“Give me a drink”, Lisa giggled, waving her empty glass in the air.
Daniel laughed and leaned forward with the bottle of vodka and tried to pour some into the glass that was weaving above the coffee table between them.
“Hold still dammit!” complained Daniel trying to match the motions of the glass.
The pair were well on their way to being rat-arsed. They weren’t the only ones mind you. Micky was almost comatose in the corner, Julia was sat on the floor leaning back against the sofa, squinting blearily around. Becky and Richard were entwined in an armchair sucking face, oblivious to the rest of us. I was sat at the dining table watching the antics of the others a little sourly, while I nursed a coffee. As the designated driver I was the only one anything like sober.
Daniel grasped Lisa’s hand and glass in order to keep it as steady, managing to mainly pour vodka into the glass. Some splashed onto her wrist then onto the coffee table but neither of them seemed too bothered. Lisa switched the glass to her other hand and licked her wrist, her eyes fixed on Daniel who leered at her drunkenly, put the bottle down on the table and fell back on the sofa.
Fran sat next to him shifted a little uncomfortably. She hadn’t drunk much either during the evening, a couple of glasses of white wine was all and she had been nursing her glass of vodka for the past hour or so, raising it but doing nothing more than wetting her lips with the contents. I wasn’t sure if she didn’t like vodka or didn’t want to be drunk.
She caught me watching and gave a little shrug, smiled and wet her lips again. The others were too far gone to realise she wasn’t really drinking. I returned the smile, shaking my head and her mouth creased at the corners as she held the glass in front of her mouth.
We’d met at seven inside the Red Lion in the High Street and a couple of hours later moved on to the Bakers’ Arms before coming here with beer and vodka to the two up, two down house on the outskirts of town that Micky and Daniel rented. I was just thankful I had not been stopped by the police on the way here. I would have passed the breathalyser but they would certainly have done me for overcrowding my Peugeot 205 hatchback.
I was sipping my coffee, black, strong, still hot, considering heading home, wondering if I could get the others to leave, when Julia announced she was bored.
“God, you lot, it’s Saturday night! We’re sitting here like a bunch of wazzocks,” she said, blinking, owlishly.
“What do you want to do then? At this time of night?” asked Fran reasonably.
I glanced at my watch, it was half past eleven. I wondered if the chippy on Market Square was still open. I could murder a bag of chips soaked in vinegar with plenty of salt. Better still eating them at home slapped between slices of bread and butter.
“I dunno,” said Julia petulantly. “We should be doing something, shouldn’t we?”
Becky and Richard came up for air and stared at Julia slouched on the floor.
“Like what?” asked Richard slowly.
Julia opened her mouth then closed it. You could almost see the gears in her head turning. Ponderously from her expression, I thought unkindly. Fran looked across at me raising an eyebrow and it was my turn to shrug.
Julia’s thought processes finish slowly grinding and was gleeful as she announced their result.
“Truth or Dare,” she slurred. “We’re playing Truth or Dare.”
Everyone stared at her silently except Becky.
“Yes! Brilliant idea!”
Fran looked down at her glass shaking her head; she was clearly not keen on the idea.
“Right…” said Richard slowly. “Right… really? Is that a good idea Becks?”
“Course it is! Don’t be a downer, it’ll be fun.”
Daniel started clearing a space on the coffee table, grinning as he looked around. His eyes were bleary and getting bloodshot and there was a definite tremor in his hands as he took empty beer bottles, crisp packets and glasses off the table and put them under it. He laid one bottle down on the table and gave it a test spin. A few drops of beer flew out as it spun coming to a stop with its neck pointing at Julia.
“Hey not fair!” she said squinting at the bottle. “We haven’t agreed the rules yet. Come on you lot gather round.”
“Not me,” said Fran getting up from the sofa.
Julia pouted and narrowed her eyes, but even in her current state of inebriation she knew better than to try and persuade Fran to join in. Becky got off of Richard’s lap and perched on the arm of the chair. Micky had slumped down onto the floor cradling a now empty bottle of beer and was snoring gently. Fran sat down at the table next to me as Daniel helped Julia up onto the sofa, the pair of them giggling inanely at the effort needed.
Lisa sat across from them scowling a little, mainly at Julia. It was no real secret that she fancied Daniel and was jealous of Julia’s closeness to him.
“Rules,” said Julia. “You all know them, the bottle spins and selects the person and they have the choice of telling the truth or taking a dare.”
“Or lying,” said Richard with a grin.
Julia glared at him and he put up his hands in surrender. “Just saying,” he said.
“Hey you two come over here and join in,” said Becky to Fran and me.
“No you go ahead and have fun,” I said. “I’m fine here thanks.”
“Me too,” said Fran.
Becky shook her head and turned her attention back to the coffee table where Daniel had set the bottle spinning. At first it was a blur as it spun but it quickly lost impetus, finally coming to a stop pointing at Becky.
“Truth or Dare!” crowed Julia.
Becky hesitated only slightly before saying. “Truth.”
“When did you last have sex outside?” asked Julia straight faced.
“Hey! None of your business,” said Richard.
“Wasn’t asking you?” replied Julia.
Becky glared at Julia, then looked down at Richard who grimaced as he shook his head.
“Does the car count as outside?” she asked slowly.
Daniel guffawed as Richard shook his head and I saw Fran smile.
“Hmm, I suppose so,” said Julia. “Wow! Were you out at the Abbey dogging?”
“No we were not!” Richard was indignant.
“We were at the common if you must know,” Becky was sheepish. “Last Thursday night.”
“Wasn’t it raining that night?” asked Lisa.
“That’s why we were in the car,” said Becky simply and there was laughter.
Julia leant forward still chuckling and span the bottle and it turned half a dozen times before pointing at Daniel.
“Crap,” he muttered.
“Truth or Dare?” demanded Julia.
“Truth,” Daniel said reluctantly.
“What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done?” Julia asked.
Daniel scowled at her before looking over at me.
“Do you remember when we last went camping in Devon,” he asked me.
I nodded and Richard added his agreement. The three of us had camped on a site on the South Devon coast for a week a few summers back and had a great time.
“We’d been drinking in the bar for a couple of hours, when I needed to go. If you remember you had to go out of the bar and the toilets were along the side of the building.”
“That’s right, a pain if it was raining,” said Richard.
“Well that night there wasn’t anyone waiting outside and I wandered into the toilets and was really confused when I didn’t see any urinals. I was too drunk to make sense of it so went into a cubicle, peed and wandered back out again. This time there were some women waiting outside for a cubicle or a friend and I got some very strange looks. That was when I realised I’d wandered into the ladies and not the gents.”
“What did you do?” asked Julia laughing.
“Flashed them the pearly whites and went back to the bar and another pint.” said Daniel laughing.
There was laughter from everyone as they visualised the scene. Everyone except Lisa who had gone pale as she listened to Daniel and I could see her hands were trembling where she gripped her glass with white knuckles. I caught Fran’s eye and nodded towards Lisa and Fran turned towards her.
“What’s wrong Lisa?” she said loud enough to be heard over the laughter which tailed off as the others heard.
“N’n’nothing,” stammered Lisa not lifting her gaze from her glass and tears began to slide down her cheeks.
Fran looked at me and shook her head then got up and went and sat by Lisa. She rubbed Lisa’s back and spoke quietly to her then gave her a handkerchief while the rest of us watched in silence.
After a few minutes Lisa nodded her head said something to Fran then took a deep breath, wiped her eyes and held her glass out towards Daniel.
“Pour her some vodka Daniel,” Fran said. “Then Lisa is going to tell us what has upset her.”
Daniel complied and his hand was much steadier than before as he nearly filled Lisa’s glass. Lisa used both hands to raise the glass to her mouth and took a large swallow, wincing as the clear spirit seared her throat. She put the glass down and twisting the handkerchief in her hands leant forward. She glanced at Fran who nodded and smiled encouragingly.
“About four months ago,” she spoke hesitantly at first. “We had all been out for the evening as usual. I was the driver for the night,” she looked over at me and smiled wanly, I just nodded back.
“I’d dropped all of you off and was headed home when I really, really had to pee,” she said wringing her hands. “I wasn’t going to squat at the side of the road, thank you very much, but I wish I had…” she was quiet for a moment then continued.
“I was close to the common so decided to see if the toilets by the old tearoom were open. They are supposed to close at eight o’clock, but sometimes the guy with the keys can’t be bothered. That was the case that night and the lights were still on. Not the ones inside, but the ones outside, they must be on a different timer. Anyway there was enough light inside to see what you were doing,” she laughed shakily.
“Especially if you are desperate!” She was quite for a moment gathering her thoughts.
“I parked in front of the tea rooms, which were locked up and dark, locked the car and sort of… well you know what it’s like when you trying not to pee yourself,” she said looking at Fran, then Becky and Julia and they all nodded and smiled.
“Inside there was enough light to see the cubicles and for some reason I went to the far end where they were along the back wall as well. I went into the corner one because it was the biggest and managed to get my jeans undone and sit just in time,” she laughed again. “I didn’t think I was ever going to stop!” she confessed.
“I did the usual and was snapping my button when I heard them come in,” she paused in her narration and picking up her glass took another large swallow nearly emptying it. Daniel looked at Fran who nodded. He leant forward and topped up Lisa’s glass. She smiled briefly in thanks and returned to her story.
“I couldn’t hear what they were saying; just their laughter, then I heard the door of the first cubicle slam open. It made me jump. Then another door slammed open and one of them swore. I couldn’t move, I was petrified, I just stood there looking at the door waiting for it to open,” she drank another mouthful of vodka.
“Then they spoke loudly enough for me to hear them clearly.”
‘“We know you’re in here bitch! Come on out and it will be better for you.’”
“The next door slammed against the cubicle wall and I looked around for a way out, only there wasn’t one. The windows were small and high. They’d hear me if I tried to open one or unlock the door to the cubicle and they were between me and the exit. There were at least two of them that I could hear and I could guess what would happen when they found me,” she visibly shuddered at the memory.
“I didn’t know if they’d seen me come in and knew I was in there or if they were just… I was so scared.” her voice had dropped to a whisper. “I was frozen in place, like when we see a rabbit in the car lights and when the next cubicle door slammed open and I almost screamed. I looked around the cubicle as their voices got closer and as the door of the one next to me slammed against the side of the cubicle, I just… somehow dropped down and squeezed under the partition to the next cubicle, sat on the toilet seat and pulled by feet up, waiting to be found. Sitting there trembling trying not to make any sound they might hear,” she paused and drank again.
They kicked the door of the cubicle that I had been in and of course it didn’t open. I heard them laughing, they were sure I was in there. One of them said, ‘open up bitch or we’ll really do you,’ then kicked the door again and broke the lock. The door hit the partition next to me and I almost screamed. I bit down on my arm…” her breathing had quickened as she relived those moments.
‘“Shit! There’s no one here. F*ck this we’re just wasting our time.’
‘I saw someone come in here.’
‘Bollocks! You’re always seeing things when you’re stoned.’
‘F*ck you arsehole!’
‘You wish you limp dick. Come on let’s get out of here.”’
“I crouched there for another ten minutes before I dared move. I was sure they were just playing with me, waiting for me to move and then they’d…” Lisa looked around at us as we sat in silence listening to her story.
“I slowly got off the seat and opened the cubicle door. There was no one there and I crept from the cubicle and tiptoed to the door at the far end and eased it open expecting to be grabbed. They were gone, or at least I couldn’t see them. I took my keys from my pocket and had them ready, then ran for the car. I almost dropped them trying to unlock the door and was crying with fear as I got in and locked the door. I started the car and drove home as fast as I could,” Lisa paused and looked around at us then said with a little half laugh, half sob.
“When I got home, Mum and Dad were in bed so I didn’t have to tell them about it. My blouse was filthy where I’d crawled under the partition and I’d wet myself anyway despite having just done a pee. I threw all my clothes in the bin. I’ve never told a soul about it until now, haven’t tried to think about it. Until tonight and then all of us together, the drink and Daniel saying he’d just strolled into the ladies and nobody had stopped him… it just brought it all back.”
“Shit Lisa! Why the hell didn’t you tell us?” demanded Daniel.
“B…b…because I was ashamed!” she wailed.
Fran put her arm around her and pulled her close. Becky and Julia got up and joined the pair and gave Lisa comfort as she sobbed.
Daniel, Richard and I looked at one another and didn’t know what to do or say. Typical male response you might think and I suppose you’d be right. I could see the impotent rage I felt at one of our friends being put through this misery reflected in the faces of Daniel and Richard. The desire to find the two shits responsible for it and… what? I didn’t know… Give them a beating they’d never forget? We didn’t have a clue as to their identity so who were we going to pound on? Those same thoughts were reflected on their faces along with a realisation that we could do nothing to assuage Lisa’s misery and fear.
We left Daniel with the snoring Micky and the clearing up soon after and I gave the others a lift home. Fran was the last to be dropped off and before she got out she gave me a surprising kiss on the cheek and a smile. I sat watching her walk up to her front door feeling dazed.
That was the last time we played Truth or Dare, and we didn’t see Lisa so often after that night, which wasn’t that surprising thinking about it. She lived with that trauma bottled up inside her every day and telling us had not helped. Fran told me one night as we walked back to the car from the pictures that Lisa was thinking of moving away. She was finding it hard to be even walk around town in the days and never went near the common any more.
I didn’t say anything, what could I say? I’d been scared once or twice walking home alone late at night, but that was nothing like Lisa’s encounter. I just squeezed Fran’s hand and in my own mind vowed I would always do my best to keep her safe.