You got laid? You went out without me and got laid?' Samir asked.

'Your uncle was dying.'

'He pulled through.' Samir shrugged. 'Who'd have thought?'

I lit a cigarette and inhaled. It was a nice, sunny Tuesday morning and it was both my and Samir's day off so we had decided to catch a movie and have lunch. The only slight problem was that our movie didn't start for another forty minutes, so we were sitting outside the cinema, smoking and chatting.

'Yeah, well, I got laid,' I confirmed. I'd been telling him about my night out with Mus'ad, which had turned into my night with Will. Mus'ad had, in fact, been screwed stupid by Mohammed. I should have seen that one coming the second Mohammed caught sight of us at the coffee shop. Sometimes I can be incredibly dense. 'And Mus'ad banged a guy called Mohammed.'

Samir laughed. 'I'm so glad you're not with Mus'ad. He's such a dick.'

I frowned. 'You know, I think the guy Mus'ad went with actually goes to you mosque.'

'There's fifty Mohammed's at my mosque. What does he look like?'

I described Mohammed, but the description wasn't sufficient. Then I described his car. Immediately, Samir knew who I was talking about.

'Shit, are you sure? That guy's married,' Samir said.

I gave him a 'look'.

Samir pulled a face. 'Nasty. Will sounds better.'

'Yeah, he was pretty nice.'

Samir raised an eyebrow. 'You like this guy?'

I'd never 'liked' anyone before. Truth was, I didn't even 'liked' Will. He was a nice guy; very open and honest, but he wasn't really my thing and I doubted I was his. Besides, the sex had been physically uncomfortable. He had a long, thin dick and he didn't have that great a control over it.

'No,' I said.

He drew on his cigarette. 'You never like anyone. Why not?'

'I don't know. How many girls have you liked?'

'Tons. I would have married Karla or Rachael.'

You would think that a guy who has Samir's looks would have girls falling off him. He has the sparkling green eyes and olive skin and shiny black hair that makes even my heart beat faster when I catch sight of him and remember how handsome he actually is. I, however, suspect I know why he has problems. He thinks to himself 'oh I like this girl' and sometimes – sometimes - he tells me he likes these girls, but he doesn't tell his girlfriends how he actually feels about them. After nine or twelve months of dating my friend, and with him refusing to say 'I love you' – a phrase he reckons is ridiculous – they inevitably decide he doesn't really care about them, and move on to guys with looser tongues.

'You know what Iska?' Samir said, suddenly. 'You're going to fall in love sooner or later.'

'I doubt it.'

Samir laughed, his perfect white teeth glinting in the sunlight. 'I'm so going to piss myself laughing when it happens.'

'Huh,' I sniffed. 'Not fucking likely.'


I was standing in line at the seven eleven waiting to fill my slupee cup with frozen ice mix. There were two kids in front me, umming and ahhing over which colours to get while their father turned the nozzles and filled the cups as they chose a bit of this colour and a bit of that.

I realised the father was Mohammed, the guy at the party of sorts I'd attended a few weeks ago. God, I thought, Samir was right; Mohammed was married with kids. I wondered if his wife knew about his proclivities.

Mohammed turned around, caught sight of me and paused for a second. Then he smiled. 'Iska, right?'

'Yes. Mohammed?'

'One of several million,' he agreed. 'Bear with us a second. We're almost done.'

'I'm in no rush.'

Mohammed poured some raspberry into his daughter's cup. 'You knocked off for the day?'

'Yeah. You?'

'I'll probably do some more work after dinner,' he replied thoughtfully. 'Only on my laptop. I'm not going back in.'

'You busy at work right now?'

'Yeah.' He finished filling his son's cup and snapped on a plastic lid. 'Hey, if you're in the area on Saturday night, come around to Brett and Mahir's on Saturday. I owe you a drink for nicking Mus'ad.'

It took me a second to realise what he was talking about. Pathetically, I hadn't realised that Mus'ad hadn't contacted me since the night of the party, an occasion on which he and Mohammed had seemed to get extremely close.

'Oh, no worries about that,' I assured him. 'It wasn't serious.'

'That's what Mus'ad said. Still, come around on Saturday.'

'I wouldn't be able to get there until ten.'

Mohammed frowned. His son tugged at his pants and asked if he could start drinking his slurpee yet. 'Not yet,' Mohammed told his son, before turning to me and saying 'That might be late. But come around. Things might still be going on.'

I filled my slushee cup, and went to pay for it. By the time I reached the register, Mohammed and kids had left. I thought about the invitation, though, and on Saturday night, I made sure I left the second my shift ended, went home, had a shower and got changed. I wasn't exactly sure of the address, but I figured I'd find my way there. I have a good memory when it comes to directions.

Sure enough, with only minimal fuss, I found my way there. It was nine forty-three pm hopefully, I thought to myself, not too late to gatecrash. I went to the front door, straightened my shirt, and knocked.

Mahir answered. He seemed surprised to see me. 'Did Brett invite you?' he asked.

'Um, no. Mohammed did. Is this a bad time?'

'Oh no,' he said, smiling broadly. 'Come through. We're in the dining room.'

It was explained to me that the get together had been cancelled early this morning. Apparently it had been someone else's birthday, and thus the event was put forward a few weeks. Still, there were a few guys here – Turkish men and Ramyar – playing card games and I was more than welcome to join them.

'I should go,' I said.

'Oh no, stay,' Brett argued.

'We need to increase the non-Turkish component,' Ramyar explained. 'The Turks are rigging the game. Brett and I are being flogged.'

Mahir and his three Turkish friends laughed loudly, guiltily. I laughed with them, and took a seat. They were in the middle of a game of twenty-one, so I sat and watched as the dealer dealt again to everyone who wanted another card.

A series of collective groans went up, and Brett held up his cards triumphantly.

'I won,' Brett announced.

The guys all argued this and insisted on playing again. The cards were quickly shuffled and redealt, although I'm guessing Mahir and his cohorts got crap cards, because as soon as they checked over what they'd been dealt, they suddenly found cause to start gossiping.

'This is exactly what I mean,' Ramyar told me. 'They can't stand losing. In fifteen minutes they'll say 'oh, I forgot where we were up to' and deal again. If I try and argue they'll pretend they don't know enough English to understand, even Ramazan, who was born in fucking Sydney and hasn't even set foot in Turkey.'

Brett laughed. 'So true. I'm going to get a drink. You guys want one?'

The Turks shook their heads, but Ramyar stood up. 'Yeah. I'll come with you. Iska?'

I stood up and followed them. 'Yeah, that would be great.'

Brett asked if I drank red wine and when I replied in the affirmative, he poured himself, Ramyar and I a glass from a half-full bottle in the fridge.

'Those guys were really cheating, weren't they?' I confirmed, still slightly surprised that men in their twenties and thirties would cheat during a friendly card game.

'Oh yeah,' Brett confirmed. 'Will and Ben – my two boys – refuse to play any sort of game with Mahir. They gave up after a game of Monopoly. Mahir was stealing money from the bank.'

Ramyar and I laughed.

'The thing is,' Ramyar said, turning to me. 'That Brett and I have worked with Mahir before. He's a great guy to work with; gets his shit done, always shares the credit, fucking awesome guy. But in his private life, chuck him into any sort of competition and he'll blatantly cheat his way to victory, and then pretend he's innocent. I went bowling with him once. I had to take a leak, so I told him to bowl for me. When I got back, I saw him bowling for me. He seriously aimed the ball directly into the gutter. I was like 'Mahir, what the fuck are you doing bowling my ball into the gutter?' and he's like 'Oh, I slipped, sorry'. Four times he bowled for me while I was gone, and every single time it was a gutter ball. Meanwhile, he's got a strike and a spare in the same timeframe. And still, he fucking tries to pretend it's legit. '

We sipped our wine. I discreetly looked at Brett, who looked relaxed and happy with his dark hair brushed back and his solidly muscular body encased in jeans and a tshirt, to Ramyar. Ramyar caught my gaze and raised his eyebrows slightly. I shrugged, to signify I'd meant nothing by my gaze other than curiosity.

'I didn't realise you had glasses,' I commented.

'You've only seen me once before,' he replied archly. He touched his glasses then smiled at me, as though sensing he might have offended me with his quick retort. 'I'm blind as a bat.'

I returned his smile. He was a nice guy, a really nice guy. I remembered him complimenting me about my name and said, honestly 'they suit you'.

'Uh, well, I only wear them because I can't stand contacts,' he muttered.

His little fumble for words after the unexpected compliment gave me an interesting glimpse into who he was. He and Brett and Mahir were the same, I realised. They were gruff or overly competitive or prone to politically incorrect humour, but underneath it all, they were good guys. They were the sort of people you want to be friends with, guys like Sam, who if you were mates with, would never let you down.

It was kind of a revelation for me. I hadn't met any nice fags before, not the kind of guys I was with now. Before this, everyone – myself included – had been in it for a fuck, and nothing else. There was no friendship, no camaraderie.

Mahir wandered into the kitchen. 'What's taking you guys so long?' he demanded. 'We forgot where we were up to and had to deal again.'