You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you?
Philip arrived home to see a perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers waiting for him behind the pillar on the front porch. Such vibrant colours, and so elegantly presented. He bent down to pick them up and then searched for the card, turning the arrangement around nervously in his hands.
No card. He outstretched his arms to take another look at the arrangement, and then pulled it back in close for another search for a card. Nope. Nothing. Philip searched the ground wondering where the card got to. Maybe it fell out? Maybe it blew away in the wind? Maybe it’s from a secret admirer? Who would that be? And who would send me flowers? Anybody that knows me knows I hate being given flowers, but these… *sigh* these are just exquisite!
As he balanced the flowers in one hand, he used his free hand to fumble around in his pocket for his keys, and opened the front door. As he walked through the doorway, he grabbed the flowers with both hands, and tapped the door closed with his foot. His shoes clip-clopped down the corridor of polished floorboards that led to the open kitchen and he placed them on the corner of the polished marble bench-top.
Philip took a couple of steps back, staring at the flowers and then scanning the room for the perfect place to put them. He took off his satchel bag and his jacket and hung them up on the wall in the hallway. He couldn’t stop staring at the flowers. The mystery was eating away at him. Who would do something like this? Who do I know, that knows my address?
Philip started making a mental list of every guy he knew that knew his address and tried to work out whether they would potentially be the mystery sender. Well it’s not Mike, or Steve, or Jason, or Billy… they all know I hate flowers. As he kept making lists, he kept mentally crossing out their names for various reasons: not knowing his address, not really being friends, haven’t spoken to them in a while etc.
Then it hit. Maybe they’re not for me at all? Maybe they’re for a neighbour? But I don’t even know what florist, so I can’t call and check. Philip took off his shoes and put the kettle on. He prepared himself a cup of tea and sat down in his favourite chair. As he sat there in the silence, waiting for the kettle to boil, he caught a glimpse of the flowers reflection in the television screen. He jumped to his feet, walked over to the kitchen bench and picked up the flowers. He turned on his heels, walking back to the coffee table and placing them right in the centre of the long, wooden table.
As the fragrance from the flowers wafted through the living room, he heard the kettle switch off. He walked back to the kitchen and poured the boiling water into his cup, and stood there staring at the flowers for a few minutes, as if he were frozen in a moment. The sound of the doorbell broke his concentration. ‘Who the fuck is that?’ Philip groaned as he headed towards the front door.
He opened the door to find Ashley standing there. His face lit up and she let out a small giggle as she held up a bottle of wine. They hugged and he welcomed her inside. As they approached the kitchen, Philip hadn’t even finished offering Ashley a cup of tea, before she let out another squeal and ran over to the flowers.
‘OH MY GOD WHO ARE THESE FROM!?!? THEY ARE AMAZING!!’ Philip explained the situation before he was interrupted again, ‘What do you mean you don’t know who they’re from? Just call the florist and find out!’ When he explained there was no card, Ashley narrowed her gaze and flashed a giant, toothy grin, ‘somebody’s got a secret admirer!! You dirty little bitch! How come you can get a guy to send you flowers and I can’t?’ Without missing a beat he instantly replied, ‘because I have hotter legs than you, bitch’, and they both erupted into laughter.
Philip walked back into the kitchen to pour Ashley a cuppa and they fell onto the couch facing each other. However, Ashley couldn’t stop glancing at the flowers every couple of seconds.
‘Seriously, Phil, they are fucking GORGEOUS!’ Ashley was so distracted by them, but Phil knew that it was from a place of jealousy as she had had several dating disasters recently and was feeling rather jaded towards her male counterparts.
‘I seriously have no idea where they’re from or who sent them and it’s doing my head in!’, Phil stated. ‘I’ve already made a list of possibilities, but even still, cannot think of anybody!’
‘And I bet that list was pretty fucking long, too!’, Ashley giggled.
‘Fuck off!”, Phil laughed, ‘It’s not that long!’ Ashley just looked at him.
‘Okay, so maybe it took a while to make a list!’, Phil said, covering his face with a cushion to hide his embarrassment. They both sat there, staring at the flowers.
‘What really gets me though, is that whoever it was, knows where I live. And I’ve only been here a couple of months, and even then only a small number of people have been here… So that doesn’t leave too many people’.
‘Well, unless you count half the gay population of Sydney as a ‘small number of people’!’ Ashley mocked, using her fingers to make air-quotations. ‘Every fucking man and his dog has walked that hall, INCLUDING THE DOGS!’, and fell back laughing.
‘HEY!! I didn’t know he had a seeing-eye dog, he kinda failed to mention that little gem, and that other guy couldn’t bear to leave his little rodent dog thing at home for a couple of hours!’
‘ A COUPLE of hours?? Ooh, hello boys!’
‘What? He was great in bed!’, said Phil defending himself. Phil was distracted by his phone vibrating on the table. He reached out to glance at the screen, ‘Blocked number’. ‘Must be one of those telemarketers. If it’s so important, then I’ll call you!’ and put the phone back down on the table. Suddenly, Ashley gasped ‘OH MY GOD! What if it’s the mystery admirer calling you about the flowers?!’
‘Ash, if they know me enough to know where I live, they know me enough to know I don’t answer blocked numbers!’, proclaimed Phil, with a sense of self-importance.
‘Maybe he’s calling from work?’
‘I doubt it’.
‘What if… What if he’s watching you? Like a stalker or something?!’
Phil placed his cup on the coffee table and nervously looked at Ashley, ‘Oh my god, Ash, what if he’s outside in the car with a pair of binoculars? OH MY GOD… What if the call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!’, shrieked Phil, grabbing Ashley’s arm and pulling her towards him in a sense of protection. Ashley pushed him back and they both laughed.
Philip’s phone vibrated. Ashley swooped in and grabbed it, ‘ooh, voicemail!! Maybe it’s mister luvah-luvahhh?’, she said in a low seductive tone. She jumped over the couch and ran behind the kitchen bench to listen to the voicemail and then froze. ‘OH MY GOD HE SOUNDS FUCKING HOT!! You should totally fuck this guy, purely based on his voice’.
‘But what if he’s ugly?’
‘Who fucking cares? Wear a blindfold and just get him to talk through the whole ordeal!’
Philip burst out laughing, ‘Aaahahahaha… ordeal.’ He tried to frantically grab the phone out of her hands, but she kept turning away, preventing him from getting it. As the voicemail finished, she politely handed the phone over and Philip fumbled the phone attempting to replay the voicemail message.
*BEEP* Hey Phil, so, yeah, I would have liked to have been able to actually talk to you, but I guess this is the next best thing. I’m sorry for the secrecy, but I just wanted to let you know that there was somebody out there thinking of you; that *I* was thinking of you…
Oh my god, he does sound fucking hot!
…I didn’t intend to freak you out, but just to put your mind at ease, I’m not a stalker, I’m not some kind of psycho crazy guy. We have met before, a little while ago, and had some, um, errr.. *giggles* great times together. But I know you. I know who you are and what you like, and you probably don’t even remember me, or remember my voice, but I just thought that it might be nice to a) send you some flowers and brighten your day and, b) maybe we could reconnect over dinner… or something… Anyways, I’m sure that if you’re interested, you’ll try and remember who I am, and remember the special hiding place I found in your house. If I hear from you, then great, and if not, then it’s a sign, and I wish you all the best with your future. Maybe we’ll bump into each other again over coffee. Bye Philip.
Philip stood there staring at the phone in his hand. ‘DA FUCK DID I JUST LISTEN TO?!?’ Ashley stood there staring at him, with a giant grin on her face. Philip looked at her and got a grin on his face, and felt his cheeks get a bit flushed.
‘So, um… explain yourself mister sister. Who the hell is this guy??’
‘I can’t remember!’ Phil exclaimed, scrolling furiously through his extensive list of first-name-only entries.
‘Well, bitch, you need to fucking find out who he is, because if you don’t wanna go on a date with him, then I sure as hell will instead!!’ Ashley put on her deepest, most manliest voice possible, ‘Oh hey, yeah, so I’m Phil, I loved your flowers… You’re kinda hot. We should totally fuck sometime’, and they both burst into laughter.
‘He said something about a special hiding place, but I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.. what hiding place?’ Philip squeezed his phone in front of his face, ‘WHAT HIDING PLACE!?!?’
Ashley reached out and grabbed Phil’s free hand, ‘Come on Philbus, I think it’s time for you and I to have a drink. This is all too much for a couple of white women to be dealing with right now. Time for a drink, and then let’s watch… something. How’s about we order some food… I’m kinda fangin’ for a curry or something… you hungry?’ Phil moped around the kitchen, too distracted to even acknowledge Ashley’s suggestions.
She guided him to the couch and sat him down with a glass of wine in front of him. Before long they were watching old episodes of Will & Grace and eating some curry that had been home delivered. it didn’t take long before Philip had fallen asleep on the couch. Rather than wake him up, Ashley put a throw rug over him, turned off the television, turned out the lights and made her way down to the spare room.
She opened the door and noticed that the spare bedroom was filled with boxes. Ashley now knew why she had always seen this door closed and had a little giggle to herself. She wasn’t in a state to be driving, so she walked across the hall and climbed into Phil’s bed.
It was about 4:30am when Phil woke up. Realising he was still in his suit shirt and pants, and on the couch, he realised he needed to get ready for bed. With his eyes still closed, he sat up and got undressed in the darkness of the loungeroom, leaving a pile of clothes in front of the couch and fumbled his way over to the kitchen to pour a glass of water. As he stood there in the dark, eyes closed, enjoying the cold chill from each mouthful of water, he suddenly remembered the voicemail from earlier.
He stood there very much awake and alert, realising that he had dreamt about this mystery man. He had seen a vision of him in a dream, but couldn’t remember the face. He also had visions of being with somebody in the house, and catching glimpses of a note being written and this mystery man folding the paper. He knew this hiding spot was in the house somewhere, but he just couldn’t visualise it in his dream.
Still standing in the darkness holding a now empty glass to his lips, the suspense and the anticipation was too overwhelming. He put the glass down and began pacing the kitchen. Who is this guy? He’s obviously been here, ‘cos he knows where I live. And he said we’d spent some great times together… so did we fuck more than once? Was it one night? How many have been more than one night? Oh god I’m such a slut. Why can’t I remember who he is? How long ago did we hook up? Was it even this year? Was it last year? But I’ve only been in this place a few months… okay so it’s actually more like six or seven months. Fuck! How many weeks is that? Multiplied by, what, four guys a week? Five? Six? Fuck! I really AM a slut. I have a problem. I really should see somebody ’bout that. Why am I such a whore? Maybe because I just want the sex without the attachment, but then why am I obsessing over a stranger? Maybe I want more? Maybe I’m ready for something more? Or do I just want to fuck him again? Fuck. I really don’t know. I’m such a mess. What is wrong with me. Where’s this fucking hiding spot? GRRRR!!!
Philip wandered back over to the couch, and fell down on it, curling up under the throw rug, staring at the ceiling as his eyes adjusted to the darkness surrounding him. Before he knew it, he was asleep again.
Blurred visions began to dance around his head, taunting and teasing, making Philip more and more anxious and agitated. Everything felt so familiar, but it was though everything was being viewed through Vaseline-smeared glass. No matter how much he concentrated, he just couldn’t seem to focus his vision. He heard the voice again, but only saw shadows where his face was. Suddenly everything disappeared and Phil was standing by himself surrounded by white.
No roads. No buildings. No sky or trees or cars. Not even sound. Nothing.
Philip had been here before in a number of his dreams. He always wondered what it meant but he finally realised that this ‘void’ was a visual representation of his subconscious ‘restarting’.
He layed down on the ground on his back and closed his eyes taking several slow deep breaths. He felt a small breeze on the back of his hand. His fingers twitched from the shock of the cold air and as he opened his eyes, he saw a bright blue sky above him. He began to hear birds, and slowly the sound of cars began to get louder, as if approaching from the distance. Philip sat up and was surprised and disoriented by his surroundings. As he sat there looking at the sky stretching all the way to the horizon, he heard the sound of people talking, and slowly, right before his eyes, transparent people and buildings began to appear. As the images got clearer he had to pinch himself just to make sure that he was still in fact dreaming and not actually laying in the middle of a footpath in the middle of Sydney in his underwear.
Philip slowly pulled himself to his feet and looked around still unsure of what he was seeing, and as he slowly turned around taking in his surroundings he smelt something all to familiar wafting past on the breeze! Mmmm coffee!! Unsure as to whether or not it was actually real, he followed the smell which led Philip to a small hole-in-the-wall coffee shop. He was greeted by the barista who took his order of an extra-large double shot latte with soy and a squirt of caramel. It was Phil’s favourite secret indulgence. He waited outside and felt the warmth of the sun on his pasty, white skin. ‘Order for Flip!‘ Philip smiled – Flip was the name he used for his coffee orders and hearing it read out put a smile on his face every single time.
He turned to lean back against the wall and enjoy the feeling of the sunshine a bit longer. He lifted the cup to his mouth, catching a whiff of the most aromatic coffee he’d ever smelt. He took a sip and felt his knees go slightly weak. It was the most flavoursome coffee he had ever had. The coffee was full and rich. It was creamy and bold and the hints of caramel danced around on his palate.
People walked passed, smiling and saying hello and he was surprised at just how friendly everybody was, until he heard a commotion in the distance. He wandered over to see a group of people standing around. There was a person laying on the ground. He couldn’t quite see who it was because there was too many people, but Philip soon realised there wasn’t anybody helping this person? Were they hurt? Were they unconscious? Were they bleeding?? Feeling nervous at the distinct lack of assistance, he heard a few gasps and a voices shrieking out for somebody to help, and as it continued he decided to be a Good Samaritan and help this person.
He pushed through the crowd to see a person laying on their side facing away from him. Somebody was about to roll him over and in an instant all the ambient noise around him instantly fell silent. As the person was rolled onto their back, everything around him began to slow down and as Philip saw the all too familiar Figure of Shadows looking back at him, he dropped his coffee on the ground and felt truly terrified. The crowd around him suddenly began fading, as did the sky, buildings and cars until he was just surrounded by the infinite white surroundings again.
With the Figure of Shadows standing in front of him. Before Philip could scream, the Figure stretched out an arm and grabbed Philip by the head, and a thousand different images and all of their feelings pulsed through Philips brain. This sudden influx of emotion and memories was far too overwhelming. Philip screamed out in excruciating agony, begging for it to stop, he even tried falling to his knees but the Figure of Shadows’ grip was so strong, he held Philip just off the ground. Philip screamed and begged for the pain to end, pleading to be let go, and without warning, the Figure dropped him; his legs buckling underneath him, causing him to fall onto the ground.
Philip took a moment to catch his breath, wiping the tears from his face and rolling over to sit up. He looked up as if to yell at the Figure, but it had vanished. Philip pulled himself up to his feet and brushed his legs and hands and looked around the ultra-bright white expanse of the void. There was no beginning. There was no end.
‘WHAT THE FUCK!?!’, Philip screamed, ‘WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU? HUH?? What do you want from me? HOW DO I GET OUT OF HERE?! Where did you go? What is this place? I just want to go home!’ Philip fell to his knees, ‘Please… Just let me go home…’ and he heard a feint voice in the distance. He was unsure of which direction it was coming from, and couldn’t see anybody. ‘Hello? HELLO?! CAN YOU HEAR ME?! WHERE ARE YOU?!’ Philip began walking, but wasn’t even sure where he was going. All he saw was white. The same white above, below and all around him.
‘If you’re not going to be open to love, love will not be open to you. Believe, and you’ll find me’.
That voice… Philip had heard that voice before but was unsure as to where. He stopped where he was and looked around, ‘What does that even mean? Who are you? How do I get home?’
‘Phil…. Phil…. Come on Phil, wake up…‘ He recognised that voice, but couldn’t quite work out where it was coming from. He slowly began to turn around as the voice changed directions and as he turned, he saw the Figure of Shadows. He opened his mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Philip could feel himself being pulled towards the Figure, like it was some kind of gravitational pull. He tried to dig his heels into the ground to keep his distance, but it was no use, his body was being dragged closer and closer. Philip’s silent screams were of no use, and he saw two bony hands getting closer and closer. Slowly uncurling and revealing thin, wrinkly, pointy fingers. Just as the Figure was about to grab Philip, he heard this voice, ‘PHILIP!! WAKE THE FUCK UP!!‘ and sat bolt upright on the couch.
Ashley was so startled that she fell backwards onto the ground, and Phil sat there clearly confused and drenched in sweat, as though somebody had thrown a bucket of water over him. After being woken up by hearing some noises echoing down the hallway, Ashley had felt compelled to see what all the commotion was. Her initial thought was that the house was being burgled, but if that were the case, Philip would have intervened, and she couldn’t hear him, so as she tiptoed down the hallway towards the kitchen, she was already fearing the worst… It wasn’t until she switched on the lights, she realised that Philip was actually dreaming.
‘Phil… PHIL! Are you okay?’ Phil just sat there looking around the room. He didn’t even notice Ashley sprawled on the ground in front of him. His pupils were dilated like deep pools of blackness – he was clearly shaken. Unable to process the reality of his current surroundings, he quickly jumped over the back of the couch and ran behind the kitchen bench, grabbing a large and rather sharp knife.
‘Get away from me… GET AWAY FROM ME!! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO HURT ME AGAIN!!’ Ashley had no idea what was happening, and was beginning to feel somewhat scared.
‘Phil, it’s me, Ashley. You’re in your kitchen, and you’re okay. Nobody is going to hurt you. I’m not going to hurt you.’
‘YOU STAY AWAY FROM ME!! DON’T YOU COME NEAR ME!!’ Ashley stood with her hands in the air, suggesting a surrender.
‘Phil, it’s okay! It’s me, Ashley. Ash. Remember? Do you remember me? I’m your best friend?’ Philip stood there confused, but cautious. The figure in front of him began to change, and Ashley slowly appeared in his sight.
‘Yeah, that’s right, Ashley. Do you remember me?’
‘Phil, I’m not going to hurt you. You’re scaring me. Please put the knife down’. Phil tightened his grip around the solid metal handle, and pointed it at Ashley, causing her to completely freeze, ‘WHO ELSE IS HERE? WHERE. IS. HE!?!? Who, honey? Where is who? HIM!! THE FIGURE OF SHADOWS!! HE WANTS TO HURT ME!’
‘Flip, honey, there’s nobody here, I promise. Nobody is going to hurt you. I’m not going to hurt you. I promise, it’s just you and I… nobody else. I promise you, we’re the only ones here. Just put down the knife…’ Philip stretched his arm out, pointing it even more aggressively towards Ashley.
‘Or you can hold onto it… that’s okay too. Just talk to me Phil… what happened? What did you see?’ Philip stared at Ashley for a moment in silence, and then suddenly dropped the knife on the island bench, collapsing to the floor and crying. Ashley ran over to see if he was okay. Philip looked up, tears covering his face, ‘What is wrong with me??’.
Ashley crouched down, put her her arms around Philip to comfort him, ‘Shhh, honey, it’s okay, it’s okay’, she said, slowly stroking his back, ‘You just had a bad dream, that’s all, it was just a dream. It wasn’t real’. Philip sat up slightly and nuzzled into Ashley.
‘Nawwww… Honey, it’s okay. You’re just tired and need a sleep, okay? That’s all. How bout I stay here with you tonight, and we can talk about it in the morning’. Philip pulled back, looking up at Ashley and nodded. His eyes were heavy and because he was so tired, he wasn’t even capable of using words. Instead he just grunted and made sounds to indicate yes / no responses.
Ashley gently helped him up off the kitchen floor, and slowly walked Philip down the hallway to the bedroom. She sat him on the edge of the bed, layed him down and pulled the doona up over him. He had already fallen asleep before she had managed to pull up the doona, and had started snoring before she even walked out of the bedroom door. Ashley was in two minds as to whether or not she should sleep in the same bed as him, but decided to take the couch instead, just to be sure.
She quietly closed the door behind her, tiptoeing down the wooden floorboards, trying to avoid them creaking at all. Ash she reached the kitchen, she paused briefly staring at the knife on the bench and the clothes by the coffee table. She sighed loudly and reached for a shot glass. Ashley opened the freezer and pulled out a half-empty frosty bottle of vodka and poured herself a shot. Ashley stood there trying not to grimace as the burning sensation raced down her throat, and she took a beat to reflect on what had just transpired.
She had never seen Philip like this, and wasn’t sure whether or not it was a once-off or if there was a bigger picture that she should be concerned about… Assuming the worst, she took another shot. She pivoted on the balls of her feet, placed the vodka back in the freezer, had a big gulp of water and headed over to the couch. She picked up Philips clothes and folded them all, placing them on one of the armchairs, and then, walked over to turn off the lights. She grabbed the throw rug and curled up underneath it and drifted off to sleep.
Ashley rolled over and the morning light was peeking through the heavy dark curtains in the loungeroom. Unaware of what time it was, she felt as though she had slept for hours. She thought she could smell coffee, but as she peeked over the back of couch, there was nobody in the kitchen. Maybe she was dreaming, or maybe it was something else. Unsure, Ashley turned her back to the light, and began drifting off to sleep, when she heard a voice whisper above her, ‘Morning sweetie…’
Startled, she jumped and covered her face with her hands. ‘OH MY GOD, FLIP! You scared the shit outta me.. Don’t do that!!’
‘Oh, sorry hon, I thought you were awake. Do you wanna sleep for a bit?’ Ashley let out a loud groan, ‘Aaarrgghhhh… No, I’m awake now.’
‘Oh good… Cos I made coffee!’ Just as Philip said that, he disappeared behind the back of the couch, and reappeared with a giant mug of steaming hot coffee. Ashley looked at the mug, rolled her eyes as a giant grin washed across her face, and looked back at Philip, ‘I love when you make coffee… I REALLY love it when you serve it in one of these bowls with handles!’, And both of them giggled. Ashley placed the giant mug on the coffee table, and sat up, propping herself up with some of the extra cushions, before leaning back over and grabbing her coffee, and gently cradling the cup with both of her hands, as though she were holding something quite fragile and expensive.
Philip appeared in front of her with a giant tray full of thick raisin toast – smothered in butter, and a small stack of pancakes. Next to these were two small plates, two small dishes full of golden syrup, a small dish of caster sugar and a juicer with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
‘M’lady, breakfast is served’. Ashley laughed, grinning from ear to ear at the extravagance that was just served up in front of her.
‘What’s all this about?’, she enquired.
‘Well, I just wanted to say thank you for last night. I just… I don’t really know what the fuck happened, and I don’t really remember much about what happened… But I remember falling asleep on the couch… And then I remember crying on the kitchen floor… And then I woke up in bed… And, well, I’m just assuming that you were there for all of it… So I just wanted to say thanks for… well… for not completely bailing on me. I really appreciate it.’
‘Oh honey… come here..’. Ashley outstretched her arms for a hug, and Philip put the tray down on the coffee table and leant down to hug her, ‘it’s true… you flipped out last night… you’re a total fucking mess, bitch, but as if I would abandon you over something like that. You know me better than that. I will admit, you did scare me though – moreso when you were holding the knife – I wasn’t sure if you were going to hurt me, or worse, hurt yourself.’
Philip stared at her, puzzled. ‘Aahhhhh… WHAT??’, clearly having no recollection of anything involving a knife.
‘Oh honey… Perhaps you better sit down, and I can fill you in on what *I* saw last night.’
Over the next hour or so, they shared their raisin toast and pancakaes, whilst Ashley relived the events of the previous night, much to Philips horror. As she retold every detail of what happened, Philip spent most of the time sitting in the armchair, hugging his knees and trying to stop his jaw from hitting the carpet. Completely and utterly humiliated by what had happened, he couldn’t look at Ashley any more, and got up to make another pot of coffee.
As he filled the kettle, he wished that Ashley would just leave, so he could go have a shower, go back to bed and shut out the entire world for the rest of the day and wallow in his self pity and humiliation. ‘Another coffee?’, he queried. Ashley politely refused and said that it was probably about time she ventured outside and continued her day. She packed her belongings and gave Philip a giant hug and a kiss on the cheek, and he walked her to the front door.
As soon as the door closed, he stumbled into the bedroom and slumped onto the bed. Feeling unbelievably humiliated, he needed to shake it off and do something productive to occupy his mind. And that all started with one major step… a shower. Philip headed to the bathroom and turned on the water taps. As he undressed, he looked at his reflection in the mirror, as it began to fog up from the steam. He looked tired.
Time for a little pick-me-up!, he thought. He got in the shower and embraced the steaming hot shower like a best friend. Singing away to himself, he danced under the shower head – scrubbing himself from head to toe; shampooing and conditioning his hair; applying a face masque and hair masque and giving his teeth a really good deep clean – using one of the other settings on his electric toothbrush (the one that nobody ever actually uses).
He stepped out of the shower feeling invigorated. He felt fresh and clean. He felt like a brand new man. Opening the door of the bathroom, the steam billowed out into the hallway like a cloud, and he wandered down the hallway, leaving a trail of wet footprints behind him. He put on an old tee and a pair of shorts and decided that today he would tackle the spare room. Philip had been putting this off for quite some time, but it was going to be the perfect distraction for him.
He opened the door to the spare room, and stood there, silently staring at the pure chaos layed out in front of him. ‘Fuuuuck me. Where do I start??’ Philip slowly entered the room, taking note of the mess that had accumulated behind the door. ‘How did it even get like this?? I don’t understand?!’ He stood there for several minutes in total silence, paying particular attention to everything in view, knowing that there were also piles of boxes next to the wardrobe, and inside the wardrobe, Philip slowly began to regret his decision, but dammit, he wasn’t going to let this get the better of him.
‘Just start with one box. Start with a small box. Shove everything off the bed, and clear some space. That way, you can create a rubbish pile and a keep pile. You don’t have to sort it, you can do that another time… you just need to cull. So start culling mister!’ He picked up a small box and approached the bed, lifting the edge of the doona high enough to watch everything on top slowly tumble onto the floor. He sat cross-legged on the bed, and opened the small box. Turning it upside down, he watched the contents fall onto the bed in front of him, and he began sorting through the various odd and ends, chuckling to himself, wondering why he kept some of these things.
He used the empty box as the rubbish box, and placed it to the side. All the stuff he was keeping, he pushed to the other side, and then got up to grab another box. He repeated this process for a few hours, taking moments to sit and reminisce about certain keepsakes and trinkets. Taking trips down memory lane, when looking at certain photos and objects he acquired from his multiple overseas trips.
He soon found a collection of business cards all bundled together and removed the elastic band to review the cards. At first none of them made any sense, as they were all about professions and organisations Philip had never been involved with… and then he realised… the business cards were from the men he had had ‘romances’ with in the past. And from the looks of things, these were all the really good ones, because there was a lot of great memories flooding back and tingling in certain areas with each different card. Except for one. This one card he came across, and Philip couldn’t quite work it out.
Managing Director / Senior Partner
Investec Investment Firm
‘Eric Pearson? Eric Pearson? Philip sat there staring into space, trying to remember who this mystery man was. ‘Hmmm… doesn’t ring a bell. I wonder who this guy was… well, obviously I kept his card for a reason… but I can’t place the name to a face…’ Puzzled by this mystery man, he bundled all the cards up again and placed them in a different place on the bed, but kept Eric’s card aside. ‘I’ll be taking you boys back to the budoir … maybe you might be of some use again!’ and let out a small giggle. He leant back, outstretched his legs, and let out a loud roaring yawn, ‘Well, I think it’s about time to have break. I’ll deal with the rest of you bitches later!’ he said, pointing to the piles of boxes against the wall.
He placed Eric’s card in his pocket. He walked out into the hall, pulled on a pair of runners and his sunglasses, and grabbed his keys and wallet and headed outside into the sunshine. The sun felt so good on his skin, and before he walked through the front gate, he paused on the path, taking great big breath of fresh air, stretching out his arms and closing his eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun all over his face. It was his favourite feeling in the world… well, apart from having an orgasm – but that was like comparing apples and oranges.
He walked the three blocks to his favourite local coffee shop, and the local barista happened to look up briefly, noticing Philip walking towards the door. The barista called out ‘Regular order for Flip’, much to the confusion of the customers at the front of the line. Philip grinned and casually stood in line, waiting for the other customers to be served. Just as he approached the register he heard ‘Extra Large Double Shot Soy with Caramel for FLIP!’, the barista trying not to laugh as he emphasised the ‘Flip’, sliding the large takeaway cup across the counter.
The cashier handed him the coffee and a small brown paper bag with a chocolate croissant that had been warmed up. Philip paid and then went to stand outside and enjoy the sun a little bit more. Philip took his time walking home, opting to walk down some other streets and enjoying the ‘scenic’ route home.
The sky was such an incredibly bright ocean-blue and the sun was just sitting there right in the middle of it, this gigantic golden orb radiating the most incredible sunshine. Everything seemed to look more vibrant. All the colours of his surroundings seemed to be brighter and bolder, and it made Philip feel fantastic. Holding his coffee, he carefully peeled back the edges of the brown paper bag before sinking his teeth into his warm, delicious, gooey, chocolate croissant. It was heaven. He closed his eyes to savour that first bite, and took a sip of his coffee, enjoying the chocolatey-coffee-caramel taste sensation in his mouth.
He continued walking down this street, slowing down to look at a couple of building that were under constructions, and a few front gardens he’d never noticed before, and just reveled in being outside in the fresh air. As he finished his croissant, he threw the paper bag into a bin on the corner of the street, and then put his hand back into his pocket and continued walking. Philip felt something and pulled out his hand, holding the business card. He stared at it, sipping his coffee and let his mind wander, trying to remember who this fellow was.
As he glanced over at an old Victorian-style terrace house, with an immaculate front garden, he was stopped in his tracks. It was as though he was experiencing deja vu, but couldn’t quite work out why. He started walking again, puzzled by the sensation in his brain and in his body, and then looked across the road, at another building he didn’t recognise. That’s new… Philip thought to himself, the last time I saw that place, it was just a timber frame… and then he froze. The last time he saw that place, it was a timber frame! And he was with a man… the man from the card. He walked along here the morning after… well… you know.. the night before. They got a coffee and croissant and dawdled back home deep in conversation, and they noted the timber frame.
Philip gasped, ‘OH MY GOD IT WAS ERIC!!’ As soon as he realised, all the pieces immediately fell into place, faster than Philip could comprehend. Before he knew it, he was running down the street towards his front fence, having dropped his coffee unknowingly a couple of blocks away. Visions of him and Eric came flooding back and he was overcome by the whirlwind of emotions racing through his head. Images of him and Eric in bed together, getting coffee together, laughing and smiling, and Philip feeling quite smitten… but most importantly, the note that Eric had hidden.
Bursting through the front door he immediately ran down the hallway to the linen cupboard. Throwing all the towels and sheets into the hallway, he revealed the back of the linen cupboard and the loose wooden panel in the back corner. He jiggled it around frantically, and as it came off he shoved his fingers into the small cavity, furiously feeling around for a small piece of paper.
‘But I’m positive it was here! I KNOW IT WAS HERE!!’ He thrust his fingers back into the hole in the wall and had another feel around, and again found nothing. Not content with this result, he stormed off to get a torch so he could get a closer look. Using the light, he peeked into the dark cavity, ‘A-HA!! I KNEW IT!!’ At the back of the cavity, up against the wall, was a small dust-covered piece of paper. He ran down the hallway to the kitchen, grabbing a long wooden spoon, and then using the handle, dragged the piece of paper out. His heart was racing as he stared at this small folded piece of paper. It’s thin layer of dust rubbing off onto his fingertips as he unfolded it.
Peek-a-Boo, I see you! Call me sometime…
Underneath was a mobile number. The number matched the mobile number on the card. ‘Eric Pearson… you’ve just earned yourself a phone call!’ Phil reached for his phone, dialing with excitement.
‘OH MY GOD, I KNOW WHO THE FLOWERS GUY IS!!’ ‘
SHUT UP!!! TELL ME EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY!!’ squealed Ashley with excitement. ‘Actually, are you home, I’m coming over immediately. I think I need to be sitting down for this. Be there soon.’ Not really wanting to wait a second longer, Philip dialed Eric’s mobile number. The first time it went straight to voicemail, and like a nervous school girl, chickened out as soon as he heard the voicemail message, hanging up his phone and throwing it away from him. ‘What am I doing? What the hell do I say? ‘Oh hey, um, so I found your note after almost tearing my linen cupboard apart?’ Yeah… smooth. Hmmm ‘Hey, so thanks for the flowers?’ No, too casual. ‘Hey, it’s Philip. I got your flowers. Wanna fuck?’ No, I’m not Ashley…’ And before he had worked out what to say, he was holding the phone and pressing redial.
‘Hi, this is Eric.
Like a deer in headlights, Philip completely froze. Unable to talk, he had no idea what to say.
‘Hello? Hello?’ Eric hung up.
‘STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why couldn’t you just say ‘Hello’? You’re an idiot’. Phil took a deep breath and pressed redial again.
‘Hi, this is Eric…’ …and again, Philip had lost the ability to speak. ‘Hello? You know, if you’re going to prank somebody, you probably shouldn’t have your number on display. I have your number now, dumb arse.’
‘WAIT!’, Philip blurted out, ‘I’m sorry, It’s… um… Hi… Eric… I didn’t think I’d… wow… um…. this is really strange… I wasn’t sure… I can’t believe I actually called…’
Eric interrupted, ‘Sorry, who is this?’
‘PHILIP! Sorry, it’s Philip. My name is Philip. And I think you sent me flowers…’ Philip waited for Eric to say something, but all he heard was silence. ‘Hello? Eric?’ Thinking that perhaps the line had dropped out or something, he suddenly felt quite embarrassed and decided to end the call, ‘Or maybe you didn’t and I just look like a tool right now. Sorry to bother you. Bye.’
‘No! Wait!’, Eric called out, ‘Philip… Hi! It’s so good to hear your voice.’ A rush of warmth raced all through Philip’s body, and he felt himself blush. The excitement was overwhelming and he couldn’t believe that this conversation was actually happening. Eric continued, ‘You obviously found the note that we hid all that time ago… I’m glad that you finally called…. really glad, actually.’
‘I… err… I still can’t believe that I’m actually talking to you… I don’t even know why I feel so giddy… I’ve seen you naked, right, I should be able to talk to you… I feel like such a school-girl right now…’ Eric laughed on the other end of the phone, ‘…I did get your flowers. And your voicemail, actually, your kinda creepy voicemail, but truth is, it’s all I’ve been able to think about the last couple of days.’
‘Ahhh, so you HAVE been thinking about me. Well, that’s nice… I’ve been thinking about you too.’
Eric and Philip continued their conversation for a few minutes until there was a knock at the door. Still talking to Eric, Philip opened the door to reveal a very excited Ashley jumping up and down on the front porch. Philip placed a finger on his lips, suggesting to her to be quiet and pointed to the phone with a grin on his face. Ashley knew he was talking to the guy, and raced past him, down the hallway and into the kitchen. Philip closed the door, and slowly walked down the hallway to see Ashley standing there with the Vodka bottle in one hand and the coffee jar in the other. Raising each hand at a time, she waited for Philip to choose what to drink… he pointed to the vodka, and Ashley, put the coffee back on the shelf and got two shot glasses down.
‘I hate to be rude, but as much as I’d love to continue this conversation I have to go… yeah… Yeah…. That would be great… Yeah, sure. Well I have your number now… I’ll maybe give you a buzz a bit later on, he said looking at Ashley, winking, and we’ll work something out from there…. Yeah, cool! Great!…. So am I… Definitely… So pleased. Can’t wait…. See ya tomorrow!’ As soon as Philip lowered the phone, Ashley squealed and ran over to Philip and they both jumped up and down on the spot with happiness.
‘OH. MY. GOD!! TELL ME EVERYTHING!!’ Ashley said, handing Philip a shot glass. He tilted his head back and swallowed the Vodka. ‘I might need another one or two of those to calm myself down first’, Philip spluttered, walking back to the bench to pour another shot. ‘SALUT!’ He swallowed the second shot, and shook his head, before Ashley grabbed a container full of crackers and a half-eaten wheel of brie and a cheese knife and plated it all up, bringing it over to the coffee table.
‘So… oh my fucking god, you called him! I can’t believe you called him! Was he excited? Were you excited? Oh my god were you nervous? Tell me everything…. GO!’ Philip sat there telling Ashley in absolute detail everything that had transpired throughout the course of the day. He told her about the business cards, and going for coffee, and the house on the street, and the linen cupboard and then the entire conversation on the telephone, ‘and now he wants to meet up for coffee. But he wants to come to my coffee shop because he wants the coffee that they make for me. Ashley gasped, with the caramel? With the caramel! Ash… I don’t know what to do?!’
‘Ahhh… you fucking go for coffee, that’s what you do! This guy almost made you have a fucking nervous breakdown in your subconscious, you NEED to see him again!’ Philip couldn’t get the grin off his face. His phone silently vibrated in his lap. He glanced at it and smiled even more. ‘Hold on… text… ‘dot dot dot so glad you called. smiley face”. Philip looked up at Ashley, who was grinning from ear to ear. She leant over and gave Philip a great big hug.
‘Ohhh Flip… this is awesome. I’m so excited for you. Just promise me that I get to be in the wedding. I can be the best man-woman or something.’
‘Ahhh, how bout you just calm down and stop getting too ahead of yourself. How about I just meet him first.’
‘First? You’ve already fucked this guy, what are you talking about? This is some kind of universal signal fate shit! You and he…’
Philip interrupted, ‘he and I are only meeting each other, because he actually orchestrated this whole thing like some kind of wild goose chase… which, if you think about it, is actually kinda disturbing and somewhat messed up. Hmmm… maybe I shouldn’t meet him.’
‘I swear to god, I will cut you. Seriously, I will take that knife and jam it right in your leg. You are going on this date! Phil, you haven’t stopped obsessing about this guy. Yes, if you step back, okay, his methods are a bit twisted, but then you’re obsessing over it is just as bad, and says a lot about you as well. You need to just go on this date. DAMN IT, I WANT A WEDDING!!’, Ashley laughed as she crouched a couple of crackers.
‘Well, it’s not until tomorrow, so there’s time to pull out if I need to.’
‘Need to? NEED TO? I swear to God, Philip, if you don’t go on this date…’
‘Jesus, alright, alright, I’m kidding, of course I’m going on this date! I’m going to need you to help me pick an outfit to wear.’
‘Ahhhh, OKAY!!’, Ashley replied, with excitement in her voice. ‘Why don’t we just do it right now, because I can’t get here in time tomorrow to help you out, so we really should just do this now, so that I at least know you’re going to look okay for your hot date.’
Philip stood up, and taking Ashley’s hand, led her down the hallway to the bedroom. As he opened the doors to one of his main wardrobes, the mirrored doors slid open revealing a giant wardrobe full of all types of shirts, suits and ties.
Over the next couple of hours, and three or four bottles of wine, Philip had tried on countless combinations of clothes, and had all but emptied the contents of both of his wardrobes, covering not only the bed, but almost the entire floor of his room. Finally, standing in front of the mirror doing up his shirt, he had decided on the perfect outfit for his big date with Eric.
Philip turned away from the mirror to give Ashley a look. ‘Oh honey, you look so dreamy. If I were a gay man, I’d just wanna skip dinner and take you home and do bad things to you all night!’ Philip laughed as he turned back to the mirror, and then changed into a pair of track pants and a zip-up hoodie. He carefully hung up his clothes, and placed them in the ensuite. Standing in the doorway, he looked over at Ashley sitting on the bed, glass of red wine in her hand, and completely surrounded by mountains of clothes. ‘I can’t even begin to deal with this mess right now. I need to get myself to bed. What about you? You staying?’
Ashley looked and Philip. Then back to her glass of wine, and then back to Philip. ‘Actually, who are we kidding. You’re not going anywhere. You won’t be able to drive. I guess you’ll just have to stay here instead.’
Philip glanced at his watch, ‘Shit! It’s two-thirty already! I’m thinking it’s probably bed time for both of us. Although I don’t know what you’re gonna do about work clothes… you’ll have to go home before work to get ready… or just rock up at, like, ten or something. Actually, now that I think about, you really should just keep an overnight bag here. Something to sleep in, and something to wear to work-slash-go out in. It would solve EVERYTHING!’
Philip disappeared into the ensuite to brush his teeth, and walked back into the bedroom, to find Ashley in the middle of taking her clothes off. Having a little too much to drink, she was barely maintaining her balance, and fell on the bed giggling to herself, with her pants around her ankles. Philip walked around the bed, and helped her take her jeans off, and roller her over to help her take off her top.
‘Normally I’d say you’d need to buy me a drink before you get to take my pants off, but you’ve already given me a lot of wine’, Ashley mumbled, half asleep. ‘And now you’re takin’ my clothes off… tonight’s gonna be your lucky night, mister man.’ Ashley let out a small giggle before falling back onto the mattress. Philip grimaced at the thought, and pulled an old t-shirt over her arms and head. He picked her up, and placed her under the doona.
The following morning Philip was woken by his alarm. He rolled over to notice the bed was empty. He sat up slightly and looked around the room. No sign of Ashley, ‘Hmmm, she must have gone early, poor thing’. Philip got up and staggered down the hallway. His head was pounding, and he felt like shit. ‘Coffee. I need coffee.’ He poured a glass of water, and made himself a coffee. He went to sit on the couch to watch the morning news, and sprawled out, in her underwear, half wrapped in a throw rug, was Ashley. Philip ran back to his bedroom to grab his phone, ignoring the text notifications waiting for him.
He ran back down the hallway to the loungeroom, and snapped a photo of Ashley, then covered her up in the blanket. As the kettle finished boiling, she let out a groan, and rolled around on the couch. Moments later, Philip was standing over her holding a giant coffee.
‘Morning sunshine! You know, we’ve really gotta stop meeting like this.’ Philip laughed. Ashley propped herself up, her hair all messy and matted. ‘Fuck…. what’s the time? I’m soooo late… but I’m soooo hungover. Fuuuuck, how much did we drink last night?’ Philip presented her with another giant mug of coffee. ‘Oh my god, it’s ridiculous how much you complete me. You’re the perfect fake-husband. Thank you darling!’
Philip sat down on the couch to watch the news, and during the commercial-break he checked his phone. There were the standard Monday-morning messages of who was running late, and somebody was doing the office coffee-run, and somebody needed something for a presentation at midday, and then there was another one which caused him to grin like a kid at Christmas,
Sorry if I woke you. Couldn’t sleep. Feeling too excited about seeing you tonight.
Without saying a word, Philip shoved the phone in front of Ashley’s face. As she read the text she let out a small ‘nawww, that’s so cute… you’re both sickening’, and went back to her coffee and morning news.
They finished their coffee’s and as Phil continued to get ready for work, he noticed Ashley’s lack of movement from the couch. ‘Hon… are you going to work today?’
‘No… I really don’t think I can do the outside today… if it’s okay with you, I might just stay here and sleep for a little bit more. Today… I think… is a write-off.’
‘I’ll leave you something to change into later that you can wear home. Mi Casa Su Casa and all that jazz’, Philip called down the hallway. As he slung his satchel bag around his shoulder, he walked back down to kiss Ashley on the forehead. ‘Goodbye dear. Have a nice day dear. Daddy’s gotta go to work and make some money’. Ashley rolled over with a smile on her face, ‘Oh yes dear, that would sure be swell, dear. I’ll make sure that I go and spend your money and get my hair done with the ladies at the parlour, and then come home and clean everything and cook you a nice big roast, after your grueling day of drinking coffee, checking your email and cruising Grindr all day’, and batted her eyelids at him. ‘Well, actually, maybe not that last bit. How could I forget that my husband has his big date tonight with another man… I’m such a proud housewife’. They both laughed.
Philip was distracted all day. All he could think about was his date tonight with Eric. What will he wear? I wonder where we’ll end up going for dinner… I hope Ashley’s not home in case we end up at my place… or am I being presumptuous? Do I even want to…? What if he wants to? Would it be wrong if we did? I mean, it’s kind of a date, but I’ve fucked him before, do I still have to be all prim ‘n proper?
As the minutes ticked by, he still couldn’t focus. He got more and more anxious as the day continued, and then as it got closer to 4:30pm, he started getting the usual nervous twitch in his foot. Almost like he wasn’t able to sit still, he ended up pacing up and down his office, waiting for that clock to strike 5pm. After what felt like hours, he glanced at his watch. 4:43pm. ‘OH COME ON!!’ The suspense was far too great, and as he peeked out of his office, he checked to see if anybody was around, and snuck out the door, before making a run for the elevator.
Running past reception, he sprinted to the elevator and pressed the button, before letting out a giant groan. Not content with waiting any longer for an elevator, he kicked open the door to the stairwell, and raced down seventeen flights of stairs. He emerged from the stairwell in the lobby of the building drenched in sweat. His tie had been loosened, and he was looking somewhat pale. The stair door swung open in a flurry and the other people in the lobby all paused to see what the commotion was. The security guards anxiously stood up from their desk, fingers resting on their holsters as a precaution.
Philip stumbled a few steps as he tried to find his feet, holding his arm up to the security guards, ‘I’M OKAY, I’M OKAY!!‘ and pretended to stop the stopwatch on his watch, ‘TWO MINS FORTY SIX… it’s a new record people, WOO!!‘ and ran through the revolving doors of the front entrance.
He stepped off the bus a block away from his house, and ran to his front door. As he burst through the door, he began to strip in the hallway, completely forgetting to close the door behind him. A lady walking past wolf-whistled at him, and he looked up to see her standing by the front gate, eyes wide open, and realised he was just standing there in his business socks and a pair of, now, quite sweaty jocks. The lady winked and smiled, and Philip let out a small shriek of horror and embarrassment as he dove for the door.
He tuned on the shower, and squealed at how cold it was. He knew he had to have a cold shower to calm himself down and allow himself to refocus on the night ahead of him. But his mind quickly turned to thoughts of the events that might take place after dinner, and even amongst the freezing cold water blasting him, he could feel himself getting aroused. ‘NO! NO NO NO!! DON’T YOU DARE START THIS NOW!! THERE’S NO TIME!! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN‘ Philip shouted at his groin. Trying to distract his mind, he started thinking about the night, analysing every minute detail… of the date that hadn’t even begun yet.
He hopped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around him and wandered down to the kitchen. He poured himself a shot of Vodka, and turned on the afternoon news. He stood there momentarily watching a report about a building that caught fire earlier today in the next suburb and walked back to his bedroom. Seeing his clothes neatly folded and on hangers on the handle of the bedroom, he stood there shaking his head at the piles of clothes that still completely covered the floor. ‘What the hell did we do last night?‘
He began to pick up the clothes and start putting all his shirts back on hangers and placing them in the wardrobe. His phone buzzed, another text,
Hey bitch, my head feels like it’s gonna explode. I’ve taken enough Advil to bring down a horse. Have fun tonight, and be safe. Love, wifey. xxx
Philip smiled and threw his phone on the bed. As he continued to re-hang his clothes and tidy his room, somewhat, he realised that there was a possibility that he and Eric could end up here, and he realised that there was still a lot of work to be done – the loungeroom was still a mess, the bedroom was still a mess, the bedding needed to be changed, the mirrors needed to be wiped down, the floors needed vacuuming, and he only had forty-five minutes before he had to leave to meet Eric for their date. ‘Maybe this is the sign, maybe if anything happens, we can go back to his place, because this place looks like a bomb exploded?’
As the time counted down, he got himself ready, spending even more time than usual in front of the mirror making sure that every hair was in place, and every single inch of his face was at it’s absolute prettiest. He sprayed himself with some cologne, and grabbed his wallet, phone and keys and headed to the waiting taxi out front.
The entire ride into the city, he couldn’t stop fidgeting. He couldn’t stop staring at his phone, anticipating a text to arrive from Eric. Soon enough the taxi arrived at the destination. Philip paid the taxi fare and stepped out into the fresh evening air. He took a moment to look around and see if he could see anybody familiar, and didn’t see anyone. Maybe I’m actually early?, he pondered. Philip’s phone began to ring, it was Eric, ‘Hello?… Hello?? Eric?… Helloooo?‘, and the call disconnected. Just as he looked down to re-dial, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Philip spun around to see who it was, and there, standing before him, was Eric.
The most noticeable feature was his height. Philip knew he was tall, but Eric was taller. He had broad shoulders and chiseled features and he filled his suit impeccably. His hair was combed with a side part, and caught the lights from the city, and his big blue eyes almost seemed iridescent. He had a bit of stubble on his ridiculously square jaw, and when he smiled, albeit shyly, Philip got a glimpse of some perfectly white teeth. This man was almost too good looking, and now Philip remembered why he hadn’t pursued anything with him previously – Philip didn’t like being ‘out-prettied’ by his male companions. He always liked knowing that he was the better looking one; the more attractive one. It was quite narcissistic of him, but it fueled his ego and his self-esteem, but all of that went out the window when he saw Eric again. He began to feel so incredibly self conscious about having not hit the gym for the past week, compared to Eric, who’s physique, although hidden under clothing, would make anybody think he was at the gym every single day.
There was an awkward moment of hug-no-hug-kiss-no-kiss-shake-hands-or-not-perhaps-an-awkward-arm-slash-shoulder-pat-instead, and they both took a step back laughing at how uncomfortable it had just gotten. Philip outstretched his hand, prompting Eric to shake it, and Eric took a step forward, forcefully grabbing Philips hand and squeezing it, ‘Hi, I’m Philip’.
‘Hi. I’m Eric‘.
‘It’s great to finally meet you… again‘, Philip smiled.
‘No, the pleasure is all mine…. again’, Eric replied with a wink.
They both let out a laugh, and Philip couldn’t help but notice his hand looking miniaturised by Eric’s, and instantly his mind began to wander. Eric, placed his arm around Philip’s shoulder, ‘How’s about we go get some food. I dunno ’bout you, but I’m starving’, and the two of them set off into the city on their date.