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Chapter Three


Irked by Ryan’s prank, Ripley decided to have that joint he had promised himself.  It wasn’t like Ryan to elicit such black humour, and especially to the degree where he would say that he killed Shaun.  He sat down on the much-spattered sofa, and took out the box where he kept his stash, which was concealed underneath the cushion.  The majority of the time Ripley sat on this couch, he would be smoking, so it made sense to hide it there.

            There was the tiniest belief within Ripley that Ryan wasn’t lying, but his head told him that it was just an ill-conceived prank, and he really shouldn’t trouble himself any more over it.  But then, Ryan was a solid friend.  Interesting and lively, he was someone with ambition – but thus far displaying no penchant for practical jokes.  Was it possible that he had killed Shaun?

            Uncertainty got the better of him, and he scrambled around for the remote control, resting the freshly lit joint on the side of his new glass coffee-table.  He had decided a few weeks ago that he would probably get some cocaine in again soon, and thus he wanted to do it in style, and a glass coffee table seemed to suggest just that.  Finding it in the kitchen of all places (Ripley didn’t attend much to the television, so the location of the remote wasn’t of much concern, and he didn’t particularly care how it had got there either), Ripley flicked through the hundreds of channels he paid for monthly, and eventually found the news channels.

            War in the Middle East.  Guns, yes.  Ryan, no.  Ripley sneered at himself for allowing his curiosity to get the better of him and picked up his joint again.  He went to stand up and walk over to his window, a common action when he had gaps in his thought, but them remembered how the view had brought down his spirits minutes before and remained where he sat.  Visions of war were not something of interest to Ripley – the conflicts and their religious connotations seeming so primitive in a world that was supposed to be in its’ technological zenith.  It meant nothing to him.  News as a whole meant nothing to him.  He wanted to see the world from his eyes – not from the misdemeanours and the vulgarity of others actions.  He didn’t want to write about things that other people did – that was for them to write about.  Hell is other people, he quoted to himself.

            He exhaled loudly, appreciating finally reaching his moment of solitude.  The bitter paragraphs on his desk were forgotten, as was his public showdown and the inane prank Ryan had attempted.  This was what he was looking forward to.  He would have to write about it before he went to bed.  But that was for later.  Just enjoy this moment, Ripley.

            That moment wasn’t to be.  Middle-Eastern conflicts and Western denouncement had morphed into the latest screening of Ripley’s shrouded friend being marched out of a building and into the back of a van, the newsreader informing the pubic of bullets, and victims and one fatality.  To stop to write down his gut instincts would be one step too far on the course of egocentrism, Ripley knew that, but he vowed to rehearse these moments as much as he could, as these emotions could be the making of him.

            Talking on his mobile as he climbed into the lift, Ripley phoned Barry and told him that he would drive over and pick him up outside the club.  Barry was muttering something about Faye being livid, and storming off, but Ripley didn’t care.  Already she felt like part of his past.  Besides, she would have to wait.  This was serious.  He hung up on Barry, insisting that he be outside in ten minutes and not giving him the opportunity to reply. 

            He paced into the garage and unlocked his car from his key-ring.  It emitted a satisfying beeping noise that echoed affluence.  His sales job was keeping him in a richer lifestyle until his creative side would be recognised. He hopped into the car and for the first time remembered that he was slightly drunk.  It was a risk he had to take.  He had to get to London.

            Speeding through town, trying to stay alert in case any element of human waste stumbled out of a club and into his path, Ripley tried to take in the past twenty minutes.  One minute he was writing his very first ‘Dear Joan,’ and the next he was embroiled on a hazy mercy mission to save one of his friends who, it would appear, had killed another one of his friends.  In that context, it was particularly difficult to make sense of any of it.

            Barry was waiting for him in the doorway, engaging in banter with the doormen who recognised him from years of attendance.  A relationship had grown through familiarity, a progression from the underage idiot that they had thrown out on numerous occasions for projectile vomiting on unsuspecting female clientele.  But that had been eight years ago.  Now he was part of the fixtures and fittings, raving about his latest musical endeavour, belittling those around him that had risen above him, his oh-so cool record store job gifting him the art eloquent put-downs.  He appeared disappointed that Ripley was so punctual, certainly reluctant to get in the car.

            “Mate, you have some making up to do,” he reported as he eventually clambered into the passenger seat.  “Faye was gutted.  She thinks you made a complete fool out of her in public.  Reckons everyone was watching.”

            “Fuck her,” Ripley dismissed, tearing off down the street towards Mancunian Way and the first lane out of there.

            It took Barry five minutes to ask where they were going, still completely unsure why he was partaking on a journey.  He assumed it was another of Ripley’s spontaneous whims.  It would hardly be the first.

            “Ryan shot Shaun dead and we’re going to the police station to see what’s going on,” Ripley stated and Barry laughed.

            “Fair enough,” he said.  “I can wait ‘til we get there if you don’t want to tell me.”