Flashy Lights

“Yeah yeah I know ya told me already I’ll ring yiz when I get over there and check in alright!” “Ok good man now enjoy the trip.” “Alright yeah will do alright go on now goodbye alright.” The door of the grey Seat Leon banged shut and with that Alan Jones was free from his parents for a whole week. Seven days of liquids, pills and powders lay ahead of him not to mention maybe sex and sunstroke too. Alan had finished school two weeks prior to his arrival at Dublin Airport and he was about to experience his first ever holiday abroad without the company of his parents.

Upon meeting his pals at the airport; a group of eight boys and five girls, Alan and his crew checked in and ate lunch. They chatted enthusiastically about all of the splendours that the week might have in store for them. A prophecy of fun, spontaneity, excitement and euphoria was shared. “I’m gonna get two brazzers at the same time and have a threesome” proclaimed an excited Sam Kelly. “Guys I’m gonna try ‘e’ when we go to the beach party on Sunday night. Like apparently all of the pills at it are so clean so it’s totally safe to do it there” said one of the girls. After lunch had been eaten the team hit the airport bar for the standard preliminary drinks. More drinks were had on the three hour flight to the island off the south of Spain and by the time the plane landed some of the boys were already drunk. Raunchy, happy and in high spirits the group disembarked into the hot air of a foreign country. They travelled thirty minutes in a taxi to their hotel and prepared themselves for their first night out on the island.

The first night out consisted of laughter, dancing, drinking and debauchery. The crew stuck close together and enjoyed a pub crawl and some upbeat dance music across a spate of the island’s most well renowned nightclubs. They made it home to their hotel rooms safe and sound and by 7:45 am they were all fast asleep. The days flew by.

By the end of the fourth night nearly everybody in the group had achieved a gaffe of some sort. One lad had gotten a tattoo of a burger onto his bum. Sam Kelly had fulfilled his ambition of a threesome with two prostitutes. One of the girls got alcohol poisoning. Then it was time for Alan Jones to walk himself into trouble.

The team hit the island’s biggest nightclub on their fifth night out. Beacon nightclub opened it’s doors at 8pm every night and partygoers could rock on’ until they shut at 11am every morning. On the ecstatic night out at Beacon nightclub Alan Jones had bumped into a couple of fellow Dubs at the bar. They chatted and shared out some drugs. Alan partied with his new-found friends until Beacon closed at 11am. He took a taxi with the two Dublin lads to a nearby apartment. Alan had a tendency to over-indulge from time to time. He was a decent young man but at times eccentric and senseless. Upon arriving at the apartment with his new-found friends, he went straight into the toilet and moments later found himself waking up on the beach beside his hotel. With no idea what time it was or what had happened at the apartment he briskly walked himself to the hotel and met with his friends. The crew were relieved to see him. “Where did you go man you hopped into a taxi with those two dodgy cunts and disappeared? We were just about to ring the police and get a search out for you ya dope,” said Sam Kelly, to which Alan replied, “I don’t know man I just remember going into a dingy apartment and then I woke up on the beach. All my money is gone what the fuck.” “Alan you’re a fuckin’ gobshite ya had us worried,” said Kim Doyle. The crew packed up and got their belongings ready for an early morning flight home. They wandered around the island one last time, had a couple of drinks together, and at 3am they checked out of their hotel and got a taxi to the airport to wait for their flight home.

Exhausted and riddled with STI’s and stuffy noses, the team sprawled out in the waiting area at the airport. Moments before they boarded their flight, Alan Jones was approached by two men that he vaguely recognised and a third partner that he did not recognise at all. The two guys he recognised were the men that he had partied with in Beacon nightclub. “There ya are Bowsy ya fuckin whackjob ya jaysis you were in some f****n’ state leavin’ that gaf the other day,” said a stocky twenty-something year old that introduced himself as Jerry. “Yeah right f****n’ state you were in mate,” said the other man from Beacon, a man that referred to himself as Dan. Alan was shocked. The three men informed him that he had purchased €1,500 worth of cocaine on credit and that he would have to pay them within ten days of arriving home in Dublin. “More more more more more gimme more ya kept sayin.’ Do ya not rememberer ya f****n thick? Ya owe us that f****n’ money and anyways pal we’ll be checkin’ up on ya yih have until next Saturday to pay us off right?!” That was the demand made by the third man, a man who said his name was Grahmo. Alan Jones had apparently met him in the apartment but he had no recollection of him.

Alan’s world came crashing down. This was all very real. What would he do, how would he get the money? Did he even buy that much stuff off them on credit or was he being taken for a spin? Alan had to think fast to unravel himself from this mess.

Alan arrived home and told his parents how wonderful his holiday had been – “the pizza was lovely and we went skydiving.” Alan’s parents were delighted to hear that he had such a jolly time on holidays. Alan concealed his anxiety and distress over the space of the next few days. Quick thinking had led him to pawn off his PlayStation and stereo system in a bid to raise funds for his sins. He borrowed what little money he could get from his friends and by the end of the week he had procured €980. More than €500 short, he didn’t know what to do. He thought about running away but couldn’t do that, he was warned that they’d go to his parents for the money anyway.

Ten days passed and his phone began to ring. At first he didn’t answer but after receiving some unsettling text messages he decided it best to answer and tell the truth, tell them he had come up short and beg for his life for more time to find funding. “Yeah c’mere I have an idea for ya youngfella right. I’ll come down for that money now in a bit and I’ll tell ya my idea, we can give ya extra time then right.” Alan was surprised at how calm Grahmo sounded. He thought he’d be in a world of trouble after confessing that he was €500 short for the debt. After speaking on the phone, Alan met with Grahmo and the other two lads. They made a proposition; If Alan could sell a small amount of merchandise for them he could go on to earn enough profit to iron out the debt and in turn buy himself some extra time. Alan took them up on the offer without hesitation.

In the weeks that passed Alan managed to clear the debt that he had accrued on holidays but he developed an expensive cocaine habit which in turn ensnared him into a cycle of buying and selling more drugs. He became more and more erratic and began to lose the run of himself through a lavish and dysfunctional lifestyle. Although he was good at hiding it, friends and family began to see a bit of a change in Alan. His behaviour was frantic at times and he often seemed edgy. He started using Valium to counteract his cocaine highs and eventually grew addicted to that too.

Alan’s life became manic. He had availed of a deal set up by Grahmo. The deal was that he transport a small consignment of merchandise to a stash spot in a tunnel and if he did that he could knock €250 off a new debt that had been mounting. Alan did the job, but according to Grahmo the merchandise had gone missing and all fingers were pointing towards Alan. Another €3,000 was added to Alan’s new debt. Another proposition was then made; if Alan could transport a large consignment from one end of the country to the the other then 50% of his fresh debt would be nullified. As he felt he had no choice, he obliged.

In a well-stocked rented car Alan set sail from Dublin to Galway. With a belly full of Valium his mind felt calm – calm enough for him to think about the ineffable mess he had gotten himself into. He wanted out, he wanted to return to normality. As he trundled down a country road in the midlands he thought about the flashy lights in the Beacon nightclub four months prior to this tainted road trip. Those flashy lights that started this journey of madness. He asked himself what he was doing with his life, how on earth did it wind up spiralling so far out of control? A rush of wind brushed by as he approached the sign that read ‘Welcome to County Galway.’ Nearing his destination he felt relieved to be offloading half of his overwhelming debt. He glanced in his rear-view mirror before signalling to change lanes so he could pull off at the next exit and reach his drop-off point. The rear-view mirror sparkled in his eyes. It was a sparkle made up of flashy lights but this time they came accompanied not by the sound of dance music or a rush of euphoria but rather the sound of a siren and a sinking sense that the holiday had come to an end.