Flat Mates by R.A. Gallagher

‘How did I end up here?’ That was the thought that swirled around my head that Sunday afternoon as I sat in Scotty’s flat on the fourth floor of Calder high rise. Those high rises were grim. Really grim. They housed mainly junkies, hookers and asylum seekers. I’m convinced they stuck asylum seekers in there knowing that within a week the poor bastards would be pleading to get on a flight right back to where they had come from. Nothing else made sense. ‘Welcome to Scotland, this is where you’ll be staying for at least the first two years with us’. Shudder. The flats rose up and were shaped like a shipping container, painted grey with navy blue cladding to make it less obvious the design had been stolen from the architects of the old Soviet social housing. It didn’t work.

 I’d been out since tea time on Friday, mostly drinking and taking line after line of cocaine, with my good mate Tam and his pal Scotty. Tam had called it quits a couple of hours earlier after an argument with Scotty, about which, Scotty and I had completely forgotten, not long after we’d caught the shops and purchased a litre of Glen’s Vodka and a packet of fags.

 This wasn’t the first time Scotty and I had been on a drink and drug-fuelled session, but, on this Sunday, it had been the first time it had involved just the two of us. And it was getting weird. It was obvious to me that Scotty had got a second wind due to the vodka and digging into his stash of coke. I had too, right enough, but that was now waning, and my anxiety was the overpowering emotion consuming me in this bleak and dingy flat. Why did someone like me go on weekend coke binges, knowing how crippling my everyday anxiety was, never mind how bad it got on that stuff? Honestly? Fuck knows. What I did know was that when Scotty was standing over me, his big, brown, eyes bulging out of his head, manically showing me more of his quite considerable comic book collection, I had to get out of there. There was only so many times I could reply, ‘Yeah, nice mate’ as his spittle doused my face in excitement. 

 My heart was pounding out of my chest, and even the big shots of vodka weren’t doing the trick in getting my beats per minute down to any sort of healthy level.

 ‘I’m going to boost, mate’ I said.

 ‘What are you talking about, bro? There’s still plenty of gear and bevvy left’ Scotty replied.

 ‘I know, mate, but I’m working tomorrow, and I’ve been out for three days.’

 I’d wished that was a lie, about work, but I was working that next again day. And right across the Calder road too, from those wretched flats, I now found myself in. I knew I’d have to endure a bus journey as I’d only a couple of quid in my pocket, and I was terrified that if I’d asked Scotty for a lend he’d want me to give him a hand job or something. Yeah, the anxiety was bad.

 I got up, said my goodbyes, gave my false promises of a phone call happening between us later that night, and decided I’d take the stairs. I didn’t want to be in an asylum seeker’s reasoning for escaping back home after an encounter with my wild-eyed face in any lift.

 The sun near blinded me as I came out of that steel-enforced, container of misery called Calder high rise flats. God, I felt horrific. There wasn’t anyone else at the bus stop, which was a nice bonus. I hoped this bus was going to be empty. Of course, the thing was packed to the rafters. I managed to find a single seat up the back. As I sat down, a cute little blonde girl turned around to what I assumed was her father and said, ‘That man looks unwell’. ‘You’re not wrong, kid’, I’d thought. After that, I stared at the home screen of my phone and pretended nothing or nobody was around me. I missed the stop outside my house by three stops.

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