SHORT STORIES: Out Of Hand

A night out turns tricky in this latest short story from Ben Hudson.

Saturday 09:00

“Last night really got out of hand” thought Giulio as he lifted his weary head from the pillow, wincing as he leant forward to check his phone: 4 new messages.

Charlie – 08:04 – Sorry about the calls last night, all sorted now.

He had obviously slept through the calls, his slumber undisturbed from the moment his reeling head span into his bed.

Giulia – 01:46 – Shit man, I am freaking out. I’m lost and there are bats fucking everywhere.

This message should have seemed odd, but Giulio was desensitized to Giulia’s bizarre text soliloquies, and thus the message went ignored.

Sergio – 01:32 – Could I ask a big favour? I’m somewhere on the coast. Think I got on the wrong train…

What had happened last night? He had retired early, having miscalculated how the sun had sapped his stamina, but apparently the other’s had gone on to even boozier exploits. He turned back to read the fourth message:

Sergio –  12:03 – Best Night Ever

*

Friday 20:00

The four revellers piled out of the bar, armed with large measures, to sit in the warm spring twilight. The patio furniture creaked as they sat took their seats on the edge of the piazza.

“Here’s to being let go!” toasted Sergio, raising his glass. “And to drowning sorrows!”

Giulio, Giulia and Charlie duly raised their glasses, before taking large hungry gulps from them.

“I can’t believe they let us go…” said Charlie bitterly.

“Cheer up, England!” cried Giulia, dramatically spilling wine from her glass after an overenthusiastic, ironic gesticulation. “We’re better than that shit job! And now we have a reason to celebrate! Freedom!”

“I am ready to let go a bit,” said Giulio before returning to his beer. “Very quaffable, this!”

“And if anybody wants, I’ve got the last of the Amsterdam supply with me tonight,” said Giulia, placing her hand on the breast pocket of her sleeveless camo jacket.

“Pass.” Said Sergio. “Not after last time, things really got out of hand.”

*

23:00

“You know, if I had a bookshop, I’d make the mystery books bit really hard to find,” garbled Giulio.

“Fuck off, Giu” barked Charlie, now becoming quite misanthropic under the spell of the wine.

“We should open a bookshop…” murmured Giulia, now slouched deep into one of the easy chairs inside the bar. “Where’s Sergio?”

“Over there with some girl…” grunted Charlie.

“Hey Serge! Let’s open a bookshop!” yelled Giulio across the bar.

“Sorry about him,” said Sergio coolly to the woman he had been chatting to for the last twenty minutes. “D’you wanna go down the road to dance?”

She agreed, and Sergio slid over to the other three to inform them of his departure.

“I’m off. I’m taking this fine lady dancing.”

“Dancing! Yes!” cried Giulia. “I’m coming!”

Sergio didn’t want to show himself up by arguing, so instead politely asked the other two if they wanted to come. They declined, and so Giulia and he set out into the cool night air.

“It really makes me angry what the company did to us.” said Charlie.

“Yeah me too…” murmured Giulio.

“It makes me want to get revenge.”

“So do it…” said Giulio, now beginning to struggle with the room’s ever more violent spin.

“Alright, I will. You coming?”

“No, leave me here, I’m gonna have a couple more grappa’s and then try to walk home”

*

00:00

“Five euro entry tonight sir.”

“No worries,” said Sergio, handing over a crisp ten for him and the woman.

“I’m cleaned out mate, wanna let me in anyway?” said Giulia coyly.

“No. Five euro.”

“Fucksake!” whispered Giulia as she strolled off into the night.

Inside the bar, the dance floor was almost empty, so Sergio and the woman sat in one of the booths, and were soon joined by some acquaintances of hers.

“Evening, Maria.” one of them said. They were dressed in sharp suits and asked a series of questions to which she replied with nods and shakes of her head, and that Sergio struggled to decipher.

“How’s tricks?”

“This tonight’s?”

“How’s it looking?”

“Only four?”

“Usual drop-off?”

She turned from the men back to Sergio.

“It’s kinda dead here? You wanna head home?” She raised her eyebrow and smiled coquettishly.

“Good thinking.” he said calmly, taking her by the hand, and leading her out into the street.

“I live a few stops down the east line, so let’s head to the station. there’s a great little shebeen opposite where we can get a night cap.”

*

00:17

On the meandering route to his former office, Charlie had been collecting empty bottles, large stones and a fearsome energy, ready for his confrontation with the bricks and mortar that constituted his erstwhile employer’s premises.

He arrived, stood in silence for a moment, before hurling a chunk of concrete he had found toward a first floor window. The crash and tinkle of the glass was cathartic, and on hearing no alarm, he continued to shower the building with rubble.

Within a minute, very few windows on the front of the building remained, but soon the tapestry of white crystalline shards began to glow blue, and Charlie was forced to run.

He made it only onto the adjacent street before being thrown into the back of a police car.

*

01:00

Giulia wasn’t in good shape. The remaining “Amsterdam Supply” had left her queasy and disorientated, while the drink’s original burst of energy had worn off, leaving her tiredly stalking the streets, desperate for a rest.

She ambled into a minimarket and purchased a can of overpriced Dutch lager before wandering a little more. Soon she spotted a familiar fountain, and managed to get her bearings. Her apartment was just across the municipal park, and though the gates were locked, they were no problem for her to climb.

Once in the park, she began pacing urgently across it, and only on reaching a copse of trees did she come to appreciate the vulnerability of her situation. She gazed into the shadows with paranoia, and shivered at the whispered shrieks of what she could only assume were bats. She heard an owl, and her heart skipped  a beat. She then saw something fly low over the path ahead of her. She was momentarily distracted by a parade of glow flies to her left, but was once more terrorized by an anonymous shriek.

She dropped her can, and began to run. She could she twisted shapes either side of her, and chose to bail out and hide beneath a bench. The dark figures continued to close in around her, so she pulled her jacket over her head, and used her phone to light the tarmac beneath her, where she eventually slumped into an exhausted sleep.

01:24

“You can have a phone call, but you won’t be processed until the morning.”

02:01

“When’s the last train?” asked Sergio gently.

“Four minutes, platform two. You go and hold the doors open and I’ll grab us a few beers. Twenty should cover it…”

Sergio blindly obeyed and ran ahead into the station, where he then climbed onto the tattered coach. In his exhaustion he chose to sit down for a minute, knowing that the train wouldn’t leave for two more minutes, but to his chagrin after only thirty seconds or so the doors pushed closed.

“What? There’s still a few minutes…” he thought, rushing to the train door. He rested his hands on the glass of the door, and looked out to see Maria smiling deviously and mouthing the words: “thank you”.

It then dawned on him what had happened.

He went to ask the guard when the next stop was, and rather ingeniously, Maria had directed him onto the last express out to the coast.

11:30

Giulio’s headache was beginning to subside as he pottered idly around his apartment. It was a shame he had headed home early last night…

He slid his phone off the counter and started typing a group message:

“Sorry things got out of hand last night. I don’t really feel like I gave myself chance to celebrate. Same again tonight?”

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