He took off his shirt. He dropped it onto the floor. He opened his laptop. He lit a cigarette. He opened the window. He poured two fingers of gin into a tumbler. He sniffed it. He put the glass on the ledge. He looked at himself in the mirror. He sucked in his stomach. He rubbed his belly. He turned side-on.

He sat at his desk. He smoked the cigarette. He looked at the dark building opposite. He ground the butt into the ashtray. He opened a book. He put the book down. He checked his emails. He picked up another book. He read some of the book. He couldn’t recognise it. He reached for the glass. He knocked back the gin in one go. He put the glass on the desk. He put the book on the desk. He walked to the bed. He flopped onto the bed. He fell asleep.

He dozed for ten minutes. He went to the window. He rinsed the glass in the basin. He placed it, wet, onto the window ledge. He poured another measure of gin, the same as last time. He sipped it once. He replaced it on the ledge.

He went downstairs. He entered the kitchen. He flicked on the light. He caught sight of himself, topless, reflected in the bare window. He opened the freezer. He took out an ice tray. He put the tray onto the draining board. He closed the freezer. He took a glass from the rack. He sniffed it. He rinsed it in cold water. He popped ice onto the board. He scooped the ice into the glass. He turned the light off. He climbed the stairs. He noticed light leaking under the landlord’s door.

He added ice to the gin. He topped it off with another slug from the bottle. He drank the cold gin. He poured some more. He swilled the liquid around the cubes in the glass. He said, ‘Tinkle, twinkle.’ He put the glass on the ledge.

He looked in the mirror. He took a photo of himself, reflected. He examined the photo. He took off his jeans. He pulled the front of his underwear lower. He looked at the line of his dark pubic hair above the blue waistband. He ran a finger through the hair. He pouted in the mirror. He wasn’t completely happy with his belly. He was fairly happy with his belly. He was happy with the way he looked in his underwear. He took another photo. He looked at the photo. He zoomed onto his crotch.

He poured some more gin, and added more ice. He looked at the time. He picked up a book. He read the back cover, then put it down. He drank the gin. He filled the glass with cold water from the basin, then poured it away. He filled the glass with water again. He drank the water. He grimaced: the water was lukewarm.

He dried the glass on a hand towel. He wiped water from the ledge. He poured the melting ice into the clean glass, and covered it with gin. He sipped, once. He sipped again.

He hummed a tune that was looping in his head. He’d heard it in Junk. He swayed in front of the mirror.

He sat at the desk. He re-read a couple of emails. He’d forget them by the morning. He closed his eyes. He put his head in his hands. He opened his eyes, and stared through his fingers at a spot on the computer screen. He put the heels of his hands over his eyes. He felt a gentle throb of relaxation.

He fell asleep that way. He slept for five minutes. He woke with a jolt. He drank the watery gin. He opened the drawer in his desk. He pulled out his diary. He checked the next few days. He stood. He replaced the diary in the drawer. He looked over the empty street. He shivered and closed the window.

He went to the mirror again. He cupped his balls. He enjoyed the feel of them through the fabric. He stroked them with his fingertips. He liked the tightness of them. He pulled his waistband lower, exposing a thicker stroke of hair. He took another photo. He sent it to Salina. He sent it to Michael. He threw the phone on the bed, then followed it. He fell asleep. He didn’t wake till it was light outside.

© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.

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