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Gordon took a sip of his lukewarm tea, his fifth cup of the morning, both in terms of volume of tea and indeed receptacles. The previous, now empty, mugs sat on the pine coffee table (bought second-hand from a charity shop and by far the nicest piece of furniture he owned) in front of him, alongside a trio of plates, the first containing the remnants of a bacon sandwich, a breakfast he hadn’t actually been able to stomach, the second a congealed mess that he knew to be the remains of last night’s chicken chow mein (as per his usual pre-pub Friday night ritual) and the less said about the third the better, he’d obviously picked up something on his way back from the bar but he couldn’t honestly identify it now – a vaguely unpleasant taste of garlic sauce at the back of his throat suggested it may have been a kebab. Surrounding the various  unclean ceramics were several empty beer bottles.

On the TV, an old episode of Top Gear was playing on an obscure cable channel. It was the third consecutive episode of the show Gordon had sat through that morning. He wasn’t especially a fan of Top Gear, or indeed much of a car aficionado and, even if he had been, he wasn’t certain that a decade-old episode of the irreverent motoring programme was going to shed any new light on the kind of vehicle he should be driving. Or aspire to be driving. Gordon’s finances were unlikely to afford him any kind of vehicular independence any time soon.

The show did make for an undemanding and vaguely entertaining backdrop, but Gordon wasn’t really watching. In between nursing his hangover, sipping his tea and contemplating finishing his bacon sandwich, he was glancing repeatedly at his phone.

It had been a good 45 minutes since he’d sent the text and he was yet to receive a response.

He knew that sending a follow-up this soon could come across as a little desperate, possibly even a bit creepy. Should he bite the bullet and just call? Perhaps that was worse than a text and in any case, his hangover had rendered him in a borderline neanderthal state and he was pretty sure his conversation would be less than sparkling.

He knew, deep down, it was better to wait. He needed to spend the day recovering from the previous night’s excesses, maybe tidy up his flat, and do something, anything, to take his mind off his phone.

Struggling to his feet, he began to clear the table, shifting most of the debris into the kitchen area of his ‘open plan’ living space. He had just squirted some washing up liquid into the sink and turned on the hot tap when back on the coffee table his phone began to vibrate.

With an athleticism that belied his sensitive condition, he vaulted over the sofa and breathlessly answered the call.

Anticlimactically, it was an invitation to meet his parents for lunch.

He assessed the merits of going.

In his current condition he was only going to compound the disappointment that he knew they already felt about him, and he certainly didn’t think he could stomach any food.

Then again, in the absence of the phone call/text message that he really wanted, meeting with his parents would serve as a more than appropriate distraction.

He accepted the invitation.

He glanced around the flat and the full state of just how disgusting it was hit him. He really should do something about it.

Then again, if the flat was this bad, what state was he in? A cursory sniff of his left armpit told him all he needed to know.

The flat could wait. Gordon needed a shower.

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