He sparked up a cigarette that hung from his lips, expelling the first puff of smoke in a blue cloud of hot air. Pulling the green peak of the white cap upon his head down to shade his face from the rays of sun, James leaned back on the white brick wall that was positioned on the main street of some nondescript dark-coloured-bottomed-named town in regional Australia.

The nothingness took hold of his senses, as well as the previous night’s drunken debauchery slowly seeping out of his pours, onto the pavement, waiting to sink its teeth into the next unsuspecting victim with an addiction to bourbon and a penchant for loose morals. Images hit him like bowling balls in flashes of quick succession; dancing with some drunken dark-haired, red-dressed girl one minute; smacking coloured balls into pockets of green tables with sticks, high-fiving his cousins Billy, Bob, Jimmy and George; smoking a massive blunt with his cousins; bar keep serving him his twentieth JD & Coke; making out with a blonde psychologist in her Merc and finally succumbing to the wasteland of inebriated slumber on Bob’s brown couch.

And now, here he was, faded blue jeans sticking to his thighs, hungry, seedy. Waiting for the bus to take him to…no-where? The other side of the country? Anywhere but here? So that he didn’t have to deal with the carnage. He rubbed his forehead and groaned groggily. It seemed regret was his side-kick today, and all he wanted was to eat, shower and sleep. His pocket vibrated, startling him.

“Where are you? We’re all at Nan’s.” – Jimmy’s text read. Ahhhh, shiiiiiiiiiiiit, James thought. Crap. He was wondering why Bob was asking him why he was leaving so soon. Bugger didn’t bother to remind him of why they were actually all gathered that weekend: to celebrate the Grands’ 50th wedding anniversary. He rubbed his face with his hands, feeling the grime, grit and stubble, really wanting to leave, but knowing he had to do the family duty. He messaged Jimmy back asking him if could come pick him up, I’m at the bus stop in town. “No worries,” Jimmy replied, “See you in about 20.” James flicked his cigarette butt onto the empty 2pm highway, leaned his head onto his rolled-up backpack, and promptly fell asleep.



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