Chapter 9: Dragonfish

I sit listening to the tick of the clock on the boiler. Tick, tock, tick tock. It’s been an hour since I got off the phone to Jasmine, she’s not arrived. I start to wonder where she is, I can hear the light breeze outside and the sound of birds singing their last songs for the evening. I look out the window at the rustling leaves and for a moment I think I see a shadow of a man watching me, only to blink and find the shadow has disappeared. Breaking me out of my mind I hear a knock at the door. I look through the peephole, take a deep breath mixed with relief and disappointment all at once but unsure why. Jasmine looks strange in the fisheye lens of the peephole, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. “Fag out or I don’t let you in,” I shout through the door. “A hello wouldn’t go amiss,” She frowns and inhales the last bit of nicotine before stubbing it out on the corridor carpet with her foot. I open the door, my eyes immediately avert to the cigarette butt on the carpet, “You’re not meant to smoke in the corridor.” She barges past me and ignores my comment. “I thought I better come round,” ,” she heads straight through into the lounge and scans the place, “Wow,” she exhales and whistles, “I didn’t notice how empty your flat when I was here the other night!” “Don’t think we made it past the bathroom.” We both smile with hazy memories playing in our heads, whether each of our versions is different though one can never tell. She sits down on the sofa letting out a sigh as if she’s deflating. She spies the little blue flashing light on the table in the corner, “I see you still see the need for a laptop, though,” she winks, “I guess a guy can’t live without his porn.” She grins. My phone vibrates and buzzes on the arm of the sofa. Jasmine picks up the phone and smiles mischievously, “Well, well, what have we got here?” She wiggles her eyebrows, “You player, you!” She laughs. I lurch forwards in panic, to grab the phone from her and she quickly moves out of the way, “Come on!” I hiss more harshly than I meant to, “I wouldn’t nosey through your phone!” “Ooh,” She starts teasingly, “Got something to hide, have we?” I hold my hand out, insistent that she passes it to me. She rolls her eyes, “Alright!” The phone lights up my face. It’s just a message from my phone company offering more minutes. I sit back on the couch next to Jasmine and she looks at me with smile curving her lips, “So, what ya hidin'” She carries on teasing, making a beeline for me, grabbing hold of me and rolling on top of me and tickling me. “Stop! STOP!” I scream.
But she carries on, carried away, laughing. “STOP!” I shout, “Stop,” So carried away in her teasing fun my hand is at her cheek before I realise what I’m doing. She jerks upright and jumps off me stunned, “Fuck!” She hisses, “What was that for!”
I swallow, “I…I didn’t mean…I’m…” I look down at the carpet, “I don’t like being tickled.”
She sits down at the edge of the sofa, “You’re an arsehole you know that?” I shrug. She exhales with a sigh and slouches back on the sofa, “And you slap like a girl,” She grins.
“Is that not misogynistic to assume a girls slap would be weak?” She raises a brow, “Who said it means it was weak?” She winks, “Who assumed then?”
We sit in silence for a few moments, tick tick of the clock on the boiler the only sound between us until she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a spliff, looking across to me expectantly.
“You’re the type of woman my mother warned me about.”
“Me in particular?” Jasmine smirks, “Moi? She warned you all about little old me?” She takes the bobble out of her hair and lets her hair trail down her back. I think she looks better like that.
“Yes, she said something about a girl called Jasmine. Said she’ll try and turn me into a druggie.” I can smell the marijuana and think it’s not a pleasant smell at all, “You are aren’t you?”
“What?” “Turning me into a druggie?” She doesn’t answer my question, just holds the burning spliff towards me and I hesitantly take it.
“it ain’t gonna bite!” She laughs. I
inspect the thing between my fingers, turning my nose up at the smell, “it smells awful, though!”
“I still haven’t forgiven you, you know.” I hear my blinking like a cartoon in my head.
“You know, slapping me,” She shakes her head but she’s smiling which confuses me.
“I don’t understand what you’re feeling.”
She just laughs.

The laptop is the only source of light between us. Hours have passed, and it’s completely dark out though I keep checking for any human-like figures looking in. At some point I think I see a human looking figure with broad shoulders, I stare out straight at this apparent man of the night until the moment is broken by her voice, “Earth to Gilly!”
Why does everyone say that? I turn to look over my shoulder, “Yeah?” I look at her blankly. The sound of my own blinking in my head clink, clink.
“Wow,” she looks a mixture of amused and worried, “Are you alright?” Then she beams, “It’s probably the weed, it’s the first time that’s pretty clear.”
A thought occurs to me, and I laugh out loud, “You introduced me to E the other night and now weed, I think you’re doing it the wrong way around!”
She moves the laptop from her knee and places it on the couch arm, “There is something strange on your laptop,”
My heart thumps against my chest, “Whay?” My voice comes out shakily.
”Yea. You’re history is all wrong. I can’t find any porn!” She laughs and moves towards where I’m standing at the window, she looks out and then back at me, “What are you looking at?” She asks, and I finally look a person in the eyes. I look her in her vivid brown eyes, and she places a hand on my cheek. . I avert my gaze from hers quickly, “I bet you didn’t know the colour of my eyes until now.” She says softly.
“Don’t mind but I won’t look again,” I tell her.
“You’ll look again,” She says, her voice still soft. Softer than I’ve ever heard her.
“Don’t expect it much.”
She looks saddened for a moment, deflated I think. I put my hand on her shoulder, flashbacks of my awkward kiss with Sam play behind my eyes and I let go of her.
“Sorry,” I look at the floor and feel at the back of my neck.
“No,” She, touches my shoulder, lifts my chin with her fingers and kisses me.

I wake up with her bra on my head and her feet on my lap and my boxer shorts are around her ankles. She stirs and rubs the sleep from her eyes, I turn to look at her chin and mouth and a question forms on my lips before I think much about it, “Why did you turn up last night?”
Jasmine shrugs, “Felt the comedown from the E the night before.”
We sit in silence for a few ticks of the clock, “Once we’ve seen past the illusion there is no going back,” I think out loud.
“What?” Jasmine cocks her head to one side and itches her foot.
“Are you sad without drugs?” I get up from the sofa and saunter into the kitchen forgetting I’m naked. I look down to see my penis flapping about freely and instinctively cover myself.
“No use hiding now!” Jasmine laughs.
I go back into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water, “Well?” I ask from the kitchen
”What?”
I stand between the kitchen and the living room, “Well?”
“Well, what?” Jasmine asks
“Are you sad without drugs?”
There is a silence as I gulp down the entire glass of water and pour another one. “Sad people need drugs.” I continue, “It’s the only way to go back to the illusion.” “The illusion?”
“The illusion that is life.”
Jasmine rolls her eyes, “Life isn’t an illusion.”
“What I mean is the illusion of meaning.”
“I’m not sad without drugs,” Jasmine finally answers as if there was a delay between the sound waves of my question and the vibrations in her inner ear. “Drugs are just an enhancement of life to me.”
“If I became a drug addict,” I thought for a moment and looked out the window, “I’d never stop.”
“That is what an addict doesn’t do, doesn’t stop.”
“No. I mean, no matter how many people try to break through to me that I’m killing myself or whatever, I’d not be able to stop. I know it.”
“You’d have to go rehab.”
“I’d fail rehab.”
“Well lucky you’re not a drug addict then!” Jasmine grinned
“But I will be if I keep hanging out with you!” I try to smile, “If I become a drug addict I won’t stop till I die. I know this because…” I pause and squint to try and make out movement in the bushes, “I know there is no meaning to life and life is too tedious. Drugs would fill the emptiness.” I turn from the window to Jasmine, “I’ve seen those shows where they talk to drug addicts and give them the ‘gift’ of rehab, and they’ll ask them things like, “Do you want to die?” And they always say the same thing, “No.” And then they cry. And I imagine myself in their position, and I’m thinking, either they’re lying, or I’m the most depressed person on this planet because do you know what my reply would be?”
Jasmine takes a sip of water.
“Yes I want to die!” That’s what I’d say!”
“I’ve never known anyone have such a comedown from a spliff before!”
“Oh,” I wave away her comment, “This isn’t a hangover thing, this is just me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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