“I am going to play loud norwegian death metal outside Society’s home and then drive away at the speed of light.” Clark messaged Julie at 4:15pm on a Friday afternoon. He then checked his emails. A student drama club wanted new directors. He deleted the email and thought about making coffee and destroying society. It would be hard to destroy society and he would have to do it quickly. Consumerism. Fake tans. Politicians. Coffee.
“We should do it together. We can be each others alibis. Are you going out tonight?” Julie replied.
“Yes the chinatown rooftop with the usual gang” Clark said.
Coffee. News reports. Indie bands. Economic meltdown. He felt illogical as he poured the coffee from the plunger into a ‘congratulations class of 08’ mug. He would pour hot coffee on society, then away quickly, ducking through back alleys.
“Can I be a part of the gang?” Julie wrote.
“Of course.” Clark replied, spilling coffee on the carpet as he walked. He would send a mass email to society asking for new directors and society would apathetically delete it.
A brightly lit billboard for a new burger was the only light as Clark stared into the one third full bottle of sickly sweet liquor.
“I really feel like that burger,” Julie said, pointing her beer in the direction of the sign, “maybe I should stop being a vegetarian for it”.
“Really?” Clark replied, “Looks kind of like a bad place to start.”
“I wasn’t being serious. You always think I’m being serious.”
“You seemed serious, I don’t know.” Clark says, pulling the label off the champagne bottle.
“I’m really cold.” Sally said, wrapping her black cardigan around herself. Sally was Morgan’s girlfriend, they were sharing a bottle on nine dollar champagne.
“Drink more champagne.” Morgan said as he checked his email on his phone, he did not have any new emails. Clark felt warm. He wondered if Julie was warm. They had met through other friends a few months earlier, she was an art student and he had spoken at great length about the artist Harvey Darger because aside from Klimt, Darger was the only the only artist he knew anything about. Clark was an advertising student at a different university. After that they started going to shows and parties together.
Morgan had started talking about the band The Hold Steady. Clark started singing the lyrics to one of their songs and felt that the champagne must be kicking in. He noticed that he felt happy and wondered if anyone else was happy. Julie looked disinterested. “We should throw these bottles off this rooftop onto the lower rooftops” Clark said to her. They both walked to the edge of the rooftop and threw their mostly empty bottles off the edge. In the split second before the crack of a bottle breaking Clark thought about Kevin Spacey. “I wonder whose bottle that was. There was only one smash?” Clark said but Julie was laughing and did not hear him. He slowly walked over to Morgan and Sally. “I think I’m peaking” he said.
Morgan started laughing, “Peaking?” he asked. Clark laughed and realised Julie was next to him. They all shouted “Peaking!” loudly at the sky.
“Do you want to go somewhere that is not here?” Clark asked Julie. She replied that she did.
“We are thinking of going to Ric’s.” Clark said to Morgan and Sally.
“Do you think they will play Frightened Rabbit?” Sally asked, “Morgan has been waiting for a bar to play Frightened Rabbit for ages.”
“Maybe, I think it depends on the DJ, some DJs are sad like us” Clark replied. As they walked down the six flights of stairs to the ground floor they kicked down cleaning signs and shouted loudly. As they did this the word ‘catharsis’ floated out of their heads and drifted back onto the rooftop.
At the bar they danced to an old rap song Clark and Julie both loved. He did not know where Morgan and Sally were. The bar was busy to the point of barely being able to move. A song by Beyoncé came on. Clark gave a thumbs up to the DJ. The usual crowd of girls with blunt fringes and skinny guys with thick rimmed glasses were shuffling aimlessly more than they were dancing. One of his friends ex-boyfriends came up to Clark and ruffled his hair in a painful way, “Hey bro.” Clark said to him and was pulled away from Julie. A short guy in a suit approached Clark and said “can I buy you a drink?”.
Clark looked around, “I guess so”. The short man bought clark a lemon lime bitters and vodka.
“Umm. Thanks” Clark said and quickly drank the drink, “I have to go”. The short man looked sad. Suddenly everything was blurry and happy and loud. Later he requested the song First Date and the DJ played it, Julie smiled and they danced some more. Clark did not feel self conscious.
“I’m so drunk I feel like I’m traveling through time” shouted Clark. Julie did not hear and left to go to the bathroom. Clark danced on his own. He noticed an asian couple standing on chairs against a wall were taking photos of him.
“Hey, Hey!” he shouted at them. The asian man turned the camera around so Clark could see the photo of himself. “Never raise your arms above your head” he remembered. He waited outside the bathroom for Julie and they left the bar.
The pedestrian mall outside the bar was filled with buskers and a man in a Bon Jovi shirt and cargo pants asked Clark if he had a lighter. He said he did not.
“Are you hungry or do you want to leave?” Julie asked him. They walked to the McDonalds. Clark ordered a cheeseburger and Julie ordered a cheeseburger without meat.
“Does that count as a cheeseburger?” Clark asked her as they sat down.
“Yes, it has cheese in it still.” she replied.
A man in a toga made out of a bed sheet stumbled for a few seconds before falling down. Some of his friends stood around him but did not do anything. Clark imagined them picking up and carrying the man in the toga as if in a funeral. The McDonald’s security guard said he would have to call an ambulance if the man didn’t wake up. Julie and Clarked joked as they drunkenly read a newspaper together. They then spoke about music for awhile. “We should make a band that only sings about cats existentially struggling with their existence after seeing their reflection for the first time.” Clark says.
“I wish I could have cat at my house.” Julie replied, staring intently at the man in toga.
“You should buy one and hide it when they inspect the house.”
“Like in a cupboard? Under my shirt?”
“I don’t know it’s really late. Do you want to get a bus?” Clark asked.
They walked to the bus stop. A girl Clark went to school with walked past dressed as a playboy bunny, she did not recognise Clark and he was glad. Their bus just arrived as they reached the stop. The driver was in a hurry and they are waved on without having to buy a ticket. As the bus left Julie fell asleep with her hand on her chin and and her arm on her thigh, as if in deep thought. Clark stares at her for a moment and feels sad. The woman in the car driving next to the bus was drinking whiskey from an oversized bottle. After an indefinite amount of time he taps Julie on the shoulder, “This is my stop. I have to get out now”.
Clark got off the bus and walked to his home. As he walked trees bent down to his height and shouted inspirational slogans like “Keep your chin up buddy!” or “You can do it!”.
A few days later Clark was lying on the couch with his Macbook, “What is the answer to all this psuedo romantic late-teens/early 20s struggle?” Clark’s friend Greg asked on Facebook chat.
Clark thought for a few minutes and considered all the films he had seen and all the books he had read.
“Luck” he replied.
“So I guess there’s no answer?”
“I mean. Consider the chances of you being attracted to someone, based on genetic and social factors. Divided by the chances the other person being attracted to you (based on the same factors). Then there’s the chance of being in the same place at the same time. The chance of having food on your face. Do you have any idea how many great relationships have been stopped by someone having food on their face?” Clark typed this very quickly.
“Is it a large number,” Greg replied, “is it ‘a fuckload’ “.
“Yes a large number, we’re screwed. At least you have life prospects. A tour with your band”
“You had your internship. You have your online identity. We are ridiculous talking about this. Our lives are good.” Greg replied, adding a smiling face emoticon at the end.
“Yeah I have too much time to think. I should get a job or something.” Clark says, “I am staring into the cold dead eyes of your emoticon”.
“I was at a christian friends house the other day. He seemed happy. His wife seemed happy. They have friends who are nice and that they see all the time.”
“Yeah. I was reading about transcendental meditation the other day. Something to believe in.“ Clark had a focused expression as he typed this.
“If it wasn’t for the whole suspension of disbelief thing I could probably be religious or something.” Greg said, “I have to study now, you should come to that house show tonight.” Greg was offline. Clark got up to refill his glass of six dollar black-current juice. No one was home except for his cat who was sleeping on the dining table. “You are a cat” Clark said to it. He realised this is the first thing he had said aloud all day.