A thin layer of smoke lay above the room, coalescing and gathering at the same point. Just where the smoke alarm sat. The slow pulse of the light on the smoke alarm signaled something. George forgot what it was meant to signal, but it was meant to signal something. And as he sat in his lounge room, he held his head in his hands. Things had been stressful lately and the heat wave that had spread across the country didn’t help too much either.

A sticky sweat was apparent all over his body. Beneath his armpits, in-between his legs and slowly running from his forehead down the side of his head to drip at a steady rate onto the ground. He held the cigarette in-between his thumb and index finger. That too was coupled with a sweat. He wasn’t in the best of shape, which only seemed to exacerbate things. The rolls of fat that lay within his stomach produced little folds in his body. Beneath those folds there would be more sweat.

That was the fragrance that lay about the room. A damp musk of his own body odour and the smell of burnt tobacco that went up into the air and then settled on the surface areas around the lounge room. ‘What the hell was he meant to do?’, George thought to himself. If he didn’t stress so much, he wouldn’t smoke so much and if he didn’t smoke so much he would probably have the energy to pry his fat arse off of the sofa seat and do some physical exercise. But as it was, his arse was glued to that thing like a hamburger patty that had been left on the grill too long.

George didn’t have air conditioning in his apartment, his single bedroom apartment. The only reprieve from the onslaught of heat was when he stepped outside. It was still hot outside, yet the sun treated his single bedroom apartment like a small pressure cooker. So instead of staying inside George sat outside his apartment. He sat outside it with his music blaring and with a pack of cigarettes. Slowly, cigarette by cigarette, he was churning through the pack like a chain smoking maniac. He unbuttoned his T-shirt and let his rolls of fat all hang out. He had to move around, from side to side of where he sat so that he could get enough oxygen to the rolls of fat that lumped together through his body.

That’s when his neighbour came outside to have a cigarette next door. He was also suffering from heat stroke. The warm weather was affecting him too, and making his blood run hot. He looked at George who sat there with his packet of cigarettes.

“George, you farkin’ disgust me mate.”

“Hey, there’s no need to be like that.” George responded.

His neighbour paid him no attention and slowly sucked away at his own cigarette. Trying to ignore the man who lived next door to him. Unlike George he possessed a thin body, not athletic, but thin. His neighbour went inside to his home, which was a mess of different things. His neighbour slowly started cooking a dose of fentanyl in a spoon. He lit a match underneath the spoon and with the match stick mixed in the crushed up tablet with some water.

George could hear the neighbour speaking to himself next door, “Who needs an air conditioner when you’ve got this shit!? Fark yeah!”

His neighbour wrapped a belt around his arm and slowly prepared a syringe.

And as that was happening George stared off into the sun, the sun that was insistently bearing down upon him and his neighbourhood. It was reaching into the mid-forties in a Celsius degree temperature. The sweat above his brow slowly seeped down and into his eyes. The salty sweat caused his eyes to sting. Next year it would be worse. It would get hotter and hotter the year after that.

 

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