There is a regular space that I come to meet a friend. Feels sometimes it's high above the world. It's just the first floor of this chocolate cafe in the Royal Arcade. But when the quiet gets so quiet that your vision makes up for your ears, zooming in and out and adjusting focus like a Smartphone cam, a kind of vertigo kicks in. And the people on the chequered tiles below all become insects. Sometimes she asks me what I'm thinking of if I zone out. I usually stay vague and light. But there are times when I look down from a height and remember this.
I walked the perimeter of a nine storey hotel once in London, forgot the ground even existed. I can't remember how I got up there, but the edge had a soft flamingo pink shade to it. Probably from the neon signs lining Gloucester Rd. Sam had just died and Lisa went missing, I went for broke and started the night with two lines of speed, one of coke and a couple of long gulps from a bottle of shitty tequila. I'd stolen these party supplements from the house of a guy called Clint J his dad was big on Westerns. The Jack the Ripper bus tour I was on was a fucking joke so I had ditched it and headed over to some dive bar I found in Kentishtown the night I went to see Killing Joke.
Clint was easy enough to get along with J which is the general trend when someone looks as lit as you're hoping to be. I made mention of a particular Smiths song to him, he didn't say anything back J just kept gawking with dilated pupils. And then decided to express his shared love for the band by going for my belt, dropping under the pool table, and taking me in his mouth. All while dancing in a crossed legged position. His technique was appalling, but the gyrations somehow got me there. After he surfaced he invited me back to his place "I need another pair of hands for an art project." For about 3 hours and 15 minutes I wound up being far more meticulous than I expected to be. Taking shots of this couple hurling paint, feather boas and these lumps of dried up cow shit he’d been collecting, at one another J on an inflatable mattress in a concrete courtyard. Making every picture count with a disposable camera.
He'd laced a rolly for me and shit took a sudden turn for the sexy. I didn't even question the validity of the project. I’d gone to a Francis Bacon exhibition that week, so I was spewing Hollywood agent love all over Clint about how worthy he was to share those walls of the gallery J all while he attempted to make his girlfriend squirt using only the handle of a spatula. Click, wind, click, wind, click...
I woke up in his garden, did a walk of shame from Soho to South Kensington. Back at the hotel, that night was when I tested my acrobatic skills on the rooftop.
Two days later the concierge called me and wanted to confirm a possible error with my account with the hotel.
"What error?" I asked.
"Ah yes, sir, it would seem that there is an expenditure of £185, used primarily for the viewing of in-house pornographic material".
"........" I said.
"........" he said.
"Do you know how this could've occurred?"
I had no way of denying nor remembering this. Shit. Mini bar was empty. That was going to cost me too. He could hear me rifling through the fridge and cupboard. "Mr Petit? Do you ...."
"AH FUCK!" Ah ahhh ah J " the phone cradle hit the floor and the vibration was enough to end the call. I lay next to the receiver, clutching my cock, which I'd just jammed in the pringles and peanuts drawer.
(Note to self: Do not open/shut waist high doors or drawers while naked.)
It was 1 in the afternoon when two young housekeepers arrived, I heard them knock, I heard them enter, but I was glued to the bed by a come down. "Are you serious? Woon hoondred en' airty five pounds? Ee moost be righ' loon – leh." Then they saw me half wrapped in the bed sheet. Just my upper half. The best I could do was barely roll over and grumble while they apologised and scrambled.
That afternoon I received another call from the concierge.
"Good afternoon Mr Petit, admittedly I was slightly perturbed by the abrupt termination of our conversation earlier. I do hope you are improved?" I couldn't tell whether he was asking or demanding, so he could launch into debt collecting.
"It's okay you don't need to be so formal – you guys are only 3 stars anyway". And then he did.
"BE. THAT. AS. IT. MAY...." and I can't remember the rest. I just did what any rational full-grown man would do. I bawled my eyes out.
I screeched and gurgled and wailed until he was made so uncomfortable he had to start trying to gently shush me down the telephone. "Things are just really bad. I don't know where to begin", which was immediately followed by me talking in detail about the failing digestive functions and subsequent clean up of my non-existent, terminally ill dog. He actually purred "there there" at one point.
"Let's talk about this another time shall we?" he said.
"But David Bowie Junior (yes my fake dog was called David Bowie Junior) only has 5 days" I sobbed. Why the fuck he bought this story while I was staying in a hotel instead of with my dying dog is beyond me.
"I mean the little implication of these adult entertainment fees,” he said.
"What are the fees?" I squealed, making certain I hit the highest note I could on the last syllable.
"I uh, I have some other matter to address Mr Petit. I must, uh, cheerio."
The do not disturb sign had been on the door of my room for 6 days, the place was filthy and I had never felt more like a Hunter S. Thompson wannabe in my life. I was about to go to a record store in the seven dials and then head back to check out from the hotel. I was standing by the entrance when I heard the two house keepers coming up the hallway.
"Geoff said he found security footage of him on the roof."
"What was he doin' up der?"
“I think he’s not all together, you know what I mean?”
Then they saw me, clothed this time, and became silent but still managed a polite nod.
When I got downstairs the concierge discreetly called me aside, told me that the porn charge was "lacking credibility and I would be reimbursed". He then whispered "Look, I know it's not my place to pry but I feel it would be remiss of me if I didn't pass this on." He scribbled down a number on a pad, tore it off and handed it to me. Above the number he had written 'London & District Distress Centre', which was basically a suicide support line. I took some time to soak up the gorgeous curls of his ampersand. And then gazing upward, saw that his name badge read 'Geoffrey'.
Miles up in the plane, looking down at the tiny cities I've never visited, I get to thinking about Sam. Sam without filters, Sam who had two speed settings of asleep or Rocky Horror dance anthem. Sam who convinced us to steal fishing line, glow in the dark stars and condoms so we could make "galaxy lanterns" and hang them from the ceiling and make wishes while we fucked. Along with the journals that he threw out the window, there were a bunch of love letters he never sent me. His auntie said she had collected them from the police after it had been ruled a suicide. She felt it was important that I knew how he really felt, because "he always would jump for the joke before the truth". Then we both got really quiet from hearing that word 'jump'. He had fallen from his apartment window. There was nothing else to it. And I looked down at my shoes for the longest time.
Almost as long as it feels I've looked out from this first floor cafe window.
Then Amanda arrives. "Heeeyyy, how you doin'?" she asks after reaching the top of the stairs and finding me in my usual chair. "Yeah alright", and I smile back – never too sure what I mean by it these days.
Mandy Petit is a grand lord of dabbling. Master of getting his hands dirty amidst the many wonderful, creative outlets that Melbourne, Australia provides. He's a writer, musician, composer, DJ, actor, spoken word performer - which he does all from horseback, while stunt car driving, firing a bow and arrow and preparing signature dishes for cooking show auditions. Apparently the Renaissance found steroids. (Quietly though) He's actually kinda self conscious and often hides behind humour and massive claims to avoid existential crises and heartbreak.... DEATH TO TOXIC MASCULINITYYYYYY!!!!!