“Curry for the fourth day running. Thank fuck for Aldi and their sixty pence liver. Bit shite having it for breakfast though.”
Don ate as much as he could. His heaving was worth it as he’d finally saved enough money for a lager.
He got himself ready and walked to the pub. He hadn’t had a drink in over a month. He jingled the change in his pocket, his pals would be there but there was no way he could’ve walked in without the price of a pint.
“Hey Don, we thought you were fucking dead! Four pints with brandy chasers, it’s your round!
…Have you been working away?”
He stared at the money in the middle of the table.
“Alright lads, no I’ve not been working for a while, I’ve a few things in the pipeline. In fact, I’m just going to see someone about some work so I’ve no time to get involved, I’ll get my own.”
He lifted the change our of his pocket.”
“Lager please Harry.”
“Fuck me Don, if you’ve been fucking singing, you’ve been out of tune!”
Don laughed, “Aye, I can fall in the harbour now. I’m glad to get rid of all that shite in my pocket.”
The man who spoke to Don shouted across to the bar, “Same again Harry!
…I take it you don’t want dealt in Don?”
“…No, thanks Ricky, got things to do. I’ll just have a look at the paper then I better be going.”
He picked up a paper from the end of the bar and started flicking. He couldn’t believe that none of them had offered him a drink. The unwritten rule stated that whoever was in the chair should have offered him. He tried to dismiss this thought as he knew that would’ve caused a problem as he couldn’t buy a round. But all that kept going through his mind was that it would’ve been nice to be asked. He continued to look at the paper but wasn’t reading anything. He decided to give it ten minutes and then sink his pint and get out of there. He took a sip and couldn’t believe how good it tasted.
The door opened.
“Well hello there Donny boy! How the fuck are you?”
He accepted his hand “Christ Tony, I’ve not seen you for ages.”
“Aye sorry about that but Karen’s mum had a fall, she broke her hip, we stayed with her for, fuck, that must be about six weeks now. I just got back from Perth yesterday.
…Hello boys are you not talking?”
They looked up from their cards and gave him a wave.
“I’d heard. I hope she’s okay?”
“Cheers Don. She’s getting there, there’s some help going in for her, an OT and someone to bath her. I came home, Karen’s giving it another couple of days and if her mum is settled, then she’ll be back. We’ll go back up at the weekends and Joan and Terry, you know, my sister and brother-in-law, they’re coming home for two months so hopefully she’ll be over the worst of it by the time they go back.”
“It was America they emigrated to?”
“Aye Boston. I’m hoping for a holiday one of these days.”
Don stared at his pint, he felt a lump in his throat, “Sorry Tony but I’m just leaving. We’ll catch up another time.”
Tony saw the redness in his cheeks and his eyes were filling up.
“I just came in for a pint and then I was coming to see you. I heard you’ve not been around much.”
Don lowered his head, “No, I’m busy being in between, you know what it’s like. That’s where I’m going now, to see…”
“Save it. We’ve known each other for ever and I know you can’t lie. Good job you didn’t play cards with those pricks as they’d have done what they usually do and taken your money off of you.”
Rick stood up, “Here Tony, I’ll not have that! Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?”
“Shut it and sit down! You look like more of a wanker than you really are and that’s fucking difficult to do!
…Let me do a bit of deduction here. Don, you’ve only got the price of a pint on you and not one of these fuckers offered you anything?”
Don looked round at them, “No it wasn’t like that. I’m only here for the one.”
“But did anyone offer?”
“They didn’t know.”
“Rich! Did you know?”
“Fuck off Tony.”
“Any of you other fellows? Tom? Davey?”
“I told you to fuck off Tony!”
“Watch your mouth you prick!
You see Don, the reason we have bravado from Rich and silence from his two wee pals is because they did know. It was them that told me last night that you weren’t working.
They all looked as sheepish then as they do now. Your so-called fucking pals only put up with you when they’re beating you at cards – No offence mate, you’re shite. Or when you’re standing them a drink. How many fucking times have you bailed them out?”
The barman moved towards them, “I don’t want any trouble.”
“Your fine Harry. Oh and where were you, could you not have stood him a pint?”
“I’m running a business here not a charity shop.”
“Sod off! You’ve been half pished manys a night due to him buying your drinks.
Fuck the lot of you! C’mon, I’ll be happy to buy you a pint. But not in this fucking dump.”
The barman pointed towards the door, “Right that’s it, you’re barred.”
“Harry, boys, take your bar and stick it right up, and I mean right up your fucking arse!
Don, lets go.”
He followed him out.
“Tony that’s your local, you didn’t need to do that.”
Tony lit two cigs and gave him one.
“They are a bunch of cunts, they’ve always been the same. And I don’t want to get into an argument but I fucking told you what they were like. They are fucking users and takers every one of them. I only went in there because of you.”
“Jesus. I don’t know what to say. Fuck, you took a chance, what would you have done if they had a go at you?”
Tony began to laugh, “You’d have fucked them! I might have given them a kick when they were down! They wouldn’t have tried, they are all mouth and shit scared.”
Don smiled and then began to laugh.
“Thanks Tony, that’s made me feel better.”
“Right, you look as if you need a day out so a few pints and then a curry. We’ll stop at Tesco on the way home and get you some messages.”
“…I can’t take all that off of you.”
“Fuck you Kemosabe! Stop being a martyr! Those wankers take. I’m simply helping a friend who just needs a wee bunk up. You’ve helped me out a hundred times.”
“I’ve never given you money.”
“You would have if I’d asked. You’ve picked me up loads of times, you’ve worked in my house and..”
He began to laugh, “You let me sleep on your couch when Karen was a bit emotional after she caught me shagging that twenty-two year old.”
Don began to snigger, “I don’t think she has forgiven me for that.”
“Actually, she did. She forgave you more than she has ever forgiven me! We are still…Working through our issues…So I’ve been told. All our families took her side.”
Tony sighed, “Aye, rightly so…Most of them still refer to me as ‘That Bastard’ and that includes my mother. I needed a pal to tell me that I’d fucked up. You did that, I’ll never be able to repay you. So come on, we’ll go to The Plough, it’s a good pint in there.”
They hadn’t far to walk to reach the pub.
“Grab a seat, I’ll get us a drink.”
Tony came back with three pints and two brandies.
“Tan a pint. Get the notion off you. Go on!”
Don smiled and swallowed the lager.
“Oh fuck that was so good! It’s not the same when you need to sip your first one!”
“Right you need to tell me what’s been happening. The last I spoke to you, you said that the job was turning to shit…That was the week before we went to Perth. You not having a fucking mobile, didn’t help. I tried the house phone but I take it that’s disconnected?”
“Why the fuck did you not get to a phone and call me.”
He took a sip of his brandy, “It all happened so fast. The bastard kept putting me off. I should’ve pulled away when he didn’t give me the first payment, but I knew the cunt and didn’t think he would’ve done this to me. I’m also out the dosh for the materials. I’ve been living off the few quid I had in the bank but that’s about fucked”
“Aye, savings are only for those who can afford to save. …But you’ve been going to that yard for years, could you not get credit?”
Don screwed up his face, “Well, no really. Not when you get it out the back door. I’ve not paid those boys either…I’ve never really been legit so I can’t get fuck all. And I can’t get a job unless they pay me the materials up-front. So I’m looking for someone to take me on but that causes it’s own problem as I’m not legit”
“Can the punter not get the materials?”
“Maybe but I’ve no tools. I had to hawk the lot. And to make matters worse, the van is fucked. My landlord isn’t someone you want to cross so I can’t bounce the rent. I’ve cut everything back. Fuck me – I’ve turned into an old person, I eat whatever’s the cheapest, I don’t put the heating on and I wear a fleece in my bed.”
“Fuck me Don, you’re a cowboy without a horse.”
He nodded, “Yep!”
“One of those Country and Western bastards will write a song about you.”
“Aye that would be a real tear jerker.”
“…But you’re a fucking good joiner.”
“Just because I haven’t anything to say I’m good doesn’t mean I’m bad.”
“That’s quite profound of you.”
“But you’re shit with business.”
“Aye and money, I’m shit with money too.”
He laughed, “I thought you were cheering me up!”
Don was feeling slightly more human. Just having a few pints with a pal who didn’t judge made everything seem that bit more sufferable.
Tony brought the drinks over.
“I’ll see what I can do. I have a few contacts and I’ll ask if they’ve anything going. Until then, I’ll hire you.”
“Shut it! Karen is going to get that conservatory and kitchen quicker than I thought. I’ll see to the materials and tools for you. You work out your time and if you want to knock a couple of quid off the hourly rate I’ll be delighted.”
He shook his head, “No Tony, you can’t do all that for me.”
“I’m not. I’ve got my own reason.”
“What’s that then?”
“I’m still showing Karen that I’m sorry. Seemingly I still need to be doing that. So now, maybe she’ll start shagging me more than once a week? I miss that.
…And I really miss a blow job”
Don choked on his pint.
“Right how about we finish these and go and get something to eat?”
“…Okay. Thanks Tony.”
“It’s a pleasure.”
…“I know I’ve a cheek but can I ask a favour? Well another favour.”
“Don’t start with that humble shite.”
“Do you mind if we make it a Chinese?”
Image – Google Images