On the Side of the Road | Nick Lachmund

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

On the Side of the Road

Nick Lachmund

The Oktober-Fast Award

I don’t remember exactly when dying became a fantasy. It wasn’t on the day Jen left me, but it wasn’t long after. Three years of dating and two years of marriage gone in an instant. I assume that’s why the idea of an eternal sleep feels so comforting. No more worries, no more pain and no more thinking about her. I can’t think of anything better than that.

‘It’s not fuckin’ turnin’!’

That’s Pete, my oldest friend. He and Steve, my second oldest friend, are trying to lift Pete’s car using a jack to change a tyre. I didn’t offer help and they didn’t ask. They’re both handier than me and they like solving problems. I’ve removed my eski from the car so I have plenty to drink and something to sit on. I also have a full pack of smokes so I’m happy to sit here for the rest of the night.

Jen hated me smoking. I quit before the wedding. She never thanked me for quitting. It was as if she didn’t need to. The signs were probably there early in our relationship but I just couldn’t see them. She always wanted me to change but she was never willing to do the same.

‘And you’re sure they’re not mine?’

That’s Stacey, Pete’s girlfriend. She’s asking Laura, Steve’s girlfriend, for the fifth time if her shoes are actually Stacey’s. Stacey had two glasses or red wine before we left and has had at least three UDL cans in the half an hour since. Stacey’s what I would call a hot bogan. She talks like trash but her body is amazing and her head is passable. I understand why Pete stays with her, despite her being an annoying drunk.

‘They are not your shoes, Stacey!’

Laura’s calm demeanour is starting to break. I always thought Jen was a calm person. Then we got married. I wanted to travel and have fun and enjoy life but Jen desperately wanted to settle down and have kids. When I couldn’t produce the baby she wanted, it all went wrong. Oddly enough, we didn’t fight during the last six months of our marriage. I think we had both given up. We lived like housemates that fucked occasionally but it didn’t feel like a marriage anymore.

‘Give me a turn.’

As Steve takes charge of the jack, I feel a slight pang of guilt. Perhaps I shouldn’t have drilled out the groove in the jack and perhaps I shouldn’t have hammered a nail into the tyre. But I knew I needed to do something drastic. You see, we are on our way to a 30th birthday party on a farm and Jen is going to be there. Everyone told me to come and said I needed to get out of the funk that I’m in. But I don’t want to see Jen. That’s the last thing I want. I’d much rather spend the night sitting on my eski drinking booze and smoking.

‘It’s no good.’

The guys give up and try to ring for help without success. I couldn’t have planned this any better. We’ve managed to get out of mobile phone range and now I can sit in the dark and get as drunk as I can. Even Stacey and Laura fighting can’t kill my buzz. As the guys break up the fight and argue with their girlfriends, I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Maybe I don’t ever have to see Jen again. Maybe I can outsmart any scenario that puts her back in my path. Maybe death isn’t the only way to find peace in the world. The thought makes my smile, not as much as the thought of dying does, but not much less. Missing this party might be a new beginning for me.