Shine

Last night after the shop closed we went to the pub. It was a weird day, what with me practically having intercourse with Paula and a visit to the pub seemed like it’d bring some closure to this tumultuous series of events. We started drinking in the shop, gin and tonics, to get a bit of a buzz on before stumbling down the road to The Farmer’s Arms or, as it’s known to locals, The Farmers.

I’m not really a pub person but my legs were still sore from Sunday and the weather was horrible meaning I didn’t fancy going for a run so it was either the pub or go home.

“You’re not really going to live in England, are you?” I asked Paula as we sat around the tiny table. I was on a bench seat and Enrique was on a stool. The stool was also tiny and his knees were higher than his hips and I could see the top of his socks. I looked around, concerned we’d sat in a children’s area but, small furniture apart, there was nothing to suggest we had. Paula was on the bench seat with me but her bag was between us.

“I think so.”

“Nah, why would you go an live in England? It’s shit. Rains all the time.”

“It rains all the time here.”

“Not all the time.”

“My dad’s ill.”

“He’ll be okay,” I assured her to shut her up, it was suddenly all a bit depressing.

“Mum can’t cope.”

“She’ll be okay,” I assured her. And then, I guess to prove I knew what I was on about I said, “Probably just needs some rest bite care.” Paula nodded. “Do you reckon?” I added.

“Yeah,” she agreed.

“You think she needs some rest bite?”

“Yeah.”

“Rest bite?”

“Yes!” Said Paula. I looked at Enrique who seemed to be listening. He didn’t laugh.

“Rest bite?”

“Yes, rest bite.”

“Rest. Bite?”

“…”

“It’s respite!”

“Yeah.”

I just laughed at this stage.

“What?”

“Respite. Pite. Not fucking bite. Rest bite… didn’t you go to school?”

“Rest bite. A bite of rest. What’s wrong with that?”

“It’s a fuck up, that’s what’s wrong. The word’s, respite.”

“That’s what I…”

“It is a bite of rest but… are you going to make me prove it, Paula? You gonna make me turn on my data connection on my phone and look?”

“I don’t even care.”

I laughed even more at this point because she did care.

“Spastic.”

Paula just shook her head. “Anyway… I’m-“

“Going to eat some rest?”

“It’s hard for her.”

“Is she going to eat some rest?” I asked. “Is she? A little nibble?” I pretended to pluck something out of the air and eat it with just my lips. I was being nice and playful. “Mmmm, nice rest!” I rubbed my stomach.

Paula started to cry.

“Aw, don’t worry about it, Paula. I thought it was rest bite too, until I saw it written down.” That didn’t stop her crying. “Enrique, what did you say when you meant scissors?” I asked, clicking my fingers at him. He just shook his head so I got some more drinks. She’d stopped crying when I returned. She was talking to Enrique about family. I interrupted. “Fucking zig-zags! Hey, you don’t have any family, do you?” I asked.

“Si. Sister. Mamma. Papa.”

“Good for you,” I said and pushed his drink in front of him. I didn’t want to hear about family any more and then we got drunk and started to argue. We were just arguing. The three of us. But it was just drunk arguing, nothing personal. It might have been loud and unpleasant for others in the pub, particularly the families, but we weren’t causing trouble so it was a bit out of order for the barman to come and tell us to keep it down or we’d have to go. Enrique tried to grab his arm and fell off his stool and then it took all of my diplomatic skill to stop the barkeep from following through with his threat there and then. These skills amounted to me going, “nah, he’s alright, he’s alright,” and patting Enrique on the chest once he’d righted himself.

From that point on things get hazy. I certainly remember a growing sense menace aimed at us from all the other patrons of the bar. If I looked around I’d see people shaking their heads. Comments from dark corners aimed at us. I don’t remember anything from somewhere around ten o’clock for a good fifty minutes. Then I was back and ready to go. I looked around slowly at the faces and I saw the piano and laughed.

I looked at the two people sharing a table with me. Paula was staring at Enrique and Enrique wasn’t staring at anything. His eyes were wide open but seemed unfocussed. “Eh!” I shouted at him. I shouted it again and he smiled and then it was fucking closing time! I suggested we try and get one more drink but nobody answered and then the barman was there trying to usher us out, getting all hands on, and I had to shake him off as if he was a spider on my shoulder. There were still quite a few people in the place. Still looking at us. “What?” I asked one and then I did the brilliant thing.

Ever since I’d spied the piano I knew in my heart I was going to play it before I left, so I put my coat on and made my way through the stools as if to leave but at the last moment I fell over to it and then I sat down before it.

“No!” Shouted a barman.

“Bah! Bah! Bah!” I shouted, shushing him. The whole place seemed to shush. I pushed up my sleeves and turned to the bar. There were people watching me and that was good enough. I pressed a key on the piano and a note rang out.

“Bravo!” Some idiot shouted. I chuckled, stretched my fingers and after a pause and a nod at the piano I hit the keys. I was hammering the keys, my fingers a blur. I was playing so fast the tune was hard to follow and so I shouted it out as I hammered away. It was that song, I don’t know if it even has a name – daddle-addle-ah daddle-addle-ah da da da da da da da daaaaaah daddle-addle-ah – goes like that. Cartoon chase music. I did it until the barman said he was going to call the police.

I actually did it for a bit longer than that because when he first threatened to call the police I knew I had a few minutes before they arrived and I said, “go on then.” He didn’t, I know that, because he threatened me again a short while later with the same threat. “Go for it,” I told him between shouts of ‘daddle-addle-ah!’ But this time he called my bluff and he did go to the telephone. He waved the receiver at me so I stood up and thumped the keyboard a few times and told him I was going. Enrique and Paula were already outside.

Paula was sort of sitting on a vertical wall. She was bent at forty five degrees, as if she was sitting on the wall and Enrique was swaying nearby.

“Did you hear that? Fucking piano! I didnevenknow.” I said shaking my head. “I didnevenknow!”

Paula said something I didn’t hear. She was speaking very quietly so I made her repeat it and I heard her the next time.”S’awsome,” she said quietly while swallowing hard.

“It was. S’awesome!” I agreed. Paula said something else I couldn’t hear. “What?” I asked.

Using a great deal of effort she raised her head. “Like the film,” she said and her head dropped again. “Dad hit him.”

I clicked my fingers, making my hand a gun and shooting agreement at Paula. “That’s just what it was like, the guy who shit in the bath and the piano, I was like that!” I looked at Enrique. He looked like he was dictating something long-winded to an unseen secretary using only facial expressions and blinks. I looked at the door. “Wow!” I exclaimed and then, “I’m going home.”

Walking through the car park a woman thanked me for ruining her evening but I was out of the car park and halfway down the road before I shouted my retort. “Fuck off!” I shouted. I was walking while leaning forward and occasionally, under street lights, holding my fingers out in front of me and marvelling at their dexterity and the things they could do when I was drunk. “Tenderhooks!” I shouted at the trees. That was something else that wasn’t right.

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