Monday, September 9, 2019

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #8

Chapter Eight
Just Another Saturday Night

Max tried to raise her head and failed miserably. She settled for trying to raise her eyelids, but failed at that too.

If she could have laughed, she would have.

But she couldn’t do anything. Slumped in the corner of the room, she was still wide-awake, still conscious and aware of her surroundings. She just couldn’t do anything about it.

Max knew she should not have had those tequila shots, but Brian had dared her. And Max could never refuse a dare.

Now it was taking everything she had just to stop herself from messing her pants, and even in her current state, she knew she couldn't afford to replace them. This wasn’t exactly how she had intended the evening to end, although she knew she shouldn’t be surprised. It was, after all, just another Saturday night.


The night started early, with Max cracking open her first bottle of beer early in the afternoon. The sun had finally shown its face above the city and Max took the opportunity to sit down and soak some of it up.

Max had heard from Brian earlier in the day, asking her to come over for a few beers in the sun.

Although Max had accepted the invitation without hesitation, she never quite shook the feeling that Brian had invited her over to get the money Max owed him.

“Hey motherfucker!” he had said when he greeted Max at his front door.

“Cocksucker,” said Max flatly, nodding and passing the half-dozen beers to Brian as she entered his apartment. It was remarkable, thought Max. She did not think the place could have got any messier than she had seen it on Tuesday night, but Brian had managed it, all the same.

Brian held up the paltry amount of beer cans and sniffed with distaste. “Is that all you got?”

“It’s all I got right now,” said Max. “I can get some more later.”

Moving into the kitchen, Brian opened the refrigerator, revealing that every available space had been filled with more beer. “Yeah,” he said with a grin. “We might need some.”

Max watched with some puzzlement as Brian squeezed her contribution into the fridge. “I thought you were broke.”

Brian just grinned and tapped the side of his nose. “Ask no questions and you’ll be told more lies.”

“That’s no lies, isn’t it?”

“Whatever floats your boat, dude.” Brian gestured towards the open door on the other side of the kitchen, through which Max could see more people sitting around, one strumming a guitar as they enjoyed their day. “You’re not my only friend, Max.”

“Whatever,” shrugged Max, reaching into her jeans pocket and pulling out some crumpled banknotes. “Anyway, here’s the money I owe you.”

“Cheers,” said Brian, taking it. As he did so he hesitated for a moment, looking straight at Max. “You okay, Max?”

“Uh…” said Max, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I guess. What do you mean?”

Brian just grinned again and opened the refrigerator again to grab another beer. “Nuthin’. Just wondering…”

“Just wondering what?”

“Still feel like you're not doing anything special? That things are stuck in place? That you’re getting nowhere?”

Max shrugged again. “Story of my life, man. Story of my life.”

“Ha!” laughed Brian, throwing an arm over Max’s shoulder as he passed her a beer and lead her out of the kitchen.


Max had known Brian since primary school, and she could still remember the day they'd met – they'd both been part of a group of kids that were throwing acorns at cars driving past the school gates, and were the only two who were caught. That cost them a week of after-school detentions and they had spent a lot of their time at school in that kind of involuntary school-time.

Once, Max had been sentenced to a whole month of detentions after calling the headmaster an arsehole – she still felt it was a justified insult after the arsehole had confiscated her action figures – and when Brian heard about it, he walked straight up to the headmaster and called him the same, so they could hang out together more.

Max hadn't like hanging around with other girls at school, they were always focused on things she couldn't give a shit about. She was always one of the boys, and it had never really been an issue. As she got older, she solidified into that role, and felt more comfortable hanging out with the lads. She always did.

Especially when they all shared the same taste in women. Brian had never tried to become anything deeper to Max and she was always silently grateful that he'd never tried anything on. He probably knew the best result he could get would be a kick in the nuts and left it at that.

And now they were both in their early thirties, still hanging out with the same losers they'd known their whole life. Even in a new city, some things never changed.


The sun had disappeared behind the tallest buildings in the city an hour ago and Max wished Jono would disappear with it.

Sitting on the roof of Brian’s apartment building, five stories above the street, Max had been cradling a beer in her hands as she enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet, her legs dangling over the edge of the roof. She had come up here to get her thoughts together after somebody with tastes that ranged all the way from head-banging epics to full-on death metal had taken control of the stereo.

It had been nice, watching people wander along the city streets down below, feeling the cool wind on her face as the bass beats from the stereo thudded beneath her arse. And then Jono had come up to join her.

Max didn’t know a lot of Brian’s friends who were now hanging around his place, but she knew Jono. Five years younger than Max, she was just annoying enough to ruin the mood on the rooftop.

“Aw bro,” he said when he came up the stairs and saw Max sitting alone. “Chillin’ out on your own, Maxie? That’s hardcore, bro. Uber-hardcore.”

“Don’t call me Maxie, Jono,” sighed Max. “You make me sound like a tampon.”

“Sorry, bro,” said Jono, taking a seat beside Max, holding his own beer loosely between two fingers.

“So what are you doing out here?”

“Like you said, just chilling.”

“Hardcore,” repeated Jono. He looked down and saw a group of people walking down below them. He turned back to Max. “Watch this, man. This will be uber-funny.”

Jono began to tip his beer out just as the group passed beneath him, but Max snatched it out of his hands before more than a few drops fell.

“What the hell, man?” cried Jono as some of the beer spilled over his low-slung jeans. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Fucking hell, Jono,” sighed Max. “Do you think you could go five seconds without acting like a dick?”

Jono stood up above Max. “What are you saying, man? What are you sayin’?”

“I am saying you are a dick,” said Max slowly in a dull monotone.

“Don’t make me open a can on ya,” said Jono, pushing into Max’s shoulder with his knees. “I’ll open up a whole can of whup-ass on your ass! I’ll-“

Max turned around and punched Jono in the stomach. She didn’t punch him hard, but the blow was still strong enough to wind him. Jono turned white as he struggled to catch a breath.

Finally Jono got enough breath to talk again and he looked at Max with disbelief as he wiped tears away from his eyes.

“What did you do that for?” he wheezed.

Max went back to looking over the edge and ignored Jono, who ran back down the stairs.

“Shit,” she mumbled to herself. “Maybe I really am turning into a grumpy old fart.”

She thought about it for a moment, then grinned and shook her head.

“Nah,” she said, finishing off her beer.


She didn’t know where she had got the bottle of cheap wine. It didn’t matter.

The music was loud and she couldn’t identify a single melody, but everybody else the room was tumbling about enjoying it, so Max decided it was only polite to join in.

She was completely trashed and dancing madly to bad music made perfect sense. There were about a dozen other people in the room, but somebody kept switching the light on and off and for a second Max forgot where she was.

For that second she was convinced there were hundreds of people in the room as the walls expanded out into infinity, all dancing to the same beat. She could see them, hundreds and hundreds of hands punching the air, hundreds of feet jumping up and down.

And then someone jostled into her and Max fell over a coffee table. She heard the table crack as she tumbled over it and into a gap between two sofas. She ended up half upside-down, with the table trapping her feet. She tried to move, but a burp that had more meat to it than it should have convinced her to just lie there. Just for a second.

The song ended and the dancers started laughing and talking amongst themselves as they waited for somebody to sort out the music. One of them, a girl wearing a short pink tee-shirt, saw her and leaned over.

“You okay?” she said with a grin.

Max couldn’t help grinning back. “Never better.”


Back on the rooftop, Max couldn’t remember how she got there. She also had a different bottle of wine and had no idea where that came from either.

“So what?” Max asked the stars above.

“Who cares?” replied the stars back to her.

Max staggered over to the edge of the rooftop and looked over the edge. There were more people on the street below, with no idea they were being spied on from on high.

“All time high!” said Max in a voice that came out far more like a falsetto than she planned. Her high pitched shriek scared away a small kitten that shot out onto a ledge about a meter below the ledge.

The cat looked up at Max. Max looked back at it. Neither blinked.

After she was sure she had gained its trust, Max leaned over the edge of the building towards the cat, clicking her fingers softly and whispering at it.

“Here kitty, kitty, kitty…”

The cat didn’t move, but still seemed a mile away. Max leaned over further.

“Aw c’mon,” she mumbled. “I ain’t gonna hurt ya.”

And then Max felt her weight shift in exactly the wrong direction. She felt himself sliding over the edge and as the cat ran away down the ledge, Max felt herself going over.

“Oh fuuuuu…” she cried, not only disappointed that she was about to die, but that she was about to die so stupidly.

And then she felt someone grab her by the ankle, her weight shifted back and she was pulled back over the ledge. She fell back down on the rooftop, landing right on her backside. Looking up at her rescuer, Max suddenly wished she had fell instead.

“Dude, that was so uncool,” said Jono, standing over her with a smirk on his face. “You almost ended up as pavement pizza, bro.”

Max spat out the words. “Thanks, Jono.”

“No worries, bro,” said Jono, smiling slyly as he headed towards the stairs back down. “No worries.”


Her brush with death had left her heart beating like a fucked clock and Max had headed back downstairs, only to run into Brian wandering around with a bottle of tequila, looking for somebody to share it with.

Max’s stomach was still doing back-flips and she had initially turned him down, but then Brian had dared her and Max had taken her first shot.

It had burned her throat on the way down, but in a good way, so Max grinned and held out the glass for another. As Brian poured it out, she glanced around the apartment. There were still a few people crashed out here and there, but the place was relatively deserted.

“Where is everybody?” he asked Brian.

“Aw, most of them took off to the bars an hour ago. Guess we weren’t cool enough to hang with for too long.”

“Shit,” said Max, a little hurt. “They could have asked me.”

“Would you have gone?”

“Well, no, but it would have been nice to have been asked. Oh well, at least Jono didn’t go.”

Brian didn’t look up as he finish pouring Max’s second shot. “What are you talking about?”

“I know, he’s a dick, but he-“

“No, I mean what are you talking about? He went with them.”

“But-“ began Max, but Brian shoved the glass into her hand and started pouring his own shot. Max tried to get her thoughts in order, but everything was swimming around in her head.

“The hell with it,” she said, draining the shot glass.

She got three more down her before her legs went out from underneath her. She still managed to stagger off into the nearest corner, but that was it and she collapsed in a heap.

She managed to keep her eyes open long enough to see Brian laugh at her before walking off. Then, just as his eyes began to droop, Max saw him return and throw a blanket over her.

Max moved around a little until she was more comfortable and then let herself go. Her eyes closed and her breathing steadied as her body shut itself down for repairs to the damage she had caused tonight.

It still took a while for Max to fully pass out and she lay there, unable and unwilling to move a muscle. Some of her last thoughts were whether it was sadder that she was passed out in the corner, or that this was nothing unusual.

It was, after all, just another Saturday night.

No comments: