Drink, Drink Up, My Friends | Pushing the Wave

Drink, Drink Up, My Friends

Story, 22 March 2023
by L.A. Davenport

From the collection Dear Lucifer and Other Stories

Another Night Out by LA Davenport
Another Night Out, by L.A. Davenport, 2008.
Through the hot-fuelled excess of a London Saturday night comes the rising call: drink, drink up, my friends. Tonight we shall be drowned. The bitter acid taste of a glowing glass, drained to foster complicity. The swirling smear of a wooden room, a hand placed on your shoulder. You lurch your head around, blinded by the brassy bar and the smile so close to yours. There is a duty to perform, you have to be my friend tonight. Wait, you’ll be back, there is another calling.

You clamber up the stairs, fighting with your unruly limbs and blocking the voices inside your head. A bawdy conversation with someone you do not know, your hand steady on cold tiles. You must wash your hands, but spill water all around. A leering glance at the ladies' queue, imagining naked flesh. Don't trip on the stairs, my friend, everyone is watching. The coldness in your cheeks, the sweat upon your brow. You are a prince tonight, your mighty mind shall fly.

Check your zip as you reach your table, throw a sloppy grin all round. There is another glass waiting, eager eyes are on you. Time to cut a dash, employ a little bravado. Glug down your pint, even though you know it’s too much. The liquid spills on your shirt, but no-one notices. Your new-found friend does not remember you, locked in conversation. So what? You can steal some time with someone new.

Up comes another rising call: one more to save our souls. Drink on, drink on. A disjointed shout goes up, others raise a hand and cheer. You look round at other tables, sorry for the tourist family. But there is no way out, you cannot cheat your new-found will. You stare at your yellow pint, watching bubbles slowly rising. Your hands have turned to lead, your eyes are becoming heavy.

That hand upon your shoulder, a different willing smile. Drink it down, my friend, show me you are one of us. I will never part from you, as long as I shall live. Open your throat just one more time; it will all soon be over. You are the last to finish, something of a failure.

They are parading out to smoke, suddenly it seems so tempting. The slamming rush into your head, it could go either way. What’s that? They won’t let one of us back in, one of our band of warriors. We are angry now and have to leave.

Out on the cold street, you sway and almost fall. Look back at the bouncers; they'll regret not seeing your worth. Now time for that cigarette; there’s nothing when you draw. An instant headache and cold limbs, but you must smoke on. Where to now, my perfect friends forever? You cannot stop drinking now, or the hole will open up.

You fall off the curb, trying to test your balance. You notice half of them have already left; they were never really part of us. Shall we try that club? No, you have to face reality, the magic has upped and gone.

A journey on the hated bus, all jerking nausea. The stumbling walk back home, the blacked-out echoing. Climb the stairs with broken legs, pulling yourself up by your hands. Walk past the bathroom door, you mum would not approve. You crave the solace of your silken bed, the oblivion of sleep.

But your mind circles in the street-lit room, there is no rest tonight.

An earlier version of this story was published in Mind Sprocket magazine.
© L.A. Davenport 2017-2024.

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Drink, Drink Up, My Friends | Pushing the Wave