“So, Hey, Hi, haven’t seen you in here for a long time” she said to the man ordering a dark amber cocktail, who just entered the pub, his face, jacket and work pants soaking from the unforgiving sleet outside.
“Yeah, I know”, he said back, head down, physically present but mentally elsewhere.
“Bet you’re glad it’s Friday, huh? Know I am”, she offered with a sigh and a posture of slightly hunched shoulder blades, her arms resting on the bar as if they weighed tons.
“Yeah, guess so. I work tomorrow though. I always work one of the two weekend days”, he offered back, neither actually gazing up at one another while the words flowed.
“Aw, poor you.” as she looked into her purse for change for her drink, stealing a quick peek up at him, his eyes, she noticed, rather down-cast, almost dead. “Well, you know, having Mondays off is better, huh, less people about on the streets, bothering you, when you’re at the shops”, she said, trying to up his spirits but not having the faintest clue why upping them was important to her.
“Yeah”, he sighed back, the expression on his face, well, expressionless.
“You seem down, or is that tiredness? I get tiredness on Friday nights”, she tried, yet again.
“Nah, not tired really, well, maybe tired of everything. Everything I do lately, I have done a thousand times before. Or, the new things I’m doing are with faces I’ve seen a thousand times before. I’m tired of this place”, a proper, human-like response he finally submitted.
“Well, you know, people spend tons of money they don’t have to travel here, sight-see, visit with long-lost family. You’re really in the hub of quite a beautiful land”, she rallied back.
“Yeah…I know…I know. But there is like an entire world out there with places I’ve never been and people I’ve never met. Somewhere, right now, some people are having THE perfect Friday evening out and one of those people is not me.”, his eyes again, sullen, glassy, determination to fight back emotion creeping ever so slowly on to his face.
“Hey, you do things, you said so, new stuff too. Isn’t that enough? Aren’t you glad you’re among life-long friends, real close family, people who have known you all your life, people who have your back no matter what?”, she asked.
“Yeah, sure, that’s nice and all, even though I know there are a few who do not. But a while back, for quite a long while, I had a glimpse of the Other Half and now I KNOW I’m missing out”, almost a panicked expression on his face now, or frustration, or anger, or all three, as he fumbled through his pockets as if searching for something that would make him less uptight.
“Missing out on what though, exactly? New stores with different clothes, new scenery? You might think “going out there” is exciting, at first, maybe, but what happens when they do everything backwards to how you have done things all your life? You’d be a major fish out of water, right? You may become homesick, miss over here what you thought you could get, more of, “over there”, she proffered.
“Yeah. I guess”, as he finally took a bar stool next to her, both of them waiting on the slow-as-molasses publican to mix their bloody drinks.
“Hey, how come you’re in here tonight anyways? You haven’t been to a pub in ages, why you comin’ back now?”
“I just can’t face going home right now, and yeah, I shouldn’t be here, always manage to get into a world of hurt in these places. It could be because of the drink, or at least I’d like to blame it on the drink. You’re right, I should go home”, a sober look replacing the previous panic, frustration and anger.
As he paid for both their cocktails, she asked, “You want a game of darts before you hit the road?”
“Okay. But I’ll win, you know”, he added, with a hint of a glint in his eye.
“Yeah, probably. I suck at darts. You can consider winning to me my Gift to you”, she retorted, the tip of her tongue sticking ever so cleverly out of her mouth, at him.
“I haven’t played in ages. On that note, I haven’t done allot of things in ages”, he mused. “You know, I’m standing right by this fireplace now, a well lit fire, I might add, and I’m dead cold”, he added, yet as she touched his arms in concern, she could feel how dry and warm he was and knew it was all just emotional “cold”.
“Heat doesn’t always work for what you’re experiencing, laddie. Pick up a darned dart and let’s play.”, she ordered as she doffed him one on the head, the pair slowly moving to the throwing line.
“Okay”, he uttered, chuckling now, just a wee bit, under his breath, mind, with upturned lips threatening to become a smile.
“I win. Told you I would”, his expression, a wide smile, his eyes, glinting with momentary joy, a little boy look on his face that he had in fact finally got his most favourite toy for Christmas.
“Yeah, I know you did. Another round for the road?”, her look, to him, as she responded, all-knowing yet care-free.
“Yeah, sure, why the hell not. It’s only like I have reading, sleeping and getting up for work tomorrow morning, awaiting me at home. Yep, another round, you bet, you buyin’?”, his look a sly grin now as he asked, the tension in his muscles and in his jaw seemingly, ever so slightly, momentarily, dissolving.
“Yep…I’m buyin’. Grab those seats by the fire. Hey, what is that you’re drinking anyway?”, she asked as she walked back to the sloth-like publican at the bar.
“Just tell William it’s the “Same Old”, he’ll know.” he answered, as if sharing not an inside joke, slyly delivered with a wink.
“Crazy man. Okay. One “Same Old” comin’ right up”, she hissed back, shaking her head at him but with a silent, inward glee that her attempt to remove him from his woes was working.
As she returned to the seats, he said, “You know, I think I feel kinda better, well, I mean, you got my mind off my mind, you know, at least for a wee while. I think I feel okay. Thanks”.
“No problem. Cheers, mate. It’s Friday. That’s what Friday Friends are for.”