laugh.

Brendan adds, “Gave him a little sucky sucky in the interview.”

“Oh you’re just jealous I got him over you guys.” I jokingly bite back.

“Oh yeah, who could be jealous of that?” said Nick.

Brendan basically yells, “He was so disgusting. You can HAVE him!”

We stay and talk for a while before deciding to leave early. Not even the present company could ward off the boredom of waiting for a client. Brendan had a car, so we decided to go to his apartment. I hadn’t been to Brendan’s apartment before, so I was intrigued to see it.

Brendan was an enigma to me. He talked about being a good person but then acted like the biggest bitch of the walk. He was loud, he was stark, and he could be very rude. Despite these flaws he could also be extremely generous, and he could stand up for you when you weren’t able to stand up for yourself. Deep down, under his lost boy persona, there was a very good person that came out once in a while. At the time I considered myself closest to Matt and Nick and furthest from Brendan. The cracks in his tough-guy attitude showed his humanity, which kept me wanting to be his friend, but I tended to keep him at arm’s length.

On the drive over to Brendan’s apartment he was telling us about his racked up debt. I won’t say the amount, only because I can’t remember, but it was definitely on the higher side of five digits. Most of the debt seemed to be from the ridiculous amounts of speeding and parking tickets he would get.

“Cody, we need to make a stop and pick up some stuff.” Brendan said as he looked back at me in the back seat of his car.

“Ok… what are we getting.” I reply, hoping it’s food.

“You can’t get all crazy, ok?”

“I won’t.”

Brendan exchanged a look with Nick and then said, “We are going to get crack.”

“Why would that make me go crazy?” I asked.

“Because you’re this little goody goody and I don’t want you freaking out about it.”

“I won’t freak out. I don’t care.”

“Ok, because we will probably be doing it tonight.” Nick hits Brendan in the arm and Brendan turns to him and yells, “What? He’s gonna be there anyway! He midaswell know!” He turns back to me, “You can try some if you want.”

“No, I promised myself I wouldn’t do any drugs.”

“Well, I’m not going to force you. But if you wanted to try it now might be a good time. It’s just gonna be you, me, Nick, and two of my other friends at my place tonight. We are all going to be doing it so you’ll be the only sober one.”

Brendan parks on the side of the road and goes up to this apartment block. Nick and I wait in the car, and not even five minutes pass before Brendan is running back.

“Whew!” yells Brendan as he hopped in the car, “We gonna get fucked.”

We arrived not long after to Brendan’s apartment. The apartment was beautiful and expansive. It was two levels, three if you included the stunning rooftop terrace. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I entered the apartment, but I was thoroughly impressed. The apartment was clean with a ‘showroom’ kind of feel. The furniture was basic with clean lines and a modern touch. Brendan’s housemate was technically the leaseholder of the apartment, and he resided on the first floor. Up the stairs was Brendan’s bedroom, two balconies (one accessible through Brendan’s room, the other was accessed through the living room), kitchen, living area and the bathroom. The next flight of stairs took you to the rooftop terrace. The terrace was stunning and looked over a small park. The surrounding area was apartment city, which was a shame because the view would’ve been even more spectacular if it was extended beyond the park.

Brendan immediately took us to his bedroom and shut the door. The walls in his room were bare and he didnt even have a bed frame: his mattress was just lying on the floor. Brendan got me to sit on the mattress while he opened the sliding glass mirror to reveal the closet. There he rummaged through some drawers until he found a small black case. He sat on the bed and carefully opened the case to reveal a glass pipe.

“Is that what you smoke it with?” I asked.

Brendan smiles and says, “Of course.”

I watch as he takes out the small bag from his pocket. It’s a square ziplock bag with a clear substance in it (the ‘crack’, as they called it).

“Can I look at it?” I asked, intrigued by the harmless looking drug.

“Just give me a second,” said Brendan as he carefully unzipped the bag. Nick was sitting behind him pretending not to care too much about the process. Brendan carefully took a small section of drinking straw from the black bag and used it to carefully remove a crystal from the bag and dropped it in the pipe. “Here,” he said and zipped up the bag and threw it at me. I inspected the bag and saw that the ‘crack’ looked like large pieces of salt. They were cubed and opaque. I squeezed the crystals between two fingers and felt how hard they were.

Brendan puts the glass pipe to his mouth and sparks a lighter. He is about to hold the lighter up to the glass pipe when he catches my eye, chuckles and says, “Cody, I can’t do this when you are looking at me all wide eyed. Are you gonna be ok?”

“Yeah,” I said sitting up straight, “Sorry I’m just interested in how this works.”

“Mmmkay,” Brendan responded. He sparks the lighter again and holds the pipe to his mouth. He rolls the pipe side to side under the flame, and soon I noticed the crystals melting into a clear liquid and then dissipating into a white smoke. Brendan starts slowly inhaling, and the smoke stops rising out of the top and quickly falls back through the pipe and into his mouth. He diffuses the lighter and inhales the last smoke for a good few seconds before removing the pipe from his mouth and exhaling. The smoke escaped from his mouth in a thick cascade. The smell of the smoke was like a less intense version of burnt plastic. He repeated the process and handed it to Nick. You could tell Nick wasn’t as confident in the practise as Brendan was.

I asked both of them a series of questions about ‘crack’. They tell me that the high is really hard to explain: It’s not hallucinatory, nor does it make your brain fuzzy. They said it was like sleeping for 12 hours and then drinking a large coffee; you feel normal and on the top of your game.

It’s a good hour before Brendan asks me, “Are you sure you don’t want to do any?”

I am silent for a second, “I don’t think I should.”

“There is nothing to be afraid of. You won’t really feel any different. But it’s totally up to you.”

I am completely silent, Nick and Brendan watch me in anticipation.

In the end I feel like it was inevitable. The draw to it seemed unreal. All my life I had the mentality where I wanted to try all, see all, and do all. I had told myself since a young age that I would never do any drugs (except weed), but even then I always felt it was a false promise. I did want to see what it was like. I had the perfect opportunity to try it with a friend I trusted and an environment I felt comfortable. If Nick did it, then it couldn’t be that bad.

“Fine,” I say, “I’ll try it.”

 

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The Truth: Part 21

It was Sunday morning and I was slowly warming to the wrinkly dog named Deniro. Scott said I was supposed to bathe him once a week, but when I thought I could stretch it to 9 days I almost gagged at the smell and knew it had to be done as soon as possible. Getting Deniro into the bathroom involved first locating him and then chasing him around the house furiously as he narrowly escaped my grasp multiple times. Once I had him captured I had to drag him across the carpet as he dug his feet into the ground and whined. I then would literally pick him up and throw him into the bathroom (the humane way) and quickly slam the door behind us. By this time I would be sweating and Deniro would be a nervous wreck frantically looking for a way out of the bathroom. I would pick him up again and try to get him into the shower and he would splay his legs out against the wall and scream. Once I dropped him into the shower I would have to climb in with him to make sure he wouldn’t barrel through the shower curtain. I learned quickly to wear swimming trunks because the lines became blurred between who was giving who a bath. Once the shower was on and the intense screaming commenced, I would hold onto his collar with one hand and use the other to open specialty dog shampoo and conditioner bottles and scrub his skin for a good ten minutes. I had to make sure to scrub well between the wrinkles where it stank most. The smell wouldn’t come out of my hand for days. Once all was said and done I would rub him down with a towel and set him free and he would run away and not be seen for a day or two, presumably hiding in Scott’s bedroom. After the exhausting routine I got ready for work. 

Sunday Afternoon I arrived to work an hour late, something that was becoming common. I would rock up late with a chai latte in hand from a little cafe in Kings Cross. The two ladies who ran the cafe knew me on first name basis, and we would spend a couple minutes chatting. I wasn’t the only one who frequented the cafe, Nick and Brendan did as well. Between the three of us and our daily (sometimes multiple times a day) stops to the cafe, mixed in with the the fact the ladies had a good view of us walking down the small alley leading towards the brothel, I was sure they knew what my profession was. They politely never asked what I did for work or why I frequented their quaint cafe. 

A new boy started at work and his name was Jay. Boys were constantly coming and going, the dynamics of KC constantly changing. Every new boy made us wary. Every new boy brought uncertainty and had the possibility of breaking down good dynamics. Jay didn’t have a particularly handsome face, but he did seem to have a nice body underneath his shirt. He was short, but seemed very intelligent. He spoke like an aristocrat and was very polite to everyone. He seemed oddly comfortable even though it was his first day. I noticed I felt gravitated towards him from the beginning.

Judging how I felt on first impressions I would either choose to wait a couple days to talk to a new boy or I would bombard them with questions right away. Either way, the strategy was used to try and keep new boys in their place. It was a passive aggressive way to let them know that they shouldn’t fuck with the group dynamics. Everyone did it in their own way… It was an intimidation game. The race to become King of the brothel. 

Nick’s strategy was to ignore them. Nick believed he was queen ruler of the seven kingdoms, so he made sure the new boys realised that their place was below him by acting like they weren’t there. I was the only person I’d ever seen Nick warm to on their first day. Brendan seemed to be loud and proud, using a kind of intimidation game. He always had an aggressive opinion about everything. Matt was just, well, Matt. He was always asking stupid and rude questions regardless of the person or occasion. Matt and Brendan were the only people from our group who had job’s besides escorting so they weren’t as dependant on keeping brothel dynamics as Nick and I were. My strategy was a mix of all three, because one strategy never works for every occasion. I was adaptable based on the situation, which had got me into a lot of trouble as much as it saved me from a lot of trouble. 

I was pulling a double shift with Nick and about eight other boys. It had been a quiet afternoon and even quieter night. I had only pulled one client, same with Nick. Those two clients had been the only ones who had come in all day, so all the boys just lounged on the couches and and mingled lazily. We all sat up straight when we heard the client bell go off. 

A few seconds later Pete came through the door with two people behind him. I was startled because no one other than the managers were allowed in the Boy’s Room. I had a moment of panic that it was a police raid, something I heard happened at the other male brothel in Sydney. Pete announces, “Hello boys. These are the good men and women representing the sexual health clinic down the road,” the man and woman give nervous waves, “They are here to have a talk with you guys about sexual health screening and to answer any of your questions.” 

“Hello,” I say out loud, a few other greetings echo from other boys. 

“Hello,” says the woman who steps forward, she introduces herself and the man she was accompanying, “I am here with KRC to have a little discussion with you guys. I hope you don’t mind.” We give her our pardons and she continues, “How many here have had a sexual health screen?” Most of the boys put up their hands, “That’s good. How many of you know their is a free clinic down the road?” Most of the boys put up their hands, “That’s good. Normally we tell people to come in every three months but since your line of work puts you at higher risk you should be coming in every month to get tested.” 

She continues and tells us to always use condoms when having sex and while giving oral. Half the boys try and hide their guilty looks as nearly none of us used protection when we performed oral. She hands us little booklets that describe STD’s we could get infected with. She tells us that the HIV rate in the area is one in every seven, which is extremely high for a first world country. The guy takes over and tells us about new strains of gonorrhoea that are almost untreatable, how their clinic is funded by the government, and the clinic’s opening hours. It was a good program they run, going brothel to brothel (male and female) and educating them to make sure we all were well informed. I had never received proper sexual health education in my life, so it was interesting to hear it all bluntly from these two people. 

The biggest fear being an escort, besides murder and, depending on the person, rape, was being infected with HIV. At the time I was still under the primitive assumption that I couldn’t even touch someone with HIV or else I’d be at risk. I heard horror stories from other boys about the disease so my knowledge began to get jumbled between myth and primitive thinking. I was afraid to ask the lady questions about it in fear of other boys thinking less of me. I remained as careful as possible with my clients, so I was sure that I was safe. Like the other boys I sometimes disregarded the rule about oral with condoms on a client to client basis. If they seemed clean and/or were good looking, oral with condoms was optional in my opinion. 

After the sexual health people left and the brothel shut for the night we all went to Matt’s apartment. 

“If I ever get HIV I would instantly kill myself.” Matt says bluntly. 

“I would be devastated but I would get over it,” says Nick. 

I am silent. I didn’t know what I would do if I contracted HIV. I had never even entertained the thought. I was running a higher risk than the average person, even with all the precautions. 

“I wouldn’t even touch someone who had HIV,” says Matt disgustedly. 

I really wasn’t sure how I felt about it. 

The Truth: Part 19

One day in Koh Tao, Thailand, I was walking drunk back to my hotel late at night. Blaire and I just had partied and drank copious amount of cheap alcohol that mainly came in literal buckets. Blaire went to back to the Swedish guy’s hotel for what would end up being her missing for almost two days, later found out to be that she had two days of ‘fun’ with Mr. Sweden. It was a nice night, so instead of getting transportation to my hotel I decided to walk. It wasn’t that far of a walk to the other side of the island, the only pain was getting over the monstrous hill. The road was secluded and empty, houses turned to forest as I made my ascent. 

Up ahead I saw a dog, which wasn’t a rare sight on Koh Tao; there were wild dogs everywhere. The dog was sniffing the road, searching for garbage for scraps of food. I paid no attention to it and continued walking up the hill. The dog was joined by two more and they became conscious of my presence. I was only a few meters away when two more dogs ran out of the bushes to my left, stood in front of me and started growling. The three dogs up ahead barrel down the road towards me and stop just behind the two. Five altogether growling and barking. Aggressive and protective. 

One dog in particular, a brown male, stepped forward, teeth glistening in the moonlight. He growled deeply and would then bark while stamping his two front feet, slowly getting closer. I dared not to break eye contact as that has been known to spur on attacks. I had to confront the dogs head on. 

I debated calling for help, but knew that my yelling could initiate the attack and no one could get to me on time if they heard my cries. I took a step back, and the dogs would take three steps forward. It was an intimidation game. 

I started talking to them in a soothing voice. I put my hands out in front of me, I don’t really know why I did but it comforted me knowing my hands were between their mouths and my face. I slowly took a baby step forward. The dogs growled even harder simultaneously, but none of them stepped forward. I waited a few seconds, and then took another step, slowly going forward and veering to the right. My plan was to slowly inch my way around the dogs without breaking eye contact. I would step, they would growl, I would wait ten seconds, and then I would step again. We danced like this for the better part of half an hour before I was around the dogs and far enough away that slowly, one by one, the dogs lost interest and started scavenging around the road again. 

This is the tactic I had to use with Deniro. 

Step by step I managed to get back inside the house and shut the door. Once the door was closed Deniro turned back around and continued eating. There wasn’t anything I could do about it but tell Scott once I was at Knight Call. I gathered up the rest of my things and headed into the city. 

I told Robert the story once I got to the brothel and he chuckles, “That dog is gonna kill you when Scott is away.” 

I made Scott go into the smoking area with me, not wanting to make a scene about his dog with the boys around. 

“He did what?” Scott asked, seemingly surprised. I told him the story again and Scott says, “He’s never done something like that before.”

“I closed the door so Deniro is stuck outside right now.” I said. 

“Good. If he does that to you again when I’m away just keep him outside. He’ll learn his lesson.” 

Later that night when Scott and I got back inside the house Deniro was pacing back and forth outside whimpering. Scott opened the door and caught Deniro by the collar. 

“You be nice to Cody when I am away!” He yelled, “Understood?” He lets go and Deniro runs up the slight set of stairs and down the hallway. 

The next morning Scott left for the airport and I went to work. Nick and I were the only ones there from the friend group who were doing a daytime shift, along with a straight guy named Blake and a Brazilian named Carlos. Blake was an enigma. He said he was straight, yet he worked in a gay brothel. He was good looking, which didn’t seem to give him confidence as he bumbled around the brothel. In a way I felt bad for him. He never seemed to quite fit in with the brothel dynamics, everyone passing him off as some straight imbecile. In truth Blake had a good heart, and regardless of his questionable sexuality he was a nice person. Him and I became friends. Once you got to know him he was intelligent in his own way, and I think the hardships of being a straight man in a gay brothel affected him mentally beyond the point of repair. In reality is affected all of us boys permanently.  

I like to imagine that all of us boys ended up alright. As much as I know some of us have been damaged beyond repair, I have a glimmer of hope that we can all make it. Even the boys I hated, I wish them all the best of luck. I need to know that we can make it out alive. 

That night Scott calls me from Cairns and he is very drunk. He tells me over and over again that he loves me, and I can hear someone laughing in the background. He tells me that he had a sex dream about me.

“Sorry babe I am drunk,” Scott slurred. 

“It’s ok, it sounds like you’re having fun.”

“I am. I hope Deniro hasn’t been too much trouble.” 

“No, he’s been good so far.” 

“That’s good. I’ll talk to you soon. Love you.” 

I was very uncomfortable so all I said was, “Ok talk to you soon.” 

 A few days pass and I didn’t hear from him again until one day I was sitting alone in the smoking area and got a peculiar call from an odd number. 

“Hello,” I say with the phone to my ear. 
The man introduces himself and tells me that he is a friend of Scott. 

“I have some very bad news,” The man says, his voice dropping to express sympathy, “Scott was in a very bad car accident and won’t be going home anytime soon.” 

Stunned, I let out a with a bite, “What?” 

“He was hit by a car and has been in a coma for the past few days. He is in a Cairns hospital and has just woken up. He needed me to tell you that he won’t be able to go home for a few weeks, so you need to take care of Deniro and the house for him.” 

I was silent for a few seconds, “Ok.” 

“Save this number and call me if you need any help. Scott will be in contact with you once he feels better.” 

We ended the phone conversation and I sat by myself in the smoking area and finished my cigarette.