1 comment

Holiday

He came off the plane like a bear stung by a bee. His mood was foul as his flight from Los Angeles had been delayed and now he’d missed his connection from Adelaide to Brisbane. The company was trying to cut costs and it had cost him a scoop and a half.

“Seriously Barry!” he’d shouted down his cell, drawing attention from all the other passengers hurrying through the airport. “If I hire a car and drive it’s almost thirteen hundred miles… You want me to drive that! It’ll take me twenty-four hours!!”

“Can we help you sir? You seem distressed…” asked a passing family.

He looked them up and down, hung up the phone and after a deep sigh asked “Can you get me to Brisbane in two and a half hours?”

The stunned silence told him all he needed to know. It was New Year’s Eve and he was stuck in the City of Churches.

 

She was relaxed as the bus slowly crawled through the city after a lengthy journey. Sia’s crazy voice melodically came through a pair of airpods, the singer’s Christmas album a gift from the silly season to help make a long and lonely trip far more tolerable. Naturally she hopped off the bus in Franklin Street with a song in her heart and a spring in her step. There was a real buzz of excitement that seemed to emanate from her very soul. Her two friends from University were there to meet her and they all squealed in unison when they shared a group hug. It had become an annual catch up, New Year’s Eve in Adelaide, the city where there seemed to be a church on every corner.

“So where to first, girls?” she asked and so began their adventure in the City of Churches.

 

He stepped out the yellow taxi cab and dubiously eyed off the entrance to the Hilton Hotel. The company had not been happy, but he had demanded if he was to remain stranded for the day until the next flight homeward it was going to be in the best hotel the city had to offer.

“Why not continue on to Brisbane anyway?” the company had asked him. “Maybe there is still an opportunity to reschedule the interview…”

What was the point though? The exclusive had already been snatched up by a rival and his social media had exploded with reminders that he was not where he needed to be.

“You’ve blow this opportunity for me! I’m here now and I’m going no further until tomorrow when you’re going to get me home,” he replied, firm. He was the best they had and he knew they knew it. If they pushed him he would just go to a rival. There were many offers but for the moment he felt loyalty to those who had given him his first shot. The next time the company called he didn’t pick up. As he stepped into the hotel lobby his pocket buzzed. To his satisfaction he saw the text. Just two words, PENTHOUSE ENJOY.

 

She followed after her friends on purple scooters wondering how bad a hammering her credit card was going to take and whether a taxi would have been cheaper. She zipped in and out of the slow flowing traffic, breaking hard as she came upon the rear of a bus. Every now and then she would lose sight of the two other scooters but that didn’t matter. They always stayed at the same hostel. Whoever got there first usually booked the room. The scooter buzzed around a few more stationary cars before the sign for Walkabout finally came into view.

“Hurry up slow coach!” yelled her friends.

It had taken her so long to catch up to the other two that the room was theirs and two backpacks were already safely stored away.

The great thing about the scooters was they could be just left where they were finished with. She checked the amount charged to her card for the journey and whistled sharply. It would mean a few less drinks that night and maybe her mum would miss out on a souvenir spoon.

It didn’t take long to navigate the familiar hostel corridors, saying a quick hello to other travelers, some Australian but many more from much further afield.

After the swipe key popped open the dorm room door she gave the other two a sly smile.

“Do we all remember the pact?”

“Most drinks gets bottom bunk…” they replied with a wink.

“Unless..?”

“Unless we get lucky, then top bunk is anyone’s…”

“Ok girls… Look out Adelaide!” she laughed, her backpack thrown onto the bottom bunk and just like that they all were ready to hit the town.

 

What do you do when you find yourself stuck far from home on New Year’s Eve with no place to go? He called down to reception and asked for recommendations.

“Well sir, Glenelg on the foreshore is a popular hangout for New Year’s Eve,” came the initial, almost scripted response from the voice at the other end of the phone.

“I can’t stand the beach. What about something in the city?”

“Well sir, there is a new nightclub called The Church.”

“Can you recommend this Church?”

There was a taping of keys and a moment of silence.

“Hello..?”

“Yes sir, I’m still here. Can’t say I’ve ever been to Church but they are promoting a 90s New Year’s party tonight which looks like it could be fun.”

He grunted satisfied that this was probably the best Adelaide had on offer for him.

“Many thanks,” he stated with curt politeness. “Order me a taxi for eight.”

“Of course, sir,” replied the concierge. “We will call when the driver arrives.”

 

New Year’s Eve for the girls had been the same for three years now. They had all studied teaching as borders, aced their first year and then vowed to meet up again after Christmas. The night was basically planned. They had Sang Choy Bow at House of Chow on Hutt Street then moved on to the Seven Stars hotel on Angus. There would be a drink here and a drink there as they bar hopped, all the while on the lookout for the perfect guy. Eventually they made it to Heaven on North Terrace where they danced their way into another year. Sometimes one of them would stay for an extra drink somewhere, knowing Heaven was the destination at the end of the night. This time around she had been left stranded by her so called friends. A set of sandy haired twins had coaxed the other girls back to their hotel. The surfers from South Africa must have said all the right things because all she got was a buzz in her pocket when she returned to their table with three beers. SCORED TWINS C U AT HEAVEN the text read. With a sinking feeling at being stranded she nursed her beers before deciding to head for the night club early.

 

He paid the cover charge to the bouncer on the door and stepped inside the darkness of the nightclub already certain the music was too loud. The fluorescent word CHURCH flicked between orange, purple and pink informing him the taxi had pulled up at the right spot. Judging by the fare it had probably been the long way. A hand reached out and thumped the name of the club on his wrist before he had a chance to pull away.

“In case you need to duck out and come back in,” a very young woman dressed like a nun informed him. “Welcome to Church,” she added with a smile that lit up her entire features.

“Thanks, I guess,” he replied before pushing his way in.

The music’s volume intensified as he made it into the club. A figure sat upon a suspended stage, dressed like a friar monk. The figure fiddled with a dual turn table, surrounded by piles of vinyl, an old school mixer. It was flashy but done well enough that he could respect the skill. Ignoring the dance floor he headed straight for the bar off to the side.

“What’ll it be, my son?” asked another friar, this one obviously paid to be in character.

“I’m stuck in this hell hole with nowhere to go…” he announced in reply. “Surprise me…”

For a moment the friar was taken aback. A second later he acquired a rather large glass and began mixing different colors. The affect was similar to that of the DJ, showy but impressive.

“This should satisfy you, at least until a pretty girl catches your eye,” suggested the friar with a wink.

“What do I owe you?” he asked, bluntly. He was not impressed by the bar boy’s cheek.

“First drink is on the Church,” came the reply.

 

“Sorry love tonight is not your night,” the cab driver had informed her. “Heaven night club shut down around June or July this year and hasn’t opened since.”

“But I’m supposed to meet my friends there tonight,” she replied. They had no plan B.

“Most of the kids your age head for Glenelg for New Year’s Eve… Looking for a nightclub though there is a new one called Churches you could try…”

With a number of beers under her belt already and looking for somewhere loud and dark to dance out her frustrations that nightclub sounded ideal.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but please take me to Church,” she said, uncertain.

“As you wish, Miss,” stated the cabbie with a smile before the car pulled out onto the street.

 

When she entered the Churches nightclub he was on to his third colored concoction. They were costly but by then he didn’t care. Another Australian 90s hit was getting a spin, some band he didn’t know. He was eyeing the doorway and considering whether to try his luck elsewhere. Maybe an American bar, he could catch up on some real football.

She caught his eye, seemingly so different to all the other strangers who had entered before.

Like him she gave the DJ a respectful glance. She eyed the dancefloor longingly but seemed lost, unsure. She found the stool next to him and eyed his large glass with concern.

“Come here often?” he asked, immediately he regretted the stupid line. Surprisingly the line seemed to work though.

“My first time,” she replied straight away. “Normally my friends and I end up in Heaven but that’s shut so I’m at Church instead.”

He bit back so many stupid comments that flooded his mind. Instead he went with something obvious.

“Looks like those friends of yours ditched you.”

“Yeah, I’m stranded, looking to dance… You interested?”

Normally he would have said no, but those colored drinks had something in them. Then Red Hot Chili Peppers started to play and he knew it was a sign.

 

The countdown hit one and they kissed passionately to Smashing Pumpkins Tonight Tonight. A few cocktails had already been consumed and they had bonded over a dislike of surfers and some unique and crazy dance moves. She had felt safe and he had discovered a sense of fun he didn’t know he had. By two in the morning the pair walked hand in hand along the Torrens, wishing all they stumbled upon a happy New Year. By four o’clock they shared the fineries of five star accommodation and created fireworks in the dark while the sky slowly lightened.

 

He was at Adelaide airport by seven, smiling at the memory of the gorgeous girl who had stumbled into his life.

 

At nine she awoke to find a brand new dress hanging in the bathroom with a note attached. THANKS FOR MAKING ADELAIDE SO MEMORABLE. On the back of the note was his number. Both dress and number were still in the bathroom when she left. Five stars had been fun but not what she was seeking long term. For her he would just be one of the benefits of going to Church.

January 02, 2020 12:08

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Tim Law
12:10 Jan 02, 2020

I thought I would challenge myself to write a story where the main characters remained unnamed...

Reply

Show 0 replies