Thursday 1 January 2015

Such Heavenly Waters

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014

Danny Fitzmaurice had always felt paranoid at parties and this one was no exception. A housemate had dragged him out last night to a club and he surprisingly had had a good time but was still a tad paranoid at the after party. It was in a terrace house in Redferne, on the first weekend of 2014’s spring, Saturday to be specific, blessedly warm, and the post clubbing party, with about twenty young lads and lasses, was just now getting under way, especially in consideration of the imminent arrival of a quarter of an ounce of ganja, marijuana. Elizabeth’s presence also accentuated his discomfort. Not that she was being snobbish and giving him the cold shoulder as a result of his not having taken her hand when it accidentally and unnoticed fell onto his own hand the night before last, both of them side by side at their share house and watching telly. No, not snobbish, just indifferent: to be honest she never really liked him anyway; he was too nice and nice guys always lose. Certainly holding his hand had been accidental, when she did notice that she was in fact doing so, but it was also the perfect prank to play, as things naturally turned out, upon his sensitive and earnest nature. Danny did not take her hand when she pointed out such because, although attracted to her deep sense of irony, her dry humour, her finely wrought facial features, and fine, long, blonde dreadlocks, did not hold her accidentally proffered hand because he had learned from bitter experience that getting involved with a flatmate was a good way for one of the parties to be homeless at short notice.
     The ganja duly arrived. There was the resultant jubilation and one of the hosts went off to collect a few bongs. Danny though was not so enamoured of its arrival. Over the past six weeks or so bongs had made him feel very anxious and disoriented, very paranoid instead of the usual calm relaxation upon a fuzzy, warm cloud. He also felt that he couldn’t really refuse the cones as it just wouldn’t do to admit that the drug had made him slightly crazy of late. It was fine to go crazy on drugs just do so in the privacy of your own home and don’t bring down the others with no problems in their chosen drug use.
     What to do?
     It was taking a sip on his tinnie that made Danny see a solution: he could just make a show of being drunk, which he almost was, and excuse himself from the communal tokes on the grounds that he was high as a kite already on the beers. It was virtually the truth anyway.
     By the time he had reached a decent drunk, halfway through a fresh tinnie, the bongs began to be passed around. Danny was sitting next to a packer and after she had had the first cone, she packed and passed him one. Danny held up his right hand, saying with a slight slur,
     ‘No, thanks, not now. I’m pretty wasted on these beers.’
     ‘Ah, go on,’ insisted the packer, whose name Danny didn’t know. ‘One’s not going to kill you.’
     ‘Yeah,’ replied Danny, ‘but it might send me off to sleep pretty quick and then no more free beers.’
     ‘Suit yourself,’ said the nameless young lady, and passed the packed bong to the neighbour on Danny’s left.
     Elizabeth, sitting opposite Danny, had been watching this transaction with a wry smile on her lips, watching him also wryly at times at the club last night. The boy is far too sensitive, she was thinking, licking an ice cream and wondering how any man could have such a low tolerance to even such a simple drug as alcohol. Without even being aware that she was doing so she began licking her ice cream more vigorously, turning it fairly soon into a misshapen, sloppy blob of frozen dairy confection on an ice cream stick.
     ‘Here, Danny,’ she said, once again not realising that she was planning to do this, ‘have my ice cream. Maybe it’ll absorb some of that beer and you can join the rest of us for a good smoke.’ Danny, right hand trembling ever so slightly, took the ice cream.
     ‘Thanks,’ he said. He brought it to his mouth, wanting very much against his will to taste her heavenly waters on the cream. But he couldn’t do it. He offered it back to her.
     ‘I’m sorry, Ms Lizzy Bell, I really can’t eat ice cream, it always makes me nauseous for some reason. I have had myself checked for lactose intolerance but it’s not that. Ice cream just doesn’t suit me.’
     ‘Do it for me, Daniel,’ she mocked. ‘Just two or three licks. I promise to rub your tummy when it gets upset.’ She laughed, moving forward on the couch as if to prepare herself for the imminent medical aid. ‘Besides, I bought a big brekkie and can’t finish the ice cream. It’s a sin to waste food when so many are starving.’ She had a point, wasting food is a sin.
     ‘Okay, Elizabeth, I’ll try. But if I get sick, and I probably will, I really will need any help you can give me to soothe the pain.’ He took a lick, then another, and almost a third.
     ‘Sorry, Elizabeth,’ he said, holding the ice cream out from him, ‘I can feel my stomach revolting already. Are you sure you can’t finish it?’
     ‘Well if you’re going to be such a big baby about it give it here.’ She held out her hand and Danny returned the confectionary. She promptly took a big dollop of the bounty.
     ‘You’ve ruined it, Danny,’ she then said. ‘Your boy germs have taken all the flavour out of it!’
     ‘What do you mean? I had to lick your sloppy girl germs.’
     ‘I’ll finish it though,’ she said, ‘despite your horridness. Wasting food is a sin.’ She then finished it in two large bites. She laid the barren stick on the coffee table, the packed bong simultaneously making its way for her turn to smoke. She pulled the cone, passed back the bong, and said almost as if to herself,
     ‘Nothing worse than plain, boring, tasteless ice cream.’
     ‘I can buy you another one.’
     ‘Any flavour you want, if they have it.’
     ‘Well if they don’t have chocolate any flavour except banana. Banana ice creams always seem to be trying too hard to have any real flavour.’
     ‘You’ll have to come with me.’
     ‘I don’t have my earphones with me and I always find walking a real chore unless I have my music going.’
     ‘I can’t walk out there, Daniel. That ganja is really strong and I’m way too paranoid to be out in public.’
     ‘Well I’m almost as drunk as a lord and walking up there will be so much the more difficult if I’m alone with my thoughts.’
     ‘Okay, I’ll go with you, but you’ll have to hold my hand on the way up there and back to make sure I don’t freak out.’
     ‘Agreed. That’ll also help me to not let this drunk take over.’
     Elizabeth stood up. ‘Let’s go then, Daniel.’ Danny joined her on the way to the front door and after it was closed behind them they left for the nearby shops hand in hand, Danny subconsciously considering friends that he could move in with at short notice.
     When they returned to the party after Elizabeth had slowly consumed her ice cream at the shops the bongs were still being passed around and three couples were dancing next to the large speakers.  Danny and Elizabeth were still naturally holding hands upon their arrival back and it only took a look between them to join the dancing couples. Elizabeth had a few more cones throughout the morning but Danny kept off the smoke and the strong drink. The longer he remained with her the surer he became that he would have to find a new share house. Ah well, he thought, that’s life.


If you've been enjoying Denis' stories here you may also enjoy his novel, This Mirror in Me, which tells the story of how Tonia achieves her life's fundamental aim of having her home as a social hub, by staring at herself in the mirror. It is available as a Kindle book at Denis also has a short non-fiction book available, King Street Blues, which is an encouraging tale of Denis' willfully chosen five years of homelessness in the inner cities of Melbourne and Sydney. It too is available as a Kindle book at If you don't have a Kindle you can download the Kindle app for free onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer.


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