I find a parking spot a lot quicker than I expected. I enter the pub checking my watch first and then looking over at the bar to see if there are any free spots to sit down. I notice him. We make eye contact. “Damn it, why did I have to come early?”
Image martin.mutch via Flickr
I think to myself. He gives me a nod of acknowledgement. We haven’t talked in more than three years. He is already visibly drunk. I realize with horror that the only free stool is right next to him. Oh well. I go over to the bar and bravely order a pint and a shot of rum to smooth out the undoubtedly long half hour or so that I have until the others get here.
“Hey” I venture.
Heavy, thick silence engulfs us, drowning out the background music and conversations.
“I’ve never see you here in this place, how did you happen to come across…”
“We used to be friends, you remember that?” He suddenly interrupts my feeble attempts at useless small talk.
I did remember.
“I, er, well, yeah, until I started at the Company. Until we had that project together…”
“Now look at you, you look at me as if I was freaking Hitler.” His unsteady gaze bores into my eyes.
“I do not!”
“Don’t lie man, you’re not good at it. Whatever I do at work, I do it well and I do it right. Nobody’s ever going to say anything different. Change your seat, you don’t have to waste your precious time on horrible me. Go on.”
Image Skip via Flickr
“There are no other free seats, I’m just gonna waiting for my friends here until…” I’m beginning to be fed up with his patronizing superiority complex B.S. and the alcohol in me spits out: “you know it’s all your own fault dude!” Yeah, I remember when we used to hang out, we were OK, but that was before I realized you were a lazy, sneaky, backstabbing, selfish piece of shit!” I nearly scream as I mentally picture steam coming out of my ears.
Image Nightcap via Flickr
“Oh yeah, how’d you figure that out? Because of what I do at the Company? Really? Because of how I got to be your boss instead of the other way around? Because I take care of myself and no-one else? That’s it huh? I told them to hire you!” He downs his scotch in one huge gulp and angrily waves at the bartender for a refill.
“Think about this: everything in your life revolves around the Company now, doesn’t it! You’ve been there for four years now, no? Well, I’ve been there for ten. It swallowed your personal life by now, hasn’t it? Not mine. How much time do you really spend away from that place? I bet you’re meeting “the team” here tonight! I bet all you guys are gonna talk about is the Company or what goes on inside it”
Image Tim Wang via Flickr
“Er…” His sudden outburst totally derails me.
“Get. A. Life, Man! Climb out of the Company’s jaws! I know what I am, I play their game and survive! Because I’ve always been alone, no-one was ever there for me. I knew you wouldn’t get it! I help myself! I have a real life OUTSIDE of there, I have good friends and a young wife…”
“Ooo yeah, you love your wife allright…” my anger defused, I resort to sarcasm instead. Everyone at the office knows he cheats on her any chance he gets.
“Don’t you dare talk about my wife, that’s none of your goddamn business!”
“Okay, Okay,” I raise my hands in a surrendering gesture, “If you’ve got friends and you’re all ok and all, what the hell are you doing here getting pissed drunk by yourself?”
He looks at me with an unexpectedly forlorn expression: “Well, shit. It’s about time I told you anyways.”
“Told me what?”
“You’ve been with Lisa for what, 3 years now?”
“Lisa? What’s Lisa got to do with any…”
“Four years ago I asked her to marry me. She said she needed to wait. She waited. I hoped. Then you showed up. She told me no, broke up with me on this day four years ago. On your first week. After I did everything I could to get you hired…” He lapses into a gloomy muteness.
A deep black pit opens up in front of me, my throat dries up. Silence engulfs us once again. In the absence of anything coherent to say, I order a double scotch and a double rum, proffer him the scotch, and we quietly down them in one go.