Chapter 4 – First night
That first night Danny lay back in the big bed looking round at the strange room. The shadows swirled in the corners of the room but the place had a friendly feel. It felt like the beginning of something.
Suzy had gone by late afternoon, heading off back to her parents’ house in the suburbs and her life there. The excitement and chaos of London was not for her. She’d had a taste and was not sorry to be leaving it behind. As far as she was concerned it was overrated and hadn’t lived up to expectations.
Danny had bought a loaf, milk, some cheese and tea-bags and settled in for some cheese on toast, a nice cup of tea and some peace and quiet in which to gather his thoughts. He was glad to have the place to himself. He was grateful to Suzy but her incessant banter did not provide pauses for him to settle. So much had happened. It needed digesting. It had all been so quick. It took a couple of hours for him to unwind.
Putting his things away had not taken long. He had carefully propped up his twenty selected albums against the wall in the living room; put his sleeping bag away in a cupboard and his clothes in a drawer. Job done. He had moved in.
He sat in the armchair and watched some telly but it was the usual vacuous drivel and he turned it off. He did not have his stereo so playing his music was not possible. The two bars of the fire soon warmed the place up and the dank smell seemed to retreat as the temperature rose. It felt good, but he was already at a loose end so he took himself off to bed early to read.
He lay there in the bed but could not focus on the book. It had been a bewildering day and his mind was racing. The bed, which had felt damp, soon warmed up and he lay back on the pillow with his hands behind his head watching the patterns the light from the streetlamp was making on the ceiling and feeling peaceful and contented. There was a whole new world of people around him but it seemed quiet up here on the fourth floor. He could not hear anyone from any of the flats and even the traffic sounded muffled. Looking out through the window he could see the tops of the three big trees that stood in front of the house. They swayed around in the breeze. It was hard to imagine he was still in the heart of London.
That scene at work had been surreal. He’d been toying with leaving and doing something different but had done little about it. For nearly three years he’d been working as an Animal house technician on low pay. They’d given him day release to do a Master’s degree. So he’d stuck it out. A Master’s degree would give him possibilities.
Danny had completed the project for his degree and handed it in. It was thorough and conclusive. In his mind the end was nigh. He would soon be out of here. Already his mind had started to mull over the possibilities.
His supervisor had called him in. The report was fine – it required a bit of tidying up but nothing major. It was just that his findings were at odds with a similar recent piece of published research in the same area.
Danny had shrugged – So what? He’d come up with his conclusions and they’d come up with theirs; what if they did not agree? It did not invalidate his results. This was what research was all about. He could not see what the problem was.
His supervisor had not seen it quite the same way. He wanted him to do a further investigation in order to back up his research. Danny had stood there unable to take this in. A new investigation would take at least another year. It would tie him in to further year of subsistence pay and tedious, mind-numbing peering through a microscope. He could not believe his ears. There was no way that he was going to do that. His degree was only supposed to take two years and he’d already taken two and a half. Three to four years on a lousy Master’s Degree was absurd. It did not bear thinking about. He felt his hackles rise.
They’d argued. His supervisor dug his heels in. Danny became more and more irate.
In the end Danny had had quite enough and, without a second thought, told him to stuff it and stormed out. He’d gone straight round to the front office and handed his notice in. That was the end of his research and the end of his job.
Danny lay there in the dark running through the whole sequence of events. Should he have meekly taken the extension and lived with it for a year? Cheryl thought that he should have done. She’d been furious. With a Master’s Degree he had options. He could have found a career.
But Danny had always promised himself that there was a ‘Fuck it’ point. He’d reached his. The thought of another year of boredom was simply too much to bear. Besides, the man had been intolerable. He didn’t have to take that shit.
He decided that he didn’t regret it one little bit.
He didn’t regret breaking up with Cheryl either. They’d both reached the end of that one. When things are not right they are not going to be right. The argument over him walking out of his job was merely the final straw. Somehow he did not fit into the groove that Cheryl had mapped out for him. He had other ideas.
It had been time to move on.