In the cool evening of a warm early summer day, Alexander sat sipping Vodka and flavoured mineral water. Steven and Mark had beer. The sun had gone down an hour ago, and there was some impatience about the events of the night.

“When are the chicks getting here?” Steven bounced his legs on the balls of his feet like pistons and took a hard drag on his cirgarette.

“God, I don’t know,” returned Alexander, perturbed. “Skipp said he’d be here as soon as he could.” Alexander put his drink down and started poking at something in the dirt with the end of a broom.

“Well Christ, Sandy, don’t you even know what they’re like? We’ve been here an hour and a half already. We could be playing pool or something”

“Yeah, what are they like,” Mark became interested.

“I told you already, one’s got long red hair, one’s short, and one’s Indian, like Skipp. And I don’t know when they’ll be here. And they probably won’t come at all, knowing Skipp, and for God’s sake Steve, if they do come you’re not going to do yourself any favours sucking on cigarettes, bouncing your legs like a madman, and screaming ‘where’s the chicks!’”

Mark came to Steve’s defence, “And I suppose you’re going to get yourself some favours with your fancy shirt and my pop’s old wedding shoes.” Mark’s father had donated his nuptial shoes to Alexander during a particularly tight spot. He had said at the time (with a nudge and a wink that only older men can give to their younger counterparts) that he wasn’t to be held accountable if Alexander was killed under the stampede of women that would be attracted by the shoes.

“Bugger off,” said Alexander.

“Look, we just want to know if they’re alright, you know. I mean, worth waiting for. Hell, I don’t give a damn if they’re dogs. Skipp’s still better than us for it.”

Alexander picked up on the lighter tone. “I’m sure Steve and ‘Red’ will get along.”

Mark and Alexander laughed at Steven’s big smile set against the mantle of his shocking red sideburns and gelled hair. Mark had a cigarette hanging from his mouth, and had been searching around for matches in his pockets. Alexander started glancing around in an effort to help Mark. Instead he found his drink and resumed sipping it. Eventually Mark was fed up.

“Where are the damn matches? Gimme your lighter, Steve.”

Steven looked put off at having to dig into his pocket. “Can’t you even keep a hold of a pack of matches?” He produced his lighter and winged it at Mark, knocking the cigarette out of his mouth.

“Jesus! Watch what the hell you’re doing!”

“Maybe that’ll teach you to keep better hold of your own lighter.” Steven grinned.

“I’ll tell you what it’ll teach me to get a hold of, pal.” Mark got up and grasped Steven by the collar. Steven was trying to get up while struggling with Mark’s hand. The door bell rang at the front of the house. Alexander got up.

“Will you children please try to behave? Christ.” Mark and Steven moved off, and Alexander went to answer the door. The porch was silent for a few minutes. Alexander returned and the porch was empty.

“Guys, Skipp’s here.” The porch was still empty. Alexander turned back to talk into the house. “I don’t know. They were here a minute ago. You may as well tell the girls to come on through.”

Alexander tidied up some beer bottles, and was about to refresh his own drink when he heard the scuffling pair return.

“Sandy! Christ, Sandy!”

Alexander turned around.

“He hit me Sandy! He really goddamn hit me.” Steven’s mouth was red with blood.

“Jesus Mark, what the hell were you thinking?” Alexander looked at Steven clutching his lip.

“I didn’t mean it. Honest, Sand. We were just playing around, you know. Tell him I didn’t mean it. You believe me don’t you?”

Alexander looked sober. “What the hell were you thinking. I don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it.”

The girls walked through onto the porch with Skipp behind them. They each smiled as they saw Alexander, then looked around. Alexander looked desperately at Skipp. Mark and Steven, dirty and bloody, straightened up and came out from behind Alexander. Skipp rolled his eyes when he saw them. The girls looked astonished and vague, as if there were some kind of mix up with the address. They looked at Skipp for information. Steven was catching blood in his hand.

“Um,” started Alexander, “That’s Steven.” He pointed to the blood. “Or most of him anyway. And that’s Mark.” Mark tried a smile. “Mark’s been taking a self-defence class, and, well, Steven umm... hasn’t.” Alexander tried a laugh. The girls laughed. Steven went into the house.

“Hey there Mark.” Skipp looked at the scene. “Not much has changed, eh?” He wanted to restore some order. “Well, this is Ranya.” He was motioning to the Indian girl. “This is Angie.” The red-head smiled. “And that’s Marie.” The short girl looked at Mark and then at Alexander.

Marie liked Alexander already. She watched the way he scratched his chin, and followed his hand away when it stopped scratching. Alexander noticed. “Nice to meet you all. You look cold Marie. Are you cold? Would you like me to get you a blanket?”