• Time to read 11 minutes

So, here we are at Lou’s birthday. All the boys have taken over the fire, fighting with each other about who can best build up the flames, drinking and smoking, and talking a whole lot of shit. I was over there about 20 minutes ago, and guess what they were talking about? Premier League fantasy football. No shit, they really were. They were all sitting there with their phones lighting up their faces, comparing teams, players, and some other stuff that I got bored of super quickly. I mean, they all dress up and look so cool in their skinny jeans, black jackets, hoodies and sneakers, and if you arrived at the party, and were male, you’d think to yourself, I want to hang with them but fuck, really? Sure, there are a few sidebar conversations, like Lou and Nobs talking about their respective love lives and Charlie and Frank talking records and DJ-ing but most of them were just belittling each other over whose team is on top of the table, and who’d made the shittest signings.

At the other side of the garden, over by the house, another little group has popped up. This is mainly the girls, with a few male hangers-on. Now, if you had to place this group, you would put them a couple of metres to the right, closer to the fence, in the centre of the cactus garden that Lou’s partner planted when they first moved in because, basically, they’re blocking access to the beverages and every time you need a top up you have to walk through them.

Nearest the fence, which everyone has noticed, stand Stav and Daisy, deep in conversation. Over the last hour or so it was interesting watching them, and then seeing Dave react. While most people couldn’t have given a shit that they were talking, except to probably comment on it the next day as passing gossip, from their first interaction to them eventually chatting exclusively, Dave grew more and more agitated. I know this because Stav told me to watch him when he started talking to her. 

Nearest the fence, which everyone has noticed, stand Stav and Daisy, deep in conversation

Everyone knows that Dave’s into Daisy. It happens with every girl that comes into our circle of friends (which Daisy did about six months ago): Dave will find out everything about them; he will go to every to social event or party that they’re going to be at; he’ll watch them incessantly to the point of stalking; and he will think that this time, this girl will be the one, and start to fantasize about them and the life that they will have together. The only problem is it’s almost impossible for him to actually go up and talk to the opposite sex. 

Poor Dave; such a loser. It was so obvious that he’d shaved his head, especially for tonight. He started losing his hair about two or three years ago and it didn’t take long for it to recede completely, which he took as another thing that was bound to fail him, fall out or cause him grief. Usually, he’d let it grow out into a weird sort of mullet behind his ears and around the back of his head, which typically he’s very proud of, but not tonight.

So anyway, Stav, who knows all this, and knows that Daisy is the latest in a long line of women that Dave thought he was going to have a love affair with, introduced himself. I was standing beside Stav when he did this, watching Dave, who didn’t spot it at first but after five minutes or so it was clear that he did. 

 

***

 

From the very next day Dave went into what you’d call an online lather, posting all this stuff about Stav. They don’t have the easiest of relationships but if it were me I would have played things way closer to my chest. I definitely wouldn’t have let on that I had realised that Stav was talking to Daisy, nor that they really seemed to be hitting it off. I wouldn’t have commented either on how the two of them then moved over to the corner and sat on the two-seat outdoor chair in the cactus garden. Lou, Dave’s best bud, got that Stav only does shit like because he knows how desperate Dave is and tried to talk him down, calling where Stav and Daisy sat the ‘love seat’ but the humour and little message to let it go was lost on Dave. He kept on with his rant revealing that he had sent Nobs out to spy on Stav and Daisy when they went out the front (Nobs came back to report that there was a snog-a-thon going on). The killer, though, was Dave then saying that he had some of the boys search (he really used that word like it was some sort of missing person thing) the house after Stav and Daisy disappeared.

 

***

 

I did think Stav, of all people, would start firing back. I mean, this, Dave losing it, was what he was after in the first place and I thought he’d want to capitalise on that. He was dead silent. It was like he wasn’t online, which really didn’t seem possible, but then I thought this was better than him responding because it was just making Dave more and more nuts. Apart from trying to claim ownership over Daisy, even though he’d barely said a word to her ever (and probably never would), Dave was into Stav about his preening, about his moustache, about him being a ladies’ man and all the women he’d supposedly slept with and then dumped, but the biggest one was him saying that Stav had been having an affair with some guy’s wife. 

As you’d expect, I was trying to text Stav during all this, you know, just in case he hadn’t seen. I probably sent him about 10 to 20 messages in response to some of the more bizarre shit Dave was coming out with. I got two things back. The first one was a simple, ‘I know, what a total penis.’ And then, ‘Trying not to look at Whatsapp. Don’t care what that guy says.’

I probably sent him about 10 to 20 messages in response to some of the more bizarre shit Dave was coming out with

I did find this weird, you know, what was he thinking, and decided to post on his behalf. I mean, during that week, I did run into him and Daisy down at a café on Brunswick Street looking all coy and stuff. I didn’t know what this meant but I tried to allude to it in my first post, like, ‘You know how Stav has gone all silent, well, you know why that is don’t you?’ I wanted it to be a dig at Dave, like I know something you don’t about the Dasiy–Stav situation, but he didn’t respond. 

So then I thought, well, it would be more cutting if I just said, ‘So, saw Stav and Daisy today,’ but for some reason, that got no traction either. 

So then I came out with it, my chief little nugget of gold that I was sure was going to make Dave lose it: ‘You know that Stav only went over and spoke to Daisy to piss you off, innit.’ Well, I wasn’t wrong. After I posted, I waited five minutes and then re-opened the app to see that he’d gone ballistic. He was going to get Stav and his first order of business in that would be to go and tell Daisy everything.

 

***

 

Finally saw Stav today. Went over to his flat. He was pissed about what I posted. Why did I tell Dave about what he’d done at the party? 

Huh? I said.

Well, he said, Now I’ll have to go tell Daisy and make sure I do it before Dave does.

So what, I said. 

So what? he said and then was silent.

Ahhhhh, I said, do you like her? 

Sort of, he said. 

Funny, never really seen Stav like this. He usually has stature, but now he’s sitting hunched with his elbows on his knees, and his head bowed. He actually looks small and vulnerable, worried even. 

So, I said, just come clean. If you’re honest with her, she’ll be okay with it, won’t she? 

Right, he said, you don’t know women. Even though I can stand on being honest, she’s going to start up with the line that I wasn’t really into her in the first place. 

I didn’t believe this, but said, Well, isn’t it about how you feel about each other now, instead of, you know, how you got together in the first place? 

You’d think that, wouldn’t you, he said, but eventually she’s come going to come out with that she wasn’t my first choice, or something like that. 

Yeah, I guess I can see that, I said.

 

***

 

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting in my little flat, minding my own business watching the footy. Manly are playing the Tigers and the Tigers, surprising everyone, are thrashing them. So good. After the football finished I sat there trying to find something on the television and then the internet but it really wasn’t happening and I was bored, so I decided that I’d go for dinner at the Retreat down on Sydney Road, see what was happening. I tried to get Stav to come with me but he said he was busy. 

When I arrive the first thing I see is Daisy sitting in one of the booths right near the entrance. I almost don’t recognise her because she’s gone blond; it really suits her. 

I go to walk up to say hello but then I realise she’s talking to Jenny, my ex. She broke it off with me just under a year ago. I know she’s still friends with some of the boys’ partners, but I haven’t seen her since. I almost go to walk past making out like I didn’t see them but I stop.

Oh, hello, I say.

Jenny gives me a look and then says, What are you doing here?

It’s good to see you too, I say. 

Hi Daisy, I say. 

Hi, she says. 

Jenny gives me another look, We’re in the middle of something, she says.

Okay, I say and go to move along. 

Actually, Daisy says.

Don’t, Jenny says. 

What? Daisy says. 

Jenny throws up her hands, saying, You know what he’s going to say. 

Yeah but, says Daisy, he does know him best. 

Yeah, says Jenny, which is why the only thing you’ll get is how awesome Stav is. 

Oh really, I say. 

Yes, says Jenny. 

But Daisy doesn’t care and launches back into what I presume they were talking about before I arrived. She didn’t much care that much that Stav had only come over to talk to her because he wanted to get at Dave, well she did really, it was a bit of a dick move (she actually said that) but she could forgive it; she did like him and want to keep seeing him. But what she more worried about was the whole Dave and Stav thing in the first place. I mean, who does that, goes and talks to a girl just to piss off a friend. And what kind of behaviour is that anyway? 

Yeah, I said, but the whole Stav and Dave thing goes back years, it’s a bit complicated but pretty harmless really. 

Jenny gives me another look, like I’m being a total fuck face and then says to Daisy in a resigned tone, Only a total douche would do something like that. He’s bad news, I’m telling you. 

Is he really though? Daisy says. A lot of people say that about him but when I asked him about it he said that’s just people talking. 

Right, says Jenny, but you don’t know him.

And you do? I interject. 

Better than you do, Jenny says. If you didn’t have your nose so far up his arse you might as well. 

Why do you hate him so much? I say. 

You don’t get it, do you? Jenny says.

Obviously not, I say. 

Fuckwit, she says under her breath. 

I laugh at her. This is starting to feel like when we broke up. 

Right, says Jenny, sitting there looking decidedly unimpressed. She takes a pronounced sip of her drink like she’s doing it for effect. She used to do this when we were together too. There’s something different about her. I can’t tell if she skinnier, or if it’s just clothes I haven’t seen her in before. 

Then she says, So you heard that Stav was having an affair with someone, right? 

Yeah, I say, what a load of shit. 

Right, Jenny says, so you think it’s a load of shit? 

Of course it is, I say, that’s just Dave’s way of trying to get at him.

Right, says Jenny again, so what if I told you it was true?

Yeah right, how could you know that? I say, I mean, I only heard about it the other day when Dave went crazy on Whatsapp.

Well, she says, and again takes another sip of her drink. I’ve figured out what’s different about her; it’s her glasses. They’re new, big and black and really become her round face, unlike the little metal rimmed ones she used to wear. 

Well, she says again, what if I told you it was me that he slept with?

You? I say, What? No way. 

Daisy, who’s been thinking all this time suddenly turns and looks at Jenny, who’s taking another sip of her drink and trying to act normal but I can see by the way that she’s fidgeting that she’s straining to stay in control. 

How long’s it been going on for? I say. 

Jenny shifts uncomfortably in her chair.

While we were together?

She moves again.   

You fucking slut, I say. 

And that night, I say, when you and Stav were out the back at our party, and I came out, and you two were in the middle of something, and you got all weird and angry with me for interrupting, it was going on then too wasn’t it?

For fuck sake, this isn’t about you, Jenny says cutting me off. And anyway, it wasn’t like that. 

Oh really, what was it like then? I say.

Well, she says, that night when you came out the back, Stav had been on at me for weeks to sleep with him.

Bullshit, I say. 

True, she says, every time I would see him he would proposition me and every single time I would say no, Jesus, I must have told him to go fuck himself, like, a dozen times.

I don’t believe it, I say.

Okay then, she says, that night when we were out the back and we were all pretty out of it Stav asks me again but then says something like that he had asked you and you had said it was okay. 

And the reason I was pissed with you was because, well, I believed him, I mean, I don’t know why I did, it was soooooo stupid, but I thought, who would make something like that up, and you two are so weirdly tight, so it seemed like something that you would cook up. 

So, yes, I slept with him, once, I mean, I did it because I was angry and in some twisted way I thought it might make you jealous or hurt you as much as you had hurt me but all it did was encourage him. 

Pretty much every day after that Stav he was round at our house, wasn’t he? 

Oh shit, I say. I am still standing at their table but it feels like I might topple. 

Oh shit’s right, she says, I mean, you thought that he was there to see you, you actually did, and you would let him in and be all friendly with him but he wasn’t there to see you at all. He was always there trying to stick to it me but I never let him touch me again. 

Anyway, I realised that he was lying, that you didn’t know anything and hadn’t said anything to him but here’s the thing, you were always too fucking stupid to realise what was going on. So many times I dropped hints or tried to tell you like, you know, when he seemed to appear out of nowhere hoping to catch me alone, or when he would always insist on staying in when you wanted to go out, or then there was the time when he walked in on me dressing. 

Who does shit like that? And, you know, sometimes I actually went back to being convinced that you two were in it together. I mean, through that week or so before I took off, when I did try to say something, I could never get through to you, you were that captivated by him, sitting there looking up to him like some drooling puppy waiting for its master to feed it with some new infantile scheme that you thought was sooooooo funny. 

 

***

 

I think I’m going to chuck my phone. I mean, first I had to delete Whatsapp. There’s only so many times you can be called a dumb arsehole, by Dave that is. Stav keeps trying to call and text me too. Pretty much every day he will ring and then he will send me SMS after SMS with some lame shit like, hey, or, what’s up? I don’t know what he thinks he’s doing. 

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About the author:

James Hannan

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James Hannan is a Victorian-based writer of short fiction who has been published in the Wild Goose, Brain Drip and Styluslit.

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