Knock Yourself Out: Flash Fiction

To Woosie

On Monday morning I woke up to the beat of the electronic music drumming in the living room like it were Saturday. Or at least Thursday. I slipped into my jeans, half angered, half asleep, and walked outside looking more for an explanation than a fight. Except for my flatmate, the room was deserted, the subwoofer booming, His head bobbled from side to side like a serpent making its way up a tree, his left hand twitched not so much nervously as involuntarily, and he shuffled from one foot to the other as if he had been standing for a long time. You’re alright? He looked through me, didn’t even see me, let alone reply. He held a large mug in his right hand—a soup bowl, really, with a handle—filled with about half the contents of a large jar of instant coffee. The kettle boiled and he poured as much water into it as he could—less than a small glass’ worth—before walking past me, plastic kettle in one hand, steaming mug of mud in the other. Whatever.

I didn’t come back until Tuesday evening. The first thing I saw when I walked in the front door was my flatmate sitting on the sofa, facing two tall mountains—a whole kilo—of long rice. There wasn’t even much left in the pot where he’d cooked it. It was all out there, in those two massive ant nests on the coffee table. I tried to engage in some sort of conversation but he was too busy eating. I remember thinking he had probably not eaten since I’d last seen him—I know I hadn’t. I could tell he certainly hadn’t slept. But at least the twitching had passed. I grabbed my beer and went into my room without even saying good night.

Just a few hours later I got woken up again by the familiar sound of drum and bass. Wednesday morning, 5am. Didn’t even bother with the jeans this time. I went outside ready to bawl. To my surprise I found my flatmate shaved, showered and ready to leave. I was just in my black briefs. You’re alright? I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t say anything. The kettle boiled. Then I saw him cram 25 tea bags into his bowl/mug—I swear he hadn’t even rinsed it!—and pour the stingiest of dribbles until the cup overflowed. Don’t worry, there’s still cacao in the pantry, if you want. I went back into my room and slammed the door behind me.

I was having dinner on Thursday when my flatmate walked into our living room. Steak, potatoes, salad. No rice. He held the thickest bad-ass joint between his lips. Or so I thought, until he lit it. The room filled immediately with the nastiest smell of chemicals. What the fuck are you smoking, man? He sat on the couch, pulled out a pack of pills from the inside pocket of his coat and with both hands pushed the capsules out of the sealed package. He proceeded to open them one by one, placing their content on a rolling paper. No filter. It’s an experiment. Paracetamol with codeine—wanna try? He held the pseudo-spliff in his mouth while he spoke, heaving as he pulled a drag, lighting the tip of the cigarette. Knock yourself out.

I woke up early on Friday morning fearing I might find my flatmate face up on the couch ODed on OTC drugs. No sound came from the living room—where was the fucking drum and bass when you needed it?—and the thought became an obsession. I nipped outside wearing nothing but my underpants. I was greeted by my steak, intact from the night before, and, sure enough, my flatmate, on the couch, not face up but sitting upright, butt naked. You alright? No answer, just blinking. I went to make us both a cup of tea. There was just hot cocoa. When I returned, my flatmate was no longer there. I caught the back of him as he walked outside the house wearing just a patterned cotton robe, not even done up. I wondered what in the world he’d taken to trigger this trip. I followed.




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