I recently stumbled upon this prompted writing challenge (another one!) over at Tipsy Lit. This week the theme is ‘The Joke is on You!’ So here’s my 1500 word contribution ….
The Joke’s on You
Jim wiped the dregs of tobacco off his desk onto the worn, brown carpet below. The battered roll up tasted good against his lips, as he lit it and took a drag. It was late and the office was empty, so he knew he was safe having a sneaky smoke. The stress of the last few weeks had meant his attempts at quitting hadn’t been very successful. Savouring the nicotine buzz, he took another long drag, welcoming the delay to his return home. The musical sounds of ‘I will Survive’ rang out of his mobile phone. Ha, ha … Paul! He couldn’t help but smile at the joke, not sure when the bastard had got hold of his mobile to change the ringtone. The name ‘Paul’ flashed up on the caller display as he reached to pick up the phone. Speak of the devil.
Jim answered the phone. ‘Very funny!’
‘Thought you might like that!’ Paul’s voice responded. ‘Anyway, how’s it hanging dude?’
‘Same as ever – to the left!’ Jim cringed at the silly childhood joke that Paul still insisted was hilariously funny. ‘What did you want mate? I was just about to head out of the office.’
‘I wondered what you’re up to Saturday night?’
‘Oh, I’m probably just going to chill with a few beers and a movie.’
‘You’re such a stiff! You’re coming out for a boys night. Carl’s got it all planned – beer, birds and a good laugh. You up for it?’
‘Ah mate, I think I’ll give it a miss this time.’
‘Come on. You can’t just sit in that dingy flat feeling sorry for yourself.’
‘I’m just not in the mood.’
‘You need to snap out of it mate. She ain’t coming back.’
‘I know. I just need a bit more time.’
‘It’s been a month already. Pull yourself together and get back out there. There’s plenty more fish in the sea and all that …’
‘Soon. Just not yet.’
‘Enough of the self-pity. Just a couple of drinks with your mates.’
‘I don’t know …’
‘Look, tell you what – there’s this club night going on. It’s called a ‘traffic light’ night or something like that. All you’ve got to do is wear a red hanky and everyone will leave you alone. Or, if you want to keep your options open a bit, you can wear yellow. Or even green if ‘you’re up for it’!’
‘You’re not going to give up are you?’
‘Fine. Just a couple … and I’m wearing red!’
‘Yeah, yeah. Pick you up at nine.’
Jesus, the stuff he drags me into. Hanging up the phone Jim grabbed his keys and headed out the door.
He’d had a couple of days to think things over. Paul was right, it had been long enough and he couldn’t pine over Kelly forever. After all, she’d moved on already. After a lot of internal debate, he had settled on a yellow hanky. Where was the harm in keeping his options open a little.
The familiar sound of the intercom buzzed. Jim took one last look in the full length mirror, leant forward and spiked up the gel in his hair. Not bad! Knowing it was Paul and Carl, he didn’t bother answering, he just slung his jacket over his shoulder and headed downstairs to meet them.
‘Looking good, bro,’ Carl called from the back seat of the Fiesta parked in the parking lot.
‘It’s good to see you mate,’ Jim responded, as he climbed into the passenger seat.
‘We good to go boys?’ Paul asked.
‘Hell yeah. Let’s get this show on the road,’ Carl responded.
‘ I see you went for the yellow then? Good choice mate,’ Paul said.
‘About bloody time!’ Carl piped up from the back of the car.
Jim smiled, knowing they were right. He wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of letting them know it though.
‘So where are we going?’ Jim asked.
‘New joint opened up downtown. A mate of Carl’s reckons it’s well good.’
It felt great to be out of the flat. Jim had been spending too much time holed up brooding. He needed this. They might take the piss a bit, but his mates always perked him up. It wasn’t long before they were pulling up outside a small nightclub in the centre of town. He had never heard of the place before, but a good crowd had formed outside. Paul pulled the car up to the curb and they headed over to the entrance.
‘So where are your hankies guys?’ Jim asked.
‘Don’t ask! Carl fucking left them at home!’
‘Seriously? I’m going to look a right idiot on my own.’
‘Don’t worry. We don’t need a colour code to let the ladies know we’re up for it!’ Carl grinned.
‘Fair Play,’ Paul laughed and clapped Carl on the back.
Jim shrugged. ‘Come on, I could do with that drink.’
Inside, the club was heaving. It was small and cosy and Jim could feel the heat from the sweaty bodies straightaway. It was going to be a hot one! Music blasted out of the speakers.
‘Shit. Is that Abba?’ Jim shouted over the din.
A bit surprised at the choice of music, Jim started to notice a bit of a theme going on. Flares, braided locks, flowers ….
‘Think it must be a seventies night,’ Paul shouted back.
‘Could be a bit of a laugh!’ Carl chimed in.
They squeezed through the throng of people waiting to be served at the bar. A tall, bare chested barman, with a moustache, sauntered over to them.
‘What can I get you boys?’
‘Three lagers please,’ Jim responded.
Three pints poured, the barman slid them across the bar and gave Jim a big wink. Jim ignored it, not sure if he had imagined it. They grabbed their lagers and found a high table to perch at.
‘What the fuck! That guy just pinched my arse,’ Jim shouted.
‘Don’t be so stupid!’ Paul responded.
Sure he wasn’t imagining things, Jim looked around trying to spot the bum pinching culprit. Despite the throngs of bodies, he noticed a distinct lack of females in the club. Aware that something didn’t seem quite right, he asked ‘What’s going on guys?’
‘What do you mean?’ Paul responded. Smirks erupted onto his and Carl’s faces.
‘This isn’t a gay bar is it?’
‘Another one of your jokes?’
The bare-chested barman from earlier appeared and pulled up a perch next to a wary looking Jim.
‘Hi. So you like a bit of water sports then?’ the barman asked Jim.
‘Hmmm. Not really! I’ve never really been all that keen on the sea.’
Carl and Paul failed to stifle their giggles. Jim looked over at them both questioningly, feeling increasingly out of his depth. The barman let out a deep-throated laugh.
‘You’re a funny guy. I like that!’
A confused expression on Jim’s face, the barman nodded Jim’s pocket. ‘The yellow hanky!’ Just then Jim realised the barman had one too. ‘You too!’
‘Well it is seventies style hanky code night!’
‘You know, the hanky code! Different colours for different preferences.’
‘Yeah. Like red for fisting, grey for bondage, and yellow …. for water sports!’
Realisation suddenly dawned on Jim. A worried expression crept onto his face. Carl and Paul could hardly contain themselves, clutching their sides in hysterical laughter. Conspiratorial, they meandered over.
‘You might be needing these mate,’ Paul managed through uncontrollable guffaws.
A shower cap and yellow rubber duck were thrown down on to the table in front of Jim. Jim seethed and looked up at Paul with murder in his eyes.
‘And you might be needing a safe word!’ Jim responded, his annoyance suddenly turning to humour.
‘What you on about?’ Paul responded confused. Just then he noticed the butch leather clad policeman making a beeline right for him, handcuffs and truncheon in hand. He looked down at his grey jumper, realisation suddenly kicked in. Oh shit!
‘Now who’s the joke on bitch?’ Jim chuckled. He was in hysterics, it was so funny.
Paul looked over to Jim, ‘Lets get the fuck out of here!’
‘I don’t need telling twice.’
They abandoned their beers and hot footed it out of there.
The barman, undeterred, shimmied over to Carl and gave him a firm squeeze on the knee. ‘How about we have some fun instead?’
‘Hey, wait for me guys,’ Carl called after his mates as he legged it.