Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – A Novel

gulls_in_a_fog

36

“I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with you,” she said, with a squint and a definitive tilt of her head. She sipped her drink and said, “You’re just a little bit shy. That, and a little bit weird.”  

“Good work!” said Elliott, slapping Pat on the back and stepping into the space between him and Sarah. “That was fuckin’ awesome, the way you grabbed that cunt by the neck and just smashed his face in! You don’t look fit, but looks can be deceiving, eh? Can you work Fridays and Saturdays every week?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to see…” Pat trailed off and Elliott plunged into the gap, filling it with noise.

“You remind me of this other guy who used to work here, Munter. Full of steroids he was, and one night…” Elliott babbled away like an outboard motor in shallow water. Sarah walked away. Pat continued to deflate. Elliott didn’t pause until Sarah came back.

“Sorry,” he said, seeing her for the first time. “Were you…”

“That’s my number,” Sarah said, pushing an ear of torn paper into Pat’s hand. “Call me?” she said as she walked away.

“You’ve had a good night!” said Elliott, slapping him on the shoulder before moving off into the dark. Pat let the wall hold him up as he sagged against it.

At six am, Pat signed the security register in the office and left his security number on the desk. He exited the club through the front doors, his irises smarting as they rapidly contracted against the morning light.

Two girls sat barefoot on the hood of the Val, softly knocking their heels against the front quarter-panel. He took his hands out of his pockets and lifted them, before letting them fall against his sides.

He looked at the two bouncers standing on the door, the same ones that had been there all night.

“What happened to making sure no one fucked with the car?” he asked.

“They’re just sitting on it…” replied the ginger-haired one.

“Mate, have you been a dickhead all your life, or just since you started working here?” Pat didn’t wait for the answer, turning his back. He unclipped the velvet rope from the stanchion and let it fall to the asphalt as he walked away.

“Can you get off the car, please?” he asked, exasperated. Both girls jumped down, gathered up their shoes and scuttled away.

Pat got into the Valiant and closed the door on the steel-cold breeze that trickled in from the ocean, its dawn whisper muffled and blunted as it washed up against the metal and glass. Seagulls and litter wheeled around the parking lot like lead-coloured patches of a broken sky.

“It’s me,” he said aloud, once he was safely contained inside the car. He put both hands on the steering wheel and brought his head down, bracing his forehead against it. “These things happen because there’s something wrong with me.”

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