Blue, green and red neon lights pulsated above, mingling in a Technicolor dream.
The dancers ranged in age from “Too-young-to-know-better” to those obviously trying to get their ‘groove back’.
Smoke machines cast the scene in a thick white blanket, hiding the feverish, sweaty couples from the prying eyes of their immediate neighbours. The music boomed, shaking the floor with its bass.
I had her hand in mine and another on her hip. She was facing away, butÂ I could tell she wasÂ enjoying herself. We were participating in that age-old courtship ritual of the half-grind, half-attempting-to-dance motion that so many of the other couples seemed to have mastered.
The place was class, but not in the traditional-sense. In the âThis is insaneâ Irish-sense of the word.
The dance floor was packed. Half-naked ladies were orbited by half-sober men and the bar staff were overrun by orders. I couldnât have cared less.
The place was infamous for their trademark multi-coloured shots of alcohol. They were absolutely loaded and got you drunker faster, hence their appeal. The shots were the reason behind the choice of locale. Before we left the pub, Iâd already wracked my brain for a full 30 minutes on the best, most intoxicating club in town.
Iâd been here a few times with Patrick when Iâd first arrived in Malmo, and heâd introduced me to the shots himself.
âTheyâll have ye so bladdered, every woman will look like Alicia Vikander, trust me bud!â Heâd insisted after the fourth.
I did trust him. All I got by the end of the night was a splitting migraine and a pool of vomit next to me on the floor of our apartment. Iâd made it my landing pad after collapsing.
As soon as weâd gotten into the place, Iâd steered Lanaâs brother to the bar. Iâd insisted on the shots, at least two each.
To get the night started, I insisted. He refused, saying heâd drunk a bit too much already.
The Irish are better drinkers than the Siberians then, Iâd said. He downed the two without another word.
I pretended to down mine, then immediately went to the bathroom to spit it out into a sink.
Over the next hour I repeated the process, always running to spit out my shots as he downed his ever more unsteadily. How he didnât cop that I wasnât even drinking them, I never figured out. Maybe he didnât care.
He passed out after a short while, man could he drink. We woke him up and carted him off into a taxi. Not exactly a safe thing to do, but Lana assured me it was the taxi driver who should be worried, not us. I then duly forgot all about him and dominated the dance floor with her in my arms.
I have to be honest here, every now and then, Iâd try to cop a feel, gentleman that I am. Tried to look down her top too, but she only pushed me away or giggled. I even laughed at myself.
What was I doing?
In my defence, you have to understand this girl was stunning. Her casual top and tight jeans combo accentuated, rather than hid, her curves.
I was actually having fun.
Then the DJ, a rotund bastard with a goatee bigger than his face, declared the club about to close. One last song, then. One last chance,then.
At this, Lana turned voluptuously in my arms until she faced me.
The music reverberated through the floor, the quick rhythm keeping pace with my heart. Her eyes changed colour in tune to the lights overhead: chocolate brown, turquoise, and back to emerald.
Her lips were slightly parted, the ruby-red of them showing vivid through my heightened senses. I could feel her breath on my face, was she nervous? She was getting closer.
We were too close to go back now, so I dove in.
We kissed lightly at first, almost as if allowing the other to pull back if theyâd wished. We didnât. We kissed harder the second time.
Iâd never kissed a woman like this. Iâd never felt this electrified as our lips melted into one another.
I held her tight, my arms keeping her there. She had her arms around my neck, pulling me even closer.
We finally broke apart, still clasped in each otherâs embrace. The music stopped.
âWell, it looks like itâs time to move on.â I said, not exactly in a hurry to turn my words into action.
âItâs a shame, I think I was enjoying myself a little.â I added, with a wry smile. She smiled back
âWell, I would invite you back to mine, but my brotherâs there.â She said.
Yeah, her brother. As if Iâd forgotten all about him, a drunken Siberian would be a mood-killer for sure.
âYou can come to mine?â I suggested, as if Iâd just hit upon the idea that second.
She thought about that for a second, and just when I thought Iâd offended her somehow, she replied: âWonât Patrick be there?â
My phone was out of my pocket from the word âPatrickâ. I dialled his number and waited fretfully on his answer. She went to collect our jackets from the cloakroom.
A voice answered, tired, and blearily asked who the fuck this was ringing him at this hour.
It was Patrick, or I didnât know my mate.
âHere man, I need the absolute biggest favour. Iâm bringingÂ that bird LanaÂ back to the apartment, can you leave the place for a good few hours at least tonight?â
A pause. Another longer pause. Then: âMaybe, but itâll cost ya.â
âIf you want the ride, then youâve got to promise to clean the entire place for the next week AND buy the next 2 rounds when we go out.â
I almost shouted at him to go fuck himself and hang up, then I noticed Lana coming back. She was smiling, her black jacket hugging her body nicely.
The lights had come back on full force as the place closed up, and her beauty checked my reply. I remembered the kiss.
I agreed with Paddyâs deal.
I imagined him rubbing his chubby hands with glee. He said heâd give me the place for the whole night, and only come back the next afternoon.
âYouâre after reminding me, I have a bird meself I can pop around to. Probably shouldâve called her last week, but sure absence and the heart and all that.â
âPaddy, youâre a legend.â I exclaimed as I hung up.
âWill we go then?â I asked, proffering her my arm.
She hooked her arm into mine, and we walked out of the club. Youâd swear we knew each other years by how close weâd gotten in the past few hours.
We stopped at the corner and I tried to hail a taxi. Managed to inveigle one, who was about to bomb past us to beat the traffic lights, by having Lana signal to him rather than me. It worked. Iâm great at ideas.
Taxi drivers in Malmo are grand, just not the best. They mostly fail at picking up the subtle hint that the guy whoâs calling over to them and/or waving his arm to attract their attention, may actually want a lift somewhere.
Still, anything beats the âDo you know what I thinkâŚâ conversations of the Irish taxi driver. You either agree with everything they say or you get out voluntarily to find another. Nearly everyone chooses the former.
Anyways, back to the story.
We chatted animatedly on the journey back to mine. I found we both had the same,Â inappropriate sense of humour. She had me in near-hysterics with her impressions of her brother at home, more than likely hugging the toilet close to him like a lover and puking his guts up.
Before too long we stopped. I gave the taxi man the fare and I opened the apartment door for her. Well, it was really the apartment condominiumâs door. I lived on the 3rd floor of one of those refurbished apartments that also include communal washer/dryer, bike shed and of course a bomb shelter. Yeah that last one threw me too, first time I moved in.
I mentioned it to Lana as we were waiting on the elevator. She asked why the hell the place would have one of those.
âAh sure, the Swedes plan for everything!â
She laughed as if Iâd been joking, sadly I wasnât.
Put a Swedish person out in the wilderness with a toothpick and theyâll end up building a city in a week. At least that was always my contention.
Finally the elevator arrived and we crowded in. The little thing was as old as the building, but still worked okay. The doors did break down an awful lot. I tried to freak Lana out by saying we could easily get stuck in here if they broke down again.
âOh no, stuck alone in a small room with nothing to do. Wouldnât that be terrible.â She said, giving me a coy wink.
I chucklingly agreed that it would indeed.
âBut I think we could find something to do.â I embraced her again, quickly giving her a lingering kiss before the doors opened onto my floor.
Thatâs when I remembered what my original plan was. This was supposed to be a one-night thing, Nothing more than a fling to get me back on track.
My key was in the lock.
I glanced back at her and thought, hell.
May as well get side-tracked.