Half-Pint

Taking a short break from ‘A Year in the Basque Country’ to offer you this piece of flash fiction; 500 words. Enjoy.

Martin had been waiting twenty minutes when Lisa arrived. He panicked as if an unexpected set of demands had been thrust upon him. She was all done up. Their eyes met. He stood to greet her. Everyone was watching her, and him, but mostly her.

‘Hi. Sorry I’m late. Me Dad dropped me here. He’s super uptight. Giving me this big talk. I was like Da – I’m 18, and he was like All the more reason for us to be talking. This place is nice -very posh.’

He wouldn’t have chosen a bar, but she wanted to meet in a bar so, he figured, of all bars in Gree, this was safest. She sat at the table. He ordered. Tom was there. Big hair-do.

‘Marty! What are you doing here?’

‘Having a drink Tom.’

Martin willed the barmaid to move faster. Tom leaned back against the bar.

‘You’re with Lisa?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Oh, I know Lisa well.

‘I wasn’t askin’.’

Finally the drinks arrived.

‘So what about your Da’?’ Lisa asked as he sat. ‘He was a big boxer, right?’

‘World champion. Featherweight. Hardly big.’

‘What’s his name?’

‘Big Jim.’

‘You must be proud.’

‘Yeah.’

‘But you don’t box?’

‘Na. Jim thought it would be better for me to hit the books instead of people. Trouble is,  I don’t like studying.’

‘Me neither. I wanna do hair anyway so fuck it.’

‘Your hair is nice.’

‘Thank you. I love working with hair. All my friends are like…’

Over her shoulder he noticed his Dad bluster through the door. Of all the bars in town. Immediately, Tom was all over him; one arm over his shoulders, the other landing a playful punch on his chin. Jim adopted a boxing stance. Tom howled with laughter. He made a scene outta doing shots with the champ. Fucking eijit.

‘…And you?’

‘Sorry. What?’

‘What do you wanna do after the Leaving Cert?’

‘Head to Tenerife with the lads. Do you wanna go some-place else?’

‘But… we just got here.’

Lisa was in the toilet when Jim hit the floor. Martin had seen the signs and was seconds away from catching him.

‘10,9,8…’Tom started.

His father looked up – a stunned, stupid look which changed to misplaced pride when he was on his feet. Martin ushered him out the door and bundled his loose limbs into the taxi. He looked back into the bar.

‘Here. You are not leaving him here like that,’ the driver said. Martin checked for his phone but his jacket was inside. Jim groaned. He got into the car.

‘Quick.’

They staggered to the front door. Martin fished for the key. Jim was hanging off him, his bitter one-liners about Martin’s mother like fresh air punches. The protests continued while Martin was putting him into the recovery position. Sleep soon claimed him.

Sweating in the taxi back.

His jacket was there. The only trace of Lisa was the lipstick mark on her glass, still half-full. At least Tom had left too.

nocktoebenaughto

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