I ignored her, lit a Marlboro and sucked in smoke. First of my New Year’s resolutions had lasted less than a day, but I had weightier matters to contemplate.
I exhaled a smoke ring into the swirling wind. Before midnight, the deadline: I’d been volunteered to climb up the condo wall to the seventh floor roof wearing a Spiderman costume.
All for our pub charity. Cancer Relief.
I gulped in another lungful. The climbing didn’t faze me - I’d scaled Ben Nevis only last summer, but wearing that costume gave me the creeps.
I glanced at my watch, wiped a bead of sweat off my brow.
‘It’s early, I said.
Sheila chuckled. ‘Cold feet, huh?’
My feet were fine. Encased inside my Five Ten’s Team VXi shoes, I could climb up glass. Just like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
‘Nah, it’s this stupid costume.’ Propped up on a coat hanger, it seemed to glare malevolently at me. ‘Whose bright idea was it?’
‘It will look great on you.’ She gave me a pleading look. ‘Honestly.’
‘No it won’t.’
I played the evasion card. ‘You carry it. I’ll put it on when we get there.’
I exhaled noisily, then dragged in a last lungful, before flicking the butt away.
Gathered outside our condo were several pub regulars - definitely not mates - swigging from cans of extra-strength lager and munching crisps, along with a few apartment layabouts I recognised. A black cat was prowling around, no doubt attracted by the prospect of food.
Not much of a crowd.
But all there to watch me fall.
I pulled on Sheila’s jumper, hissed into her ear. ‘Let’s forget this.’
She hissed back. ‘Don’t be a fairy.’ She tossed the costume at me. ‘Put it on.’
I flinched back, but as the material rustled in the wind, the cat jumped at it and brought it to the ground.
Then clawed a hole in Spiderman’s head.
I felt a sudden release. ‘That’s my boy,’ I said, retrieving the torn costume. ‘Spiderman had it coming.’
Bemused looks as I donned headless Spiderman and strode over to the wall. It took me fifteen exhilarating minutes to scale it and reach the roof.
I stripped off the costume, held up my fist in triumph and, waving to the watchers below, cast Spiderman to the winds.