A Night of Hot Air
By David Hackett
I always keep a journal when I travel. In it, I have a section I call “Characters of the Road”, in which I describe the interesting people I meet along the way. No matter where I go, it isn’t hard to fill up.
I’d just arrived in London for the start of my working holiday and was absolutely exhausted. I’d been awake for almost two days, so had no plans other than to check into my hostel and head to bed. I was mildly surprised that no one was in my eight bed dormitory when I walked in. A backpack was on one of the beds, but the owner was obviously still out. Forcing myself to stay awake just a little longer, I settled down to read my novel.
As I lay there reading, the door suddenly opened and a portly, menacing figure came crashing through. In fact he kept coming, slammed head first into the nearest bed and collapsed to the floor, motionless. I sat up in alarm, hitting my own bloody head on the bed above. I quickly rushed to his side, wondering if he was dead.
I knelt over him and was just about to prod his tummy when a small chuckle escaped his lips, his eyes flew open and he said “hello there, you must be my roommate then”. Still chuckling, he rose to his knees and held out his hand. “My name is Warwick, I come from Aberdeen and I’ve drunk 11 Guinness’s today”.
As I stammered “Dave, Sydney” and shook his hand, I realised that Warwick was surely going to be character number one in the journal.
Warwick was a pleasant chap with a wide smile and a booming voice. As he told me about his travel plans, which involved moving over to Canada for work, he frequently informed me that he’d “drunk 11 Guinness’s today”. Whilst describing the figure skating he’d seen on TV at the pub, he paused mid sentence, then clutched his stomach and ran to the bathroom.
This went on for several minutes. After apparently emptying his stomach, he threw the door open and stumbled out with a smile, admittedly smaller than the one earlier, but a smile nevertheless. Holding his hands out in bold supplication he proclaimed “I hereby say, better out than in”!
Then he climbed into bed and promptly fell asleep, snoring softly.
After a shake of the head and a bit of a giggle, I switched off the light and hopped into my own bed, very happy in the knowledge that the year ahead was at least going to be interesting.
The bed was soft and the outside street had little traffic, thus it was very quiet. I quickly reached that pleasant state where you know you are just moments away from sleep. I felt warm, comfortable and at peace in the world, ready to be carried off to dreamland…
Then I heard the loudest, lengthiest, most ear piercing, raucous fart I had ever heard in my life.
It went for about thirty seconds. After a moment’s hesitation, I burst into loud, wild laughter. I waited to hear what Warwick had to say for himself but slowly realised that he had slept completely through his disgrace. He snored on, oblivious. Stifling giggles, I turned over and was trying to get back to sleep when another loud explosion reverberated around the room. My lonely laughing started again. My eyes started to water. After an interval there was another one, then another, then another. For a very long time (hours it seemed) my sleeping companion exploded away. I couldn’t believe my ears. This guy just wouldn’t stop! It was tremendously distracting and a little tense (when was the next one going to come?), but despite its “uncoolness” it put the icing on the night’s cake.
Eventually to a very strange tune I was lulled into sleep. My last thoughts were again of the year that lay before me, it was surely going to be a blast.
The next morning I woke up and wondered if I had been dreaming about the previous evening’s experiences, but hoped that I hadn’t – because that would just be sick. Warwick cheerfully bade me good morning and asked if I had slept well. Trying not to smile, I said I’d slept alright. He said that he’d slept like a baby. Err yes.
There was one thing I wanted to find out from him, but I couldn’t think of a way of asking him directly, so I tried a roundabout approach. I casually asked him if he knew of any good dinner places nearby.
He replied, “Yeah, I ate at the place next to the pub last night. Fantastic; really delicious food. Do you like Indian at all?”
That night I got pizza.
A Night of Hot Air. TNT Travel Writing Awards 2009
A Night of Hot Air