Julian’s party was pretty shit, actually. Dead in the water, but the kind of dead where there were still lots of people who just couldn’t be bothered with leaving. Like it might pick up if they just waited long enough.
Scott arrived later than Dennis expected him to. He only lived walking distance away. For a while Dennis thought he wasn’t coming. More likely he had spent some time earlier in the evening hanging out with Richard and Adam. He was welcome to them.
When Scott turned up Dennis was leaning on the door, watching Kane entertain a circle of girls on the steps with his ability to say witless things loudly. As Scott sidled past the group, Kane paused in mid-sentence to burp loudly and some of the girls made faces. He waved his bottle at Scott. ‘Pissed yet Collins awwwww get with the program its midnight already.’
Dennis gave Scott a nod and he fell in beside. ‘Sorry I’m late. Did I miss much?’
‘Good. So where’d you fuck off to last night?’
‘Are you chucking the team? Damon was pissed, man.’
‘It goes how it goes.’
Dennis figured Scott was wondering if he should push it. No chance of catching anything real as long as he was in a dodging mood. Dennis could stay two steps ahead of Scott without breaking a sweat.
’so now what?’ Scott asked.
‘Yeah. You making a move?’
There was a shout that caught everyone’s attention. ‘Hey! Hey, you got a problem?’ It was Craig, up by the gate. He and Will were standing there, they’d been hanging out, standing firm now and Mark was ducking back towards the house. Beyond them, just outside the gate, a half-dozen people had gathered where the streetlamps spiked into the sky. They were standing around, black jackets, heavy metal t-shirts.
‘What’s going on?’ Scott asked as Mark reached them.
‘Fucking bogans causing trouble,’ Mark said, excited. ‘I’m getting Julian.’
Dennis followed Mark inside. He went through to the back of the house, where he’d been doing shots with Julian earlier. There was no-one there now as people headed to the front of the house. He opened cupboards until he found what he needed.
By the time he got back to the front of the house, things had moved on. Julian was standing beside Mark’s car in the driveway, shouting at one of the bogans, and the way they were talking to each other Dennis figured it was an old feud between them. Around Julian there was a bunch of fighting going on. Kane was in the thick of it, throwing short hard punches like someone who had been in a bunch of fights.
Dennis had never been in a fight before. He picked up speed, easy strides. Scott was on the ground, holding his belly. What the hell was he thinking, getting involved in that? Dennis jumped on to the bonnet of Mark’s car, stepped on the roof, hopped down to the boot, and swung the cricket bat at the nearest head.
It connected with a crack. The guy went down in a heap. He was wailing. Everyone looked.
Dennis stood on the car, hefting the bat above his head. He felt a thousand feet tall, he felt like he was in the clouds, he felt like he was flying. ‘Get out of here,’ he said. He didn’t even need to raise his voice.
They left, dragging their injured mate with them. Julian stalked after them, shouting furiously. Dennis stayed up on the car. Everyone was looking up at him, the whole party was gathering around him. Talking. Stories already beginning to be told.
His eyes met Scott’s. Scott looked far away. Getting further away by the second.
The wind was in his face. Balance shifting. Grab hold.