Standing outside the betting shop on a cold day, a cup of coffee steaming in a styrofoam cup in one hand and a hand rolled cigarette in the other, Glen is invisible to the people passing by on the busy main street. He would normally use this as an opportunity for people watching, but on this particular day he has just about had his fill of people.
He settles his gaze on a blank patch of wall across the street, just above head height. No possibility of eye contact leading to unwanted interaction. He revels in the sweet solitary bliss and sips on his sweet coffee. He loves the coffee from the bookies, its free, its hot and damned if it isn’t just the best cup available in the town, in his opinion. He has a bet on a dog in the 4.15, a tip for a horse in the 5.07 and his eye on a few others. There is a pretty girl working behind the counter and their casual flirting delights him. Next to the old men and down-and-out’s who frequent the place, he is an Adonis. A full box of tobacco in his left pocket and a healthy handful of change rattles in his right.
He allows his mind to drift, and he is fully ensconced in a delightful little fantasy in which a cluster of scantily clad, beautiful ladies are soothing him with gentle massages and soft cooings.
“Hai, Glen, what’s the craic man?”
Poof, the girls are gone, his muscles tense up as he recognizes the grating tone of a chap he just did not want to see.
“Ah, Dave, my man. Whats the happy haps?”
“Not much now, not much, just doing a wee bit of christmas shopping while the missus is away in the hairdressers.”
Glen nods as he takes a pull of his cigarette.
“Any look in the bookies, Glen?”
“Well, I got this coffee, and that’s about it.” says Glen, forcing a laugh. Dave laughs loudly.
“Listen,” he says,”Have you managed to do that wee job for me yet?”
Glen pulls on his cig again and looks at the his spot on the wall across the street, just above head height and thinks:
In the week since you asked me to do that simple task that any dog on the street could do, I have written an article for a magazine, researched and interviewed people for another article, written two poems, learned three new songs on guitar and bass and drums, emailed a few politicians, called those politicians, submitted a proposal to them to try to change the country for the better, worked my day job (which I don’t get paid for as I am a volunteer), played two soccer matches, a basketball match, cooked multiple dinners for multiple people, went on a trip of the mind via a drug I had never taken before, pulled myself back from the edge of depression, talked a friend away from suicide and now I am here at the bookies. So no, Dave, I have not managed to do that for you.
He exhales the smoke, which clouds thick due to the cold, and with it his anger at Daves percieved impertinence to ask him to do favours, and he remembers, that is who I am, the helping man.
“Jaysus, Dave, it slipped my mind altogether now, I had kind of a mad week” says Glen.
“Sure, no bother Glen boy. Look, I better shoot off, I’m to meet herself in a quater of an hour and I may have something to show for the time I have been out on me own”
“Or she will think you’ve been in here with me!” says Glen.
They both laugh and Dave walks away smiling.
Glen thinks on the conversation as he finishes his smoke and coffee. He thinks he is a bad man for thinking ill on Dave.
He chucks away the dirty brown butt of the rollie, downs the last scalding gulp of coffee and goes back to his bets.
Read the next part of this tale here