Ways from distracting oneself from what one is meant to be doing


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Length: words

Notes: Written as a christmas present for Anna

Distractions by afterism

Julian was never very good at procrastinating. If there was something looming over him, he preferred to do it and get rid of it rather than let it hang around, niggling at him for weeks until suddenly there was a deadline chasing towards him and he had nothing to throw at it.

This year, however, the thought of writing in all those Christmas cards and wishing all those people another bloody happy new year seemed something unbearable, and before he had even got halfway through making a list of everyone who just about deserved a card, he threw down his pen with an exasperated flourish, closely followed by the pad of paper he had been scribbling on. Reaching forward, his hands scrabbled across the coffee table in front of him, a small grunt of accomplishment as he found his mobile phone amongst the mess and then slumped back onto his squishy sofa. He slowly began searching through the phonebook, looking for someone who could possibly meet him down the pub in ten minutes and spend the rest of the evening getting wonderfully drunk.

There was not much hesitation as he scrolled straight past Julia, already knowing she was busy. He continued hammering the down button and paused, just for a moment, as ‘Matt B.’ rolled up on the screen – it lasted no longer than a few seconds as memories of the last night of the tour burst into his mind, of jokes and teasing and touches that went on for a little too long, of the pink pants and Bainbridge’s moustache and the horrible, hilarious combination of sticking them together. The after show party may have been a slight, unfocused haze but he could hear clearly enough the whispers and scrapings and guttural moans as neither said stop but he couldn’t recall either saying go.

He kept scrolling, whipping past Noel and Oly and so many others without much thought, not really noticing until he was looking at the same names for the second time and knowing he didn’t actually want to talk to any of them. His furious button pushing slowed until he was back at Matt’s entry, shining up so innocently.

His thumb flicked over to the call button, realising they hadn’t seen each other for far too long.

There was nothing that got Bob Fossil more excited than knowing Dixon Bainbridge was coming back to the zoo. It didn’t matter if he had mentioned staying for an hour or for an fortnight, Fossil started making arrangements weeks in advance, ordering the cages to be cleaned and the floors to be swept and the huts to be tidied, somehow forgetting it would need to be done all over again when Bainbridge actually arrived. The staff, it seemed, had long since gotten used to these rituals and rarely made the effort (no more than anyone usually did, at any rate), leaving Fossil to his flustered orders and nonsensical rambling.

As usual, the Zooniverse staff clumped together by the gate looked utterly bored, untidy and uninterested as they patiently waited for Bainbridge to arrive (any excuse not to work), Fossil dancing excitedly in front of them and barking off orders that no one listened to. He almost appeared to be running out of steam (his speech started slurring more than normal, and a few wondered how much he had already drunk in celebration) when finally a taxi screeched to a halt outside and Bainbridge swept out, striding up to the gates and ignoring the entire assemble in favour of sneering at Bob.

There was no change to the usual greet-and-slap (though maybe he had kneed him a little harder than normal, and Bob thought maybe it showed he’d missed him) and then Bob yelled at everyone to get back to work, get away from him so he could coo over Bainbridge’s bags and his coat and wrap himself up in that lingering smell of whiskey and musk and gunpowder.

He found Bainbridge in his office, waiting for him in his chair with that air of arrogance and I’m-doing-you-a-huge-favour-and-don’t-you-forget-it-my-friend. The bags were promptly dumped against the wall and Bob nearly leapt on him, stopped only by Dixon raising his hand.


‘What is it, m’Bainbridge?’

Dixon ran his gaze over him, taking in the baby blue suit (looking smaller than ever, he realised. The fool must have tried washing it) and the carefully side-brushed hair, the eager grin as Bob started hopping from foot to foot.

‘Dance for me, Fossil.’

Bob gave a little skip of glee and hurried over to the desk, leaning over to push the play button on his old cassette player and jumping back to the middle of his office as the opening strains of Dreadlock Holiday cascaded from the speakers. He started moving, using every part of his body as his visual instruments (Dixon snorted at the body popping) and letting himself go with complete, helpless and moderately insane abandon. There was a tentative knock on the door, followed by the hasty shuffling of feet as Dixon yelled, ‘Fuck off!’ and whoever it was outside made a dash for it.

Almost instantly forgetting the interruption, Dixon leaned back and watched Fossil’s moves with a wide, leering smirk.

Matt sunk back into the leather armchair, idly swirling his whiskey around the glass as he could neither be bothered to drink it nor put it down. To his right sat Rich, flicking through someone’s newspaper with a complete lack of interest as they waited for the surrounding crew to finish whatever the hell they were fiddling about with and continue with the filming.

He swirled it another time before making his mind up and knocking it back in one go, dropping the empty glass onto the table between them. He glanced around and started tapping out an uneven rhythm on the padded arm of the chair, drawing the attention of Rich easily (he was already looking for something – anything – to save him from reading the paper cover to cover, including the adverts and the one-inch stories on a minor burglary etc). Staring at each other for a long moment, Matt rolled his eyes and Rich dropped the folded paper on the floor, whining ‘This sucks, man.’

He grunted in agreement, looking at the crew again and realising they were going to be here for a long while yet. His gaze flicked back to Rich and he drawled, ‘How about we find somewhere a little more private, hmm?’, standing up before Rich had replied and striding off set, knowing he would quickly come scampering after him.