‘Hey darling, I think you might have dropped this.’ Johnny held out the piece of paper. ‘Yeah, I think it’s time travelling paper. It’s got my number on it, I gave it to you five minutes from now?’ The blonde by the jukebox looked him up and down, then with a roll of her bright blue eyes, flounced around one hundred and eighty degrees to turn her back on him. It wasn’t even like she was with friends, the only reason to turn around was to get rid of him. ‘Okay. Message received and understood.’ He looked mournfully back to the bar where me and the rest of Flat 22 were falling apart laughing. He let the grin spread across his freckled face as he trudged back, running his hand through his ginger curls. Fate had not been kind to Johnny in the social standing stakes. Five feet, four inches tall, he was the smallest of the Flat. He made up for it by being absolutely mental. First into the fray at any party, I’ve seen him shotgun four cans in 40 seconds. He did follow it up with being violently sick for 40 seconds straight, but it was still impressive.
‘Time travelling paper?’ Fortune said. His real name was Chi Yun, but on the first day of university he’d been sat in the communal kitchen eating noodles with chopsticks, glasses perched on the end of his nose as he read a physics textbook. The man was a walking stereotype. He’d turned to me and Johnny (we’d bumped into each other in the campus bar about ten minutes earlier. Priorities, right?) So, we’re in the kitchen and this slightly chubby Asian guy looks up and with a completely straight face says ‘A bowl is at its most useful when it’s empty.’ Then he slurped up the last of his noodles. We called him Fortune Cookie for about three weeks before shortening it to Fortune. The name never left. ‘Please, watch this way. I’ll show you how it’s done.’ His brown eyes darted around the bar, a hunter selecting his prey, before they settled on a diminutive redhead by the bar. He took of his thick glasses, folding them carefully before putting them into his suit pocket.
‘Good evening. I was wondering if you could help me. I seem to have lost my phone number and was wondering if I could borrow yours?’ The redhead looked at him carefully, lips pursing as she considered what she had just heard. Then the laughter started. I’ve never seen a grown man scuttle before, but Fortune managed it.
‘Congratulations, brave, brave Sir Fortune. Where is the damsel you rescued from the perils of despair? Ah yes, she’s wetting herself laughing just over there. Bravo. Just to check though, that’s how it’s done?’ Fortune gave me the finger for that statement. ‘I guess it falls to me then. Okay boys, get the next round in. Better get one for… her too.’ I pointed towards the door where one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen had just walked in. Legs up to her elbows, raven hair dangling to the small of her back, a face that would have made Da Vinci bite his paintbrush in half for the chance to ask her to be a model. I’d meant to point to the girl sitting at the table in the window, another blonde, hunched over a laptop where she had her earphones in. But now I guess I was tied in.
I swallowed, my Adam’s apple growing to the size of a bowling ball as I made my way across the bar. I’ve been chatting people up for years, with varying success, but this was really putting me onto the back foot. I walked up to her, confidence straining at the confines of my body. She turned to me, looking straight into my soul with deep green eyes and said ‘What do you want?’
‘Did it hurt? When you fell… fell…’ I withered under the glare. ‘From heaven.’ I muttered under my breath, suddenly gaining a huge interest in my shoes.
‘Run away, little man.’ She said to me, leaning in close. ‘Run fast.’ She whispered in my ear. I decided that she probably had a point and I raised my attack elbows and moved through the growing crowd.
‘Dude, did she kiss you on the cheek?’ Johnny asked, holding out a tray with three bottles of Corona and a bottle of WKD. Limited edition tangerine flavour. ‘Figured if she came with you she’d drink it and if she didn’t you were doing a strawpedo.’
For those of you that don’t know, a strawpedo is a horrible method of drinking a bottled drink. You take your bottle, put in one of those bendy straws and bend it over the lip. Then, you close your mouth around the top of the bottle, leaving the open end out in the open. Physics happens and the bottle is empty in seconds. It’s a surefire way to end up with an interesting night. ‘You dick.’ I told Johnny. His only reply was to hand me the WKD. ‘Fine. Let’s do this.’
Three rounds later and things had hardly changed. Johnny had tried ‘Your dress looks great. It would look better on my bedroom floor.’ But the recipient of that one just thought he was gay, didn’t let him get past the dress looking great bit and left. He then went for spilling a small amount of his beer on one woman, older than us, and saying ‘Let’s get you out of these wet clothes, shall we?’
That one just got him a slap. And it just got worse. Fortune went with ‘Are you French? Because Madame.’ Just like that. No stretching out the word, no emphasis. Just stopped dead. The confused woman density in that bar was increasing with every word out of our mouths.
‘Is your daddy a baker? Because you’ve got a nice set of buns.’ Slap.
‘You are hotter than the bottom of my laptop.’ Puzzled look.
‘Can you tell me where the bathroom is? Would you care to join me?’ Horrified look and storming off.
We congregated back by the pool table. ‘Well. That failed.’ A lime rolled across the floor and bumped against my foot. I picked it up, looking confused. ‘Do you know where this came from?’ Johnny and Fortune shook their heads. Fortune went to get another round of drinks and Johnny declared he was going for a shit. Such a delightful man. Another lime appeared from nowhere, coming to a gentle stop by my foot. I picked it up, staring critically at it. ‘Where did you come from, mystery lime?’ I slurred.
‘You know, for a guy who’s so bad at pickup lines, you’re not doing too bad with the limes.’ An Irish lilt wafted behind me. I turned around hurriedly, dropping the lime in panic. It was the blonde from the table by the window. ‘My name’s May. What’s yours?’ I responded with something incredibly intellectual and suave, like ‘Whaaa?’ She chuckled at that. ‘Grab your jacket, dickhead. You’ve pulled.’
The Idiot In Tin Foil