The wax paper felt greasy in her hands. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling, just one of the little things she noted each time she went through what was fast becoming a habit. Although she preferred 'regular ritual'. A bottle of Syrah, South Australian, of course. A loaf of some creatively named artisan bread and finally the stinking prize she was eagerly unwrapping with her stumpy, nail bitten fingers.

The sickly sweet aroma of the cheese hit her as soon as the last layer was peeled away. She pushed the bundle into her nose, took a long deep sniff and shuffled with delight in her seat. It was a sunny day. Now, with the treasure unwrapped, she had the disposition to match.

She sat in the sun and ate the cheese. Slice after thick stinking slice, draping each one on slice after thick slice of artisan loaf. (Much like when you find a suitable spot in the garden to put the dead mouse you just found putrefying under the sink gently to rest, holding the tail with two fingers, laying it, head first, front legs, belly, and the rest…with care, into its final resting place)

…The wine was disappearing too. Just as fast…

By the time the shadows had begun to slink and stretch out across the city her cheese was cut. All that remained to be seen in the dark blue half light of dusk was a small sliver of creatively named crust, an empty bottle of South Australian red, on its side...and a very satisfied woman, resting comfortably, ranting and giggling uncontrollably, hands softly rubbing her bulging midriff.

The bottle of wine had been the first to go. And now she wanted more. Slowly she pulled a cigarette from the perfectly maintained pack on the table in front of her. Running her fingers along its length, straightening out kinks that hadn’t existed in the first place. She never allowed her smokes time to rust. They were burned end to end with frightening regularity. The hacking cough, which caused her whole body to convulse, was testament to the fact they were getting the job done. The nervous laugh she emitted immediately after to all around her was testament to the fact she knew what it represented. She was too far-gone now though to care. It was late, she was half drunk and there was no going back.


Cigarettes would be just one of many casualties tonight.

She returned to her room and fumbled through her bags for something to wear. She'd spent the whole day shopping, had four new outfits and settled on one. She checked her purse. Phone, wallet, keys, dignity. Check. After a quick spray of minty fresh mouthwash, onto the small of her neck, she swept out the door into the night.


The streetlights shed a warm glow over her as she strode with purpose towards town. She'd been to a bar the night before. She was heading back now. She knew how to get there; most drunks have a sixth sense when it comes to finding a watering hole. Like Elephants who seem to be able to sniff out even the measliest supply in the middle of the bone dry savannah. It is quite a thing to behold.

Finally. There it was. Hoving into view.

The welcoming neon light shimmered in her vision. She quickened her stride, took a risk and darted across the road while the red hand shook a tall, disapproving finger at her. She looked in the window. Good crowd tonight, the regular Saturday night assortment of lost souls and middle age sex deprived maniacs looking for a quick fix. It was a dive, sure, it smelt like a hundred years of smoke and spilt liquor had settled into the thick rouge carpet, but it felt like home. Maybe that’s why no one could bring himself or herself to leave. She perched herself on a ripped barstool and waved in mild desperation to the barkeep.


He poured it; she threw it back, ignoring the salt and wedge of lemon. What did they add to the experience? They took away the ‘can I keep it down’ feeling. She liked that feeling very much. Made her feel like she’d at least accomplished one difficult task that day.



The ritual was repeated with the minimum of fuss. The bartender didn’t bother with the salt or lemon this time.

She took a glance around the bar and almost immediately her eyes fell into his.

He sat on the opposite side of the horseshoe, alone, staring directly into her wandering iris. He smiled, she looked away embarrassed. She hadn’t expected this! Although it was quite nice. A warm feeling formed in her crotch and quickly spread throughout her entire body. She ordered another shot. He was making his way to her now, slowly, deliberately. She looked everywhere but at him.


He said in a smooth, gravelly voice, the kind of voice that people who smoke cigars and drink single malt whisky have.



She stuttered back, trying unsuccessfully to look surprised.


They talked about this and that, caught each others gaze at increasing intervals. She wanted him and was fairly sure he wanted her back. His hand found its way into hers. Game on. Sparks were flying. Granted they were the kind of sparks you get from a cheap firework. A violent rush of white and purple light (much like a welding torch) that ends all too soon in a dry, pathetic fizzle. In her mind, however, this was the fourth of July; it was Guy Fawkes, all rolled into one. A brilliant sun splash of fire and light, a palm of phosperous sending fingers of dazzling colour across the night sky. Wild, passionate, confusing and no doubt horrifically urgent sex was assured. As long as she could keep it together.

She couldn’t.

The drinks flowed. Beer with whisky chasers, whisky with wine chasers. She got drunker and bolder. She went to the bathroom often, staring into the mirror, splashing water on her face in a vain attempt to waylay the onset of the one thing every drunk secretly fears. The dreaded spins. That vortex of hellish, heaving confusion from which there is no way back. The kind of self induced sickness that causes you to wake up confused, alone and naked on the bathroom floor.

She stumbled back from the ladies at one point to find him over by the jukebox. He'd selected a song for her. Garth Brooks. How did he know?

They embraced and began to dance in slow circles. Two hippos at a roller disco. Stumbling over themselves, smiling nervously each time one missed a step, lost their footing, twisted wildly in the wrong direction. This wasn’t happening as she'd hoped, but at least it was happening. It'd been a long time. The Cobwebs were dusty and the spiders had long since packed up and moved on. He leant in and kissed her. She found herself kissing him back, she wasn’t sure why. Their sucking, slobbering lips were the only things keeping her afloat at the center of this dizzying spin.

Next thing she knew she was fumbling for her room key, barely aware of the strong, nervous hands helping her maintain balance. She got the lock on the fourth or fifth try and pushed open the door. The room was pitch black. She knew her bunk was across the room so after a garbled ‘thank you good night’ to her savior she set out for it. He watched her close the door without even a glance back; he cursed the morals that told him pursuing that avenue was a very bad idea. He'd return to his room alone, unaware of the whirlwind of destruction hurricane shebeast was wreaking in the room he'd seen so little of.


 The darkness wasn’t helping the spins. She had nothing to focus on so she lay awake, one foot dangling over the edge of the single bed to keep her grounded. Sleep quickly took hold, she began to snore, softly at first but before long the noise had risen to a crescendo. It sounded like the sleeping quarters of a pirate ship after a bountiful afternoon of rum fuelled pillaging and looting. The creaking of the hammocks, the growling snore of a hundred salty sea dogs escaping violently from the throat of one woman. Blackbeard would have been impressed...It would have made running her through with a cutlass that much harder.

She awoke with a start.

Her mind racing.


Where was she?

Who were these people?

Had she offended them?

What the hell had she done?

What had she said?

Why did her mouth taste like a cotton bud that'd been run around the rear end of a camel?

God it was awful.

Oh dear god…Had she farted?

If so how many times?

Panic gripped her.


She had to get out.

She leapt out of bed, groaning and grunting, fumbling in the darkness for her phone. She knew where her bags where, she just had to get there. She stood by her bed and began to undress, discarding her clothes with careless abandon. Maybe it was the fact she suddenly realised she was completely nude in a room full of strangers, maybe she had some sort of drink induced Vietnam flashback, whatever it was she immediately felt the urge to throw herself to the ground. And there, in the cold early morning light she crawled, naked, across the floor. The carpet rubbing against her bare nipples as they dangled helplessly beneath her like a farmyard sow. Finally she reached her collection of bags and began to rifle through them. A top? No, what the hell is this? It fit over her head so she went with it. A pair of tights found its way into her grasp. She sniffed the crotch, not bad. It'll do for now. At this hour, in this state, in this room, here on the floor, modesty had no place. Close to her someone stirred.


"Are you alright?" came the sleepy voice


"Fine, jeeze..."

As if she could be anything but fine. She resolved never to book a hostel again.

Staggering to her feet muttering incomprehensibly, she fell against a hard surface, bounced off it and lurched to where she thought the door handle might be. It wasn’t there. She spun around, her bearings completely gone. 'Shit' she thought. 'I was certain that’s where it was... Directly opposite the window? Lets try again.' She moved without grace from bunk to bunk like a crazed pinball. All she hoped was that the paddles waiting by the escape hatch wouldn’t belt her back in the wrong direction. She felt for the door handle, clasped metal and yanked down. She was so close to her goal. Whatever it may have been. She didn’t know. The door flung open giving the slightest of squeaks. She took one last look into the dark, foreboding room and softly closed the door telling herself that at least she'd made the effort to be quiet. Surely no one had noticed...


And so, there she stood. The hallway light revealing the mismatched assortment of clothes she'd managed to drape across her nude frame. She even had her purse! Jackpot. She opened the front door, heard the birds begin to stir. Breathed in the fresh early morning air and stepped unsteadily off the landing.


'I wonder if the bar is open?"


Things were looking up.