I don’t really want to go to this party. I’ve been doing a lot of personal development lately, just working out heaps. Callisthenics. Ya know, prison style. I’ve been following this dude on Insta. Shot Caller. Ex-con turned motivational speaker. Chucks up bodyweight workouts most days, real minimalist stuff. Heaps of burpees. But he also posts these sick rants about building discipline and self-control. The kind of mental fortitude you need in the pen. He yells a lot but it keeps me motivated. I’m counting my macros. Working out every day. Setting intentions. Smashing personal bests. I’ve dropped a fair whack of weight and I mean, I’m not a big dude, but I’ve gained a bit of muscle too. I’m looking good. Real good.

So I don’t really want to go to this party and have a blowout and lose my gains. But then I think, ‘Fuck it, Jamie. You’ve been going hard lately. Go on. Have the night off. And besides, it’ll be good to catch up with everyone. I mean. You haven’t really seen them. Not since, ya know, the breakup.’ So I go.

I rock up fashionably late and I can hear from the street that it’s going off. I walk down the side, into the backyard and I just yell, ‘WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN!?’ and everyone stops. I’m all BIG FUCKING ENERGY, like, real life of the party shit, and I can’t tell whether I’ve just startled them with my BIG FUCKING ENERGY or whether they’re just surprised that I actually came. And for a second nobody moves and I can feel it but then the boys rush over.

‘Jamie, ya cunt.’

‘Good to see ya, bro.’

‘Shit, ya looking trim.’

‘How ya been, matey?’

‘Didn’t think you were comin, ay.’

And I’m like, ‘What? Nah boys. Nahhh. Like I’d miss this? It’s all good.’ And it is. I’ve been listening to this podcast lately. Real Alpha. It’s all about how there’s like Alpha males and Beta males, ya know, but the Real Alpha is the dude who just buys out of the whole Alpha/Beta dichotomy. He doesn’t give a fuck. He’s not trying to impress anyone. And because he doesn’t give a shit, well he’s even more Alpha. Meta-Alpha. REAL ALPHA. And that’s where I’m at now. It’s all good. Nothing touches me ay.

I’m clocking this party and it’s loose. People are munted. Gurning. Chewing off their faces. They’re rolling around on all these fold-out couches on the lawn. The garage has been turned into a full on rave cave. Psuedes brought his lasers and his smoke machine and he’s on the decks just busting out this filthy DnB. I hug the boys and I’m all like, ‘Lads, I gotta go bust some moves, brb,’ and they’re all like, ‘Get in there, son,’ so I hit the floor. I’ve been watching these videos on YouTube, How to Not Dance Like a Dork, just to get a bit of cardio in. But I’ve also picked up some new chops, ya know, padded out the old repertoire. I’m on the floor cutting shapes like I’m in kindie. Cutting rugs like I work at Carpet Court. And I can feel everyone taking in the show, but I’ve got my eyes closed, just feeling the music. Like, I’m just here to dance ay. Psuedes taps out from behind the decks and comes over.

‘WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY?!’

‘PSUEEEEEDES!’

And we just start broing down. He’s like, ‘Mate, you want a bikkie?’

‘Ooooooh I dunno. It’s been a minute…’

‘Dude. I heard what happened ay. This one’s on me, man.’

‘Cheers, brah. Nah. Like. It’s alright. No biggie.’

But I’m not gonna say no to free drugs so I dunk the pill. ‘Hey, Bek around?’

‘Yeah, dude, it’s her party.’

‘Ha! Yeah. No shit, bro. But nah, like, you seen her?’

‘Not for a while, man. I think she’s inside. But I dunno, man. Dunno if you wanna go in there ay. Dan’s here. And like…’

But I’ve prepped myself for it. I mean, Bek and I are still talking. We’re still close. I’m not about to flush ten years of friendship. And like, she invited me. She told me he was gonna be here. We talked about it. It’s not an issue. 

‘Nah, man, it’s all sweet.’

‘You sure?’

‘Yeah, dude. I just wanna clear the air a bit before I settle in.’

‘I get ya. Alright. Well yeah. She’s inside.’

It’s a big party in a small house. People are just sorta migrating around in these little groups. Going with the flow. Peeling off. It feels like I’m pushing against a tide just trying to get inside. And then I spot her. In the living room. And she looks good. Real good, like always. She’s wearing this skintight latex number. Tore up fishies. Platform Docs. Fresh undercut. Real good, and it throws me. And then I see who she’s sitting next to. And, well, I hadn’t really seen him before. Not in the flesh. Obviously, I checked out his Facebook. But looking at him now, I just, I dunno. Yeah, he’s handsome enough. But it’s one of those: Is he handsome or is he just tall?

They’re part of this big D&M circle, just real in the thick of it, and I charge in all ‘HEY STRANGER!’ and she looks over and I can feel it. But then she’s up. She’s coming over.

‘Jamie. Uh. Hey.’

Kiss on the cheek. Big hug. Long hug. I can feel her chest pressing against me. And her heart’s just going. Going so hard. And so’s mine. And all that blood pumping, well, it kickstarts the pill. I’m coming up hard, holding on for dear life. And then I see him, looming over her shoulder. And I’m trying to catch my breath as he’s sticking out his hand.

‘Hey Jamie. Nice to finally meet ya. I’ve been looking forward to it ay. You’re like, a bit of a legend.’ He’s got, ya know, that big Alpha energy.

‘Yeah, dude. Good to finally meet you too,’ and we shake hands. Firm grip. Eye contact. I’m trying to stop my jaw clenching, ya know, from the pill. And then, then he starts trying to apologise.

‘Hey. Jamie, I…’

But nah. Nahhh. I’m not gonna let this dude think he cucked me or whatever. I shut that shit down immediately.

‘Mate. Don’t even, ay. It’s all good. Like. It’s not a thing.’ Real Alpha. And I’m just smiling and they’re sorta smiling and then Bek goes, ‘Hey, you want a line?’ Well yeah, of course. So we go to the room, ya know, the drug room. The party inside the party where the people with the gear hang out, trapped in convos that spiral on forever. We’re in this room. And it’s her room. People are all monologuing over the top of each other, and I realise that the last time I was in this room was when she told me. She racks up a fat rail and I snuff it out.

‘Cheers. Hey man. Heard you’re in a band?’

‘Yeah, man, I…’

But I just tune out. Not really interested. Not my scene. But it’s nice, ya know. Asking him about himself. Letting him talk. Then he says, ‘Oi Bek, where’s ya guitar?’ but I’m not about that life.

‘Yeah, I’mma go circulate. See yas in a bit.’ And then I’m back in the current, getting swept outside, just going with the flow.

The pill-line combo’s got me charging. I’m all over the shop but I’m hanging on. Then I spot Tiff hooping in the yard. One of Bek’s mates. Little hippy biddy. Dreadies. Geometry tats. Absolute tripper. And yeah, she’s a bit dumpy, but I always thought she was cute. She’s concentrating real hard on getting her combos in, and I just sorta sidle up, all ‘HEY STRANGER!’, and she drops the hoop.

‘Oh my god. Jamieeeeeee.’ Big hug. Long hug. She’s smacked out but she’s on for a chat and I’m like, ‘Let’s get on one of these couches and branch out.’

Since the breakup I’ve been reading these PUA books. Ya know, Pick Up Artistry. Like The Game and stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had problems picking up. But like, Bek and I, we were together almost four years. A long time to be out of the scene.

Tiff and I are on this fold-out and I’m running game hard, hitting all my combos. I’m not into negs—I’m not a dick. But like, I’m ‘Establishing Attraction’, ‘Controlling the Conversation’, ‘Initiating Touch’, and her body language is shifting. Opening up. She’s looking at my mouth. Playing with her hair. She’s checking me out and I look good. Real good. My arm’s around her. She’s pressing in. And then I spot Bek and Dan. Chilling by the fire. And I can see Bek trying not to look and I pull Tiff in.

‘Hey, do youuuuuu wanna make out?’ And it’s on. Just on. I’m biting her lip. She’s feeling all up on my arms and pecs. Bek’s watching as I slip my hand down Tiff’s pants. Tiff’s biting my neck and breathing in my ear and Bek’s getting up and going inside.

The party’s running dry. Tiff wants me to go back to hers but I raincheck. Too munted. Plus, I’ve got pill-dick. Cock’s the size and shape of a cashew. It’s so late it’s early. A few stragglers are hanging on but mostly it’s dead. I’m stretched out, coming down on the fold-out. Then the back door slams. Bek’s in the yard. Pacing. Bawling her eyes out. And I can’t. I just have to.

‘Hon. Hon. What’s going on? Hon? What happened?’

Sobbing into my shoulder so hard she can hardly breathe. Can barely talk. ‘Dan. Dan said. He said he doesn’t love me.’

‘What?’

‘He said he doesn’t love me. I said it to him, but he didn’t say it back and I just wanted him to. I just. He says he’s not into labels, whatever the fuck that means. And I asked him. If. If he was seeing other people. And. Jamie. Oh my god. I’m just. I’m so…’

But I can’t let her say it. I won’t. And I’m trying. To breathe. Keep it together. But I can’t. I get up. She reaches for me.

‘Wait…’

But it’s too late. I can’t stop it. It’s there. I can feel it and it feels like it’s always been there. Like, just here, inside me, my whole life and I’m only just realising it now. I’m pacing. I’m running. Inside. And he’s there. He’s in the kitchen. He’s making himself a fucking cuppa. And he sees me.

‘Jamie—’

But I grab him, and I push him against the wall, just press him into the wall so hard. And he’s choking against my arm.

‘Jamie, I…’

And it’s there. All of it. It’s inside me. And it’s me. I can feel it and it feels like I’m trapped inside myself. Like I’m bigger than I am and I’m trying to get out. And if I could just get it out—

‘Jamie, please…’

I raise my fist and he shrinks, just folds in on himself, cowering. He’s looking at me with all this fear welling in his eyes. And no one’s ever looked at me like that. Like I’m something to fear. Like I could do damage. Like I could kill. And it feels so fucking intoxicating. Like this rush. This huge dark rush. And it’s endless. And it’s terrifying. It scares me. It scares me so much that I almost don’t hit him.

Image: John Arano

Spencer Barberis

Spencer Barberis is an emerging writer living on Wiradjuri country. He is currently undertaking Honours in Creative Writing at UOW. A queer, working class and neurodivergent writer, Spencer frequently deals with themes of madness and masculinity. He is a co-founder and the poetry editor of the literary journal Bramble.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.


Related articles & Essays


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *