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Party animals, p.1
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       Party Animals, p.1

           Myfanwy Tilley
 
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Party Animals
PartyAnimals

  Myfanwy Tilley

  All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  Copyright 2015 Myfanwy Tilley

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please recommend it to your friends and return to your favourite ebook retailer to discover other work by this author. Thank you for your support.

  Party Animals

  The party was well under way by the time Kerry Williams arrived.

  “Steve can be over the top,” she warned her friend, Ian, as they climbed the last few steps to the fifth floor of the North Shore apartment. “I mean, really over the top.” She stopped at the door and hesitated. “It’s not too late; we don’t have to go in if you’d rather not?”

  “Don’t you want to? I’ll do whatever you want, darling. Didn’t you say you’ve known him since school?”

  She rolled her eyes. Darling? I don’t think so, mate. “I suppose,” she said, turning the door handle. “But until last week I hadn’t heard of him since Dave and I separated; that’s twelve years ago. I bumped into his wife, Wendy, in the street, and the next thing I knew, she was Facebooking me about his fiftieth birthday party. She’s nice enough, but Steve is just a sleazy yob.”

  “He might have changed?” Ian said, slipping his arm around Kerry’s waist.

  “Not Steve.”

  Hot boozy air, the purr of conversation and INXS engulfed Kerry as she pushed the door open. Ian’s grip on her waist tightened and she flinched. She wondered why she had agreed to come to the party - she’d never liked Steve. And why had she brought Ian? He was evidently going to cling to her all night, and he was beginning to nauseate her. Her first few outings with him had been pleasant enough, but he’d become increasingly obsequious over time. He wanted to become a fixture in her life, even though she’d explained to him - several times, already - that she wasn’t interested in that sort of relationship. With anyone.

  It was a conversation she had with all the men she dated, making her a challenge to some and an object of contempt to others. But Kerry really didn’t care all that much for what people thought of her. She only went out with men because her counsellor had told her that she should give love another go. She had realised - without being told by any psychologist - that if she didn’t interact with other people, she would end up hovering somewhere between mere existence and emptiness. But why wasn’t it enough for her counsellor that she met weekly for coffee with her girlfriends and that she used Facebook? The fact was, she rarely derived any particular enjoyment from anyone’s company, and wherever she went, she always longed for the moment she could leave. Then, at home again - alone once more - she would pace around her flat feeling enraged at a world that wouldn’t leave her be. She was always angry.

  Kerry and Ian passed through a small foyer into a large living area crowded with party-goers. Kerry scanned the room looking for people she knew: the ones she might talk to, and the ones she wanted to avoid. Despite the dryness of her throat, she swallowed to salve the growing knot in her stomach. Peering into the crowd, she felt as though her vision was being distorted by the unpleasant odour of too many people, by the uncomfortable heat of the apartment, and the loudness of everything: the music screamed at her, rebounding off the walls and shaking the windows, and the laughter all around her sounded forced and shrill causing the downy hairs on the back of her neck to stand to attention.

  “Bloody hell!” Ian choked, also gazing around the room.

  The walls and most of the furnishings were various shades of white, except for the aubergine-coloured rugs and matching sofa cushions. Covering most of one wall was a large painting of racing yachts - represented by wide, semi-circular brushstrokes. The painting was mostly white, Kerry noted, except for the water, which was an eye-jarring cobalt blue. An assortment of white porcelain vases, marble torsos, and other white artefacts sat on slightly less-than-white plinths located in corners of the room, and in the middle of the living area stood a man-sized stone replica of Michelangelo’s David. A beach towel had been wrapped around the statue’s waist and a straw hat was balanced on his head. Pink zinc cream had been smeared across his nose and sun glasses were balanced on his face.

  “Have you been here before?” asked Ian, his lips twisting in disgust.

  “What’s the matter, don’t you like it?” Kerry sniggered. “If you think the décor is in bad taste, wait ‘til you meet the birthday boy.”

  The open plan kitchen-living area, the dining table and the sofas were oriented so as to make the most of the view over Sydney Harbour. It was mid-winter, and the wall-to-wall folding glass doors were closed except for the convenience door at one end. Someone had just exited onto the balcony - probably for a cigarette - and had left the door ajar.

  “Close the door you fat tart!” a voice roared from the corner of the room where a group of men were gathered. A chorus of ‘fat tart’ rang out from the group, followed by raucous laughter.

  “That’s Steve and his mates,” said Kerry, unhappily. “I suppose we’d better say hello to him; get it over and done with.” And then go home as soon as possible, she thought.

  “Here's to Steve, he's true blue;

  He's a piss-pot, through and through;

  He's a bastard, so they say;

  Tried to go to heaven…”

  “Ker-reee!” Wendy Scott shrieked over the din from across the room.

  Kerry waved in acknowledgement and waited as Wendy, holding a bottle of champagne in one hand and a glass in the other, tripped and bumped her way through the crowd towards her. She threw her arm around Kerry’s neck and kissed the air next to her cheeks, “Mwa, mwa! I’m so glad you could come! You look gorgeous; so well...”

  Kerry knew it was an enquiry rather than an observation, and it was more about her mental health than her physical appearance. “Hello, Wendy. Party’s going well by the looks of it.” She introduced Ian to Wendy who, after a brief conversation, led him away to meet someone she felt he simply must meet. Thank God, thought Kerry, looking around for a drink.

  Standing amongst the group of men that surrounded Steve was Kerry’s ex-husband, Dave. She watched him as he downed a pint of beer in less than a minute, and then picked up another. He and Steve groped the bottoms of female guests as they passed on their way to another part of the room, heckled those they couldn’t reach, and, after that ceased to amuse them, they swayed through another round of vulgar ditties, arms slung around each other’s necks.

  She missed Dave; the ‘old’ Dave - he never used to behave like that.

  Her love for him hadn’t run out twelve years ago when they separated, they just couldn’t make living together work after Daniel was murdered. For three years after their son’s murder, they struggled on with their lives together, each nursing their own wounds but also trying to console the other. In the end, neither was able to overcome the memories of a once much richer life. Dave started drinking and Kerry stopped eating, both subconsciously propelling themselves towards oblivion. They began arguing and never stopped. Dave moved out and, unable to abide living in the family home on her own, Kerry put the house on the market. After they had gone their separate ways, their lives became marginally more tolerable, although neither of them could ever put the ghastly details of their son’s unsolved murder behind them: the discovery of his body in a small cove north of Sydney, and the unspeakable acts of indecency he had endured before his life was extinguished.

  “This bloke has the smallest cock you’ll ever see!” Steve slurred, ruffling Dave’s hair with his free hand. The others in the gr
oup taunted Dave to reveal all, and Dave, in turn, did his best to outclass the compliment.

  “It’s still bigger than your cock and your hairy balls put together, mate!” he said, roaring with laughter.

  The other men laughed and, raising their beers at the two men, they chanted, “Drink! Drink! Drink!”

  Ugh, Kerry cringed, changing her mind about approaching Steve; he was worse than ever. She observed Steve and Dave from a safe distance, her displeasure at being there heightening with every moment that passed.

  Steve had been part of the same social group as her and Dave at school and then at university. Kerry always thought he’d been tolerated out of pity more than anyone actually liking him; he was a little ‘different’ from everyone else. Back in the 1970’s he was a renowned sneak, timid on the one hand, but duplicitous at every opportunity. At the time, it was rumoured that his father used to beat him and his mother neglected him, and that this somehow explained why he kept fondling himself through his shorts’ pockets. By his early twenties, Steve had transformed into a handsome enough man - though very tall and thin - and successful. He’d also become loud and obnoxious and overly confident of his attractiveness to others. Kerry found him
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