Because of the times

Chris Radcliffe

I use the straw to poke at the ice at the bottom of my glass. You trace your finger along the grooves on the table top. The wood’s old and bears more blemishes than your shins after you fell into that ant hill in May. On the wall Lennon, Ringo and McCartney are immortalised in a colourful collage of broken shards of glass. We share the room with only the bartender who reads the news on his phone.

My stomach rumbles. We’ve spent too long trying to decide where to eat. You look up and catch me watching you. Behind your eyes I could almost see you going through the map of the city centre, crossing out the Maccies and the Subways you know I’d object to.  We never did come up with a name for the colour of your eyes.

'What bout ‘Spoons?' I already rhymed off the Indians and Chinese buffets, but after the fiasco it caused last time, you shot them down.

‘We always end up there.' 

'Then hurry up. I’ve only had a bitta chocolate today, ye know.' I look at the packed H&M, Topshop and New Look bags and wonder if in one of them there was another Twix or Double Decker.

'I know. Give me a second.'

'Tell ye what,' I step out of the booth, and almost trip over the table’s leg. ‘I’m going to put on a song. You’ve til the end of it to make up your mind.’

‘Noooo,’ you throw your arms out and your head falls on the wood.

There is loud clank when the quid hits the bottom of the juke box. I remember the time we drove to London with only a busted radio and one CD. I thought it was one of their better albums, but you were sure the singer gargled gravel before each recording. You threw it out the window as we pulled into the services at Warwick and told me never to play any of their shit again. I line up your least favourite in a queue. You zoom in on maps. My finger hovers over play. You take too long. 

‘Oh, fuck right off,’ you lift your bag, coat and slide out of the booth. You shake like a dashboard bobble head as you walk towards the door.

‘Spoons then, aye?’ I lift the shopping bags you forget.

‘Aye, it’ll be better than listening to that greasy bastard.’

I just catch the door before it closes behind you and throw the bartender a wave as he taps his toe.