Heart Palpitations by Nethanel Kohen

“Drugs may be the road to nowhere, but at least they’re the scenic route.”

A man and woman stand in an apartment lobby at 2 AM.

Sonny: Who are these people again?

Alyssa: Well, I only know the girl. She’s English. We were supposed to live together but she ended up getting this place. We still hang out though.

The elevator arrives at their floor.

Sonny: Which floor?

Alyssa: Eight.

Sonny hits eight and it takes exactly two minutes and 35 seconds to climb to the eighth floor. As the couple jumps out of the shitty elevator, an English woman named Sophie greets them.

Sophie: You lot! How the fuck are ya?

Alyssa runs up to her and hugs her.

Alyssa: Ah! Take me inside! This is my friend Sonny.

Sonny and Sophie exchange kisses.

Sophie: Okay, here’s the thing, yeah? Right now my living situation is just a bit fucked. I couldn’t find shite to live in this city so I moved in with Ryan and the guy he found the apartment from.

Sonny: Who is Ryan?

Sophie: The guy I’ve been dating for a month and a half.

Sonny: And the other guy?

Sophie: Here’s the thing. He’s a 48-year-old man who will hit on you, Alyssa, and will try to sell you some cannabis leaf Sonny. He sells drugs and doesn’t do fuck all else. He drives me mad but he’s got a good flat.

Alyssa and Sonny both become very uncomfortable but don’t show their emotions.

Sophie: Well, what the fuck are we doing out in this shit hole? Let’s all go in.

The three open the door and walk into a nice apartment with the aforementioned 48 year-old man sitting down talking to two other women. One is a younger looking Argentine woman and the other is an Aryan woman who is at least 50 years old but looks around 30. Alyssa and Sophie start to head for Sophie’s room.

Sophie: You lot come with me for a fag.

Sonny: I’m a month done with cigarettes. You two go enjoy.

Sophie: Right then batty boy. Go grab a drink in the kitchen. Vodka, cups, Coke all in there. Go get tooled yeah?

Sonny smiles and walks into the kitchen. He pulls out his drink of choice and fills it up in a glass.

Ryan: Ey boyo! How it goes? Me name’s Ryan. I need to wazz. Wet me cup mate!

Sonny turns around just as Ryan leaves to see what could be the biggest Irishman he ever saw in his life. Sonny turns back to mix his drink not knowing if what he just heard was real or not, or if Ryan was a real person or if it was just his mind playing tricks on him. Sonny still pours another drink and walks into the next room. He sits next to the 48-year-old man and introduces himself.

Sonny: I like the place, name’s Sonny.

The man turns around and looks at Sonny in a curious way.

48-year-old man: Hey, thanks man. I really appreciate that. What brings you here man?

Sonny: My friend Alyssa is a friend of Sophie’s. She brought me here.

48-year-old man: Oh yeah? That’s cool man, that’s really cool.

Sonny and the 48-year-old man sit in silence for thirty seconds.

48-year-old man: Hey man you wanna smoke some weed?

Sonny: Yes, yes I do.

48-year-old man: Cool man. I’m sellin’ it really cheap. 100 pesos for 25 grams.

Sonny: That sounds great but I didn’t bring any cash with me.

48-year-old man: Hey man that isn’t a problem. Pay me back when you feel it’s right. And if you ever want opium my friend Fatso is also selling.

Sonny: Well alright then, let’s smoke.

The 48-year-old-man rolls a very fat joint and the two begin to smoke. The weed is much stronger than Sonny could have ever expected and he wakes up two minutes later in the midst of a deep conversation with the 48-year-old man.

48-year-old man: So you see what I’m sayin’ man? Vietnam was just this big excuse and shit for our government to smuggle in heroin. All the facts are there, man. They used our dead soldier’s coffins to bring it in. It’s all just a big lie, man. After Vietnam, America became the biggest supplier of heroin. I can totally lend you all the books I have about it.

The Argentine woman calls over the 48-year-old-man and he gets up to attend to her.

48-year-old-man: One sec man.

Once the 48-year-old-man leaves, Sonny realizes he’s stuck in a conversation that won’t end anytime soon. He glances over his shoulder and sees Alyssa and Sophie coming over. His heart drops with happiness. Finally, this incoherent conversation will end.

Alyssa: Hey! How’s it going?

Sonny: Fine, I guess.

Sophie: Are you getting tadgered?

Sonny: What?

Sophie: Banjaxed.

Sonny: Huh?

Sophie: Drunk, you jaffa!

Sonny: Oh yeah, I guess.

Sophie: Ryan! Get your Khyber Pass over here before I get Gypsy-kissed! Where is he? Gone for a Burton? He’s high on coke again; I can see his teeth movin’ about.

Sophie gets up to look for Ryan.

Sonny: What the fuck is going on in this apartment.

Alyssa: Yeah, I can never understand her.

Sonny: No, this whole scenario.

Sophie comes back with her hulking boyfriend—a man of at least 6’5” with biceps that rival Sonny’s thighs.

Ryan: Mucker, where’s me drink?

Sonny: Right here friend.

Ryan grabs the drink and pours half of it down his throat.

Ryan: How’s everything? Grand? What the fuck’s ye name?

Sonny: Sonny. Where are you from?

Ryan: Belfast. Nor'n Iron. What about ye?

Sonny: The states. Nowhere special.

Ryan: Lookin’ like a spide mate?

Sonny: Yeah, I don’t know what that is but sure.

48-year-old man: Hey Ryan, what’s up man? I was just talking about Vietnam.

Ryan: Stop faffin’ about again, you minge! Sonny come to the bog with me.

Sonny follows Ryan without any idea what a bog is. They both end up in the bathroom. Ryan slams the door shut and locks it.

Ryan: Alright, this is it, Mucker.

He pulls out a baggie of primo cocaine and lays it on the toilet seat.

Ryan: You want a line? Me bird don’t snort lines until she goes out late.

Sonny: Well sure.

Ryan: Right, it’s 50 for a gram.

Sonny: Yeah, the thing is I don’t have any money so..

Ryan: I’ll lend you the money. I don’t give a fuck.

Sonny: Oh, that’d be really nice of you.

Ryan: Ye pay me back tomorrow. If not I’ll find ye. Know that mate.

Sonny: Yeah I can definitely do that. I’m good for it.

Ryan (under his breath): I don’t give a fuck. Give a fuck. A fuck.

Ryan pulls out another useless  without a Ziploc seal, and hands it to Sonny.

Sonny: Do you have a small bag I could put the blow in?

Ryan: Right, just a ticker mate. Got a line for your old supplier?

Ryan leaves the room, and then walks back with a little piece of plastic wrap that has blood all over it. He hands it to Sonny.

Sonny: I think you’re bleeding.

Ryan: Oh fuck! Bit me fucking thumb up! Ye can still use it mate! Don’t be a tosser!

Sonny reluctantly takes the piece of plastic. He washes the Irish blood off and racks up two lines for himself and his old supplier.

Both men head towards an open bedroom and blow their lines. Ryan first, Sonny second.


Sonny: Wooh! Good shit, good good shit.

Ryan: OOH FUCK ME! Sonny listen good mate—I killed a cat once. Twasn’t a driving accident, I just grabbed a feline near me flat and crushed it with me hands.

Sonny: Oh no. Really?

Ryan: Matey don’t ever let yeself do anything on the devil’s dandruff. Never, ever mucker.

Sonny: Oh yeah I know man, I’ve had too—

Ryan: Mate, you’ll be acting the maggot in seconds flat. C’mere look at this here.

Ryan pulls down his pants and shows Sonny a tramp stamp tattoo of the iconic Argentine comic Mafalda.

Ryan: Only a right eeijit would do that ey!

Sonny: Fuck man. Fuck, fuck that looks so bad. Ha! What is that?

Ryan: A right fuckin knobhead got me bolloxed and stitched that on me arse. Ye know what I did mate? I kicked his fuck in is what I did alright! Ye better take care of your old mucker tonight and not let something like that bloody shite happen.

Sonny: Trust in me.

Ryan: I’ll trust in ye like I would me da. Away in the head I am. Me thinks I need to ride the white horse stronger.

Ryan takes another massive line and jumps up and down. He does not offer a line to his new friend.

Ryan: What kind of clock did ye have in yer old house mate?

Sonny: I can’t really remember. I don’t know if we even had a house clock. We all probably had our own watches.

Ryan: The house clock is a part of the family, mucker. It’s what defines the house. It defines the family. In me old house we had a grand clock that me da got from his da during the war. It stood over our old house and made us feel whole, mate.

Sonny: Wow, I really never thought of a clock in that way.

Ryan: Well I’m sure you’re also not addicted to webcam pornography like I am either mate.

Sonny: I’ve dabbled.

Ryan: Sonny, it’s just become a voyeuristic thing for me now. I don’t even fancy watching them rub the old goose anymore—I just need to watch them. And obviously it’s much better if they don’t know I’m watching, mate. Sometimes I’ll just search the interwebs for women I may know from me old school or street.

Sonny sips on his drink and looks at Ryan whose eyes are closed. Sonny takes a deep breath and finishes his drink.

Ryan: Sonny, lately I’ve been unable to stop meself from watching Japanese anime porno. I never had any sort of attraction to an animated character before. Brothaman, it’s a fucking shame—Howl’s Moving Castle is one of me favorite movies and I can’t watch it again without getting meself hard.

Ryan grabs a cookie out of his pocket and eats it while Sonny stares at him. Ryan sits right next to Sonny and puts his arms around him.

Ryan: Me new mate. I’ve been gone for so long. I’m so tired.

Sonny: You’ve been gone from home for a long time?

Ryan: Your old Ryan is coming up on 4 years now. Traveled all over this world. Nor'n Iron seems so far away. I just miss the sweets, Sonny.

Sonny: I kind of know what you’re going through. I guess it’s been a little–

Ryan: You know what really makes you feel gone mate?

Sonny: What?

Ryan: Waking to the voices of a foreign language. After that mate, you know you’re not home anymore.

Sonny: I never thought of that.

Ryan: Well that and being woken up by a 14-year-old Laotian girl kicking the piss out of you because you stole her last piece of bread the night before.

Ryan stands up and heads towards the door.

Ryan: Going to the bog and to get meself a biscuit. Steady mate.

Sonny: Right.

Ryan gets up and walks towards the door. He turns around and looks at Sonny with the most serious expression he has shown yet.

Ryan: And one more thing, Sonny. Ye better brush yer teeth tonight, ye hear me? Gingivitis is a serious threat that has hurt men stronger than ye. No use being wick and naff about it. Brush the fucking teeth, mate.

Ryan leaves the room and Sonny sits down on the bed.

Sonny: What the fuck is going on?

As Sonny lies back on the bed trying to find himself and his thoughts, he feels a body creep up behind him and spoon him. He feels breaths go down his spine and wonders if he should turn around or not. He senses that it can’t be Ryan because the body is too small but, still, the feeling isn’t right. He realizes that he is out of options and he turns around to see Sophie staring straight into his pupils.

Sophie: Ello.

Sonny jumps up fearing any repercussions from Ryan and walks away from the bed.

Sonny: What are you doing?

Sophie: You know I fancy you, Sonny.

Sonny: No you don’t. You have a boyfriend who is incredibly large. Go to him.

Sophie: Who? Ryan? That barmy watches the bluey all day. He’s good for nothing but Charlie.

Sonny: Wha— the way you speak is making this whole situation so much more difficult than it has to be. You must have learned regular English in school.

Sophie: Sonny, don’t be such cabbage. Now take off them clobbers and let’s make the beast with two backs.

Sonny: You’ve been making homosexual references towards me the entire night. Why are you now making advances towards me?

Sophie: We English aren’t very mature like the great Americans. I apologize, Mr. Civilized American!

Sonny: No. This is not going to happen.

Sonny walks out of the room and leaves the door slightly ajar.

Sophie: Shut your fucking cakehole, you bum bandit!

Sonny walks into the living room that has now filled up with people. He finds a drunk Alyssa talking to the 48-year-old man. Her eyes constantly shift away from him and Sonny can see she is stuck in one of those conversations. He decides to rescue her and flee the scene fearing any repercussions from Ryan.

Sonny: Alyssa. We need to go. Like now.

Alyssa: I haven’t finished my drink yet so we aren’t leaving.

Sonny grabs Alyssa’s drink and finishes it.

Sonny: Vamos!

48-year-old man: Hey man, don’t feel like any pressure man. You guys can sleep here, no problem. My bed can fit three people easily and Sonny, you can sleep on the couch. It’s really comfy, man.

Sonny stares at the man and diverts his eyes back to Alyssa.

Sonny: We are leaving. Now!

Alyssa: We’re going to a bar and you’re buying me a drink!

Alyssa gets up and Sonny grabs her hand to pull her towards the door.

48-year-old man: Fine, leave. You’re both laymen anyways.

The two of them finally reach the door and Sonny quietly closes it and calls for the elevator. Surprisingly, it arrives in seconds flat and both enter the elevator. Sonny hits the first floor and they go on their way.

Alyssa: Sonny, what the fuck is going on?

Sonny: No words can describe it because I don’t know what either of them said to me. I just need to get out of here fast and get into a taxi and drive as far as I can from this apartment.

They reach the ground floor and Sonny sighs a sigh of relief. Both of them walk out of the elevator and head towards the door. Sonny smiles and hugs Alyssa. He grabs the door and pulls but is unable to open the door.

Alyssa: I think we need the key to get out.

Sonny’s eyes bulge and his heart begins to race. A loud bang is heard upstairs through the elevator.


Sonny hears Ryan’s voice and begins to panic. He looks for any escape at all but is unable to find one.


Sonny finds a corner and sits down.

Sonny: 'O beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain. For purple mountain majesties…'


—This story is based on true events—


Nethanel Kohen lives in Brooklyn. He doesn’t know why.