February 16, 2012
— 2 Comments
By Carl Mungazi
The lighting in the bar of an exclusive, discreet Liverpool hotel casts a shadow that hangs menacingly over one corner of the room. Two Englishmen share a drink, seeking seclusion in that darkness. Hidden away from prying eyes, they lean back in their seats, sipping occasionally and watching other guests enjoy their dinner. Their waitress, long-legged and elegant, brings them another round. They pretend to ignore her, only stealing a glance when she walks away.
“Is this what it’s come to, then?” The smaller of the two men sips his drink. “Hiding out in hotel bars?”
“We’re not hiding. It’s just nice and quiet here.” The larger man’s gaze lingers on the departed waitress. Tilting his head back, he shakes his pony-tail.
“Well, we really can’t go anywhere else,” comes the bitter reply.
“I’m tired of it all.” Ponytail takes a long swig of his drink. “ I could have been a king on Tyneside but I decided to risk it and move here because that’s what big players do. I never asked to be bought for £35m, in any case. You had it easy in the Midlands.”
“Take it easy, you don’t want to get drunk do you?” His companion was becoming alarmed. “ The boss will kill you.”
“To hell with him. I’m my own man.”
“Yes, a man under contract. You know what will happen if you’re caught drunk again.”
Ponytail looks away, muttering under his breath, then reluctantly puts down the glass. It’s almost empty, anyway. At the bar their waitress has been sizing them up. A colleague joins her and the two whisper, cast mischievous glances in the men’s direction, and lapse into fits of giggles.
“Oh great, we’ve been spotted,” the smaller fellow groans. “ They’ll be bringing out their cameras next. “
Ponytail chuckles. “I heard that’s how they found you — some YouTube clip with you kicking balls into a bin?”
“I know, it’s embarrassing. The whole thing was choreographed. You’d have thought that Damien fella would have caught on before he went for me; even Becks did one on the beach and it looked dodgy.”
“Yeah but he’s a legend. You…you’re just alright.” Ponytail’s eyes bore through the table, in the direction of his mate’s moderately famous left foot.
His friend snaps back. “I’m more than alright.”
“Come on, you know what people say. Your service is so poor, you couldn’t deliver a pizza.” The pony-tailed man grins widely.
“Ha. Ha.” The smaller man isn’t smiling, attempting to hide his annoyance behind his pint glass. “And your forward play has the penetration of a eunuch.”
The second waitress approaches the table, not as pretty as her friend, but more curvaceous. Ponytail is instantly on alert. He fetches a chair from a nearby empty table.
But Pizza Boy is having none of it. “Two more please, and ten shots of that stuff there.” He points to a brightly coloured bottle on the highest shelf behind the bar.
“What are you doing, mate? I wanted her to sit down.”
“She’s supposed to be working.”
“We should let her work.”
“She can work here.”
“No. She can work over there.”
“Do you know what your problem is?”
“You’re scared. You lack confidence and you go missing in big moments. Sunday was a prime example. I ran all afternoon but no delivery came. ”
“And when it did come you fluffed it as usual. So we’re even.”
“This isn’t a competition.” Ponytail shakes his head, then decides to try a new tack. “Why did you order ten shots, anyway?”
“Because I’m being adventurous. You just said that’s what’s missing from my game, and the boss agrees. I’ve got to start somewhere.”
“He also said we said we should improve our chemistry.”
“Why? I don’t want to date you.”
“No, but she might,” Ponytail nods. The voluptuous waitress returns with their drinks. Collecting the empties, she winks at Ponytail and saunters off, her hips swaying with every step.
“I reckon I’m in there.”
Pizza Boy snorts. “Whatever. Now come on, five shots each. Drink up.”
The pair down the shots quickly, Pizza Boy’s inexperience showing as he coughs and sputters his way through the five glasses. “Come on, then.” Using the seat rests to support himself, he rises slowly. “Let’s get us some girls.”
Ponytail leaps to his feet at the invitation and the duo set off in the direction of the waitresses. The foursome spend a moment chatting before the girls excitedly shed their aprons and split to fetch their belongings.
As they slip out of sight, Ponytail punches his tipsy friend playfully in the arm. “Who knew you had it in you? You sly dog!”
Standing in silence at the door to the lobby, they watch a group of revellers come out of the lift, shouting and jostling as they stagger through the foyer.
“Do people really say that about me?”
“The stuff about my pizza delivery service.”
“Oh, I made that up.”
The pony-tailed man shrugs and scans the room. He’s tired of waiting.
“What about the girls?”
“What about them?”
Both men step out into the cold, crisp, night air, searching for a taxi. Pizza Boy waves one over, and when it pulls to the curb, opens the door with a magnanimous gesture. Ponytail hesitates, cocking his head quizzically at his companion.
“Is my forward play really that bad?”
A Pint Between Reds by Carl Mungazi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.