I met Blue when I was sitting on a bench in front of some disreputable high-rise flats. It was about midnight. The fact that I wasn’t wearing anything on my feet probably didn’t make the flats seem any more respectable to passersby. Those flats featured in many local legends. Judging by the tales that were told by locals, many occupants of the flats pioneered new depths of depravity. Those tales weren’t all merely conjecture: many of them were discharged by unbalanced drug addicts, or by disturbed social workers. The infamy of the flats meant that school children would dare each other to try to get into them. The irony was that a few of them would end up living there themselves.

My girlfriend, Cherise, lived in a block of flats about a mile away from the aforementioned flats. On the night that I met Blue, she threw me out of her flat at about 11PM. I’d been sleeping soundly next to her before she started wildly hitting me with a pillow. It was terrifying. At first, there seemed to be no logical reason for her to be so upset with me. Once I’d gathered my bearings, I asked her what was wrong. She started sobbing, then she said, “I can’t believe you’d say those things to me.” She wouldn’t tell me what those things were. Instead, she grabbed a high-heeled shoe from under her bed, hit me with it several times, and basically chased me out of her apartment. I was wearing nothing except for bright red boxer shorts. A minute after she’d shut the door behind me, she mercifully threw my jeans and my shirt to me. I begged her for my socks and my trainers, but she wasn’t that merciful.

As I wandered through the city, I wondered what I’d said in my sleep that had upset Cherise so much. There were a number of subjects that were particularly difficult for Cherise. She hadn’t had an easy life. A man had forced himself onto Cherise at the place where she’d worked, which was called the Blue Dolphin, six months prior to the night that she kicked me out. I don’t know the exact details of what happened; she never told me that much about it. Every time I tried to bring it up, she’d become deeply upset, so I tried to let the whole thing go.

There was no way that I could know exactly what I’d said to upset Cherise, but I did recall what dream I’d been having just before she woke me. Cherise and I were at a marketplace that sold incredibly large Easter eggs. When I first bought one, Cherise dropped it as I was handing it over to her. From then on, every time either one of us tried to buy another egg, it was sold to us with a large piece missing. I became frustrated with the state of things, so I started violently shouting at anyone who happened to be nearby. It seemed to go on for a long time; my power to tear into people was limitless.

I’d been walking for about half an hour, thinking things over, when I decided to sit down on a bench. After having been sat there for about fifteen minutes, I heard a door slam behind me, then moments later, Blue came and sat down next to me. He appeared just as I realised that I wanted to interact with somebody. He looked at me with his dark, beady eyes. The brown stubble on his head was only slightly longer than the stubble on his face. A large, flat nose dominated his features.

“Have you got a fag that I can have?” Blue asked.

“I left mine at my girlfriend’s. Sorry.”

“What’s your name?”


“Pez? What sort of a name’s that? Do you dispense sweets?”

“It’s short for Peregrine.”

“Peregrine? That’s even worse, isn’t it? I’m only joking. Don’t look so hurt. My name’s Blue. I’ve heard plenty of jokes about my name, Pez. You get used to it.”

“What are you doing out at this time?”

“I need a few things. There’s a late-night shop not far from here. Do you fancy coming with me?”

“I don’t know.”

“You said yourself that you need some fags. I don’t bite.”

“Okay. Sure. Let’s go.”

“That’s the spirit, Pez.”


There was a little old man working behind the counter in the shop that we went to. I realised straight away that he resembled a tortoise. It was so glaringly obvious that I wondered whether or not it was intentional. He was completely bald and covered in wrinkles. He wore a green suit and circular glasses. His movements were painfully slow. I was surprised that he was in charge of a shop so late at night. He must have been tired. I was, never mind him. Besides, late night shifts can be dangerous for one reason or another.

Blue headed towards the fridges, which were at the back of the shop, whilst I stood by the entrance. I used that time to inspect the old man, who made an inspection of me in turn. He seemed to be rather unsettled by me. Eventually, Blue returned with a large bottle of beer, then he went to the counter. I hadn’t been under the impression that Blue knew the old man until they met at the counter.

“Good morning, Art. How’s the wife? Can I have twenty Silk Cuts?”

“The wife’s a nightmare, as usual,” Art replied as he slowly went to get some cigarettes from the rack behind him.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“So am I.”

“Tell me that you love her anyway.”

“I try my best. Somebody has to. That’ll be eight pounds, please, Blue.” Art shook as he put the cigarettes down on the counter.

Blue put eight pounds on the counter, then he said, “I’ll see you soon, Art.”

“I’ll bet you will. Bye, Blue.”

Blue turned to me and asked, “Haven’t you got yours yet?”

I approached the counter, wondering why I hadn’t done so already.

“Just twenty Silk Cuts, please.”

“Is that everything?”

“Yes, please.”

“Are you not going to have a beer with your friend?”

“No, thanks. Just the Silk Cuts.”

“Okay. That’ll be eight pounds.”

I paid eight pounds for the same cigarettes that Blue had bought; Blue had paid eight pounds for his cigarettes and a beer. I didn’t complain, though. It seemed as though Art knew Blue quite well, and I certainly didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Blue.

Outside, as Blue and I unwrapped our cigarettes, I asked Blue, “Does Art own that shop?”

“I doubt an old guy like that would work there if there wasn’t some good money in it. Do you have a lighter?”



I walked slightly behind Blue, to the right of him. As he walked, he swung his muscular arms like meaty pendulums. In his left hand there was a lit cigarette; he raised that to his mouth occasionally. He blew smoke out forcefully, which made me think of him as a dragon: a blue dragon. He held his large bottle of beer in his right hand; he was getting through it surprisingly quickly. Next to Blue, I looked delicate, even though I wasn’t particularly.

“I suppose I’d better head home then,” I said.

“I don’t think so. Who else is going to come for a drink with me?”

“I’m not really in the mood.”

“That’s what drinks are for, Pez.”

“All of the bars will be busy at this time.”

“I know a private place where we can have a quiet drink.”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s a members-only club. It’s perfect. You can’t say no.”


The place that Blue took us to looked like a bed and breakfast. A small sign showed that it was called the Scarlet Ibis. It was a red brick townhouse with a bright red door. I’d heard of it because the man who owned it, Bill, also owned Cherise’s former place of work, the Blue Dolphin. When Blue and I reached the Scarlet Ibis’s door, Blue pressed a button on an intercom. A sultry female voice came out of the speaker.

“Good morning, Blue. What brings you here?”

“I’m sure you know what brings me here.”

“Who’s your friend? You know this is a place for members only.”

“There’s no need to be like that.”

The woman hung up.

“They’re not keen on seeing me, but let’s see if they will,” Blue boasted.

After a few minutes, a middle-aged woman opened the front door. She had a blonde bob; she was heavily made up. She smoked using a long cigarette holder.

“What’s your friend’s name?” the woman asked Blue.


“Tell him I’m Dora. Tell him to have some shoes on if he comes here again.”

Blue and I followed Dora inside. On our immediate left, a spiral staircase descended. There was a hallway directly in front of us, at the end of which there was a red door. There was another red door on our immediate right. Dora said, “You know where to go, Blue. I’ll take care of your friend.” Blue descended the spiral staircase without a second thought.

Once Blue had gone, Dora opened the door to the right of us and told me to follow her. Inside, there was nothing but a desk, a few chairs, and a clock on the wall. On the desk, there was a laptop, a few piles of paper, and several pens. Dora ordered me to sit down and to fill out a form. Once she’d done that, she headed towards a door at the back of the room. Just before she left the room, she told me that she’d come and get me in a few minutes.

Fifteen minutes passed before she reappeared.

“I trust that you’ve filled in your form. Now follow me.”

I followed her to the top of the stairs that Blue had descended earlier. Before we started down them, Dora turned to me abruptly.

“There are two gentlemen downstairs who aren’t going to be too happy about you being here. I suggest that you buy them each a large brandy.”

“If you think I ought to buy them each a large brandy, then I will.”

At the bottom of the stairs, there was a small room which had crimson walls. Directly across from the bottom of the stairs, there was a small bar. Behind the bar, there was a young, pretty, redheaded barmaid, who looked rather gloomy. To the right of the bar, there was a red door. To the right of the door, there was a large television mounted on the wall. Across from the television, there was a three-seater sofa, on which there were two men in red silk dressing gowns; they were sipping from brandy snifters. Both of these men looked like they were in their fifties, if not their sixties. The man nearest to me acknowledged me with a nod. The other man didn’t acknowledge me at all; he went on watching the television.

“I’m going to check that everything’s okay. Remember what I told you,” Dora said to me. Then she went through the door next to the bar.

I ordered three large brandies from the woman behind the bar. She went about making the drinks, taking my money, and giving me some change without even looking at me, and without even speaking to me. I wondered what I’d done to warrant such indifference.

With a brandy in each hand, I went over to the two men.

“These are for you. Sorry about all this,” I said awkwardly, holding out two brandies.

They each took a brandy and thanked me, but not without giving me puzzled looks. Perhaps my tokens of attrition hadn’t been necessary.

I went back over to the bar and took up my brandy. I felt out of place, so I turned my back to the bar and leant against it so that I was facing the foot of the stairwell. It was only then that I started to think about poor Cherise. Some people get such a smooth ride in life, yet they complain about every slight bump in the road. Cherise’s life had been full of potholes. The saddest thing about it all was that she couldn’t accept that the road and the vehicle are two separate things; she didn’t know that the potholes weren’t a part of her, and she probably never would.

As I was thinking about Cherise, Blue came into the room. His amused, friendly face had disappeared. In its place, there was a scowl. He moved with a threatening swagger.

“Get me a large whiskey. No, get me two,” Blue said to the barmaid sharply.

“Is everything okay?” I asked him.

“Not exactly, Pez. It’s a long story.”

“I won’t ask.”

“After we’ve had these, we’ll go somewhere else.”

I didn’t really want to go anywhere else, but I certainly didn’t want to upset Blue at that moment. The barmaid put our drinks down. When she asked Blue for payment, he reacted angrily: “You can tell Bill that he owes me!” I felt quite sorry for the barmaid; she didn’t know what to do. Blue and I sunk our drinks. As we did, Dora came out of the door by the bar. Her manner had changed dramatically. The confident woman who’d bossed me about earlier suddenly looked nervous. Blue slammed his empty glass down on the bar, gave Dora a piercing look, then turned and stormed towards the stairs.


I followed Blue to where the bars and the clubs of the town were concentrated. Blue hardly spoke. He just played with his phone. Many of the bars and the clubs were shut, or they were shutting. When we came near to Saint Pablo’s, a bar which I knew would be open, I suggested for us to go in there. Blue looked up at me briefly to tell me that we were going to the Black Pearl. I agreed to it, but I didn’t like the Black Pearl. Apart from the fact that it was almost always filthy, it was also notorious for being the city’s nighttime home of violence. Not that I didn’t go there occasionally.

Inside the Black Pearl, there must have been no more than ten people. The music that was playing was about two decades old. Most of the people who were in there were four or five decades old. At the bar, Blue immediately got served by a sleep-deprived teenager. Blue ordered two bottles of lager and two whiskeys. I didn’t actually want to drink; I was feeling tired, and drinking alcohol wouldn’t make me feel more alert. However, when Blue handed me a bottle of lager and a whiskey, I felt as though I couldn’t refuse them. We sunk the whiskeys. Straight after that, Blue ordered more whiskey for the both of us. We sunk those as well.

We went and sat down at a booth in the corner of the bar. Blue carried on messing about with his phone. Occasionally, he would look up and scrutinise other people in the bar. When I tried to talk to him, he’d only reply with one- or two-word answers. I decided that he must have become bored with me. I sat feeling bored for what felt like forever. I felt myself nodding off. I fought hard to stay awake, but it wasn’t enough: I drifted off.


Blue was standing in the entrance to the men’s toilets. A man came out of a toilet cubicle, then he went to wash his hands. This man was slightly shorter than Blue. He was broader than Blue, but only because he was overweight. He had medium-length brown hair, a long goatee, and a large tattoo of a rattlesnake on his right arm, amongst other smaller tattoos. As this man washed his hands, he finally acknowledged Blue, who’d been watching him carefully.

“Can I help you?” the man asked.

“I don’t know.”


“Can you tell me why you like forcing yourself onto people?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Would you like it if I forced myself onto you?”

“You’re picking on the wrong person,” the man growled.

“I think you’ll find that it’s you who’s picked on the wrong person.”

Blue stormed towards the man with all the aggression of a soldier.


Blue dragged me out of my sleep, then he forced me to leave the Black Pearl in a hurry. Once we got outside, I turned back to see whether or not the doormen were suspicious of our behaviour, but they were nowhere to be seen. When I turned back to Blue, he was already in the distance, running away like a slick professional. I didn’t shout out to him. I was quite glad to be free of Blue, and I was glad that I’d soon be free of the tumultuous night that he’d been at the heart of. I resolved to go back to Cherise’s flat; I looked forward to seeing her again. I started to wonder how on Earth I’d beg for her forgiveness.