The Magic Man
What a night. Thank fuck it’s nearly over.
Olivia’s sat at the empty bar waiting for the rest of us to finish. Livs works across the road, but she’s new to Liverpool, and usually spends most of her free time in here anyway, whether we’re open or shut.
It’s getting into the wee hours of Sunday morning by now, and none of us are in work the next day. Naturally, I ask Kez and Callum if they’re up for kick ons. There’s only ever gonna be one answer.
I’d gone to pick up for all four of us earlier in the night. Even at our rate of consumption, there still must be a fair bit of coke floating about.
I half-finish mopping the floor and head for the exit. The place looks like a bombsite, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.
Back at our place, the flat doesn’t look much better. It’s not untidy, just plain dirty. It was like that when we moved in, and there isn’t a lot we can do to change it.
We used to smoke spliffs down in the basement to avoid stinking out the place. We stopped when we found rusty needles down there and half-broken lightbulbs. For a bunch of dirt bags like ourselves, though, the dirt isn’t really an issue.
We throw ourselves on the couches and empty our packets onto a metal serving tray on the coffee table. I pass the cans around that we’d purchased on the way home, by now a Saturday night ritual.
Callum starts to rack up as Kez pulls a huge book from his backpack, courtesy of his Art History class. “Rothko” it reads in bold letters on the cover, accompanied by two large blocks of contrasting colour.
Kez starts delving into the importance of Rothko to the abstract expressionist movement, a surprisingly compelling topic once you’ve had a few lines of Charlie. Whether or not this influenced Kez’s thinking is debatable, but his next idea is an inspired one:
“Why don’t we get some magic?”
“You mean MD?” queries Livs. Our Australian friend is quickly picking up the Scouse slang.
Our supplies are running low already, and Kezza’s got a guy who’s on 24/7 ’round the clock. What’s the worst that can happen?
Kez and I find ourselves about a block away from the house. Every third tenement we pass has boarded up windows or jagged glass sticking from the panes. The early morning sun burns my eyes after resurfacing from the dungeon of a flat.
I raise my hand to block out the brightness, and in the distance spot the man we’ve been waiting for – the magic man.
Rather than a bearded wizard emerging on horseback from the horizon, I see a teenager in a North Face tracksuit slowly peddling towards us on a pushbike.
He reaches us and has a brief interaction with Kez before shaking hands. With a casual flick of the wrist, the money in Kezza’s hand disappears, replaced with something entirely different – magic.
The kid jumps back on his bike and cycles back into the distance. It’s 8am on a Sunday morning – Kez wasn’t kidding when he said “any place, any time”. I offer Kez a cigarette and light up as we walk the other way.
Back at the house, Olivia and Callum seem to be getting on well. Her being new to town and all, she was fitting in seamlessly with the Scouse boys. They’ve relocated into the back yard to soak up a bit of sun themselves. We don’t have much in the way of garden furniture, but there is a broken toilet and a dead tree.
After each sprinkling a bit of magic dust in our drinks, we settle and wait for things to kick in.
Back in the house it’s dull, but the cramped yard stinks of piss – the broken toilet still frequents a bit of use. We decide to take as many beers as we can carry and head down to Sefton Park.
The walk seems to pass by in seconds. We lie on our backs in a circle and let the sun soak into our skin.
Long deep breaths in and out punctuate the breeze. Magic is meant to be an upper, a party drug, but I’m struggling to think of a time I’ve ever been so calm, so at peace.
Livs reflects on her happiness in moving here. We remark that we’re happy to have her.
I doze off for a bit in the warmth. I wake up to the sprinkle fairy powdering my drink. It’s getting hot by now. Our beers are lukewarm and flat.
Livs wants to go out. The Gin Garden, it’s decided.
The euphoria stemming from the gifts bestowed on us by the magic man erase any and all concerns about going out into a very public place. We’re hitting the town like it’s a Friday night, when in reality it’s a Sunday afternoon.
We head back to the flat to change, and I somehow come out looking like a bearded Jack Sparrow with a pair of sunnies half the size of my head. We turn up to the Gin Garden around two-ish. Aside from a few sideways glances from the bartenders, I think we seem to be blending in fairly well.
We order drinks and spread ourselves over the fake grass, draped over one another. We don’t seem to be making too much of a scene, at least that I can see. I doze off again, with the effects of the magic starting to dissipate. As the hours float past, the steady flow of beer and gin is starting to take its toll on me.
Callum, Livs and I decide to call it, and head back home. Callum doesn’t actually live with us, but he may as well. I’m bursting for a piss as we get to the house, and I dart upstairs. I come back down to find things have gotten a little steamy in my absence.
I’d met Callum’s girlfriend not two weeks ago. This didn’t particularly seem a great time to bring it up.
I feel pretty awkward at this point, an over-stayer in my own home. Eager to evade the situation I bell a cab and head back out to meet with Kez.
I’m finding it difficult to see straight as I jump in the cab. I cover one eye so as to avoid seeing double. I should have stayed home, but no one wants to be drunk and alone hearing their two mates going at it.
Kez and I start to hit the harder liquor now. We’re in a sports bar, owned by our employers – the kind of place you take your kids to watch the football.
Kez goes to the toilet to vomit. I don’t quite make it. One of the staff tries to help clean me up.
We head outside for a smoke. A slapping contest ensues, like in those YouTube videos of big Russian blokes open-handed smacking the shit out of each other. In theory I’m hoping it’s gonna snap me back into sobriety. In reality I’m starting to feel dizzy. My vision is skipping from faded to black. And then… And then…
Then I wake up in my bed.
For a moment I entertain the idea that it was all a dream. It’s a good moment, a sweet moment.
I look over to my window, curtains open, pitch black outside. I reach for my phone. Six missed calls. Two from my manager at work.
I try to sleep it off and call my manager at a more reasonable hour. He reckons if I want to keep my job I’ve got a lot of apologising to do.
I turn up to the sports bar with flowers and chocolate, red-faced with my tail between my legs. The staff laugh it off but ensure me I’ll never live this down. I also owe one of the guys a tenner for a taxi.
I see Kez the next day at work. He blames me. I blame Livs and Callum. In reality we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.
Well, ourselves, and the magic man.