I got Enrique some pretty sweet boxes by unpacking a load of stuff and hiding it all around the stock room. He was moved by my actions and felt like a dick for exploding all up in my robot face.
“Bueno,” he said when I told him.
“And you know what?”
“Well, you don’t because I haven’t told you yet.”
“I’m going to help you move.” I pointed at him at this stage. He was sat behind his desk. When he heard my offer he pushed his chair back from the desk.
“Chu help me move?”
“I help you move, I’m going to miss you, buddy,” I said and let it hang there for a moment. “I’m not going to lie, but yeah, I’ll… we’ll rent a van.”
“Bueno!” Said Enrique. “Hey, you think abou’ de job? Is sweet, man! S’not too late.”
I pulled a pained face. “Just… it’s just not for me, thanks though.”
“Think!” He ordered.
“No, I will.” I told him. Little did he know I’d already done loads of thinking. I’d done nothing but think. “Okay, well I’m off, yeah?” I said, grabbing my jacket. Enrique looked at his watch. I still had nearly half an hour to go but I’d got him some boxes and so he just looked a bit confused and didn’t stop me.
“Paula!” I said when I was out in the shop. “You need boxes or anything? For moving?”
She shook her head and then said, “no.”
“Well, if you do just let me know.”
“Where are you going?”
“It’s half past.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Oh, alright then.”
“See you tomorrow.”
Jesus it gets dark early. The bus was on time and I got to Pizza Hut only four minutes late. I was greeted by an efficient looking pole. On top of the pole was a sign that told me to wait to be seated. Then a Pole appeared. “Hi,” I said, handing him my jacket. “Barnes,” I added.
“What?” He asked.
“Barnes, table booked. The other party should be here already.”
“What?” He asked.
“The girl… here.”
“I don’t know what you say to me,” he told me. I looked around but couldn’t see Carol anywhere. The maître d’ handed me back my jacket and pointed at the dining room.
“Thank you,” I said taking my jacket and then I wandered around until I found Carol. She was near the toilets, against a wall. “This is nice,” I said as I placed my jacket on the back of my chair and sat down and placed a serviette on my lap. “Have you been here before?” I asked, looking around.
“Yes,” she replied and I nodded.
“It’s good, is it?”
I nodded. “You look great by the way,” I said and then I looked at her. I hoped she didn’t notice my wince. Just in case she did I did it a few more times to disguise is as a tic. “Thanks for coming, eh?” I told her and then the waiter was there. “Salty Dog and for the lady…” I pointed at Carol and clicked my fingers.
“What?” She asked?
“Stella and a Salty Dog, please,” I said to the waiter in case he was deaf.
“A Stella and a Salty Dog.”
“A Stella and a what?” He asked.
“A Salty Dog.”
“It’s a drink… it was in a film. It’s like a cocktail.”
“What is in it?” The waiter asked me.
“Oh, dunno, I had it in a hotel once.”
“Well we don’t do them.”
“Okay, erm.” I picked up the menu but couldn’t find the drinks. “Two Stellas please,” I said handing the waiter the menu. He handed it back to me and left. I watched him go and then turned to Carol. “Well, thanks for coming,” I told her again.
“I saw you with that woman,” said Carol. I thought she’d been a bit cold.
“You did?” I wasn’t surprised, I always have the sense Carol is watching me. “Oh. She was mental. Went mental because I got a tiny bit of piss on her toilet floor,” I shook my head and looked for my Stella.
“You were supposed to call me weeks ago,” said Carol.
“Yeah, it’s been mental in the shop.” I picked up the menu again and scanned it. “What would you recommend?” I asked.
“A pizza it is,” I said closing the menu and placing my hands on the menu and leaning on it so I was closer to Carol. I don’t really like pizzas because of carbs but I sensed Carol was a bit pissed off and I figured going with her suggestion would make her happier. “How’s your ugly sister?” I asked.
“My twin sister.”
“Yeah, but you don’t like her.”
“Oh, she’s fine.”
“That’s good,” I said. “It’s good to see you,” I said. I then leant back and again looked for my Stella. They were on their way! I moved the menu so there was room on the table. The waiter placed them down and produced his pad.
“Pizza for me, please,” I told him.
“Cheese,” I told him.
“Just a fucking cheese pizza!” I told him, “fucking hell!” Carol ordered hers and the waiter left. “What the hell is wr-” I was going to say what the hell is wrong with this place but I remembered Carol had suggested it. Insulting the restaurant would be to insult her. “Sorry,” I said to her. “I’m stressed.”
“Why?” She asked.
“Enrique and Carol are leaving.”
“Well, you know, new dicks and… anyway. I can’t let that happen and I was wondering if… you know?”
“If you’d seduce Wellington and sort of make… sort of, you know? Make Enrique have drugs in public.” Carol stared at me for a long time. “You don-“
“Yeah, I’ll do that,” replied Carol. She had a moustache from the foamy beer. She wiped it off with a long sweep of her sleeved arm. I felt something between my legs, prising them apart and I counted her arms. They were both there. Carol looked and me and licked her lips. Then her foot – at first I had a horrible feeling it was some kind of tentacle – was pressing on my twidge. It hurt but I couldn’t tell her to remove her boots, not after she’d agreed to help. I smiled gamely. She mistook, not for the first time in our relationships, my winces of pain for ones of pleasure. She was tapping my nuts with her air cushioned soles so I was delighted when the pizzas arrived. I was told by a different waiter I could just help myself to salad.
“Just help myself? What does that mean?” I asked. The waiter looked delighted, he was studying me. I saw him look around, he seemed to send a signal to the original waiter who was off in the shadows, watching.
“Just help myself?” I asked Carol, she nodded and pointed off to the side. “Weird,” I said and then to get out of her range I picked up my pizza and went to the next table. The waiter hurried away. “Excuse me,” I said to the people sitting there and I then grabbed some lettuce and tomatoes from one of their plates. “This is weird, eh?” I told the family. I looked over to the two waiters and saw they were laughing. Pricks. I stared at them as I returned to our table.
I just ate the cheese off the top of my pizza and sat with my legs sideways and not under the table. I told Carol this was to stretch my piriformis and she bought it. We didn’t talk more of the scheme until I was at the bus stop.
“You’ll do it, yeah?” I asked her. She nodded and swayed. I kissed her and she bit my tongue and then barked out a laugh. I got on the bus.
“What am I doing?” She asked when the bus pulled up.
“Wellington,” I said with a wince. “And… I’ll work out the details, just wanted to know I could count on you.”
“You can do anything on me,” she said and she seemed to try and lick her own nose.
“Yeah.” I got on the bus.
I looked out of the back window as it departed. I waved at Carol but she didn’t see me. She just stood there swaying gently in the breeze. Then I faced forward and thought about how we were going to do this. Somebody standing near the road, in the dark, looking at a bus go past might have seen a man sitting near the back, smiling and mouthing, ‘an Ice-cream Social.’