(Trigger warning: this piece of fiction features unsettling scenes relating to sexual violence. Although there is nothing graphic nor explicit, please do not read if you think it might upset you.)
When I was deciding which university to apply to, there was one thing in particular I was looking for above all others: nightlife. I absolutely had to go to university in a city with good nightclubs. If I didn’t have that then I wouldn’t have even bothered with being a student. London was on my list, as was Manchester, Leeds and Nottingham – but, for one reason or another, I ended up going to Bristol. It had exactly what I needed: plenty of access to my favourite drugs (including 2C-B, which is hard to get in some places), very few contact hours for my course (English Literature), and a rave culture that attracted girls from the highest class of background. In my opinion they are the most good looking, and the most naïve.
One of my favourite things to do is to get high and go out and pick up girls. It’s easy enough to do, if you know how to do it. There’s a technique. You have to know which nightclubs to go to, and which nights of the week (though this is less important); then, essentially, you have to wait and strike when the target is clear.
In Bristol the nightlife is varied and the girls vary with it. If you’re looking for the more normal, slightly more mainstream sort of club, you go to the Clifton Triangle. There you have Bunker, Lizard Lounge, Lola Los and Mbargos, all of which attract as many students as they do townies. The kind of girls you get there varies with the day of the week. On weekdays, it’s all students: Mondays are mostly freshers all out with their halls, and maybe a few second years; Tuesdays are similar. Wednesday is Sports Night, which means all the sports teams get outrageously drunk together and end up passing out in each other’s arms on the dancefloor in Bunker. Hockey girls I find are the best for this. Sports Night is the night I’d least like to be part of, but the one that yields the highest results for me.
Thursdays tend to be mainly second and third years mixed in with the odd towny – but Friday – OH! – Friday is the best day of the week. Friday is the day that all the locals are out, and when the locals are out they get drunker than students ever do. It’s a myth that students are worse for drinking. They certainly drink more often, but they seldom get as drunk as the young professionals who flatter their feet on the Friday dancefloor. There’s nothing quite like being the only student in amongst a crowd of twenty to maybe fifty-year-olds, totally anonymous and being eyed up because you’re younger and a damned-sight better looking than all of the other men in there. On a Friday night in, say, Lizard Lounge (which I can only brave if I’m high off my head on 2C-B or weed, or preferably both), I could easily pick up just about any girl I want. And they would want to, that’s the thing – in most other places they wouldn’t.
That’s something very important about me, by the way. I’m extremely good looking. Everyone’s said it since I was about the age of a dot, so it must be true. It certainly seems to work for me for the most part. Once I’ve taken enough of whatever drug I’m on that night then any sense of self-consciousness totally fades away, and this combined with my good looks makes me totally irresistible. I could take a girl home even if I was asleep.
Picking up girls on the Triangle is fairly easy, but if I want a bit more of a challenge then I go to either Lakota or Motion on weekends. These clubs are rave venues – they put on proper nights with proper DJs, and the people who go to them get fucked up and lose their minds. Sometimes this makes getting girls a bit easier because they’ve taken god-knows-what substances and they forget where they are, but sometimes they’re a bit more awake because they’re not drinking and they fight off your advances a bit more. The principle is still the same as at normal clubs though: keep an eye out for girls who are wasted. You’ve just got to remember that you’re dealing with drugs rather than alcohol, and sometimes this can make them freak out.
On the whole I’m pretty good at what I do. Since I first developed my fascination with nightclubs when I was sixteen I’ve developed my technique with more and more confidence. I can barely stay away from a club for more than two days before I start to get agitated and need to lose myself once more.
I really find them fascinating. Don’t you? They are another country compared to the world outside. You walk into a nightclub and suddenly you find yourself sunk into darkness and flashing sounds and lights, and surrounded by drunk people all venting their sexual desires and social frustrations. I think without nightclubs our society would implode, because there would be nowhere for people to let it all out. The nightclub is our generation’s social scene. Where 19th Century aristocrats had the ballroom, or 20th Century workers had the music hall, young people of the 21st Century have the nightclub. They’re totally designed for screaming the stress out of you. I wondered what people did once they got too old to go clubbing. I suppose they either start drinking at home or commit suicide.
But the thing I really love about nightclubs – the thing that just gets me dancing inside like an excited baby – is the way people change inside them. Outside, on the street, everyone’s all manners and appearances and respectability, but once they’ve got a couple of drinks down them and they’re in a club, they shed all of it in the blink of an eye. Really I think people want to live their lives like they do on the dancefloor: carelessly and sexually. And when they’re in this state they go with whatever happens to them.
Take this one girl I had sometime near the start of my second year at Bristol. It was a Friday night, and a pretty regular Friday night at that – nothing special, nothing too grand, just the usual baying wolves of young professionals crawling around the Triangle looking for some kind of sexual gratification, as they usually do. Makes me sick sometimes just to look at them. They all arrive in their taxis, the girls in their short, tight skirts and high heels and the men in their less-than-smart ‘smart’ shoes and casual shirts, and all they seem to do is tell each other how drunk they all are and fall over a lot. Then, finishing their plastic bottles of cheap vodka and throwing them on the street, they pile into the queue for whatever godforsaken club they’re going to be destroying tonight and proceed to fall into each other until eventually they either vomit or go home and sleep with each other. Or both.
Anyway, this is besides the point. I was in Lizard Lounge, and I think I was exercising my usual combination of 2C-B and weed, and a lot of valium because without valium I tend to freak out. I was surveying the area for potential pick-ups. The key is not to look to the dancefloor, because if you approach a girl on the dancefloor she’s sure to have either a preying man or her friends to defend her. You’ve got to look almost anywhere else. The bar is always good, as is the sitting area. But I find I have the most success around the toilets. Outside the toilet doors is where lost, drunk girls for some reason always end up. Mark my words, the toilets are always the place to start.
Anyway, I was in Lizard Lounge and I was high as a blue moon. I was on one of those highs where the world just seems to wave so pleasantly around you. In between the internecine flash of synaesthesia (which is when you swap sense receptors, such as tasting a colour, which I was doing plenty of), I watched girls moving around me hungrily. 2C-B and weed always makes you sexually aggressive, which is my favourite state so long as I know I can satisfy it. I stood at the bar and watched them all, and simply wondered which one I should make mine.
There were no obvious leads at the bar, so I took myself for a tour of the club to see what was on offer. It was busy, so I had to look a bit harder than usual. Goodness, the girls were looking good. I could have done with any of them in the state I was in.
I rounded the corner to the corridor where the toilets were (my favourite spot), and – AHHHYYESSSS – quietly congratulated myself on a first-grade opportunity. There on the floor, just a few yards down from the entrance to the lady’s toilets, was a young girl of about twenty-two or three years old. She was wearing a short, silky red dress, sitting on the floor with her knees tucked up and her head rolled to the side as if she was about to fall asleep. But her eyes were open, and she was very much awake, if not entirely aware.
It was about as straightforward as they come. You approach them by asking if they’re alright, taking a seat beside them as you do so. Gauge how drunk they are. It’s usually easy to tell from their first answer. Sometimes they tell you they’re ‘a bit drunk’, or more normally that they’re ‘fine’. Then start making conversation with them. ‘Are you here with your mates?’ ‘Do you want some water?’ ‘Here, I’ll stay with you til you feel a bit better.’ Always maintain an air of innocence. Then get them standing up and gauge how well she’s looking. In the ideal situation, she’s so drunk she’ll go wherever you take her with no questions asked. Most of the time though, it might take giving her a few more drinks, or pretending you’re a friend of theirs and you’re taking her home because they’re too drunk. Sometimes you simply have to act as the attractive stranger, and get with them in the club first. Then get them outside as soon as you can so her friends don’t see her.
It was a textbook case with this girl. She was black-out drunk, so wasted she wouldn’t remember a thing in the morning. And she was also able to stand, which was perfect. I managed to get her out the front door without much trouble at all, apart from at one point she seemed to be about to tap the shoulder of someone, presumably a friend, and I had to grab her arm to stop her from reaching. Other than that it was a straightforward out the front, into the taxi, take her back to my house.
In the morning you have to be up and out of bed before they are, and pretend not to be in the house. Usually they get their clothes on and leave as fast as they can; or if not, then you have to re-enter the bedroom claiming you don’t remember a thing either. I’m good at this bit. I’m a good actor. I just act all modest and embarrassed, give them a cup of tea and shoo them out the door. Ideally, of course, they don’t stay the night at all. You just get them straight back on the street. They always find their way home. If they vomit or pass out, I leave them somewhere they’ll eventually be found.
The girl I found in Lizard Lounge was almost staple, apart from one thing: when she was back at mine, she tried to call the police. I had to wrest the phone from her hand as soon as I realised what she was doing. Fortunately she was drunk enough not to be able to put up too much of a struggle, though she did kick and fly about a bit. She was on the verge of passing out, though, so I got her upstairs to my room while she was still conscious without waking up any of my housemates.
Unfortunately the girl passed out after we were done, so I had to let her stay the night. In the morning she left pretty swiftly though, and I barely had to introduce myself.
So that was just one time, just an example for you (I hope you enjoyed it). I’d picked up a lot of girls like this, particularly around the Triangle. One weekend, though, I thought I’d give myself a challenge, so I took myself to Motion on a Saturday night to see if I could pick up a posh girl.
Motion is big – the capacity is about 1,300 people. It’s a warehouse, large and dark, and people lose themselves in there until I find them again.
I arrived at about 1am. It was a bit later than most people but then again I wasn’t really there for the music. I couldn’t even remember what night was on, though I did faintly identify what was booming out of the speakers as house music.
I did my first circuit. I wondered if I still hadn’t arrived a little too early; there was no one particularly wasted-looking. There was the odd body crouched in the corner of the smoking area, and I saw one guy being sick against the wall of one of the dancefloors, but no single girls as yet. But it was early. I merely had to wait for whatever drugs people had taken to hit. If I had to choose just one of my hard-learnt lessons in this game, it would be that patience is the most important virtue (or possibly invisibility).
For this evening I had taken a mere sampling of my favourite substances: I had begun with a sprinkling of two valiums, no-more-no-less (just to settle the nerves), a couple of joints, followed by exactly three and a half pints of Gem, a Bath Ale you can only buy in the West Country and which I find suits my needs exactly. Through experimentation I’ve found that two valiums plus precisely three and a half pints of Gem leaves me in such a place where I lose all my anxieties about just about everything, including taking more drugs. It allows me to plough on and have a fantastic night without worrying what is happening to my body. More than three and a half pints – say I stray into the territory of four pints – and I find I’ve crossed a threshold. I lose control of myself to these depressants a little too much, and I wave a little too slowly for the rest of the world to catch me. So I always keep it to two valiums and three and a half pints, then top up with the right amount of stimulants once I’m in the Good Place.
The Good Place is that place where everything is just fine. Nothing to worry about, no yesterday nor tomorrow aside from gorgeousness living etc. etc. Once I’m there I normally drop my 2C-B or LSD or MD or whatever it is I have for the night. Then once that’s taken its proper effect I wait to go up, enjoy my dizzy-dazzying high, then smoke up a couple of joints as I start to come down, just to even everything out. I plan my nights out to perfection – depressants (the perfect amount), stimulants (a good amount), depressants (whatever amount). Then I come tippy-toeing downwards with a beautiful girl in my inward clutches. Slap bang and simple.
I took a seat in the Motion smoking area at about 2am. I’d taken half a tab of acid and about 20mg of 2C-B, and I was pretty stoned, so I was tripping just ever so slightly. The sinewed mesh of reality was waving untowardly before my eyes as I watched the particled figures of people circling around in the smoking area. It was barmy. I was very much enjoying myself. I was in the Good Place. If you had tapped my body, it would have given no echo.
I like watching people in this state. Girl’s faces are treats that the devil has candied. My GOD, the shape of a woman! Do you think they know how attractive they are? Those itty-slidy legs, all sliding up to those great round in-and-out and the spaceful gorgeousness oh woooohoooo and then the more and more to the boobies and the shape of the stomach up to the boobies, I mean, WOW! Grrrrr I could just have to have one now, oh yes yes yes. I burnt like devils.
I know these girls though, you know these girls that are young that lose their minds in nightclubs. They’re the ones who are trying to hold on and know they are failing. Growing up is having society beat you repeatedly over the head until you finally give in. These girls are just trying to hold out in the face of knowing they will eventually lose. Insecurity, insecurity, insecurity. Insecure people are the slaughter of heaven.
The thing I recall the most at university though is the streets at night, absent of people, with the sodium orange of streetlights frothing in absolute stillness over clean, dry tarmac. And somewhere beyond it, the future… Every time I saw that image I heard the words saying, “Wait, because although we are empty now, you will find the secret in us eventually…”
Two girls were getting with each other to the side of the smoking area. I blinked in shock; looking again, there was no one there. Reality pulsed before me. I felt a little strange, so I looked in my wallet to see how many valiums I had left, just in case I thought I was going to freak out – the wallet was empty. I’d forgotten my valium. I took a long, deep breath and hoped that the two I’d already taken would keep me chilled out enough for the rest of the night.
The trip was getting a bit intense, so I just had to sit and ride it out.
Oooooohhh tiddle tiddle, keep smack smack smacking, I want a giiirrrll, a giiiiiiirrrrllll…
Just then, however, a girl sat down beside me.
I bolted upright like a leopard, though in reality I was absolutely still.
‘I know you,’ she said, and that really made me worry. ‘You do my course. You’re in my seminar on Shakespearean Tragedy.’
I blinked and stared at this person. Where had she come from? Why was she sitting here? She was evidently high on something. She was giving me that long, blank look of the person who is too involved in their own head to connect with the outside world. I couldn’t help but regard her queerly, having arrived during a bad few minutes for me.
I tried to shake out a few words and pretend I was vaguely normal.
‘What’s your name?’
‘Lola. You’re Charlie aren’t you?’
Suddenly the intense spell lifted and I felt all euphoric.
I was probably staring at this girl quite a lot, but that’s alright. Both of us were high as a blue moon. I thought she must have come over to me because I’m very good looking (that’s a very important thing about me), and all the girls I ever meet fancy me because I’m very good looking. Makes me fed up. But I looked at her face some more and I really liked it very much. Mm yes, very much indeed, made me feel much better. She was one of those girls I suspected kept a deep anxiety dwelling inside her, but learnt to drown it with intoxicants and silence. Very good looking though. In fact, she was gorgeousness made flesh. I could have eaten her up in two swallows. She was clear as an azure sky, and her words seemed to swing about from deep distances.
‘Lola,’ I said, repeating her name with interest. ‘Lola, Lola, Lola. What are you on tonight Lola?’
‘Half a tab of acid and 2C-B,’ she replied matter-of-factly.
‘Why!’ I exclaimed. ‘That’s what I’m on!’
‘I’ve also dabbed some MD,’ she went on. ‘Got a little bit of a buzz right now. And I saw you and I thought, why not come over to the good-looking boy?’
So she said it. It’s not often that they said it. I hated that she said it.
‘Who are you here with?’ I asked.
‘Some girls from my halls last year. But I’ve lost them. I don’t really care about them. I prefer being by myself.’
‘Are you by yourself a lot?’
‘Yes. So are you. I know you are because I never see you with people, ever. I find that intriguing.’
‘That’s not intriguing, that’s tragic. Why are you by yourself a lot?’
‘Because I feel more comfortable by myself.’
A group of lads suddenly started cheering loudly in front of us, interrupting our conversation. We watched them thoughtfully for a moment. Suddenly she turned to me and said:
‘Do you want to go?’
‘Go? Onto the dancefloor?’
‘No. Back to mine. We can have a joint.’
‘Well…’ I glanced around the smoking area once more, but I was too far lost in the lace of the moment to disagree. ‘Okay. Let’s go.’
We stood up and made our way to the exit. It was a weird occurrence, sure, but I thought I might be about to sleep with her. It had never happened like this before but it was welcome because it made things easier.
We waved and wambled our way out to the street, passing the bouncers with that strange air of self-consciousness as you wonder whether they know what you’re doing. ‘Evening! Good night! Ta-ra!’
I was very confused as we walked down the soft downy streets of night. Down down down. The thing is that LSD usually has the effect of making one extraordinarily sensitive to the matter of reality, so that your sense perception imbues somewhat delightfully the colourful incarceration of one’s own being unto thine own mind-body phenomena/complex. But shaken-and-stirred with marijuana, and of course sautéed with 20mg of 2C-B, and the effect becomes rather confusing. In fact, if I may be allowed to speak so candidly on so sensitive a matter – cough – I’d go so far as to say that I didn’t know what the fuck was happening.
This girl was good looking though – I think. I wasn’t sure. Maybe I just thought she was in the moment. I realised that it had taken her less than two minutes to invite me to come back to her house. I wondered how high she was exactly.
I’m not sure how much of our walk I remember. I remember crossing Bond Street and Portland Square, and maybe Stokes Croft. Her house was in Redland so we must have crossed Stokes Croft. I don’t remember what we talked about either. The only thing I was really sure of was that her name was Lola.
We got to her house on the steep hill of Clarendon Road, and the next thing I know I was sitting on a chair in her bedroom while she sat cross-legged on the bed.
The desire to have her came to me in waves. One moment I wanted her; I wanted to pin her down right there and then and get it over with, such was the burning in my skin. Her sweet waist seemed to be asking me to encircle it, and I envisaged tearing her clothes off and seeing what she made of it. But then the next moment it eluded me, and I didn’t want anything other than to sit there and watch her as if she was painted on the wall.
‘Joint?’ she asked, offering me the spliff I suddenly realised she’d been smoking. I took it without a word and took several long, deep drags on it, letting the smoke roll in the bottom of my lungs before escaping it back out again. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘I think you’re special.’
‘Special?’ I asked.
‘Yes, special,’ she said.
‘Why am I special?’ I continued.
‘Because,’ she continued, ‘I think you are. I don’t know why, exactly. I think because you’re different. I don’t know many boys like you.’
I leaned forward with that deceitful fascination you have when someone is talking about you. I love hearing things about myself, so long as they’re good.
‘You’re obviously a thinker, aren’t you? Don’t you spend a lot of time thinking?’
‘I suppose I do.’
‘Yes, I know you do. I can see it. You’re a thinker; you spend time by yourself because you’re at pains with the world. I bet you could be a writer, or an artist. I bet girls fall in love with you all the time. I bet that makes you feel special. Don’t you feel special? Isn’t everything about you?’
I passed the joint back to her.
‘No – I don’t know – why are you asking me this?’
‘I’ve seen you around the place, and I think you’re amazing. My question is, do you feel it?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘So you don’t?’
‘I don’t know!’
‘Ssh. Don’t you want to feel special?’
Things were getting strange. I was experiencing things blowing in and out of my ears like that beatific tumult that love grants its subjects; but there was no love, and I don’t know why that word came to mind. The walls were beating like the sea.
‘Why do you think I’m special?’
‘Because everything is about you, isn’t it? Don’t you believe that?’
‘I don’t understand – no, it isn’t-‘
‘Why do you do it?’
She looked at me now over the end of her smoking joint.
‘What?’ I said. Though I confess I don’t know how I said it.
‘Girls. Why do you do it?’
‘I don’t know what you mean.’
For all she knew I didn’t know what she meant; and if she didn’t know then I didn’t know. You know, you know, fluid reality and all that.
‘You sleep with girls a lot. I know you do.’
I stayed silent. She passed the spliff over to me and I sucked needfully on its end.
‘Do you know how I know?’
‘Did I sleep with one of your friends?’
‘No, Charlie. You slept with me.’
The next thing I knew I was staring into my wallet at where my valiums should have been. They still weren’t there.
‘Oh.’ I said. ‘When did that happen?’ I dragged more and more on the spliff, perhaps believing that if I got high enough I would be able to escape through the ceiling.
‘Don’t you remember?’
I thought I was going to panic. Still no valium.
‘No. I don’t. Sorry.’
‘It was in first year. We met outside Bunker on a Monday night. Do you remember that? It was in October. In fact I think I must have been one of your first. I knew who you were because I’d seen you in lectures. My course friends all knew you as the good looking guy. So when we met outside Bunker at 3am I thought, ‘why not? He’s good looking’. So I went back with you. Do you remember this, Charlie?’
‘Yes. I do.’ I had suddenly realised who this girl was.
‘And how did I seem to you?’
‘You were drunk.’
‘Wasted. You were completely black-out drunk.’
‘No I wasn’t. I was completely sober. I was pretending.’
‘What? No you weren’t, you were almost paralytic-‘
‘No I wasn’t, Charlie. I was acting. Looking back on it I’m embarrassed, but it’s true. It was a complete act.’
‘But why did you-‘
‘Because I didn’t think you’d sleep with me if I was sober.’
This made me feel deeply uncomfortable, and in fact I felt a bit sick. She was completely correct. I wouldn’t have slept with her if I’d known she was sober.
‘So what? You pretended to be drunk but you weren’t. What difference does that make?’
‘The difference is that I remember everything.’
My head had started spinning like a hurricane.
‘Yes, but so what? Remember what? What’s the point of this!?’
‘I know exactly what you’re like, Charlie. I know exactly what you get up to. You want to control everything, don’t you? That’s why you like them to be drunk. You’re scared of intimacy.’
At this point I flew up on my feet, knocking the chair over backwards.
‘I don’t know who you are,’ I said urgently, my eyes flying uncontrollably over the room. ‘Let me out – I feel sick – let me out of here!’
‘Don’t you want to sleep with me?’
I stared at her harsh, blank face, and felt so sensitive that if she had blinked I would have flinched.
Did I? Did I!?
‘Well,’ she said, extracting a cigarette from her bag. ‘Don’t you?’
I stared and stared at her, wondering what to do. I had never felt so strange in my entire life.
Without a word I flung myself bungling for the door, and crashed as fast as I possibly could out of the house. Out, out, out! No! I didn’t want this! No, no, no!
I sprinted out the house and down the road, my heart thumping like chaos in a way that made me think I was about to die. I couldn’t deal with this, not this, this hideous incarnation of something I couldn’t put my finger on, and suddenly I was thinking about the past, and suddenly I was thinking about the future, and OH GOD it was all coming crashing down now like a great spiralling inferno out of a hellish grey sky, firing and firing and dying and dying and the end the end the end! I could see nothing up ahead but darkness, horror, death OH GOOOODDD WHERE WAS I GOING, WHAT WAS I DOING, this was it, this was death, the end of all humanity, the end of my life, the end of time itself, THE END OF TIME ITSELF!
Those were police sirens coming up behind me, they were coming for me at last, I knew it!! AaaaaAAAAAAAahahahahahahaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
But then – all was still. It was morning, and I was alone. Completely, completely alone.