I’m going to refer to him as K. If he reads this, and recognises himself, he'll know why he is K.
After that first encounter, we became good friends. Just really good, solid friends. Best friends, in fact.
It turns out he was the same age as me. He had come to university from the military where he had served in the first Gulf War and had been in both Kuwait and Iraq, pretty much fighting on the front line. He had tales that were so far removed from my experiences of the same years.
While he had been dodging bullets in Basra, I’d been downing vodka shots in Darlinghurst. Not quite the same thing, but both potentially disastrous. Being a bit older than the rest of the year (not much older, but enough to set us a little apart) meant we had things in common with each other that we didn’t with our colleagues.
On the last day before we headed off for the Christmas break, we planned to go into town and have a big night out. This wasn’t our usual thing. Over the last couple of months, we’d gotten into a habit of eating lunch together when our timetables matched and having a beer down the pub once or twice a week. We didn’t party together. Ever.
But that night, he turned up at my house with a bottle of vodka, a couple of ecstasy tabs and a big grin on his face. It was going to be some night.
As you can imagine, we danced and danced. We laughed a lot, acted like fools and avoided fights; such was the city centre on a Friday night. As the ecstasy kicked in, we were in a bubble of our own, a little world where only the two of us mattered.
As usual, the club closed too early and we started the walk home. It wasn’t far, but it was cold enough and late enough that it would normally feel a lot further than it was. That night however, with the ecstasy still buzzing through us, the walk would have passed quickly.
The journey home took us up a path behind some halls of residence, a path that was pretty deserted and dark – I wouldn’t have taken the path on my own, that’s for sure. Anyway, with K it was fine – he was certainly able to handle a couple of rowdy students if the situation arose.
We got to the end of the path - where we would each go our separate ways to our own houses. We said goodbye, agreed it had been a great evening and arranged to meet the next day before going back to our hometowns for the holidays.
I walked on towards my house. He called after me.
“Hold on mate. Wait up a minute”.
I walked back to where he was standing. “What’s up?” I said.
He pulled me into him and kissed me. It was crazy. It was intense. Trust me, this wasn’t the kiss of a friend wishing another friend a merry Christmas. This was filthy, dirty, great.
We came up for air. “You know, I really love you…in love with you”, he said.
He looked triumphant, ecstatic, but this quickly gave way to a look that was confused, lost, sad. He turned away from me and walked away. His walk turned into a run and he sprinted off. I was left there, stunned.
What had happened? What was that all about?
The next day I waited for him at the agreed time and place, but he didn’t show. I drove back to Birmingham wondering what it was all about. I was certain that the pills were to blame, but nonetheless, I found myself all at sea.
Had I just lost my best friend to a moment of drug-induced weirdness?