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  • Paul and I sat on the sofa. Fingers adeptly navigating Ryu and Ken around the screen. However the crunch of pixel on pixel wasn’t holding our attention. That was instead directed at the absence of noise from the bedroom next door.

    Andy’s room.

    I first met Andy at Boxes. A subterranean hangout whose darkened confines offered beer, girls and Brit-pop. On my virgin foray onto that slickened dance floor I crashed into a whirling dervish clad in a Smiths t-shirt. Flailing arms and long fringe. Laughing, we helped each other up and wandered off together towards the bar to tend our wounds.

    So began my friendship with Andy.

    We bonded over a shared love of comics (Tank Girl/Wolverine), films (Tarantino), video games (Wipeout/Tekken) and music (an endless list).

    I can even lay claim to being the one that introduced him to his future ex-wife.

    She was the one that called the ambulance when his lung collapsed. The diagnosis was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    He underwent treatment. Hair-loss, weight-loss, throwing up blood, tubes hanging from shriveling flesh. He tolerated it all with his formidably positive attitude.

    The cancer was beaten and so our clubbing days resumed. True, his t-shirts now hung off of him, a natty bandanna instead of a fringe. But we whirled ourselves with abandon. Converse squeaking, heads nodding, fingers strumming.

    The cancer returned a second time. Andy beat it back.

    One Saturday Paul, Andy and I met up on the high street. We sat on a bench watching the shoppers traipse by. I lit a cigarette, enjoying the sensation of the smoke filling my lungs.

    Then Andy spoke quietly.

    His cancer had returned for the third time.

    It was terminal.

    At twenty-five he was going to die.

    We walked to the nearby record shop in silence. Paul and I furiously flicking through vinyl to conceal the tears that fell. Andy however demanded that we should mark the occasion by getting pissed.

    I recall little. A maelstrom of rum and sweat, of dance floors and kebabs, the long walk home in the pouring rain.

    We awoke the next morning in Andy’s front room. The irrational fear hit us that he had died during the night. We strained listening for a moan, a cough.

    Nothing.

    Paul hated gaming, but he booted up the Nintendo to delay the inevitable checking on the corpse scenario. Andy had become Schrodinger’s cat.

    So we sat in silence, Guile hitting Blanka. Huddled in duvets, smelling of last night’s beer and dead breath.

    Then the corpse wandered in, scratching at his bald scalp.

    ‘Who fancies a cuppa?’

    Andy died later that year. My one and only time as a DJ was at his funeral, playing songs that we sang along too in Boxes. Somehow Paul delivered the eulogy. Afterwards we danced ourselves into oblivion at his wake. All flopping fringes, strumming fingers, and shoe gazing stares.
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