SPIRALLING SKYWARDS: Falling
Copyright © 2016 Lesley Jones
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This is a work of fictions. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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I’d forgotten how
late people go out in the city, or in England generaly. Where I grew up, you couldn’t even get a takeaway after eight, even earlier in the winter. But here, people didn’t even start their night till around ten, and as I walked into the VIP area of the night club where Luke’s surprise party was being held, I realised my country-boy mistake. It was nine thirty on a Saturday night, and aside from Will, the place was empty.
“You’re keen, mate.” He smiled at me from where he stood behind the bar, chatting to a couple of his staff.
“Jet lag, my body clock’s shot to shit right now.” I smiled through my lie.
“What can I get ya?” Will asked.
“Beer please, and none of that warm shit you serve over here either.” I winked at the barmaid as I spoke.
“Oh, fuck me, never heard that one before. You wanna come around here and serve yourself? That
all you Aussie’s do when you come to this country, right? Work behind the bar?”
He had me there, when I’d back packed my way around Europe and the UK after finishing uni, I’d worked in three different pubs in London alone.
“Not this time, too old for all that shit. What time’s the birthday boy s’posed to rock up anyway?” I asked.
“Sometime before midnight, but don’t stress, the free bar starts at nine thirty, so people will start arriving soon. They’re not gonna wanna miss out on free drinks.” He nodded in my direction as he spoke.
“Get fucked, I’ll pay for my beer as long as it’s below room temperature.”
I watched as he took the pint the barmaid had just poured and passed it to me. I took a sip and pulled a face in disgust at the taste.
“What the fuck is that?”
Will frowned and turned towards the now terrified-looking girl standing next to him.
“Fosters,” she said quietly, her eyes widened as they darted between me and Will. We both started laughing.
“Darl, we don’t drink that shit where I come from. We ship it over here to you lot.”
Again, her eyes darted between us. I’m sure the poor girl was terrified she was about to lose her job.
“He’s not kidding, Court. Fosters is not the beer of choice in Australia,” Will told her.
“Get me a vodka tonic, plenty of ice. I should be safe with that.” After a second, I added, “Please, Courtney,” with a wink and my best smile so she wouldn’t think that I was some kind of pretentious arsehole and spit in my drinks for the rest of the night.
“So he’s no clue that you’re here?” Will had walked around the bar and was now leaning against the same side as me.
“Nah, I spoke to him this arvo, and he still thinks I’ll be here next week.”
“How long you staying for?” Will asked while passing me my vodka.
“I’m not sure really. However long it takes to get things up and running. I’m liking Luke’s idea of renting office space out this way rather than in central London. As long as we can find somewhere suitable and attract the right kind of staff, I’m more than happy to go along with that.”
Will nodded his head and took a sip of his own drink.
“He’s good at what he does, I’m sure he’ll have no trouble getting you the right calibre of staff.”
“He’s not let me down yet, and I have every faith that this new venture will be equally as successful as what we’ve achieved together in Australia.”
Will tilted his glass towards me. “To new beginnings.”
“To mates worth crossing time zones and drinking warm beer for,” I said with a smile and a nod of my head.
I had met Will Bennett in Australia through Luke Carter. Luke was the reason that I was in England. We had met at a hotel in Sydney. We sat side by side at the bar, watching a rugby match between England and Australia on the television. He’d commented, loudly, about how shit the Aussie team were, I replied with a louder comment about how crappy England were at sport in general. We’d both been drinking, and things could’ve gone either way. Luke shrugged at my comment, raised his glass in my direction, and agreed. We got to chatting, and I discovered that he had a degree in business management and international relations. I had taken over the running of my family’s international recruitment and relocations company. Luke was looking for work and had a skill set we could use I knew in an instant, he was someone that I would like to have as part of my team. We put our sporting differences aside and enjoyed a drink together. The next night, we went out to celebrate, and he introduced me to Will, who was working as a trainee manager at K.L.U.B, quite possibly
most exclusive club in the whole of Australia.
Luke took up a position in our Sydney offices and ended up spending the next two years in Australia working with me on the recruitment side of things. Because so many of our employees were coming from Europe and Great Britain, Luke suggested that maybe we should set up a branch in England, which of course was brilliant. So he’d flown home a few weeks previous to set things in motion, and I’d arrived a few days later to surprise him at his thirtieth birthday party, which had been organised by Will at the newly opened club he was now managing.
“You divorced yet?” he asked me casually over the bourbon I knew sat in his glass.
I shook my head. I felt my jaw tense. This wasn’t my favourite subject.
“Why the fuck not? It’s been what, two years now?”
I finished my drink and recalled the night my marriage had finally ended.
I considered myself a fairly successful bloke. I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that were pretty well off, I was well-educated, well-travelled, and good at most things I turned my hand too.
Except for marriage.
The only thing I’ve ever really fucked up in my life.
I let out a long breath before I answered him.
“I had divorce papers drawn up, I just never got around to doing anything with them. It’s all in hand now though. I left instructions with my lawyer before I left.” I shrugged my shoulders as I spoke, really not wanting to think about my lying, cheating, whore of a wife, or the fact that I was a lying, cheating, whore of a husband and the mess I’d probably left behind in Sydney
“What about you? You finally confessed all to the secret love of your life and told her how you feel yet?” I deflected.
Will’s eyes went from mine to the barmaid’s as he gestured for two more drinks.
“Fuck you, arsehole,” he said while passing me my vodka tonic.
“I’ll take that as a no then?”
“It’s . . . I’ve . . . I’ve not really seen much of her until recently to be honest, but I plan on making a move tonight.”
“She’s gonna be here?”
Our conversation was interrupted by a bloke slapping his hand across Will’s back.
“Evening. Not too lively in here just yet. How many you expecting?” He eyed me as he spoke to Will.
He was a little shorter than me but still around six feet tall. Well-built and a little too tanned . . . almost to the point of being orange, a colour that I’d noticed quite a few of the women in England also favoured. His hair was short and spiked with way too much product.
“We invited about two hundred. Only about fifteen said they couldn’t make it, but I’m sure there’ll be a few more no shows. Hopefully a good crowd’ll turn up for him, though.”
Orange tan man looked past Will to me for a few seconds before holding his hand out.
“Declan Fox,” he stated with raised eyebrows. I think maybe he was expecting me to respond to his introduction as if I knew the name, but I had no clue who he was.
“Sorry, Deck, this is Liam Delaney—”
“Ah, Luke’s boss,” he interrupted.
“Erm, business partner actually,” I corrected.
“Yeah, but it’s your business, right? Luke’s just bought into it?”
“No actually, the UK is a whole new venture for me, and something that Luke and I have set up on our own. Totally separate from what we were doing together in Australia. So, like I said, business partner.”
Fucker. You ever been introduced to someone and you just don’t like them from the get go and then everything about them just pisses you off? From the way they stand, to the way they sip their beer or crunch the ice from their drink? Yeah, that was how I already felt about this bloke.
“Well lucky Luke fell right on his feet when he met you.”
And comments like that justified my opinion.
“How’s that, mate? He’s worked fucking hard over in Australia and brought a lot of new ideas to the business. A lot of which we’ll implement within what we’re gonna set up here. Luke’s not riding on anyone’s shirt tails, don’t you worry about that.”
Who the fuck was this bloke? I already wanted to knock the fucker out. I heard loud laughter from behind us, and we all turned at once to look at the crowd of girls that had just walked in.
“Guests are arriving. I need to go and do my bit for a little while. I’ll see ya later.” Will nodded in our general direction and then walked over to where the girls were showing the bouncer their invites.
“So you been mates with the boys long?” I didn’t really want to engage the bloke in conversation, but it was gonna get awkward if I just stood there and ignored him.
“Yeah, yeah. We go way back. We all went to school together, me and Will right since infant school. Then we met Luke at secondary school. “We all went our separate ways for uni, and then Will and Luke fucked off travelling and forgot to come back. Leaving the rest of us behind.” I could most definitely hear an edge of bitterness in his voice, or maybe it
“You didn’t fancy giving it a go yourself, the travelling?”
He shrugged his shoulders and gave his head a small shake, “Nah, not for me. I mean, I like Europe, and I was gonna meet up with them in Aus, but because of a bit of a misunderstanding that happened while I was at uni, I had trouble getting a visa.”
Ah, now we were getting to the truth of the matter. The bloke was full of shit. I interviewed applicants for high-end positions all day long, and I could smell bullshit a mile off. If he’d been turned down for a visa, I would assume his offence was a little more serious than a driving conviction.
“Yeah, they’re pretty strict on that kind of thing.”
“Fucking ridiculous if you ask me. The country was built by prisoners, all sent from here. What right have they got to turn me down?”
I was actually stunned into silence for a few seconds.
“Actually, mate, if you’ve got a criminal record, they’ve got every right. The reason Australia has grown to become the country it has, is because we are now so fussy about who we let in.”
I drained my drink and quickly ordered another.
“Yeah, well they don’t know what they’re missing out on. I’m full of idea’s me. I could be running this place, or even doing what Luke’s doing for you.”
“Luke’s not doing anything for me.” I clarified. “Like I said, we’re partners.”
I collected my drink from the barmaid and was about to escape Declan and his poisonous tongue when he asked, “You not married?”
“Me? No, divorced. You?”
? Why did I engage him?
Jet lag was obviously affecting my ability to walk away from tanned orange men with over inflated opinions of themselves.
“Nah, no time. Too busy working, you know how it is.”
Yeah, I knew all right, who the fuck would wanna get stuck with him for the rest of their life? My jaw ached where he was making me so tense. Was he jealous of my business relationship with Luke, or our friendship? I wasn’t sure, but I found his comments odd.
“What d’ya do, for work I mean?”
“I’ve got a couple of fitness centres, about to open a third.”
Why was I
“Not that I’m short of attention from the women of course. I mean . . .” He gestured with his hand, as if to say “Look at me,” and I almost threw up in my own mouth.
“I’m fighting them off at work. Made the mistake of banging a few that used the facilities, but that got a bit awkward when I realised that I’d fucked every girl in the place—including the married ones,” he told me with a nod and a wink.