They were sitting in the corner, I guess looking for a little privacy but they came to the wrong place if they wanted that. The tables were too close together for one thing, and besides, everyone had to pass by that table to go to the toilet.
She was angry, upset, pissed off. Choose any adjective you want; she looked ready to stick her cocktail stick and untouched olive where the sun don’t shine, his sun at least.
I arrived after being dragged around the shops for two hours and I’d run out of patience and my credit card out of, well…credit. I put Lucy in a cab, with bags, they were all hers anyway, and made my way down to the King’s Head. Football was on the TV and I wanted, no, I needed a pint or two and anyway, I was busting for a lash. I nodded to the barman, asked for a pint of ale and made my way to the Gents. That’s when I noticed them.
He had his hands out in front of him when I passed, and, relieved at being relieved, I made my way back with less haste and he still had his hands in front of him, like he was praying or testing for rain or something. Whatever he was doing was having no positive effect whatsoever; maybe he’d run out of credit too. I got my pint and made my way to a little table, a little way off to the right of them, with one of those retro Heineken mirrors on the wall next to me and I could see them in action, as well as hear them.
“You were a twat Paul.”
“I know love, I don’t know what happened, it just happened.”
He’d chatted up, touched up or ballsed up by the sounds of things. Typical bloke, I know how you feel mate, I thought. I went back to the football, trying to concentrate on the game which was slower settling than a pint of Guinness. The ball was pinging about all over the place, no fun to watch but I watched it anyway, it certainly beat the hell out of shopping. A free kick got my attention but not for long.
“Where is she? Where did you put her?” Her? This made my ears pick up a bit. I pretended to watch the football.
“Behind the allotments near the railway embankment. There’s some old garages there and I left her there.”
“Do you want some more drinks?” It was the barmaid, taking their empties from their table. He said yes, she said nothing so I guess she either nodded or shook her head, there are only so many things you can communicate without words. The barmaid plonked the glasses on the bar and poured a lager.
“It won’t be for long, it was like a temporary measure, you know. I didn’t have the time.”
“You could have done better than that. She’ll be found in no time Paul. What the bloody hell were you thinking?”
“Shh…, she’s coming back.”
The mirror told me she’d folded her arms, a frown that looked furrowed with a hand-plough creasing her forehead. She looked at her phone, he looked at her. The barmaid put two glasses down, it was a nod then.
“I’ll go now, after this drink, alright?”
“Yeah? Well, I suppose it will be dark in half an hour, won’t it?”
“Yeah, it’ll be alright, you’ll see.”
Who was she? What had she done? What had he done to her? I had a hundred questions and didn’t know what to do with the information I’d heard.
“I hope you’re right Paul, she’s been in the family for years.”
“She’ll be alright Trish, really. Who’d want an old car like that anyway?”
I entered a competition recently where I had half an hour to write on one of three subjects given. I chose “a conversation” and out came the above. While I was writing I didn’t know who “she” was but as the minutes ticked away I decided I wanted to write something that didn’t involve death or murder, and as we English-speakers have a penchant for talking about our cars as feminine, the little ending came to me. I submitted with one minute left and received a ‘commended’ so it was ok.
Hemingway once said “write drunk, edit sober” – when you only have half an hour to do both, which do you chose?