“Keep walking,” a tall man said to a smaller one.
“I’m hurt,” the small one said.
“Francis cut out the melodrama,” said the tall man. The tall man gripped Francis’ upper arm and tried to drag him away.
“Kev, listen to me, I’m hurt,” said Francis.
Seven smashed glasses scattered on cobbles. Gin, tonic, cola and vodka escaped in different directions. The people in the beer garden took no notice at first but were now rapt in the scene unfolding. Kev tugged, but Francis stood rooted to the spot.
“Come on”, Kev said. Francis still didn’t move. Kev put a knee into Francis’ knee pit. Francis’ knee bent.
Francis relented, and Kev walked him to a nearby booth.
“You didn’t need to be so rough with me,” said Francis looking at a recently formed dark splotch on his blue shirt.
“You were faffing about,” Kev said.
“I was going to ask if they could replace the drinks,” said Francis. He noticed more dark spots on his shirt.
“In a place like this, no chance, look around you we’re standing in a converted garden shed. This place is hipster heaven. Stick a bit of writing near the spill, and you could sell it as art”, said Kev.
“The lads won’t like me coming back empty-handed,” Francis said.
“Don’t worry about the round; I’ll sort it.”
“Thanks, next time we’re near a machine I’ll sort you out.”
“Don’t worry about it there’s are more to life than rounds,” said Kev.
“Like, injuring myself. If this wet feeling in my shoe is blood, I’ll hold you responsible Kev.”
“You won’t; you dropped the tray.”
“The ground was slippy.”
“And you keep excusing yourself of stupid behaviour.”
” Thanks, Kev, glad you pulled me aside to have a go at me.”
“The other lads are too good to you. They’d never say anything. Now what I like about you and I is that even though we’ve known each other for a few years, we’ve never been close. If that bothered either one of us, we would have amended that, yet here we are. I don’t mind if we’re further apart after this. The lads, myself included, are either in long terms or are in receivership on the semi-regular. You, I don’t even think that I’ve seen you notice a girl much less mention one.”
“I don’t objectify women, how horrible,” said Francis
“What I’m saying is you may think that you’ll get rejected for, coming out, and saying something. If the other people have already known about it, then you can’t get rejected when you finally, come out and say it.”
“I’m not gay,” said Francis
“Odd that the first place that your mind went to after me saying that is that you’re not gay. That says something about you”, Kev said. Kev moved in closer to Francis, backing him into a wall.
“You’re cornering me.”
“You’re cornering yourself. All you got to do is walk past me. People will say, hey that guy can walk. Some of us want to know that you can walk.”
“I know I can walk:”
“Then do it, show us. Some say you’re a cripple. You’re stuck. You know, “Get Franny a wheelchair. He can’t walk” that’s what they say.”, said Kev
“I’m capable of walking,” said Francis.
“Then show me. Francis walk. Walk now, right over there, walk the whole way” Kev said. Kev motioned to a woman standing at the bar. The woman stood alone dressed in black and a brown jacket. The woman was as stylish as she was beautiful.
“I’m not walking over there,” said Frances.
“Yes you are, that’s the path. Go over there show me you can walk. Don’t mention theatre”.
“She might like theatre.”
“I’m going to make an assumption. I know that assumptions are bad. I’ll bet this particular woman doesn’t like plays. Play talk makes a woman walk. Keep it light, casual, talk to her about travel, man or horoscopes, women love that”, Kev said. Kev went behind Frances. Kev pushed Francis out of the alcove in her direction.
” She could be an INTJ like me,” said Francis.
“I didn’t even know you were dyslexic.” said
“It’s a personality type.”
“It is, adds to your character.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“Sshhhhh,” said Kev, bringing a finger to his lips. “The time of talking to me is at an end. The time to talk to her is beginning”
Francis turned around towards the woman. He took a few steps toward her before stopping dead in his tracks. Frances looked back to Kev who stood in the alcove.
Kev nodded to him before giving him a thumbs up.
Francis turned his head back round to face the woman. Francis breathed in deep through his nose, felt his chest and stomach expand.
Francis held that breath for a few moments before pushing it out through his mouth.
A nearby group of people heard him and shared glances between each other. A fellow with a handlebar moustache arched bushy eyebrows at a woman with a monocle and martini glass. She nodded to him.
Francis walked closer. He lowered his head the stress in his body caused him to furrow his brow. As Francis drew nearer to the woman, a movement to the left of him caught his eye.
A bearded man wearing a leather jacket, blue jeans and desert boots approached the woman. Francis realised what was happening, but he wasn’t able to stop his body.
Francis’ mind was pure panic.
The bearded man had already arrived at the woman’s side and clocked Francis’ approach.
The bearded man turned his head toward Francis, smirked, pulled the woman close into him. The woman smiled threw her head back exposing her neck. Her head rested on his shoulder. The bearded man turned his head, kissed her neck. Her eyes closed.
The bearded man turned to Francis and said; “Keep walking”.