He was standing outside The French House holding half a pint of Guinness: a perfectly nice man in a checked shirt and worn jeans, a back-pack at his feet. She knew it was him before he even turned: thinner than in the picture, older, apologetic. She could just go, keep walking, but what kind of karma would that be?
“Hi” she said, trying to smile.
“Oh hi,” he beamed, “do you want a drink?”
“Yes,” she said, elbowing her way through the sticky-slicked-post-work crowd, keen to make it to the bar before him. She would buy her own drink. And leave in her own time.
His teeth were the crooked mess common to British men of a certain age, his voice a thin Edinburgh whine. Jasper Carrot’s less good looking brother.
He finished his drink.
“I ordered a pint,” he apologised, “but they gave me a half. I’ll just get another one.”
Perfect. He was just the kind of man who got served halves. She fished out her mobile from the bottom of her over-sized bag and hastily punched in a cry for help.
He was back.
The phone rang.
“Oh dear,” she said, “Sorry, I have to take this, my friend’s just lost her mother.”
My friend is having an affair. He’s a very old friend. He’s not a philanderer by nature. He is middle-aged......I have both been bad and good in my time, I know all the excuses and I know what it is like to have your heart ripped out, stomped on and fed to the pigeons. We’ve talked. And talked some more. I have learnt...late in life....that when one pleads that they don’t want to hurt anyone what then usually mean is, they don’t want to get hurt themselves. He told me when he was drunk. I wish he hadn’t. What do I do now?
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