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This is the opening scene of what I hope will become my first novel. Let me know what you think.

Dan stumbled up to the bar and ordered another shot. He knew he shouldn’t be drinking at this time on a Sunday, but at this point, he didn’t care.

His parents would probably pop into the pub for a couple of quiet drinks later in the evening, but by then Dan would be long gone, his system overcome with alcohol, and crying out for sleep, or at least a good takeaway. He would amble home, eat some toast, collapse in front of the telly, and be woken by his mum shouting at him the next morning, telling him to shower before work because he “stinks to high heaven.” She would ask him where he had been all day sunday, he would say, “Church”, and she would tell him he was too smart for his own good.

I’ll probably call in sick tomorrow, thought Dan. Can’t be arsed dealing with that annoying shrew of a boss when I’m as hungover as I’m going to be. He knocked back the shot, swayed slightly, and put his hand to his mouth. The barmaid looked at him.

“Are you alright mate?”, she asked. Dan looked up, let out a loud burp, and smiled.

“Never better”, he said, and winked at her, with what he thought was roguish charm. In reality the barmaid would later finish her shift, go home to her boyfriend, and tell him that that ‘useless tosser’ had been in again, and was pissed, again.

But Dan was in no state to deal with the realities of life. He much preferred the reality he had constructed in his lager-soaked brain, where he was the charming leading man and everyone else was a minor character in his life story.

“I think you should be leaving soon”, said the barmaid. Dan frowned.
“Who the fuck’s gonna make me?”, he said.
“Oh, don’t be a dick. You’re five foot seven and weigh like ten stone. Even I could beat you up, the state you’re in now.”

Dan’s brain struggled to process this. The idea of being physically bested by a 17-year-old girl didn’t quite match his self-image as a young James Bond. Rather than face this awful fact, he simultaneously ignored the barmaid while doing exactly as she said, and walked outside.

He took a deep breath of the cold winter air, and began to stroll down the street back home. The walk took longer than usual – although he only lived half a mile away, the fact that he kept stumbling from one side of the road to the other meant he covered twice that distance.

As he finally walked down the street he had lived on all his life, a cyclist came round the corner the other way. His lycra shorts and high-vis jacket were no use to a boy walking the other way that could barely tell black from white. The cyclist crashed straight into him. They both went flying and ended up on the side of the road.

“TWAT!”, shouted the cyclist, grabbing his knee. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”Dan couldn’t answer. He was winded and in shock and felt like he was about to throw up.

“Why the fuck were you walking in the middle of the road?” said the cyclist, as he hobbled to his feet. Dan rolled over onto his side and looked at him, puzzled, and didn’t say a word.

“Arsehole.” The cyclist picked his bike up and left, still looking back angrily as Dan stayed firmly on the floor.

Suddenly Dan realised he was right – he was about to throw up. His stomach emptied itself of the copious amounts of alcohol he had drank, and Dan had to just lie there and let it happen.

When he finally had nothing left to give, he wiped his eyes and looked up, and saw a face above him.

“I heard some shouting. What are you doing down there?”, said his mum.

“I’m not sure. I think it had something to do with lycra.”

“What? Come on, get up and come inside. You can’t lie there all night.”

“Oscar Wilde said that we are all lying in the gutter, mum.”

“Oh, shut up. What are you on about?”

“We’re all lying in the gutter, Mum, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Dan smiled. His mum sighed.

“Your nose is bleeding, you’ve got vomit on your hands and you’re quoting Oscar Wilde? You need to get your priorities right, Dan.”

“I know, mum. I know.”

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