‘Does anyone know if Sapphy’s out tonight?’
The queue outside Drogue bulged and waved like a fat snake. It was 11.30 at night, and Maxxy, Doogie, Plum, Tommo and Swag had barely moved for the last twenty minutes. Maxxy cast his eyes up and down the rows and rows of heads he saw shouting and smoking behind him on the off chance that he might see Sapphy, then smoothed his hair back and lit up a cigarette, smoking it obviously on the off chance of her seeing him. As he did so he saw a lad getting picked on by the security guards. After a moment they dragged him kicking and thrashing out of the queue altogether while his girlfriend shouted at them to let him back.
‘Nah mate, haven’t heard from her.’
‘She probably will be though, everyone’s at Drogue tonight.’
‘Trust Maxxy to ask about Sapphy!’
‘You’re so in love with Sapphy aren’t you Maxxy?’
The boys laughed in a disaffected unison, allowing themselves to make far more noise than usual on account of their drunkenness so that they might be slightly more noticeable amongst the crowd. The music boomed from within the nightclub like an enormous, hellish heart.
‘Yes mate, I’m in love with her. You got a problem?’ he jibed cockily.
‘She’s so fit, to be fair,’ said Plum, flexing his muscles. ‘I’d sneak her a jammy dodger.’
‘Dream on mate!’ laughed Tommo. ‘She wouldn’t get with the likes of you in a million years!’
‘I swear she’s a bit of a boy though?’ scoffed Swag sceptically.
‘That’s why everyone loves her, mate,’ said Maxxy with his confident smirk.
‘Not sure about that, mate,’ said Tommo with a raise of the eyebrow. ‘You saying you like shagging dodgy birds?’
‘Wahey!’ chuckled Swag, hand-slapping Tommo.
‘To be fair, I see his point though,’ Plum edged in. ‘Like, she’s seriously fit, but she’s got a really good personality as well. She’s like one of the lads.’
‘Alright, gonna be starting a Sapphy fan club soon are we?’ chuckled Swag, and Maxxy laughed along quietly.
‘I know what you mean,’ said Tommo. ‘She’s the kind of girl you’d marry, not just, you know, shag.’
The lads all looked at him with smirks on their faces.
‘Oh alright, I mean obviously I would!’ he said, and they all heaved with laughter.
‘She doesn’t even seem to care about how she looks,’ waxed Maxxy. ‘She was wearing walking boots the other day and still managed to look fit.’
‘Walking boots! What girl looks good in walking boots!’ laughed Swag, trying as hard as he could to show total disbelief in what he was hearing. He suddenly felt he had a duty to uphold the laddishness of the group.
‘Sapphy,’ said Maxxy, Tommo and Plum in unison.
‘You lot have lost it,’ scoffed Swag, hiding his insecurity behind the action of lighting a cigarette. ‘I think I’d rather shag birds who act like birds, thanks.’
‘You haven’t even met her yet!’ laughed Maxxy. ‘You wait til you see her tonight. Then you’ll see what I mean.’
Suddenly Plum leaned in excitedly. ‘Hey lads,’ he whispered, ‘check out the guy behind us.’
They glanced behind them and saw a middle-aged man, perhaps fifty, snorting a line of something off a key. He was alone. They turned back in and struggled to hide their laughter.
‘What about Bella, Maxxy?’ said Tommo. The lads all laughed at the mention of her name. ‘She might be out tonight!’
‘She’s gagging for it!’ snorted Plum.
‘Loves a bit of the Maxxy, she does!’ cheered Swag.
‘Yeah,’ said Maxxy bashfully, kicking his heel. ‘She’s a bit obsessed.’
‘How many times have you slept with her? Three?’
‘Mate!’ laughed Swag. ‘She wants a bit of Maxxy!’
‘Yeah, mate, she’s a loser!’ retorted Maxxy, still with his great grin on his face. ‘Fit though.’
His eyes fainted briefly at the memory of sleeping with Bella at Swag’s birthday party. The combination of being drunk and desperate had led Maxxy’s needy loins into her hands over and over again. She was insecure, attention seeking and annoying, but Maxxy hoped she was out tonight so he had a guaranteed fall-back.
Doogie, who had been standing one step ahead of the others, turned around and cut into their conversation.
‘Alright lads, reckon we’ve got about 5 minutes til we’re in. We all got our materials?’
They all nodded sagely, suddenly seeming very sincere and secretive. Maxxy had his pill tucked neatly into his underwear, as the others had told him to. It was a strange night for Maxxy, because he had never taken MDMA before.
The music continued to shake the ground from within the building. Slowly the queue moved to the bouncers by the entrance, where the lads produced their IDs and tickets. Maxxy watched the bouncers closely, thinking that they must know every last person they let in had something illegal on them – like hell were they going to catch him.
‘Well, well boys!’ said Doogie once they were reconvened by the entrance. ‘Shall we?’
The entrance tunnel was lined with flashing lights that lit up in sequence with people walking in. ‘Imagine how trippy this would be on acid!’ said Plum, and the others laughed overenthusiastically in agreement.
And then – they were in.
The world changed very suddenly. The dancefloor was big and bold and black. It was as if the night had been sucked in through the doors and wracked with enormous sounds and flashing lights; spaces waved between dancing figures that flitted in and out of the darkness like dark ghosts in a hellish pit. Humidity and sweat greeted the boys as they put on the faces that told everyone around them they were in their element. A group of girls on the edge of the dancefloor before them turned and watched them enter, passing a bottle of water between them to drink from and to douse their sparkling, gaping faces. Leaning against the wall to the side a boy and a girl were getting off, the girl’s hands remaining stubbornly in her jeans pockets. Two lads with bucket caps and low, khaki trousers were standing beside them, one secretively rolling a joint and the other looking out suspiciously at the crowd. From the balcony on the floor above a hundred faces leaned over and watched the main stage, where the DJ was cajoling the dancefloor with his hands and talking incomprehensibly into the microphone. And in the middle of it all was the heaving, orgiastic mass, waving in and out of ecstatic blueness like flowers in an underwater breeze.
‘Beautiful, no?’ shouted Swag to Maxxy, who was watching the girls on the edge of the crowd hungrily. ‘Hundreds of fellow students, and every single last one of them off their face on drugs.’
Maxxy felt a knife of anxiety and laughed to hide it.
‘Can’t wait to join them, mate!’
‘Shall we drop now or drop later?’ said Tommo, leaning in anxiously. Doogie looked at his watch.
‘Let’s drop now, it’s already quarter to midnight.’
‘Gentlemen, to the bar!’ rang Swag, and they all made their way to buy bottles of water.
With water in hand, they headed for the toilets. Maxxy waited in a short queue in the disgusting room by the urinals for what seemed like an age, with bouncers parading past just outside the door behind him. Finally he got to a cubicle, and, taking time to be certain that the door was firmly locked, he extracted the MDMA from his underwear. The pill was rectangular and white, like a paracetemol tablet, plain and innocent. He studied it for a moment, then swiftly dropped it into his mouth and swallowed it with a mouthful of water.
‘Did you take it in halves?’ Swag asked Maxxy when they reconvened by the dance floor.
‘No mate,’ replied Maxxy, ‘I took it in one. What did you do?’
‘Mate!’ exclaimed Swag. ‘You’re going to come up so hard!’
‘What, did you take it in halves?’
‘Yeah, they’re really strong! You’re gonna have a crazy night!’
Swag laughed explosively and slapped Maxxy on the back.
‘Let’s hit the dance floor shall we?’
Seeing Doogie, Plum and Tommo bustling in amongst the crowd of waving students, Swag and Maxxy shuffled their way forward to join them, achingly aware that people they knew might be seeing them as they entered the fray. No one was watching though. A drugged-up young girl had managed to climb onstage, and to the delight of the crowd she began to dance as if no one could see her. After a moment, however, she decided that everything was very, very sad, and large tears began to fall down her ghoulish face.
‘Alright lads!’ shouted Doogie when they were all together again. ‘Halves or wholes?’
‘Whole!’ shouted Maxxy back.
‘Mate! The rest of us have taken it in halves!’
‘I know mate, what can I say I’m a loose cannon!’
They all mimed laughing loudly because their ordinary laughter could barely be heard over the music. Suddenly Plum placed a hand on Maxxy’s shoulder and pointed at something. Maxxy threw his eyes everywhere to see what he was looking at, then saw exactly what it was: Bella.
‘Look who it is!’ Plum rumbled excitedly to all of them, nudging Maxxy with his laddish elbow. ‘Maxxy’s old hook up!’
‘She’s out hunting for you tonight, Maxxy!’ laughed Swag.
‘Gonna get on that Maxxy?’ asked Doogie with his usual smirk. ‘She’s looking fine tonight.’
‘Alright, alright! If it comes to it, who knows,’ said Maxxy, watching her.
‘Wahey!’ they all cried. ‘You mean if you can’t find Sapphy?’
‘Yeah mate, Bella’s definitely a fall-back!’ he laughed, and Tommo high-fived him. Then he turned back to her and his eyes whispered lucidly over her body. She had glitter all down one side of her face. ‘Though she’s looking fit tonight. Wouldn’t rule it out.’
Suddenly Bella noticed Maxxy, and Maxxy didn’t quite manage to look away in time. She made a beeline for him.
Bella, it had to be said, was looking very good. There was a reason for it: she had come out in the express hope of bumping into Maxxy, and had dressed very carefully. Her top was the silver sequined crop-top she knew showed her cleavage and body shape in just such a way that it was sexy without being slutty, like a hand brushing suggestively on the knee of a man, and her waist-high leggings showed her bum and leg shape in a way she knew flattered her. She had systematically tried on every pair of trainers she kept in her room before deciding on the pink Nike high-tops, which seemed like an ironic flirtation with her black leggings, and her make-up had taken her an hour to perfect. She had insisted on her flatmates starting their make-up with her at exactly the same time that evening, so that she wouldn’t feel any more vain than them. Of course, she tried to carry off her own vision of beauty effortlessly, as if really looking like this was nothing and she had simply waltzed out of her room like a butterfly does out of its chrysalis, embracing compliments about her looks and fluttering them back to her girl friends, whilst secretly harbouring the ambition of being more beautiful than them. She was just another suggestive neon light that evening, fiercely insecure and fiercely aware of herself. She could only begin to comprehend that boys might in fact be just as self-obsessed as her, but, of course, girls are vain, just like boys.
Maxxy threw on an oversized smile, hugged Bella tightly, shouted ‘How are you!?’ overenthusiastically and overall pretended to be happier than he really was to see her. Of course he was making the fact he was drunk as apparent as possible so that any careless actions could be blamed on it, and when she asked how he was he replied, ‘Drunk!’
The lads laughed as Maxxy stepped away from them and forced conversation with Bella, both of them pretending to be drunker than they really were.
‘It’s good to see you!’ shouted Maxxy.
‘It’s good to see you too!’ she shouted back. ‘You look good.’
He certainly was looking good. She remembered how, at Swag’s birthday party, she had wanted to sweep a lock of his hair back to kiss his rosy cheek, but it was in public, and he hadn’t let her.
‘Thanks, who are you here with?’
‘My flat, they’re all just behind me.’
She was annoyed that he hadn’t complimented her back.
‘Do you like my top?’ she suddenly asked, hoping for her drunkenness to save her.
‘Er yeah. It’s sparkly.’ He frowned and started looking about the crowd to see if anyone fitter was there.
She persistently kept dancing beside him, waiting for him to say something else. The lads caught Maxxy’s attention and pointed to the smoking area.
‘I’ll see you in a bit,’ he said, ‘I think we’re going over here now.’
‘Oh, okay!’ she crooned, and let her eyes grow misty as he walked away.
‘You gonna get with her Maxxy?’ asked Swag.
‘If things get desperate, mate, she’s my back-up.’
‘She’s such a slut.’
‘Plum didn’t you get with her once?’
Plum and Maxxy screamed with laughter and high-fived each other.
‘Amazing, maybe we can double-team her.’
‘I bet she’d love it!’
‘Bet she would, the slag.’
‘Boys, smoking area?’
They thrust their way out into the smoking area, a large terrace dotted with benches and tables and covered by an enormous canvas. They settled at a table to smoke, and within moments a boy and his girlfriend sitting nearby had stuck out hands to introduce themselves. The girl introduced herself as Tabitha, and her boyfriend appeared to be called Mr Mumble.
‘I love it here,’ said Mr Mumble, who’s actual name was Steve. ‘Drogue’s the sickest club. The music’s always sick and the atmosphere’s always sick, ah mate, such a sick club. Don’t you just love it? Like, everyone’s so friendly as well, I love it here so much, so much fun, and dancing as well.’ His jaw was dancing the tango.
‘You boys students then?’ asked Tabitha, taking a drag of her cigarette. They all nodded. ‘How you finding Drogue?’
‘Yeah, it’s sick,’ they all said.
‘Make the most of it, Steve and I are twenty-nine now, still finding excuses to come out clubbing and get on it though!’
‘Yeah, we still love a bit of mandy here and there, can’t help it, only natural isn’t it?’
They all nodded.
Plum and Tommo turned away and started making conversation with some fellow students behind them. Maxxy wasn’t sure what to do with himself, and he suddenly felt very conscious that people could see he wasn’t talking to anyone. In order to reassure himself, he got his phone out to make sure his facebook image was still looking good. Yesterday Tommo had uploaded a photo of all the lads sitting together outside uni, all with cigarettes lit and poses perfected, and with a filter that bronzed the image and emphasised the sunlight. It had 43 likes. It made Maxxy feel better.
Then, a hand placed itself on Maxxy’s shoulder, and Maxxy looked up to find it was his good friend Nick. He took a seat next to Maxxy and they got stuck into conversation.
‘You on the lookout for Bella?’ Nick asked with a diffident smile.
‘Only if things get desperate, mate.’
‘I see,’ he laughed, ‘got a backup. Keeping an eye out for someone else are we?’
‘Maybe, maybe not.’
‘I see, I see. Oh, I know who it is!’
Maxxy smiled indifferently.
‘It’s Sapphy isn’t it?’
‘Ssh, shut your face Nick,’ smirked Maxxy, again casting woollen eyes around the scene for that unmistakeable glimpse of her face. She still wasn’t there. He doubted that she was even out.
‘She’s quite a girl, mate, I know why you fancy her. Everyone does.’
‘She’s just so fit.’
‘Yeah, and she’s got this air about her, like, I dunno, like she’s a bit of a lad. That’s awesome. Such a good feature in a girl.’
‘Great rack as well.’
Maxxy continued to let his eyes saunter idly over the loose young souls. The smoking area was alive with uncertainty. The canvas overhead looked phosphorescent, as if it was absorbing all the brightness of the youth that was leaking away; all sorts of waving sounds could be heard: the juttering lilt of a phone playing indiscernible music; the rubbery squeal of two girls singing along to it; and the booming cry for attention of boys being loud and unprovoked, looking hopefully but in vain at the faces of every girl that passed them; the indefinite mingling of laughter and crying. Somewhere to Maxxy’s left a boy pleaded hopelessly with a girl who had used to be his girlfriend, but now was not. Packs of tobacco and the occasional bag of marijuana lay on the garrulous tables. Two boys with big muscles and tight floral shirts hugged ironically to the delight of their friends. On a stool by the wall a girl, sitting by herself, her head down, vomited violently, swayed, and fell over, lying like a damp fawn without friends or family to look after her. No one noticed. For a moment Maxxy caught her eyes, which flickered for a bizarre second before they finally cut out; and then he looked away, because she was not his responsibility.
‘You ever taken MD before, Nick?’
‘Yeah, man, of course.’
‘Oh right, ‘cos I’ve taken it for the first time tonight.’
‘Really? No way! You’re gonna have one hell of a night my friend! The first time is the best.’
‘Yeah, that’s what everyone’s said.’
‘Honestly mate, the first time is unlike anything else. You’re going to fall in love with the world. I bet you’ll wake up tomorrow morning and say last night was the best night of my life.’
Maxxy smirked his cocky little smirk.
‘Yeah, guess we’ll see shall we.’
‘What have you taken exactly?’
‘Some pill called a domino?’
‘Did you halve it?’
‘Nah man, no one told me so I took it in one!’
‘Seriously dude, strap in ‘cos you’re in for one hell of a night! How long ago’d you take it?’
‘About thirty minutes, I think.’
‘You feeling it yet?’
‘Not really, no.’
‘You will soon, buddy.’
‘What does it feel like?’
‘I’m not ruining the surprise!’
At that moment Doogie, slightly out of breath, appeared between the two of them, with Plum, Swag and Tommo in tow.
‘Excuse me boys,’ he said urgently, ‘I’m starting to come up, selfie?’
He withdrew his phone and pulled Maxxy in beside so he could take a selfie of them. The photo was blurred, but he started uploading it to facebook anyway.
‘I think it’s about time we hit the dance floor, don’t you?’ said Tommo, flicking his cigarette on the ground and stamping it out.
‘Alright!’ said Maxxy, and they made their way inside.
He wondered why they were all coming up when he wasn’t – although, admittedly, he didn’t know what ‘coming up’ was like. He remained quiet about it, until Tommo asked him whether he was coming up yet. Maxxy replied that he wasn’t.
‘Give it a bit longer, mate, when it happens it’ll be something else!”
The boys thrust into the crowd with a new energy, Maxxy tailing behind slightly irritated at the fact that he wasn’t feeling anything. He watched the others as they danced, their faces lit up and seeming to find their dancing hilarious. For a while he pretended to be as happy as them, but he couldn’t keep up with their energy and felt annoyed. He wondered if his pill was a dud.
After a few minutes he said he was going to the toilet, and absented himself from the group. Disappointment had begun to bubble in him like an angry stew. He dropped at exactly the same time as the others – why had he not come up yet?
He bustled into the toilet, where he waited for a few minutes for a cubicle, then stood in front of a mirror to check he was still looking good. He decided that if he didn’t come up then he’d get with Bella and go home with her.
But then, as he stood adjusting his hair and pouting in the mirror, he began to feel something changing inside him. There was a strange buzzing sensation around his feet, almost as if all the blood had started rushing out of them, and it disarmingly rapidly began to rise up his legs until it was right up into his torso. He looked at his hands, which felt remarkably light and moved with a fascinating speed in front of his eyes, which started to feel detached, as if they had been oiled on their hinges and were rolling more freely and loosely than ever before. Then his stomach tightened up, as if it had shut itself for business and had taken a seat on a park bench, and all the blood around it began to run faster and faster, until it was pumping at immense speed all round his body, down one arm then back up, and down the other and then back up, and then flying through up his neck and whizzing round his brain and then shooting down and doing three laps around the stomach then shooting down one leg then back up then shooting down the other leg then back up then flying straight back up into his eyes then circling then shooting back down into his chest and punching left to right then right to left then shooting down into his sides and spinning then down one leg then up again then down the other leg and up again and then back up into his arms and down one arm then back up then down the other arm and back up left to right then right to left then left to right then straight back up into his eyes, his eyes, my god his eyes, which darted so freely and with such unbelievable speed that Maxxy wasn’t even certain what he was perceiving any more, it was just one almighty cockfuzzlingbrainswirlingenergypeaking triumph!
Maxxy, it seemed, had come up.
Without any time to waste (for there was no time to waste in Maxxy’s book!) Maxxy turned heel and darted straight out of the toilet, past the angry-eyed bouncer whom he now couldn’t care less if he saw that he had taken drugs, through one of the downstairs bars and out onto the dance floor – and he was borne out like an agent of light, a courageous coward of Christ’s comfortable creatures, an alien sent to visit planet earth and finding all kinds of wonderful secrets all tangled up in the gorgeous, beautiful mess, oh, how gorgeous it all was! He looked at the bright faces of every gorgeous soul in the club, swaying like unaccountable flowers in the dangerous night, and he thanked someone – someone, anyone! – whoever was responsible for this social event for organising it and allowing it to happen. Every face he saw was ecstatic with beauty, the likes of which he had never seen before, oh it was so BEAUTIFUL!!! He began seeing in sound, and every movement of his was a sound, every sound was a movement, and the world had become such an astounding place to be, all synchronised to music and pulsing in and out of his bloodstream, bleeding like flowers into the blue darkness, and with every twist of the arm or raise of the leg the swell of sudden ripples would clear out over the crowd, who were also moving inside and outside the music, pulsing and waving as one ecstatic, weatherworn mass, and more than ever Maxxy felt the plunging blueness of ecstasy, that fed into his limbs and into his heart, that caught him as he tried to run away and brought him sailing sky high like a flock of birds, all dizzying and patterning in their flight. Everything was so plungingly beautiful, and such beauty! Such beauty as he had never before experienced! Suddenly he felt he was not the boy he used to be, not the unearthed, fear-ridden child wandering the plains of his imagination in search of himself, but the man the boy had intended to become, a spirit, magician, wizard, not lost amongst the crowd but silently stroking the calm and exotic hand of a lover beneath certain shadows that hid their overwhelming beauty. He was a man!
All the world had swirled into life and had presented itself at his doorstep like a puppy flown in from the snow – no, not a puppy, a lion! A great, goddamned lion, snarling and powerful and ready to eat people! Graarrr!!
Maxxy ran straight through the crowd and found Doogie, Nick, Tommo and Swag, and they all embraced him as if the meaning of their lives had been resting on his return.
‘Maxxy!’ they all shouted, ‘Maxxy! How are you buddy!’
‘I’m amazing! I’ve never felt like this before – this is amazing!’
‘Ah man I’m jealous, I haven’t felt like that since the first time I took mandy, it’s so good isn’t it?’
‘I can’t believe I’ve been living my life without this feeling! I’ve never felt so good before in my life!’
At that moment, as his eyes swung frantically and joyously from face to beautiful face in the beatific dancing mass of people around him in the crowd, he perceived a face he recognised immediately, and it was with such unprecedented joy in his heart that he could say – it was SAPPHY!
Without a second to lose (there is never a second to lose! Life has to be lived as fast and as full as possible!!) Maxxy jumped to the side and embraced Sapphy, before she had even had a chance to see who her mystery embracer was.
‘Sapphy! So good to see you! You look unbelievably beautiful!’
‘Maxxy! Oh! Lovely to see you!’ She sang his greeting as if he was only the person she wanted to see, meeting him with her great, tonic-like grin. My God, what a feeling that gave him!
She was looking even more gorgeous than Maxxy had ever before thought was even humanly-possible. What was it about her that was so amazing? ‘I know!’ Thought Maxxy. ‘It’s because she doesn’t give a damn!’ And, indeed, it was true. Sapphy never had anyone to impress; she jived and scythed her way around the dancefloor like an ironic spirit seeking only to please herself, and no one else. And she wore whatever the hell she liked. God, Maxxy loved that about her. She was one of those girls who seem to inhabit the space outside normal femininity, who ignore the codes of appearance and behaviour most girls abide by as if she were unaware that they existed, delightfully friendly, eccentric and unafraid of herself, and who, as a result, had a different boy fall in love with her every two weeks. Not that she seemed to notice.
‘Sapphy I’m so glad you’re here.’
‘It’s lovely to see you too, how are you!?’
‘Sapphy, you would not believe what’s happening inside my head right now-‘
‘Why, what’s happening inside your head?’
‘I’ve dropped! And I’ve just come up! I’m so hiiiiiiiggggghhhh!!!’
He tilted his spinning head backwards and breathed it all in, the circulating edifices of flashing lights and flashing music with flashing people flashing in and out of each other’s love, and he had never felt so in love with everything, like he had entered into a kind of oneship with the world and everything in it. Then he looked down at his hands and gaped in amazement at the sheer brutal force of the energy coursing through his veins, like the Amazon river but moving at the highest velocity water has ever moved at, an unbridled force of orgiastic power!
It was only after a moment (though it felt like an eternity to Maxxy) that he noticed Sapphy saying: ‘So have I!’
‘What? You’ve dropped too?’
‘Yes! I’m buzzing pretty hard right now!’
‘Oh my god, it’s the best isn’t it? Isn’t it just the best? Like, I’ve never even taken MDMA before, like I’ve barely even taken drugs, though, like, people have offered them to me all the time, ‘cos I’m the kind of person that hangs out with people who hang out with people who take drugs all the time, so the drugs all kind of filter down to me, but this is the first time I’ve done it and, Sapphy, I’ve literally never felt so good, like, this is unbelievable, I’ve never experienced anything so amazing, like I could go and get with every single girl in this club right now if I wanted to and no one could care less because I’m so goddam high, like, it’s unbelievable, like every girl in the world could fancy me right now!’
‘Oh,’ said Sapphy. ‘I don’t think I’m as high as you.’
‘That’s a shame, I wish everyone was as high as me right now!’
She laughed and regarded him queerly, and he wondered whether he was embarrassing himself, but then stopped caring. He saw a girl walk beside them carrying a cup of water, and he reached over and took it from her hand and poured the majority of it over his face, then handed the empty cup back to the witless girl who didn’t know quite what to say.
‘Shall we dance? Come on, let’s dance!’
‘I’m already dancing! You’re quite the mover, Mr Maxxy!’
She laughed lovingly, and Maxxy fell in love with her immediately. God, she was such a heartbreaker! She was one of those girls who could snatch your heart by bounding up out of a crowd and flashing that immense smile as if you were the only person in the world she could possibly want to see; and then she would be gone, spreading her loveliness somewhere else. She was just one of those girls everyone falls in love with: dazzling, delightful, and dangerous. And, God, she was gorgeous!
Behind them, Tommo, Plum and Swag were watching Sapphy, and Swag was saying, ‘I see what you mean!’
Maxxy, however, was in the driving seat. Vrrummm!!
‘Shall we go outside, Sapphy? Let’s go outside, yeah, I’m going for a cigarette, come on let’s go outside.’
‘Oh okay! High Maxxy’s quite insistent!’
He grabbed her hand and made for the smoking area, giving her barely enough time to explain to her friends where she was going. Maxxy couldn’t stop to think about anything, enjoying the sensation of immense happiness and confidence he was feeling right now.
Outside they found a spot to the side and Maxxy extracted his pack of cigarettes.
‘Would you like a cigarette?’ he asked formally.
‘I would very much like a cigarette,’ she replied equally as formally, curtseying a little as she did. They laughed at this, because it was hilarious.
‘You’re looking so good tonight,’ said Maxxy, fumbling with his cigarettes. ‘How do you do it?’
Sapphy just laughed, and without hesitation replied, ‘You’re looking pretty good tonight too, Maxxy.’
What a girl!
He suddenly found that he couldn’t remove a cigarette from the pack because his hand was moving too energetically. To solve this problem he turned the pack upside down to free all of them at once, and began to laugh hysterically as, one by one, the cigarettes began falling out. Sapphy began laughing as well, and as they fell out they danced like children beneath a waterfall and ran their hands through the waterfall of cigarettes, and then when all the cigarettes were out they fell to their knees and scrambled for them, laughing uncontrollably at themselves as they did so. Maxxy hadn’t laughed so hard at anything for as long as he could remember. Both of them lay fully down in fits, eyes dampening their faces, distant from the outside world and forgetful of existence beyond themselves.
And then, when Maxxy opened his hilarious eyes again and saw Sapphy’s face, he saw something that he told himself he must have known all along. He had never seen anyone look quite so – florid before.
Yes, that was it, he thought to himself. For in that moment the naked bud of Sapphy had sucked nectar and bloomed for him, like a black hole opens out in space, like a bomb explodes with flowers, like a kaleidoscope blooms with colours. He had never felt more certain of anything, ever.
They picked up the cigarettes and got to their feet and lit them. Maxxy looked at Sapphy and made what seemed to him the bravest and most natural decision of his life.
‘Sapphy-’ he began, but then decided to change course first. ‘Sapphy, what do you think of me?’
‘What do I think of you?’
‘Yes. Do you think I’m a good person?’
‘Well, er, yes of course I do.’
‘Really? Are you sure, because a lot of girls don’t seem to like me.’
‘Well, you can be a massive misogynist sometimes.’
‘What does misogynist mean?’
‘But I’m a good person though right?’
‘I think it’s good that you can see that people don’t like that side of you, because I don’t think most guys can see that about themselves.’
‘That side of me?’
‘Yes, it’s like another half of you. All guys have it. I’m sure you can be sweet sometimes, too.’
‘I just want to be a good person, but to be honest tonight I feel like I can do whatever I want-‘
Maxxy was suddenly interrupted by someone hugging him, and when the hugging person let go it turned out to be Bella. One quick glance at her dilated pupils told him that she was as high as a kite too.
‘Maxxy! Oh my God, you look so gorgeous tonight!’
Maxxy, not wanting anyone to disturb his moment with Sapphy, turned on the girl.
‘Bella, fuck off! Okay, just fuck off! No one wants you here! Not me, nor Sapphy, nor anyone else! Do you not understand that everyone fucking hates you? Everyone thinks you’re a fucking scummy slut, and you sleep around with anyone who gives you two seconds’ attention, and it makes you annoying as hell. Fuck off back to wherever it is you fucking come from, you fucking filthy little slag!’
This was followed by a stunned silence. It was, however, totally unnoticed by Maxxy. Bella stared in absolute shock into his grinning face – then, feeling tears begin to crawl into her vast, swollen eyes, she turned clean around and ran away, by herself.
Maxxy, enduring his grin, turned towards Sapphy, not seeming to notice her disbelieving face.
‘Now where was I? Oh yes, I was about to say something smart, really smart – my god, I was about to say something amazing.’
Sapphy, stunned and horrified, said, ‘what?’
‘I was going to say I – I think I – I think I’m in-‘
‘You think you’re in what, Maxxy?’
‘I think I’m in love – hold on…’
Maxxy suddenly started to feel rather different. He had started sweating profusely, like he had just stepped into an oven, and his breathing had become three times as heavy. He turned away, the world around him entering a cataclysmic swirl…
‘Maxxy, what are you going to say!?’ Sapphy demanded angrily.
Maxxy staggered to within a yard of her, opened his mouth to reply, and vomited on her feet.
The next few minutes were a bilious blur to the young Maxxy. He remembered Sapphy running away and hearing a scream that sounded like her voice, then he was sure he recalled recovering enough to face the bouncers who came over to ask him if he’d been sick. The next thing he fully remembered was being outside, alone on the street, and shouting at the night –