Time Flies on Gin Lane

Daniel Day-Lewis Day

‘I suppose I have a highly developed capacity for self-delusion, so it’s no problem for me to believe that I’m somebody else.’ – Daniel Day-Lewis

Susanna opened her eyes, staring at an object hanging from the middle of the ceiling with confusion for several moments, eventually comprehending that it was a light sconce. Did she always have one of those? There was someone else in the bed. She leapt up, pulling a sheet around her naked body. The last thing Susanna could remember was being at Aldgate station. She was on a quest to get the cheapest flask she could find in order to send herself off into oblivion. That was odd. She didn’t feel hungover. She had consumed enough alcohol to kill a white rhinoceros yesterday, she should well and truly be suffering by now, but she wasn’t. She felt perfectly fine. Perfectly fine, waking up from a black-out drinking spree, next to some random. Susanna crept around the side of the bed, struggling to keep her balance in the low light whilst clutching the sheet around her body. There was a stream of sunlight that was intruding through a gap in the curtains onto the bed, and as the body turned, she glimpsed a large, full female breast settle in the spotlight. Looks like anything goes these days, hey Sue? It’s not as if Susanna hadn’t ever entertained the idea of having sex with another female, but despite her string of failed relationships with men, she was unfortunately exclusively attracted to them. Instinctively, she wanted to flee. Get as far away from this weird situation as possible.Her anxiety kicked in, overriding. She needed to know who this woman was that she had slept with. She would never be able to talk to a female again if she did not get to the bottom of this, she would be forever assuming that she had slept with all of them. Susanna moved towards the curtains, took a deep breath, and drew them. As she turned, she dropped the sheet she was holding, completely oblivious to her nakedness now. It was Rachael. She couldn’t remember much from yesterday, but she was fairly certain she had made a mess of things at Rachael’s going away. And then what, we fucked? Susanna looked around the apartment. It looked like her apartment, and yet, it was styled differently. It was as if some art student had broken into her place in the middle of the night and had redecorated. The amber, warm light streaming in from the window revealed an immaculately designed space, minimalistic, save a very expensive looking black Avant Garde lounge suite that appeared to be fashioned in the shape of a high heel and the occasional abstract artwork that adorned the walls. The fuck? Susanna picked up the sheet and wrapped it around herself again just above her breasts. She shuffled towards the bathroom, careful not to make too much noise. Susanna was no stranger to awkward situations, but having a conversation with Rachael about a drunken lesbian fling was just a bit much for her fragile mind state. She sidled into the bathroom and gently closed the door. She was in someone else’s apartment. It wasn’t Rachael’s. She’d seen her shithole apartment; it was nothing like this place. It didn’t matter right now; she needed to find her clothes and get out of there. Susanna splashed her face with some water, then splashed some water under her armpits. She flashed herself an accusatory look in the mirror and quietly opened the bathroom door. She spotted her blouse and her skirt, and pulled them on as quickly and as silently as she could. She lifted up part of a satin quilt that had fallen off the bed, and she was relieved to find both her handbag and her high heels. She swooped them up with her left arm and held them to her chest, slowly backed towards the apartment door keeping her eyes on the bed and silently slipped out into the hallway. Safety. That was definitely up there with her all-time most bizarre starts to the day. She hurried down the hallway, noticing that it too seemed subtly familiar. She grabbed her phone out of her bag and checked the time. It was 8am, half an hour before she had to be at work. Susanna decided that she might as well find out if she still had a job. She called the lift. She got in, pressed the button for ground and pressed every floor. Great. She was on the penthouse floor; this was going to take ages. As the lift descended, her thoughts drifted back to Rachael’s supple naked body. She had felt a twinge of arousal at the sight of that banging body. The more she dwelled on the image, the more heightened her sense of arousal became. The elevator doors opened, jolting her out of her reverie. She ducked out, and then ducked back in. Only ten more to go. When she arrived at the next level, a bulky man with an unkept beard wearing a white lab coat entered as she was completing her routine. ‘Danny?’ Susanna asked. ‘I’m sorry? I think you have me mistaken for someone else,’ the man said. ‘My mistake, sorry. Been a strange morning.’ That was the understatement of the century. This guy was a spitting image of Danny though. Maybe it was Danny and he had smoked himself into some sort of drug induce psychosis. It would explain the lab coat. At each level she got out and repeated her ritual, the man claiming not to be Danny looked on with nervous eyes and then pretended to not notice as she got back in the lift. After two more floors of this, not Danny got out of the lift, sufficiently weirded out enough to find alternative means of getting to the ground floor. When her elevator dance was done, she crossed the foyer and walked out into the street. There was a white cab parked directly out the front ready to go. She approached it, and opened the door, ‘this taken?’ ‘Ms Cromwell, straight to 30 St Mary Axe this morning?’ The cabbie asked politely. ‘Well, yes, but how did you-’ ‘Please, sit back and relax. I’ll have you there shortly.’ Susanna realised that the driver was the same bloke that picked her up the other day. That explained how he knew her name. He had a forgettable face, so she couldn’t be sure, and it was definitely a different cab. She couldn’t understand why he was being so polite after she freaked him out with the door slamming thing. Maybe he felt sorry for her. They stopped at an intersection, and she noticed the stop sign was blue. What the fuck? When did that happen? How could she miss something that influential? Perhaps it was just within certain areas or clearways within the CBD or something. Cutting edge London. She dug into her handbag and retrieved her compact. She began touching up her make up with her emergency supply, and as she did, she distinctly recalled having a black eye last night. It certainly wasn’t there now, in fact, her complexion looked so good she could have almost have gotten away with no makeup at all. ‘Here we are, Ms Cromwell.’ ‘Thanks, what do I owe you?’
She fished out her purse, but to what end, she wasn’t sure. There was no cash in it and she knew all six of her credit cards were either maxed out or overdrawn. As if sensing her distress, the driver said, ‘I’ll just put it on your tab, shall I?’ What a sweetheart. If only there were more people in this world like this guy. ‘Thank you so much. I’ll pay you back, I promise. Thank you so, so much. Sweet man.’ The driver looked at her, puzzled, and the look intensified as Susanna proceeded to slam the door five times before walking off towards the Gherkin. Paroxysms of fear pulsated through her as she got closer to 30 St Mary Axe. She had no idea what she was walking into here. No shower, same clothes from yesterday, and quite possibly about to be instantly dismissed from her job for inappropriate drunken behaviour. Susanna took a deep breath, and entered her building. It was eerily quiet. She wasn’t that early, surely. The building should be in full swing by now. She entered the lift, and pressed the button for her floor, thankful that she had made a deal with her compulsive self that work was out of bounds for her little rituals. She dawdled into the office, head hanging and staring at the ground, and found her way to her desk without making eye contact with anyone. She sat down, powered up her computer and took a quick glance around. So far, so good. The office was not completely devoid of staff, but it certainly did seem dead for a Wednesday. Perhaps drinks yesterday hadn’t been as disastrous as she had initially thought. ‘Ms Cromwell?’ A voice said. Here we go. It’ll be security. It was worse. It was Charles Gooding, the CEO of Wolff and Associates. Charles Gooding scared the shit out of Susanna. He looked as though he had been slapped by the very hand of death. Death had gripped him, had dibs on him, but his greed and lust for power persevered, more formidable than death, and death simply had to wait until Charles Gooding decided that he’d had his fill. Liver spots charted his scalp where his yellow stained white hair receded. His paper-thin skin dripped off his bones the way cheese melted off toast. He had those olive coloured eyes that were set underneath milk clouds, which could have once been blue, or green, but now they were just dead opals devoid of their iridescence. Those ancient eyes seem to look right through her, across eons of time and space, like he was experiencing some sort of cosmic tunnel vision, and Susanna was merely getting in the way. Those eyes were cast on her now. ‘I’m sorry. Can I help you?’ Charles asked. Susanna now understood that her performance at Rachael’s going away had been so depraved that it was expected that she simply would never set foot in the office again. ‘Sorry Mr. Gooding. I’ll get out of your hair. I don’t know what I was thinking.’ ‘I will have the full revenue report to you by the end of the day, there really is no need to be checking up on me,’ Charles said. What was he on about? Revenue report? To me by the end of the day? Susanna got up, clutching at her bag, expecting to be ushered out of the building like a lazy pigeon that had wandered in the door. ‘Suzette? Are you going to join me or what?’ She heard a small voice called out from within one of the executive offices. ‘Erm, excuse me please for one moment?’ Susanna said distantly. ‘Of course?’ Charles said, and sat down at Susanna’s workspace, looking perplexed. She walked in the direction of the voice that called out to her, and found Iain Baker dressed in a very powerful looking suit, with expensive looking Italian loafers up on the desk as he tilted back in a leather office chair. ‘Hello my darling! Why am I not surprised to see you in the office on a public holiday? Forever the workhorse, you greedy bitch!’ Iain said with a sardonic smile. She noticed the words Suzette Cromwell, CFO, Wolff and Co. had been painted in fancy gold writing on the glass of the door. ‘Okay. Very funny. Whose idea was this? CFO guys? At least you could get my fucking name right!’ Susanna exclaimed in mock anger. Cleary, her colleagues were intent on being arseholes about her soon to be terminated employment, and thought they were being funny. Alfred scurried in on hearing this. ‘What is it, Suze? Did they mess up your plaque? I’ll have their guts for garters. What do you want it to read? Did they miss some of your credentials?’ She had to hand it to Alfred. It was quite a performance. He appeared to be genuinely concerned about this, and was carefully checking the details on the door and buffing the writing with a handkerchief that he had pulled out of his pocket. Ignoring Alfred, Susanna walked in and sat down across from Iain. If they were going to be smartarses about this, then so would she. It wouldn’t make much of a difference, the outcome would likely be the same anyway. She bumped the mouse on the desk as she sat down, and the display came to life, revealing the log in prompt. Again, the name Suzette Cromwell came up on the log in screen. Well done guys. Extra points for authenticity. Idiots. ‘I’ll just log in, shall I?’ Susanna asked. Iain looked at her with shrewd eyes, seemingly trying to comprehend what her angle was. She punched in her usual and hardly secure password, her birthday, forward and backwards. She was granted entry, and there was a picture of her and Rach set up as the desktop background. She didn’t recognise the photo. Okay. This was getting really weird now. ‘You all right Suze? Your acting a bit…off’ Iain said. There was something strange about Iain, too. He wasn’t the bumbling drainer that she usually identified with. It was his body language, and the way he was speaking to her. There was sophistication and control in his presence now, words that she would never have used in the same sentence as the name Iain Baker. ‘Never better. Just need some air. I’ll be back in a little bit.’ She needed to get out of there. She pushed passed Alfred and out the door, and as she made her way to the lift, she heard Iain’s distant cry ‘Don’t forget our telecon at 2:30!’ Nice one, Susanna. You finally drank yourself retarded. In spite of this very convincing argument, Susanna exited the building in search of a pub. She needed something to settle her nerves. Balls Brother’s opened at 10am, but they always let her in before the official opening. She would walk. It was a long walk, but she was in no rush to get back to the office the way they were carrying on. It was one of the most bizarre displays she had ever encountered, and quite frankly, creeped her the fuck out. Just as her knees began to protest, she arrived at the regal archway entrance to Balls Brothers and walked in. Susanna found a seat at the bar, which was unusually busy for a Wednesday morning. The bartender floated over to her, his low gaze and lack of enthusiasm suggesting that he was not interested in making a mildly pretty drunk comfortable and simply wanted to take her drink order. ‘Shot of Chartreuse please.’ ‘Shot of Chartreuse it is.’ The bartender wandered off, presumedly in search of the bottle. He arrived back a few seconds later, carefully planting down a tall shot glass filled with a vivid red liqueur. He turned to walk away, but Susanna called out to him. ‘Excuse me? Sorry I asked for Chartreuse.’ ‘And that is what you got. Happy Daniel-Day Lewis Day,’ he said casually, as he moved to the other side of the bar to attend to some rowdy customers that had just arrived. Red Chartreuse? Someone was taking the piss, Susanna reassured herself. It all had to be some elaborate prank. The lengths that those deviants would go to just to make fun of her, honestly. She picked up the shot glass and drained it’s contents. It certainly tasted like the ghastly stuff. Diving into her handbag, she fished out her phone, and searched the internet for Daniel Day-Lewis Day.
Daniel Day-Lewis Day.
Daniel Day-Lewis Day is an annual holiday, primarily in the United Kingdom, celebrated on June 4th as a tribute to actor and renowned human rights activist, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis. It is both a national and bank holiday in the UK. The actor turned activist achieved remarkable progress in raising awareness of societal atrocities, securing funding through his charitable organisations that have been pivotal in combatting human trafficking and sex slave operations throughout Europe. Sir Daniel Day-Lewis was assassinated on June 4th, 2015, by known associates of Mafia kingpin Marcello Azzurro. The British parliament announced the holiday shortly after the tragic event in commemoration of his life. ‘Do you mind if I sit?’ A man asked rhetorically, as he struggled to position himself on the stool next to Susanna. He was massive, both tall and of considerable girth. Susanna wondered if the modest bar stool would hold. ‘Knock yourself out. Don’t expect much in the way of conversation though. I’m not feeling myself today.’ Susanna looked over at the man, he was stroking the clumps of unkept stubble that matted his neck and staring off into the distance, as if applying deep consideration to what Susanna had said. He wore thick, horn rimmed glasses that made him look like a school teacher from the 1950’s, and was draped in what could only be a lab coat. His rusty hair was receding, but there was no lack of it. Tufts of it shot off in different directions as if they were opposing some sort of magnetic force. ‘Or perhaps, you feel like yourself, but it appears that your surroundings have changed on you a little?’ the man finally said. Susanna stared at him sceptically. ‘Apologies, how rude of me. My name is Rufus. I assume that you my dear, are Susanna Cromwell.’ Weirdo. Stalker. Get away now. ‘Erm, hi. I think I need to be getting back to the office, if could excuse me.’ ‘It’s not your office, Susanna. I’m pretty sure you have figured that much out by now. That, is the office of Suzette Cromwell. Someone that I sincerely hope that you never have the displeasure of meeting. Part of the reason I am here, actually,’ Rufus said. ‘What are you talking about? What the hell is going on today? It has hands down been the strangest day of my life, and I can assure you, strange is pretty much the default for me. Is this some kind of sick joke?’ Susanna got up; she was working herself into a slight hysteria now. ‘Not a joke, Susanna. Please, calm down. Take a seat. Please,’ Rufus said plaintively. He seemed genuine, and despite his formidable stature, she did not feel threatened by him. It was his eyes. She found his cool, green eyes, the colour that her chartreuse should be, to be completely disarming. Like the eyes of an old friend. Rufus flicked his fingers in the air and pointed to Susanna’s glass, the indifferent bartender swanned over with a red bottle and filled up Susanna’s shot glass. Susanna sat and downed the contents, at least she was getting a free drink out of this strange exchange. She didn’t even know how she was going to pay for her first one. ‘It’s not all that different, is it? You see, the peppermint and thyme that give Chartreus it’s green colour on your world, are actually red here. Same exact ingredients. Same, god-awful taste. Just one slight difference in the pigmentation of the herbs used,’ Rufus said. Susanna continued to stare at Rufus, uncomprehendingly. He had her full attention now. ‘Small differences are not to be underestimated though, in terms of the effect they have on the formation of a universe. You see Susanna, I have reason to believe that you have stumbled into somewhere that you really shouldn’t be,’ he continued. ‘What, Balls Brothers? I’m a fucking regular here.’ ‘No, not the pub, Susanna. A different dimension,’ Rufus said sternly. Susanna blinked, the room seemed to tilt and her vision started to spin. Down she went.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: