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The Truth: Part 35

We were well into our giant bender when Scott finally woke up. I had checked on him numerous times throughout the night to make sure that we weren’t being too loud, but each time he was fast asleep. Once I heard him murmur in his sleep. I hoped the sound meant he was having a good dream, but hope turned into despair as the murmur turned into another groan of pain escaping Scott’s lips while he slept. How can one dream of good things during these times?

“Make sure you’re being careful,” Scott said to me once he was awake. I didn’t need to tell him what we were up too downstairs. He just knew the answer and looked at me with big, soft eyes.

“I am.” I said, sitting on the end of his bed. I could hear Brendan and Ben laughing loudly downstairs.

“I think I’m going to start trying to go up and down the stairs soon.” Scott said hopefully with a twinkle in his eye.

Through my drugged state I managed to give a warm smile, “That’s awesome.”

Scott smiled back and we sat and didn’t talk, instead we listened to the mumbled conversation downstairs.

Suddenly I found myself singing softly under my breath, “It’s not easy being green, it seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.”

Scott looked at me with surprise, “That’s Kermit the Frog, right?”

“Yeah. I don’t know why but it’s stuck in my head. I think I heard it on a commercial or something.”

Scott sang softly as well, “I am green and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful! And I think it’s what I want to be.

Downstairs; Brendan, Chris, Jay and Ben had started smoking a new bag of crystal. Ben had just been passed the pipe by Brendan and had started smoking it. I sat across from Jay, who was staring at me weirdly once again. All night Jay had been staring at me, and when I would notice he would let out a cheeky grin and look away. There seemed to be some animosity between the ‘threesome’ of boys… their three-way relationship was on the rocks, the magnitude of problems rising from Chris and Ben; Ben’s love for Chris was waning while Chris’s jealousy of Ben and Jay was growing. It was like watching the slow tick tick tick of a bomb about to go off. Random stares and mean-hearted glances were thrown between the three all night.

We didn’t do much the first night, nor the second. We smoked lots of meth and played games. Chris made lots of off-hand jokes about body temperature that I didn’t understand, Ben and Jay had their own secret conversations. Nick spent lots of time on his phone.

Brendan, on the other hand, was a wild card. When on crystal he was all over the place. Sometimes he would spent hours on his phone. Sometimes he would talk at a fast pace about random shit for hours. Other times he would clean whoever’s house we were smoking in. On rare occasions he would fall asleep in the middle of a conversation and wake up hours later. His behaviour was always sporadic and confusing. Brendan was the only one of the friend group who intimidated me. When he was in a good mood he was fun, when he was in a bad mood he was horrible. I always had the impression that Brendan didn’t like me, only because whenever we were together (and especially when he was on meth) he would make fun of everything I did. He would ask what was wrong with my hair, or why I chose to wear a certain bad outfit. He would tell me I was annoying on crystal meth (granted, I probably was) or that my voice was annoying. On the outside Brendan appeared to be a nice person, but nine times out of ten he wasn’t. That night I avoided direct conversation with him until he said, “Cody, what the fuck is wrong with you?”

I had been spaced out with that Kermit the Frog song stuck in my head, “What?” I asked.

“You’re staring at the wall.” He laughed.

“Oh, I was just thinking about something for a second.”

“Naw man, you’re fucked. You look fuuuuuucked up!”

“I’m not feeling too fucked. I was just spaced.”

“Cody, believe me, you’re fucked. Look at yourself, god! Your pupils are HUGE. Your hair is a fucking mess. You need help, mate.” Brendan laughed while Nick put his phone away and joined him. I must have not looked too impressed because next Brendan said, “Oh come on. We are just kidding. You need to grow a fucking backbone.”

“I do have a backbone!” I said a little too aggressively.

Nick piped in, “Did Brendan hurt little Cody’s feelings. Awe, so sweet.”

I tried to say, “No, he didn’t hurt my…”

“Awe, Cody is hurt.”

“Fuck off I’m not hurt.” I defended.

“Why don’t you build a bridge and get over it!” Nick said mockingly.

“No, I don’t care.” I said.

“Yes you do,” Brendan interjected.

“No, I’m just…”

“Awe look, he’s still going.” Nick laughed.

“Yeah because…” I tried to say.

“Oh my god, GET OVER IT CODY!” Brendan said with a wave of his hand, “Fuck you’re always so sensitive. We are just joking. Fuck.”

I remained silent and tried to hide my frustration. I felt my phone vibrate, it was a message from Jay.

Jay: I’m sorry they’re so mean to you.

I looked up at Jay who was already staring at me. It clicked in my mind then that maybe Jay liked me. I pushed the thought out as soon as I had it. I can’t get involved in this three-way relationship, I thought, It would get so messy.

For the second day in a row we watched the sun rise without any sleep or food. It was decided that all six of us were going to go to work that day. We decided to power smoke the rest of our crystal meth first since we wouldn’t risk having it at work. It seemed like a good idea until I saw how much we had left. Normally I would have three to four puffs on the pipe every hour… that alone could keep you up for days. That morning, in the space of ten minutes, I powered through ten good rips. We all did. Mixing ten rips with the fact I hadn’t slept or eaten for over two days was recipe for disaster.

“Oh we some fried chicken,” Brendan squealed as he pulled his vehicle onto the road. All six of us fit into his small car as we set off for work.

“It’s too fucking cold! Turn up the heat!” Ben yelled over the loud music Brendan was playing.

“No way! I’m so fucking hot!” Nick retaliated while opening the passenger-side window.

“Yeah, I’m really hot too.” said Chris, almost to himself.

“Yeah we get it.” Brendan said abruptly. Everyone went quiet, “You’re hotter than everyone else.”

Chris looked embarrassed as he said, “Two degrees hotter, actually.”

“Fuck,” said Nick, “I knew you were on about something.”

I had no clue what was going on. Everyone seemed to be in on something except for me.

“I heard rumors but I didn’t think it was actually true. If you don’t want people to know you shouldn’t be making obvious jokes about it.” Brendan laughed.

“Yeah, you saying I’m warmer than everyone else is a huge giveaway.” Nick added.

I finally spoke up, “Giveaway about what?” Everyone turned to me.

Nick said, “Chris is two degrees warmer…” I was still puzzled, “… His body temperature isn’t the same as healthy people…” I still didn’t respond “… There were rumors going around…”

“I have no idea what you’re on about,” I felt stupid saying.

After a couple seconds of silence, Ben said, “Chris, did you want to tell him?”

Chris answered, “Yeah,” and then he turned to me and said, “Cody, when people have HIV their resting body temperature is two degrees warmer than those that don’t. I have HIV.”

(I have to stop here and say that, after researching this ‘fact’, I am unable to find its validity. This is the conversation that happened, and everyone believed at the time that HIV positive people were 2 degrees warmer than other people at resting body temperature. But I am unable to confirm the scientific accuracy of said statements.)

“Oh, ok.” I responded.

“None of us care that you have it,” Nick said reassuringly to Chris, “I have a couple friends who are HIV positive. It doesn’t bother me.”

“It doesn’t bother me neither.” Brendan agreed.

“Yeah, I don’t care either.” I agreed as well.

The rest of the car ride I wanted to ask Chris questions about the disease but instead I tried to focus on not dying; I felt like an alien was about to burst out of my chest.

At Knight Call I was fucked up. I had never felt that high before on crystal meth; powering through the rest of the stash before work was starting to seem like a bad idea. I was shaking and tripping over my words. I tried my hardest to act normal in front of the manager on duty, Robert, but he kept looking at me with suspicious eyes. When Dave found out I had done crystal meth a few weeks back word got around quickly that I had done it and Robert was one of the first to step forward and talk to me about it. He kept saying to be very careful with it, and warned me to avoid Chris, Ben and Jay. And so Robert looked at me with suspicion, and then disappointment. He didn’t need to say it; I knew that he knew I was high.

I tried to calm my nerves once I got into the Boy’s Room. Luckily the only other person working a shift besides the group I arrived with was Bruce (the new Irish guy), and he tended to keep to himself. I was very quiet as I observed Nick, Brendan, Chris, Ben and Jay handle their highs with grace. I just sat quietly and tried to not have a heart attack. It felt like something was trying to crawl out of my throat. I had a hard time swallowing. My forehead was greasy and my palms were sweaty.

What seemed like hours were actually minutes. Brendan was called off to see a client. Then Nick was gone as well. Chris, Ben and Jay randomly left as well to see a private client, and soon it was just Bruce and I in the room. I silently prayed to no particular god that I didn’t want a client. I wasn’t in the right state for it. I felt like I was spinning really fast and couldn’t shake it. The silence suddenly was crawling under my skin and I found that I needed to say something out loud or else I would implode.

“How are you and Jason doing? Where is he?” I asked Bruce as calm as possible, remembering to breathe and pause at the appropriate intervals.

“We are doing well,” He answered with suspicion, “He’s working in the underwear shop.”

“Oh cool,” I said, regretting that I said anything at all. Trying to force out words was infinitely worse than sitting in silence.

I didn’t say anything else. We both sat in silence watching reruns of Futurama on the TV. I felt like I couldn’t move, so I sat in a hunched position for quite a while until I swear I heard Bruce say, “Cody?”

“Yes?” I answered without looking at him.

I didn’t hear what he said, but I guessed that he said, “How are you doing?”

I felt like it was odd that he asked me so long after I had asked him, but without looking at him I made up a lie about my day and what I had been up too recently, “… And then I went to the beach and it was amazing. I heard you live in Bondi? That’s amazing! I’ve only been there once but I really would love to go again. What do you think of it?” I asked and turned my head to look at him. But what I saw came as a shock.

Bruce wasn’t there.

I quickly stood up and looked around frantically. My heart pounded so hard I swear my whole body pulsed along with it. He was just there. He had just asked me a question. I remembered hearing his voice. A sudden thought about the second coming of Christ raced through my mind and suddenly I felt like I was in Left Behind. I looked out the glass door to make sure he wasn’t having a cigarette, but he wasn’t there. I even stupidly lifted a couple of throw pillows as if he were a lost tv remote.

Suddenly I heard Robert’s voice and it made me jump, “Carl, what are you doing?”

“Oh umm, I thought I lost something.” I lied, putting my hands behind my back as if I were hiding something.

“You have an outcall… they want you to come in twenty minutes, so you’ll have to leave here now.”

“Ok,” I said, hardly holding in my disappointment. I debated telling Robert that I wasn’t able to do it. Just tell him you’re sick, I said to myself. Instead I said out loud, “Hey, do you know where Bruce went?”

“Carl, Bruce has been gone for about an hour with a client.”

 

*    *    *    *   *    *

 

I had a mini panic attack in the taxi ride to the hotel to see the client.

When I was with the client I was unable to perform at my peak. The client looked at me with disappointment and within 15 minutes told me to go home and go to bed. I still got paid, but it was the first time a client had kicked me out.

“You’re terrible,” the client said before shutting the door on me.

Stupidly I went back to work in hopes that Nick and Brendan were back. Luckily they were and I told Nick about how fucked up I felt.

“Oh my god, really? I feel fine. It’s probably in your head.” Nick said.

Brendan said more bluntly, “You just can’t handle it.”

“No, this is seriously fucked you guys. I’ve never felt like this before.” I pleaded.

“You just don’t know how to let the high take over. Stop fighting it.” Brendan advised me.

“I don’t think that’s what this is.” I said as a last ditch effort to make them realise that I felt like something was wrong with me.

Even though I knew that Robert knew I was high, I didn’t want to give him any excuse to bring it up. So instead of doing the smart thing and going home, I stayed at Knight Call.

I got another client that night. This time the client came to Knight Call to use one of the rooms.

I entered the room. I took my clothes off. I hopped on the bed. He pulled me in. I kissed him once. Then he said, “Nope. Naw. Nope. Fuck this. I don’t want you. You’re fucked. I don’t want you.”

“What are you talking about? I’m fine.” I said a little too brashly.

“You’re not even hard, and your skin stinks. Something is wrong with you.”

I was immediately offended, “Umm my dick isn’t a fucking button that I can turn on and off. I don’t just get hard immediately.”

“No, I don’t want you. I want someone else.”

“But I…”

“Please leave now.”

When I shut the door behind me I realised I didn’t even get any money off him.

I now hold the record for the quickest to be kicked out of the room… I was in there for less than two minutes. I also was the first one to be kicked out twice in one day.

After being kicked out a second time that day I decided to bite the bullet and go home.

When I went to bed I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t toss and turn, instead I lay perfectly still staring up at the ceiling, watching it pulsate and pondering my sanity.

It’s not easy being green,” I silently sang, “It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.

The pulsating ceiling turned from being frightening to being comforting. Soon I found myself drifting to a much needed sleep.

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The Truth: Part 29

Scott informed me by phone that they were releasing him from the hospital early. A few months early. I was concerned, “Are you healed enough to be out of the hospital?”

“These fucking nurses seem to think so.” Scott grumbled.

“It’s so early. Two weeks ago you said that you were going to be in for a few more months.”

“They changed their minds. They don’t want me here anymore.”

To me it seemed like they were kicking him out, but I didn’t say anything.

Scott’s voice went soft, “I’ll need your help when I come back. I hate to ask, but I’ll really need your help.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. So when are you arriving?”

“In two days.”

I almost said fuck into the phone, “Cool. Well I shall be here for your triumphant return.”

“Darling, you can lay down the red carpet.”

“I will.”

When I hung up the phone I screamed. I didn’t care if the neighbors heard me. Deniro heard the screaming and came running right as I collapsed onto the floor. Don’t cry, I told myself repeatedly.

When I felt more composed I called Knight Call and told them I wanted to cancel my day-shift on the day Scott arrived and change it to a night shift. It was no fuss. Next I bathed Deniro, wanting to make sure he smelled fresh for Scott’s return. “You’re going to see Scott soon!” I tried to tell Deniro enthusiastically. Deniro cocked his head and I felt as if he understood.

I panicked when I saw the living room. It was a mess of garbage and rearranged furniture from all the ‘poker nights’ I had been throwing. I spent an hour getting the room organised, another hour vacuuming the carpets and sweeping the linoleum floors, wiped down the bathroom, and washed the mountain of dishes that had accumulated on the kitchen counter.

The bordello was dead the next day. I was working the day shift with three other boys, one was Blake. I told Blake that Scott was coming back early and Blake seemed excited. “I’ve always liked Scott,” Blake beamed.

“Yeah, he’s a cool guy.” I replied.

“He was one of the only guys that worked here that would want to talk to me.”

I understood what Blake meant. Boys at KC had the tendency to overlook Blake. He was stereotyped at the dumb straight-man, even though it was false. Blake had a lot of smart things to say, he just didn’t know how to say them. Scott recognised this, and when given some patience Blake would flow with deep intelligence.

Nick showed up a few hours late for the day shift, as usual. I was eager to tell him about Scott’s sudden return.

“No fucking way!” Nick gasped.

“Yeah, and I think they are kicking him out.”

“Fuck, that doesn’t surprise me. He can be so difficult.”

“He wants me to help him out.”

“What? Like be his nurse? Fuck that!”

“I know. I didn’t come here to be anyone’s goddamned caregiver. It’s been stressful enough looking after that dog.”

“I don’t know why you don’t just move out.”

“I can’t do that. I would feel so bad.”

“Who cares? It’s not your fucking problem. He should’ve thought of that before getting himself hit by a truck.”

I pondered for a second, “I want to leave. I just can’t. Scott has done so much for me.”

“You hardly even know him! All he has done is give you a place to live. You could come stay with me if you wanted, you practically live there anyway.”

“I can’t.”

Nick’s distorts his voice to a flamboyant tone, “It’s because you a pussy. You a little bitch pussy who needs to grow a backbone.” He poked me in the side and I laughed.

Dave was worried about Scott’s return. He warned me that Scott had good intentions, but got into trouble easy. I took it into consideration. Dave also told me that I had a client coming in an hour. The client was one I hadn’t seen before, but whom had been coming to KC for years. I was specifically recommended by Dave to the client. “He’s easy,” Dave said, “So don’t worry. He’s a really nice guy. Old. Very smart. Doesn’t expect much.”

“Cool,” I said, “Sounds easy to me.”

The client eyes glowed when he took his first look at me. I brought him up to the room and shut the door and locked it. He was short, wore glasses, had a hunched back, and spoke with a british accent.

“You are a very handsome young man,” said the client, whose name was Hector.

“Thanks, did you want to start with a massage?”

“No no, that won’t be necessary.” Hector laid down on the bed, “Just come here and cuddle with me, I want to know more about the mysterious Carl.”

“Do you want me to take my clothes off?”

“If you want to.”

I decided to take off my clothes except my underwear. I laid down in his arms and he made a whimpering noise.

“Are you ok?” I leaned up to look at him.

“Yeah I’m fine, it’s just nice.”

“So what do you want to know?”

Hector asked me questions about my life, my parents, my siblings. I told him about my travels through Southeast Asia and how I came into the escorting business.

“You have a very good head on your shoulders.” Hector mentioned, “You are a boy who has been through a lot.”

“Oh, and that’s not even half of it.”

“Ohhhhh… there is more?”

I told him the story about Scott and the dog. I didn’t mention the meth part, or the part where I hated the responsibilities that were thrust upon me.

“Oh you poor thing,” Hector sympathised.

“I’ll live.”

“What you’re doing is very admirable. You are a really great person. To be so patient and caring towards someone you hardly even know? A saint.” Hector’s enthusiasm was charming, “Scott must be very lucky to have found a man like you.”

“It’s stressful.” I admitted.

“Oh, understandably! But to persevere through it all is astounding. You are a lot wiser than your years, Carl. He’ll be forever in your debt when he returns.”

“I don’t think I’m ready to be someone’s caregiver.”

“No, you’re probably not. But I believe you will do just fine. Scott will be counting on you now.”

“I’m not even sure what condition he’ll be in when he gets back.”

“Let’s hope for the best.”

The hour was over and I got dressed as Hector informed me that he would be coming in to see me again in a couple days. I told him I had really enjoyed his company and was looking forward to seeing him soon.

I had renewed hope that I was going to make it out ok.

The next day Scott texted me once he got off the plane to let me know that he would arrive soon. He warned me that he was going to be arriving in style, whatever that meant. I made sure the house was in perfect condition for Scott, surely he was going to come home exhausted and I didn’t want his return to be muddled with a dirty house. I waited by the window looking out onto the street. Deniro rested by my feet.

An ambulance pulled up. Oh fuck, I thought. Two men got out and walked around the back of the vehicle to open up the swing doors. They wheeled Scott out on a stretcher. They had problems rolling the stretcher up the sidewalk, so they removed Scott from the stretcher and one man carried him in his arms like a swaddled baby. Scott was thin and frail. His features were sunken. His eyes had huge bags underneath. Scott screamed in pain as he was carried through the threshold.

“Put me on the fucking couch,” Scott wailed. The man walked to the couch and started lowering Scott, “Slower, Slower, AHHHHHHHHH!”

I looked down as Scott wailed while being placed on the couch. Deniro was in a frenzy over Scott, wagging his tail furiously. A smile towards Deniro managed to escape Scott’s mouth, as well as a weak greeting.

“You weren’t expecting the ambulance, were you?” Scott asked.

I shook my head.

“Yeah, neither did I.”

The Truth: Part 27

Scott had just called me, Deniro’s neck was bleeding, and I was high as fuck. He reminded me of the birthday that I missed and had asked me about Deniro. Luckily he was also fucked up on his own form of prescribed medicines so he was unable to sense the unease and paranoia in my voice.

“I went outside today,” He said proudly, but quickly grew sad, “I was so scared.”

“Well that’s good you left,” I praised him, “That’s such a good step.”

“I had a hard time crossing the street. I was so scared of the cars,” He paused and then added, “I have to wheel myself around in a wheelchair, you know?”

“Oh… well you are going to be able to walk again, right?”

“Yeah, but that’s what I wanted to call you about. Deniro hasn’t been a pain to deal with, has he?”

“No way,” I look down once again at his bleeding neck, “I like taking care of him.”

“Would you be against looking after him for a longer period of time?”

“Yeah, that should be ok,” I assured him.

“Ok, because the doctor told me today that I won’t be released from hospital until September.”

SEPTEMBER, I think to myself, THAT’S MONTHS AWAY! I responded with, “That should be ok. Don’t worry about us, just focus on your recovery.”

“Thanks hun.”

The conversation ended there. I wished him luck and hung up the phone.

The five of us grabbed our coffees and teas and went back to my place. I brought Deniro into the bathroom with a roll of paper towels and cleansed his wound. I got the bleeding to stop but didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t even know where the nearest vet was nor did I have a vehicle to take Deniro to the vet in. In my drugged state I decided to let the wound run it’s own healing course and wish for the best. I decidedly neglected something that needed immediate attention, and I take full responsibility for that now. I had a shift at KC that day, but when I came back that night I checked Deniro’s injury again and cleaned it once more. Deniro was very patient as I cleansed it. He didn’t move or whimper as I dabbed his wound with paper towels. When I was done nurturing his wound I looked him deep in the eyes and started tearing up. I was stretched thin from the stress of the day; from the stress of having these responsibilities, of not knowing when Scott would come back, of trying to fit in, the stress of work and how toxic it became because of Chris and Ben; but when I looked at Deniro and his unrelenting patience with me I felt as if all those problems sunk away. He needed me as much as I needed him. Deniro slept by my door that night for the first time.

Sleeping after a three day meth bender was harder than imagined. You’d think that after three days your body would be begging to sleep, but instead I lay with my eyes closed for hours. Just when I’d be about to sleep my body would jolt and I would be wide awake again. Once I did fall asleep though I was in such a state that only a good shake would’ve woken me. The mornings were for regret, and usually for crying as well. As I stumbled to try and get ready for the day, the come down in full force, I felt empty and emotionless. The smallest thing would make me burst in tears, and there was numerous times I cried to the Les Miserables soundtrack. I felt heavier with each step when I was walking to work. I would have my sunglasses firmly in place with a power drink gripped in one hand. I would sometimes get shaky and my breath would get uneven. My heart would be racing and I would have to tell myself that it was all in my head. In my comedowns I would always tell myself, Next time I’ll wait a week before having more, or I would think, Maybe I won’t do it for three days in a row next time. But once the comedown was gone it was also forgotten and all I could remember was the unforgettable high that preceded it.

One night Chris, Ben, Matt, Brendan, Nick, and I met at Nick’s apartment. Since Matt was there we tried to keep the drug use on the down low and had it prepared and hidden in the bathroom. When one of us felt like we needed a hit we would excuse ourselves to the bathroom and take a puff or two (or three… or four…). Brendan and Nick were obviously less worried about keeping it from Matt as they would usually both go into the bathroom together. At one point Chris, Ben, Brendan, Nick and I were ALL in the tiny bathroom before Brendan noticed and said, “Fuck, not all of us at once! He’s gonna know!”

Matt wasn’t as stupid as we loved to pretend he was, so he knew right away. He didn’t say much about it but still gave his judgemental two-cents. It was quiet royal coming from a gambling addict and ex-stoner.

When Matt went to the bathroom (to actually USE the bathroom for it’s intended purposes) Brendan leaning in close to Nick and I and whispered, “Let’s play a prank on Matt.”

“Ohmygod yes,” said Nick, “That would be HILARIOUS.”

Besides his normal job and working at KC, Matt also worked as a private escort and advertised online (as a rent boy). Although it was riskier, private escorts made double (sometimes triple) the amount that escorts in a brothel made. Instead of giving some money to the brothel owner, you kept the whole sum for yourself. The trade off was that you had to handle your own calls, emails, texts, and transportation; basically the manager’s job.

“Let’s text Matt’s rent boy account and pretend to be a client,” said Brendan, obviously proud of his plan. Matt had two phones; his personal phone and his work phone. Our plan was to text his work phone pretending to be a client that was interested in his services and see where it went from there.

“Yes!” exclaimed Nick. I nearly gasped at how funny the potential was. We were all in agreeance.

Brendan texted Matt from a blocked number just as Matt came out of the bathroom. When I saw Matt I was pathetically having a hard time composing myself even though nothing had happened yet. I pretended to look out the window so that he wouldn’t see the stupid smirk that was struck across my face. Matt pulled his work phone out of his pocket when he felt it vibrate. As a group we never hid work-related things. Work was our entire lives.

Matt unknowingly corresponded with Brendan for a while. Brendan came up to me at one point and said, “Do you think I should send him a picture of this guy and pretend it’s the client?” I furiously agree and he sends it. It was a picture of a hot, shirtless lebanese man.

Almost immediately Matt looked at his work phone and said with excitement, “Holy shit! Holy shit guys! Look at the hot client that wants to hire me tonight.” He goes around the room and shows everyone the picture on his phone. He was beaming. I tried my best not to laugh.

Brendan consulted with Nick and they both decided to pretend that the client’s address was the apartment complex next door, that way we could secretly watch Matt walk to his ‘client’s’ apartment and witness his disappointment. They texted him the address.

“Oh my god!” yelled Matt, “He lives like, right there!” He pointed out the sliding glass doors toward the apartment complex, “I’m sorry guys I’ll have to leave you. If he wasn’t so hot I might pass but this is just too good!”

“That’s ok,” we replied, trying our hardest to act at least somewhat disappointed.

Matt left the apartment in a rush. When the door closed behind Matt, Brendan sent him one last text. It read: Will you do bareback with me?

Matt texted back: Probably not.

Brendan texts: What if I gave you an extra $500.

Matt: Yes, then I would.

Immediately I feel some humiliation for Matt. Nobody would ever admit to doing bareback with a client. It was so risky, and for someone like Matt to admit he would, even with his fear of HIV, was embarrassing. I had a slight feeling that maybe we went too far with that question, but was still laughing along regardless.

We scrambled to the balcony and watched Matt head towards the complex next door. He stopped at the gate and texted: Your apartment number isn’t on here? (We gave him a fake apartment number so that he wouldn’t accidentally buzz someone in that complex).

Brendan texted: Yes it is.

Matt: No, it’s not.

And then Matt calls Brendan’s number. Brendan tells us all to shut up and then answered the phone yelling, “Yes it is cunt!” The five of us lost our shit laughing. I am howling as Matt tried to explain miserably that he knew it was us all along, “Yeah right!” yelled Brendan, “You fucking didn’t know shit,” then he said in a mocking voice, “look guys, he’s soooooo hot!” I laugh even harder.

Brendan decided to meet Matt outside of the elevator, and when the doors opened and Matt saw Brendan, he took a swing at his face.

We laughed. It was a really good time. Matt cooled down after a minute and laughed himself.

“We should plan a vacation together,” Matt suggested after Ben and Chris left to go home for the night.

We all agreed that was a good idea. 

The Truth: Part 26

“I hope you are well!” I said enthusiastically on the phone. I was talking to Scott.

“Thanks babe. It was my birthday three days ago.” said Scott with a weak voice.

“I meant to call but I got busy,” I lied, I had totally forgotten about it, “I am so sorry. Happy birthday though!” I looked up at the five people I was with and they all looked sheepish. We were walking to a local cafe.

“That’s ok hun. How’s Deniro?” Scott asked.

“He’s doing good. Really good.” I lied again. I looked down at Deniro, who was on a leash, and see blood running down his neck. Fuck, I think to myself, what do I do?

*********************************************************************************

Two weeks before I talked to Scott on the phone two new boys started working at KC. Their names were Ben and Chris and they were a couple. Chris was a scene boy. He had blonde hair and an innocent look. He did things to get attention and you could tell he prided himself in being different. He was really odd, at times he was shy, and beneath his outer mannerisms I could tell that he was just a lost boy wanting to be heard. He was the very definition of the saying ‘the eyes are the gateway to the soul’ because his eyes juxtaposed his actions and gave away his true self. I grew to have a soft spot for him because I knew what it was like to want to be noticed.

Ben was confident, but equally as confused. He was articulate and spoke like an aristocrat. He thought he was too smart and was certain he was too good looking. He talked like he knew more than you and unintentionally acted like he was more important than you. He bragged about acting roles he had, acted like nothing bothered him, and pretended to know a lot about drugs and the sex industry.

Once they both started at KC the entire work dynamic changed. Ben and Chris quickly took it upon themselves to rule the entire Boys Room. They would come in with giant bags and throw their stuff all over the room and spend hours doing their hair and makeup. The room would soon be filled with makeup, hair products, clothes, and other assortments. The place quickly became a pig sty and nobody was happy about it.

Jay quickly got acquainted with Ben and Chris. Jay himself was still new, and I had a bit of a crush on him. He was silent but quiet charming. He warmed up to Ben and Chris and before the blink of an eye they were in a three-way relationship. Well, they called it a three-way relationship but it was obvious that Jay and Chris weren’t into each other that much. Jay was in love with Ben and Chris was in love with Ben. Ben was in love with Jay but was too scared to dump Chris to be with Jay because Chris was a safe space… at least that’s the way I interpreted it. Jay and Ben would cuddle and makeout on the couch when Chris wasn’t around. When Chris was around then Ben and Chris would usually get into fights and Chris would end up crying. The environment at KC was getting highly toxic. I was regularly at work coming down off crystal meth, so I was seriously annoyed by the new toxic environment.

Branden soon became friends with the threesome (my nickname for them at the time because it took too long to say all of their names). They would do drugs together and very rarely engage in sexual acts together. Nick soon followed suit and hung out with them for the drugs, and I fell right behind them soon after. Before I knew what hit me we were a group of six friends and we hung out all the time. I never particularly liked Ben, he seemed very fake and rubbed me the wrong way. Jay I was infatuated with, and Chris I felt sorry for, so I tolerated them. Matt had a full time job and wasn’t around as much, and we didn’t want him to hang out with us when we were doing drugs because he would get judgemental and ruin the buzz. Nick’s apartment was too small and Branden’s was too far, so we started hanging out in my Chippendale house. We all learned the game of poker and would have three day binges which more or less actually involved poker and more involved lots of crystal meth and talking about sex.

One night, the night before I talked to Scott on the phone, we were having a poker binge. We had rearranged the furniture so we could all sit comfortably for days on end. We were passing around the pipe often and I was on my second day of no sleep. As the night progressed Chris kept looking at me funny. Jay and Ben sat together and Jay would stare at Ben’s phone as Ben typed something out and then they would both giggle. Branden was telling a story and Nick was spaced out looking at his phone. Jay and Ben’s giggling continued and Chris kept looking at me. I was starting to get paranoid. When Ben stopped laughing and looked at me for a split second I had a feeling that they were laughing at something that had to do with me.

I decided to send Chris a text message: What is going on?

Chris: I don’t know if u want to know.

Me: Just fucking tell me.

Chris sends me a screenshot of a series of texts that Ben had sent him, it read:

       Ben: Do you think Cody would want to do a foursome?

       Chris: Idk

       Ben: Yeah, he’s kind of a prude.

       Chris: Yeah.

       Ben: He might not be any good. He’s not really experienced. He’s kind of weird.

I send Chris a text message: I wouldn’t have sex with you guys anyway.

Chris doesn’t message me back. Instead I get a text message from Ben.

Ben: Chris told me he showed you what I sent. So you want to come home with us?

Me: No.

Ben: Why not?

Me: Because I like one on one sex and I don’t want to have sex with any of you.

I could tell Ben was a little offended and it made me happy.

Ben: Jay thinks you’re really hot.

Me: That’s nice.

There was not another text exchange that night. It seemed like the three boys were just horny from all the ice so I didn’t think much of it. The sun was slowly brightening the night sky. Morning had come and we all turned into zombies. We didn’t speak for a few hours, instead we were consumed in our phone screens. Our faces illuminated by the blues and yellows of Facebook and Grindr. Chris suggested we go get coffee at the local cafe. We decided it was a good idea to get out of the house for a few minutes and I thought it would be a good time to take Deniro for his walk. I found a pair of sunglasses to help me hide from the brightness of the outdoors, and so did everyone else. Deniro whined with excitement when he saw me grab the leash. His tail frantically swung back and forth as I placed it on him. Standing up gave me a whole new rush and I started to feel less zoned out. Nick walked past Deniro as he walked out the door and said, “Don’t touch me.”

“Awe, don’t you like his pretty face?” I joked.

“Not when he stinks like something died.” Nick responded.

I followed Nick out the door with Deniro, “I just washed him a couple days ago.”

With sunglasses in place, the group of us walked through a very small park named Peace Park to get to the cafe. There were children laughing on the playground and parents sitting on the benches. I wished they didn’t look at me when they did because I looked in the mirror before we left and noticed my skin and hair was greasy. A little dog was running around off-lease and saw Deniro. The small white ball of fluff came running up to him, pink tongue sticking out with ears flapping behind. Deniro stood still as the small dog apporached. The owners walked up behind their dog and, within a second, the little dog yelped and grabbed Denrio by the neck. Deniro didn’t even flinch as the small dog bit at his neck and barked. The owners grabbed their small dog and apologized. I hardly said anything because Deniro seemed fine and I was tweaking out too hard to say much. The group hardly said anything as we continued walking. For me the walk seemed to take forever even though it took us 3 minutes total. Everything was too intense, I started to feel a panic rising in me. I tried my best to hide it and take deep breaths. We were nearly at the cafe when Nick said, “Cody, I think Denrio is bleeding.”

“Really?” I asked, then bent down to inspect him. Deniro had a line of blood running from his neck down his legs. I grabbed at one of his skin-folds on his neck and spread it. A chunk of skin had been removed by the small dog and it was bleeding profusely.

“Fuck,” I exclaimed, “That fucking little dog took a good chunk out of Deniro’s neck!”

Nick bent down to look, “Eww, that’s fucking gross. He didn’t even yelp when it happened. I didn’t think he was actually hurt.”

“Yeah, me neither. Fuck, I don’t know what to do. I’ll try and fix it once we get our coffees and get back to mine.”

My phone started ringing in my pocket. One Day/Reckoning Song by Asaf Avidan & The Mojos was my ringtone at the time. I had heard the song for the first time in Koh Tao, Thailand. I was with Blaire when I had heard it. I remembered dancing the night away in the beach club. At one point Blaire yelled in my ear, “You’re going to have such a good time in Sydney. It’s such an amazing place! You’ll do so well there.”

I take my phone out and look at the caller id. It’s Scott.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, I thought.

The Truth: Part 24

In the land of Gods and Monsters
I was an Angel
Looking to get fucked hard
Like a groupie incognito posing as a real singer
Life imitates art

You got that medicine I need
Dope, shoot it up, straight to the heart please
I don’t really wanna know what’s good for me
God’s dead, I said ‘baby that’s alright with me’

– Gods and Monsters, Lana Del Rey

I was nervous and uncertain of how to properly do crack. Brendan held the pipe for me up to my mouth with one hand, with his other hand he ignited a lighter and held it under the glass. White smoke started billowing out of the pipe and Brendan told me to start inhaling. He stressed that I would need to inhale slowly, and to inhale for as long as I could. Once my lungs were at capacity I removed my mouth from the pipe and held it in.

“Don’t hold it in, just let it out right away,” said Nick.

I exhaled. The smoke didn’t taste like much when being inhaled, but when exhaled it had that burnt plastic quality that hung in the back of my throat. It wasn’t a horrible taste, but it wasn’t a comfortable one either.

“How long do I have to wait?” I asked.

“It’ll kick in a few minutes,” answered Brendan, “We’ll just let you have that little bit to see how you feel, then if you’re ok you can have more later.”

Ten minutes pass and I don’t feel anything. “I think it’s not working, I don’t feel a thing,” I said.

Brendan laughs, “Cody look at your pupils, they’re HUGE. You’re fucked.”

“But I don’t feel any different,” I explained.

“That’s the point,” exclaimed Brendan, “But don’t you feel on top of your game? When I do it I feel like I can run a marathon.”

“Yeah, I guess,” I pondered, I did feel like I was more awake and alert than before. I also felt like talking, another effect of crack. “So this is crack… as in, like, crack cocaine, right?”

“What the fuck,” Nick gasps, “You’re fucking kidding me, right?”

Brendan laughs, “Crack isn’t crack cocaine. This is meth babes.”

“Crystal meth?” I was shocked, “But I thought ‘crack’ meant crack cocaine?”

Nick shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. This is what I was told it was called.”

“Oh fuck,” I grumbled, but then I start laughing, “Holy fuck… I went from only ever doing marijuana to one of the worst drugs in the world.”

I was enjoying the seemingly non-existent feeling of crystal meth. I noticed my speech ran at one million miles per hour and when I had gone to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror I saw that my pupils were like giant black saucers. Brendan, Nick and I laughed and talked about the random things. Then Brendan’s two friends arrived and immediately had some crack and joined in the conversations.

“It’s his first time!” Brendan yelled and pointed at me.

“How does it feel?” Said one of Brendan’s friends.

“I feel so good.” I replied.

Brendan would have to hold the pipe for me while I took more puffs which, at first, made me feel like an idiot, but after that first couple times I didn’t care. I realised I didn’t care about a lot of things that I normally cared about while I was on meth. Meth turned the rational part of my brain off and I found myself saying things that I normally wouldn’t. I was becoming louder and more boisterous. I also had a nervous tick that annoyed Brendan and Nick: I would ask everyone if they were ok every half hour.

Later in the night Brendan received a frantic phone call from a girl. I can’t remember the full details of what was wrong with her, but when Brendan hung up he told us that we had to make a trip to her boyfriend’s townhouse. The gist of what I can remember is that her boyfriend was a drug dealer and that the cops either had just raided his place, or were about to, or both, or that they were getting removed from it… either way the girl was upset and she needed to get out of the house as soon as possible.

So we all go with Brendan on an adventure to help this girl out at 3 am.

I realised that the townhouse was very close to the place I was living in Chippendale. From the outside the house looked pretty run down. The tenants must’ve lost the actual house numbers because instead they had painted a giant 180 beside the door in white paint. I felt like I was in a movie as we walked in the front door. The place was rundown and derelict. It was a stereotypical drug house. Brown and yellow stains ran up the white walls and onto the ceiling. The place wasn’t furnished except for a green couch that looked like it had rats living inside of it. The floors were messy with garbage and the floor boards were ripped in places. The odor of the house was sour and there was a dampness that hung in the air. The lighting was dim which cast everything in long shadows. Brendan walked into the townhouse nonchalantly, but upon entering Nick immediately clasped his hands together and held them close to his chest. I followed suit and it was obvious both of us were scared to touch anything.

I was introduced to the girl by Brendan. She talked at a high speed as she thanked us all for coming. She made us follow her up the stairs into the bedroom. The stairs were slanted and I tripped trying to walk up them. The bedroom had a musky odor and the gray carpet was stained and ripped. A stained mattress lay in the middle of the floor with a dismantled bed frame beside it.  

The girl tried to ask Brendan for some crack in a way that screamed hidden desperation. As he carefully took out the black bag and slowly opened it to reveal the glass pipe I noticed her squirming in place. She rubbed her hands together, and then rubbed them down her legs. Her face lit up when she saw the pipe. She spoke at a speed that could only be described as ultrasonic as she failed to make us think she wasn’t too focussed on Brendan preparing the pipe. She asked us basic questions but kept eyeing Brendan, and once he had the pipe prepared she basically leapt towards him. She smoked an inhuman amount of crystal and I noticed Brendan looked unimpressed as she inhaled the drugs that he bought.

Brendan splayed on the stained mattress while I cautiously sat on the corner of it trying my best not to touch anything. Nick decided to stand and looked ill. I grew annoyed with the banter between Brendan and the girl so I decided to go back downstairs and find the bathroom. I almost tripped down the stairs again but recovered myself by putting my hands on the wall, which was sticky. There was a man I hadn’t noticed before sitting on the green couch. His eyes were bulging and fixated on his phone. The phone’s screen cast strange colors onto the man’s shaded face, the spark of humanity seemed to be drained out of his long facial features. He looked zombified as his mouth hung partially open. He didn’t acknowledge my presence as I found my way to the bathroom.  

The bathroom was so disgusting it was almost unexplainable. The only way to describe it would be that I had seen better bathrooms in Southeast Asia.

Nick was awkwardly standing outside the toilet when I came out.

“That bathroom is disgusting,” I warned him.

“Yeah I’m not going in there,” He says, “This whole place is rancid.”

“Aren’t we supposed to be here to help her? Why are we just sitting around?” I asked.

Nick just shrugged, “I don’t know. I hope we leave soon because I’m going to need a bleach shower after this. I don’t even want to touch anything because I’m afraid I’m gonna catch a disease.”

Earlier, when we first pulled up to the townhouse, I had pointed out to Brendan and Nick that I lived a couple streets down. The girl decided to give Brendan the bedframe since he needed one, and she needed a place to store some of her stuff temporarily. I told her we could bring her boxes of stuff to my place and store it there while my housemate was gone. Brendan’s car was too small for the frame so we decided to store it at my place as well.  

So, at four in the morning, we started running boxes through the streets to my house. Deniro happily greeted us at the door, but once inside I noticed a foul odor as I remembered I hadn’t bathed Deniro in some time and it was long overdue.

“Oh my god what’s that fucking smell?” Brendan gasped and tried to cover his nose. I explained that it was the dog.

The mattress was the hardest to move, but only because most of us were scared to even touch it. It took all of us to get it down the stairs, three of us to run it across the street, and all of us to drag it across my floor to my kitchen. We placed the small boxes of stuff under my kitchen table, along with the bed frame. The mattress we rested against the wall. Nick urgently needed to use my toilet while I grabbed a few items from my room and fed Deniro.

I had a moment to pause and look at all the girl’s stuff in my kitchen. My consciousness tugged at my heart and tried to explain to me that I had seen the warning signs that night. A big part of me felt disturbed, but I wasn’t able to pinpoint what it was. I had a glimmer of truth resting inside of me but I wasn’t able to grasp it. The warning signs were in place, but through the haze of adventure I decided to push them deep down so I couldn’t hear them.
Everything is under control, I told myself.

The Truth: Part 16

My first two weeks at the brothel were not entirely eventful. Brendan, Matt, Nick and I became good friends. I was officially a part of their group, and together in our naivety we ‘ruled’ Knight Call. The other boys would moan whenever the four of us had shifts together because we would sit there and talk and laugh so loud that I’m sure the clients could hear us all the way from Room 3. I was smoking cigarettes full time again, something that happened gradually from hanging out with all three boys in the smoking area so often. We would sit on the wooden slats outside cross-legged, gossiping about other escorts and telling tales of bad clients, cigarettes swinging around as we flamboyantly used our hands to communicate grandeur. Our friendship took off at break-neck speed, and it was only the second week. It felt like I had been friends with those three boys for a year by that point. I never felt so connected within a group in my entire life. Finally I had a group of friends who I could relate too mentally and sexually. It was amazing.

Blaire and I had met up within those two weeks as well. She had gotten a new job in an office downtown and was still seeing Dean.

“You’re making how much money!?” Blaire asked when I told her how much I had made in the past week.

“Fifteen hundred.” I repeated.

“Holy shit Cody,” Blaire said and then laughed, “Where can you sign me up?”

I met Dean that same day I caught up with Blaire as well. Dean, Blaire and I went for a run along the cliffs near Bondi, the most famous beach in Australia. He ran behind me yelling, ‘Move twinkie move!”, which Blaire thought was funny at first but then told him to stop once it got annoying. Dean and Blaire started getting more intense with their relationship. She would visit him quite often, but she was still wary about him and his odd personality. They weren’t dating, but it was obvious that they were both developing strong feelings for each other. Blaire still hadn’t let Dean know that she knew he was an escort, so he comically kept fabricating some giant lie to her that he worked at a few night clubs doing their paperwork.

I met many boys at Knight Call. I would see Dean there every once in a while, but he only came in if he had a pre booking. He would never hangout in the Boy’s Room. Instead, Dean would seclude himself in the office. One boy (or should I say, man) really perplexed me. His name was Scott. Scott was the older guy who was there on my first day. I hadn’t officially been introduced to him until a few days after the first. I learned that he was in his late 30’s and that he used to work at Knight Call way back in the hay day. He seemed distant, but connected. Loud, yet soft. Scott and I didn’t interact that much, and it was surprising how many clients he would get with his age. I’m not saying he was ugly or anything, he was beautiful and had the most intense eyes you’ve ever seen, but normally clients wanted the young boys. The only way to make money if you weren’t young was to have big muscles, which Scott had neither. Despite this, client after client would come and ask for him. Compared to Nick and I, Scott didn’t do as well. Nick and I alone would pull in a couple clients a day, but Scott would steadily get one a day, maybe one every two days.

Besides a muscular asshole named Jake that I had a huge crush on, Nick and I pulled in the most money at Knight Call. Jake wasn’t actually an asshole, he started about a week after I did, he was just opinionated and stubborn. Once I got comfortable at Knight Call I would start telling Jake, regardless of my crush, that I thought his opinions were stupid. Normally I would never openly insult someone that quickly, but I was heavily influenced by my surroundings and the people I hung out with. I had never hung out with gay people before, or had really ever lived the gay lifestyle before. Those first few weeks (and months after) were years of oppression being released, and it released in the gayest way possible. I finally had an outlet and pedestal to be myself and was using it to my advantage.

I had been paying $180 a week for the hostel I had been living in, which was useless because I spent every night at Nick’s flat. At first I slept on his couch, but I graduated to his bed after a drunken invite. I didn’t like Nick in a sexual way, I moved to his bed because he gave me the invite and it was better than the couch.

Brendan and Nick told me numerous times that no guy would like my mohawk or plugs, so I had my plugs replaced with normal earrings, my mohawk replaced with a crew-cut that made me look like Sigourney Weaver in Alien 3.

1465365_10151769499588045_624594946_nAfter those two weeks I felt like I had to start looking for a place to call my own. I couldn’t stay in Nick’s bed forever, and I was sick of paying for a bed in a 6-person dorm. Across the city I had looked at a room, but it was a $100 taxi to get there from the inner city, and the neighbourhood scared me. Instead of risking that experience again I decided to ask around the brothel.

“I may have a room for you,” Scott said, “Why don’t you come over in two days and check it out?”

“Ok… sure.” I confirmed apprehensively. I hadn’t actually asked Scott, he must have heard I was looking through the grapevine.

Later in the smoking area Nick said, “Don’t do it. He’s weird and he’s crazy.”

I didn’t feel the same way. Scott intrigued me.

The Truth: Part 15

After the collective gasp the room fell silent. Nick looked at me with sympathetic eyes while I gazed at him scared and confused. Suddenly a boy from the back corner broke the silence and started laughing. A few other boys followed suit.

The boy who broke the silence said, “One time Arthur got me to stand behind him in front of the mirror and jiggle his belly fat.”

Another boy chimed in through the laughter, “Yeah, he got me to do that as well. He also stinks like shit!’

The first boy added, “He always wears that ugly leopard shirt!” More boys laugh.

Brendan clears his throat and announces, “I heard he always gives boys chocolate dicks!” The room erupts in roars of laughter and collective eww!‘s. Brendan notices my confusion and explains, “Chocolate dick is when you pull out and its dirty.”

One boy fake gags, another one shouts, “Covered in shit! Smells fucking disgusting!”

Robert clears his throat and speaks up, “Well don’t traumatise him!” He looks directly at me. I could tell he was trying to keep his composure. A smile curls out of the corners of his mouth.

Nick grabs my hand and pulls me down closer to him, “I’ve never had Arthur before, thank fuck! But don’t worry, it shouldn’t be too bad.”

“Does he really do all that stuff?” I asked.

Nick doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, but then says, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.” Nick then covers his mouth to hide his smile.

Just before I exit the Boys Room someone shouts, “Arthur is a rite of passage!”

I found myself going into the office once again, Robert not saying much as I gathered up the supplies from the cupboards. Robert had put the client in Room 3, and just before I leave up the stairs he reminds me, “Don’t forget he owes you one hundred and sixty.”

Opening the door of Room 3 let out a wave of pungent air that immediately made me want to gag. Arthur, a large white man in a leopard print shirt, sat on the edge of the bed. He eyed me up and down while wetting his lips with his tongue. His triple chin rolled in a wave at the slightest movement from his head. Arthurs jet-black hair was shined with grease, his eyes filled with lust. If I hadn’t known any better I would’ve thought he was an inbred cousin of actor Oliver Platt. I introduced myself and he reciprocated by smacking his lips and grunting his name in return. I slowly sat down next to him, his eyes never leaving my body as I carefully sit. I take a few seconds, but when I build up enough courage I lift my head and look at him with an apologetic smile. His was looking at me from the corner of his eye, either too lazy to turn his head or unable to. I almost look down out of embarrassment, but then he stands up and starts taking off his top.

Arthur was my second client, and I would categorise him in the top 5 worst clients I have ever had. Everything the boys said in the room was true and then some. I jiggled his fat in the mirror, and thats about all I will say. His skin stank of rot, his breath was death. His eyes creepy and focused. His genitalia was minuscule but his stomach was large, so large in fact that he tired to get me to lay on top of him while he was on his back and it was like laying on top of a bean bag chair. It was so awkward and uncomfortable, laying on top of his bean bag fat, that I asked to scale down and lay beside him instead.

By the end of my second night at the brothel I had two clients. One, my first client ever, was nice and made me realise the job wasn’t so bad. The other, my top 5 worst client ever, was horrible and made me realise that this job was going to be roulette: I’ll never know what I’m gonna get.

The boys howled when I told them in detail what had happened in the room. Many responded with ‘the worst is now over’ and ‘it’s only uphill from here’. Even Robert, when I first came down the stairs and led Arthur out the front door when the service was over, turned to me and said, “See, it wasn’t that bad.” I didn’t say anything, instead I gave him the stink eye.

Once work closed late that night Nick and Brendan invited me to go out with them for drinks. Nick said that Matt was out and that he’d introduce me to him.

“Just a warning though,” Nick said, “Matt can sometimes be full on,” Nick grabs me and starts shaking me, “SO DON’T BE FRIGHTENED IF HE GRABS YOU!” He lets go and Brendan starts laughing. I start laughing too and they tell me funny stories and facts about Matt as we walk to a club named Palms.

According to lore, Matt was pretty successful in his real job. Matt had a tendency to throw drinks at unsuspecting strangers and sleep with anything with a pulse when he was drunk. I also learned there might be a chance he’d try and go home with me, and like a man to a dog I should just say a firm NO!  Nick and Brendan tell me they would look out for me and protect me from him if needed.

Palms was an underground club, literally not figuratively. You had to walk down a set of stairs and through a hall into a giant dance floor with one bar. It was a very small club, full of old men, and they were playing 90s music. Three things I hated.

Nick spots Matt at the back of the club. We slide our way through the tightly packed crowd, and once we get to Matt it was obvious he was stark drunk. His eyes were unfocussed and halfway open. He had a big smile and swayed as Nick and Brendan hugged him hello. Nick introduces Matt to me, and Matt leans in and licks my face. Not a playful lick (is there such a thing?) but a full, sloppy chin-to-forehead lick.

And that was the beginning of everything. That was the first time Matt, Nick, Brendan and I all hung out. That was the start of the small incline before everything crashed around us.