You can view other snippets of The Drought on my blog by clicking here, and if you scroll to the bottom you can click a link to read the first six chapters. Here is chapter one - enjoy!
Chapter 1: The End
Sunday, September 13, 2009 - 12.47pm
Drought Clock: 255 days, 23 hours, 50 minutes
I guzzled down the remainder of the vodka and coke left in my glass, wiping away the liquid that escaped my lips and trickled down my face, staining the neck of my white T-shirt.
‘Same again darling?’ The barmaid was polite enough to at least pretend to ignore that I now had an equal amount of alcohol on my top as I did in my throat.
‘Yes please, and a bib if you have one,’ I responded, attempting a witty comeback to cover up my embarrassment.
She shot me a cheeky grin and let out a little giggle, as she tended to prepare my drink. Then eye contact, and another smile. Hold on, what did we have here? A mutual attraction perhaps? Well, sort of.
Okay, so maybe she was a little overweight and wore her hair up in that strange side ponytail that some girls of a certain stereotype go by. You know, the one where they scrape their hair back so tightly it looks painful because of the constant agony they must be in from the stretching of skin from the hairline to their forehead. This was all held in place by the obligatory neon-coloured scrunchy of course.
She wasn’t the usual type of girl I would normally go for. In fact she looked like the type of girl my dad would say had been around the block a few times. In this case, the prisoner cell block by the look of those tattoos on her forearms.
I guess I normally went for the more natural and pure look in a girl, as opposed to the aggressive and potentially violent look this barmaid had managed to perfect. I think she even had a bit of a limp too, like one leg was shorter than the other or something.
But who was I kidding? On current form I was certainly no Casanova and was in no position to be picky. I was experiencing the worst drought of my life. It had been over eight months since I had last managed to get my leg over. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry half the time. Eight months without sex. People had committed crimes and been given lesser sentences. It was the worst slump I‘d experienced since losing my virginity seven years ago. With each passing day I had gone without sex, the further my self-esteem seemed to spiral downwards. But today’s events had tipped me over the edge.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror behind the bar. There I was – Daniel Hilles. I stared at my reflection but I was unrecognisable to my own eyes. I had become a desperate man, and the strain was beginning to take its toll. I might not be the best looking bloke in the world, but I'd like to think on my day I could pass for a good seven out of 10. But now I was starting to look a shell of my former self. My stylish messy dark brown hair now looked, well, just plain messy. Three days of not shaving had not given me the desired effect of designer stubble. Instead my face looked more like a used brillo pad. My eyes were blood shocked and glazed over, but that could have been the alcohol.
An hour ago I’d hit rock bottom. Just when I thought things couldn’t have got any worse, they had. And this time it went much deeper than trying to get a girl into bed. I’d walked into the White Horse on Balham High Street with one intention – to get as pissed as quickly as possible.
The White Horse was your typical old man’s pub. Dark and gloomy, and full of drunks who wanted to get as much cheap alcohol down their throats as quickly as humanly possible. The wallpaper was red and white stripes. The white stripes were no longer white; instead they were nicotine yellow, while the red was a strange velvet material. It was the type of wallpaper your parents may have had on the living room wall back in the 1980s. The rest of the bar furniture was dark oak, and the lack of music meant the only noise that could be heard was the inane alcoholic chit-chat. The perfect venue to drown my sorrows.
I thought this would be a safe place; a place where I could forget about what had just happened. It was also the last place on earth in which I thought I would find myself in a position to have to try and impress a girl in a lame attempt to get her to shag me. But now faced with an opportunity in the shape of Vicky Pollard’s twin sister, I thought to myself why not? Beggars can’t be choosers as they say.
Besides, she had some redeeming qualities. The little bit of extra weight she was carrying had certainly enhanced her buxom appearance, and she wasn’t exactly shy when it came to trying to hide those two fabulous assets busting out of her pub-issued white shirt. Granted she was probably wearing one too many sovereign rings on her fingers for my liking – seven to be exact plus two amazingly large Pat Butcher-esque gold hoop earrings. But at that moment I had a good feeling about this.
That feeling could have been the bulge that was starting to develop in my pants as I found myself staring for a tad too long at her fantastically large breasts jiggling with every movement. But she didn’t seem to mind me looking, and with the right amount of coaxing I could be on to a winner. The four double vodka and cokes I had downed in the last 45 minutes were also helping guide my judgement on this one.
She placed the drink down on the coaster, leaning towards me and giving me even more of an eyeful with a devilish look across her hard features. The dirty little minx – she wanted me to look. I handed her the money and held onto her hand for just a second or two long enough to be playful.
Brad Pitt eat your heart out. I don’t think I could have played it any cooler. I knew it, she knew it – even the old man slumped at the end of the bar drinking the cheapest bitter on tap knew it – she wanted me bad. ‘Keep the change sweetheart,’ I told her with a wink and flashed her that old winning smile which had been missing for far too long.
Yep, I was certainly back on form. She wiggled her way over to the till, before turning and heading back over towards me. I was ready for the next stage of where this was heading. I’d crack a few jokes, we’d flirt a bit, and she’d probably playfully hit me at some point in that way girls do when they fancy you. God knows why I had been worried about getting back into the game for all this time. I just had to be myself and stop listening to other people. This one was most definitely in the bag.
‘You’re 40p short,’ she said, that cheeky grin now fading away. Bollocks. A minor setback, but don’t panic I said to myself. I made a quick joke about telling her to keep the change and offered to buy her a drink instead. I pulled out my small change pouch and started to dig around at the copper and silver coins.
‘Is that a purse?’ she sarcastically asked, her grin now replaced by a mocking curl of the lips.
‘No,’ I shot back. ‘It’s a pouch actually,’ I continued, as I tried my best to savour whatever masculinity I had left holding the stupid leather purse that displayed a picture of a tiger in fake gem stones and plastic diamonds.
Why the hell had I listened to Rob when he advised me to buy the damn thing? 'It’s the height of fashion; all the footballers have got one of these bad boys,' he told me. I had that same look on my face the barmaid now displayed when Rob had said this to me. 'It’s bloody gay' had been my exact response. I should have gone with my first instincts.
‘Well it looks like a purse – a man purse,’ she laughed. ‘And is that a picture of a cat?’
‘It’s a tiger actually,’ I said as manly as possible, not wanting to concede the fact that I was indeed holding a purse.
‘It is a cat!’ she said, pretty pleased with herself. ‘That makes it a pussy purse!’ And she started to cackle uncontrollably. ‘Hey John, have you seen one of these before?’ I was delighted with the fact she had decided to now share this awkward moment with her colleague. ‘This guy has a pussy purse.’
John's booming laugh alerted other patrons in the bar, and he wasted no time in informing the two workmen he was serving, who were now looking over, pointing and laughing.
‘It’s not a purse alright,’ I managed to sputter out as I shoved the coins into the palm of her hand, hoping to put an end to this conversation immediately.
She studied the change. ‘This is only 37 pence. You owe me another three pence. Anything else in that purse of yours?’ she enquired; looking at me like I was the biggest tosser she had ever had the misfortune of laying her eyes on. From the look of the clientele in this establishment, she had seen a fair few in her time and I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be at the top of that pile.
I don’t know why I was surprised this was happening to me. One way or another, all female contact I had experienced in the last few months had resulted in some form of humiliation. Why should this be any different?
Panicking, I rummaged around in my pockets praying I had the lousy three pence somewhere so I could at least salvage some dignity. Impatiently she rolled her eyes at me, knowing full well I didn’t have the money. ‘Could I owe you the three pence?’ I pathetically asked.
‘Whatever,’ she sighed. I scooped up the drink and drank. I wanted to get out of this bar as quickly as I could. But with the final swig, a piece of ice about the size of the one that brought the Titanic down, slid into my mouth and lodged itself in my throat. I coughed hard, and in doing so managed to not only dislodge the iceberg, but also spray the barmaid with a mouthful of vodka and coke.
‘Oh shit, I’m so sorry,’ I blurted out, before in my infinite wisdom deciding it would be appropriate to help dry her vodka and coke soaked chest with my man purse. If the scraping of fake gems and plastic diamonds against flesh wasn’t enough, I somehow managed to wedge the purse in between her cleavage. The tiger's face now looked as though it was peering out over two eggs.
I didn’t see the punch coming, but I did feel the full force of her heavily sovereign-ringed fist make crunching contact with the side of my face. And it wasn’t the playful variety of hit I had anticipated earlier either. I stumbled back, tripping over a bar stool, and came crashing down flat on my back.
As I lay there looking up at the smoke-stained ceiling, the last eight months flashed before my eyes. How had it come to this? I used to be a pretty cool guy. Perhaps not the coolest, but I got by. Now look at me. Lying flat on my back in a stinking old man’s pub, beaten up by a chavette. And to cap it all off I still had a semi hard-on from where I had been staring at her tits.
I was snapped out of my trance by another blow to the head, this time the barmaid was considerate enough to use the fist with just the three sovereign rings. She followed up with a kick to the groin, causing me to yelp like an injured puppy.
‘Get up!’ she shrieked in her glorious south London twang, grabbing a handful of my hair to help me to my feet. So this was how my life was going to end; beaten to a bloody pulp, an injured semi in my pants, and three pence in debt to Queen Chavette of Balham.
With the finesse of a Kung-Fu master, she twisted my arm half-way up my back and frog marched me towards the door. A toothless old hag laughed at me as I was dragged past her to add further humiliation to this already sorry scene. Using my head as a battering ram to open the door, the barmaid flung me out on to the busy high street pavement. Passers-by gawped and gasped as I crashed into the steel railings alongside the road.
‘Don’t come back unless you want another beating! You’re barred!' The barmaid cried out. 'And take your man-purse with you!’ She launched the purse at my head as the final insult.
Momentarily I checked for any broken bones. I was still alive – she had spared me. But at that moment I might as well have been dead. I was at the lowest point I had been in the last eight months. I wasn’t too sure how I should feel as I sat myself up on the pavement. Anger? Sorrow? Bitterness? Maybe all of them. Maybe none.
All I knew for certain was that I was throwing in the towel. I’d had enough of the knock-backs and the disappointment. I was sick and tired of the bad advice and the ridicule I had suffered. I had managed to get myself into more near-death experiences than Evel Knievel. And the obsession with internet porn I was starting to develop couldn’t be healthy either.
But despite everything that had happened in the last eight months, one thing stood out as the hardest pill to swallow. It was something I honestly had not seen coming. After all the rejection, the despair, the disappointment, it was the betrayal that had hurt the most.
Perhaps I had better start at the beginning.
Thanks for taking the time to read the first chapter of The Drought! You can purchase the eBook version for just £1 at Amazon, as well as the paperback for £8.99 by clicking here.
If you would like to read a bit more before making up your mind, you can read the first six chapters at Authonomy - the online writing community - by clicking on the logo below...
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