It was a small price to pay. Twenty-five years of devilish good looks, more money than he knew what to do with, and an impeccable piece of prime London real estate. While the rest of his friends were scrambling to pay their rent on damp-ridden bedrooms in overcrowded house shares, working as baristas and call handlers and bar tenders, stacking shelves and waiting tables and studying all hours in between, Johannes was hosting the bacchanalian parties of the Shacklewell Snakeworship Society in his two thousand square foot basement with coke-snorting City bankers suffering quarter-life crises who could turn up to work unwashed and unrested because their fathers owned the firm.
It was a small price to pay for soft-closing hinges and column radiators and polished granite worktops. A small price to pay for contracting out of the millennial angst about the property ladder and help-to-buy and whether smashed avocado toast was an unforgivable luxury. Johannes never spent exhausted evenings at home in threadbare tracksuit bottoms, eating ice cream out of the tub while wistfully clicking through Property Porn – his house was Property Porn.
Yes, it was a small price to pay. And yet, some mornings, when the party is over and the cleaners have left, Johannes wonders whether he has made the right choice, because in twenty-three years, five months, four days and eleven hours, the contract will end and the snake will return to claim its payment.