Free as a Bird

“So…” says Pete, looking seductive and rogue-ish, “I have a clean bill of health and I’m not a wanted criminal… wanna take me out on the town and show me a good time?”

I lean my head back on the wall and sigh. I’ve got a pounding stress headache, black circles under my eyes, and my work is just a little pissed off with me for disappearing for another ‘family crisis’. Fuck it all.

I look at Pete and smirk.

“Once upon a time,” I drawl, “it was the man who had to show the chick a good time… thank God for feminism, eh?”

He laughs, and winces, grabbing his side.

“Clean bill of health, eh? Better not take you riding.”

****

The place is dark and crowded, lit by occasional strobes and – funnily enough – a mirror ball with one red light aimed at it, so that little dots of pink light wander around and around the room. I buy a bottle of water and swill it down, all in one go. The secret to not getting your drink spiked is simple – buy sealed, drink bloody fast.

Pete orders a beer, takes a mouthful, then leaves the plastic cup sitting next to him on the bar, oblivious to the fact that he’s blocking the dozens of people trying to buy drinks. That boy would enjoy having his drink spiked.

I shrug, toss my empty bottle at a bin, and slide out into the closest bit of dance space. I close my eyes and give myself up to the rhythm of the dance music.

Maybe hours later, a tap on my shoulder brings me back to reality.

Pete, with two women who are both dressed like Madonna in her ‘Like a Virgin’ days. Ugh. Especially the big hair. He winks and tips his head to the side – he’s out of here. Well, duh.

I smile and nod, then close my eyes again. Dance has given way to light trance music, and it suits my mood perfectly. I sway, feeling bodies move back into place all around me, all undulating in beautiful synchronicity. I’m all me, and I’m part of The Whole.

****

“Rough night?”

Pete is red-eyed and wobbling where he stands – and most doctors would probably put him straight back in hospital.

“Two transvestites spiked my drink and shagged me all night, and I think -” he winces, “they broke some more ribs.”

I can’t help it. I laugh.

Pete scowls at me and grabs my drink, takes a large mouthful, then spits most of it out.

“UGH! What the hell IS that?” he sputters.

“Wheatgrass and pineapple,” I say, and drain the remainder before he can chuck it out on me.

“Should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention,” he says, and staggers around my hotel room.

“Coffee’s over there,” I say, and point to the cupboard over the sink.

He grunts, and starts making himself a cup, using both coffee packets and all the sugar and Extra.

“Milk?”

“Nah, not enough class for free milk.”

“Shit!” he says, and sips the black coffee, making faces.

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