Gary turned his head to see Charlotte Foley walk in. The backdraft from the open door behind her had created a plume of second-hand smoke from the smoking area outside. Gary’s intoxicated brain interpreted this as a celestial haze, which fit his own narrative just fine.

She stood there in her royal-blue, lycra mini dress, her long blonde hair curled and flowing down around her shoulders. She surveyed the room for a minute, before walking towards the bar. On the way, she made eye contact with the two boys and waved.

“Fuck me, CB, she’s fuckin’ perfect,” said Gary. “I’m not sayin’ this cos I’m locked. Or maybe I’m only sayin’ cos I’m locked, but drink or no drink me point is that I actually fuckin’ love her.”

“She’s a belter alright. That’s some set she’s got too. Fuckin’ racktacular. Reckon she’s had them done?”

“I reckon so,” said Gary. “She’s obsessed with gettin’ on telly, so I’d say it’s not out of the question. She probably saw a documentary on a Playboy model or somethin’ and figured it was the way to go. Her ma has definitely had hers done so maybe they got some sort of ‘buy two, get two half price,’ deal.”

“I know her ma has had hers done,” said Collie. “Sure didn’t she show me hers in here one night? What a dirty aul slapper she is…”

“But Charlotte isn’t. She’s about the only bird round here with a bit of class, she’s buyin’ white wine over there for fuck’s sake – when was the last time ya saw a bird buy anythin’ other than blue WKD in this place? She’s a different sort of animal. The down side of that, though, is that it instantly puts her out of me bleedin’ league.”

Charlotte came over, wine in hand, and sat down at the table.

“What’s up ya pair of wankers?” she said, playfully.

“Ah, not much Char,” said Collie. “Rippin’ and tearin’ like an aul shirt – ya know yerself?! What about you?”

“Ah it’s all good with me. Off work tomorrow, so that’s good.”

“Ya on a mad one tonight, then?” Collie asked.

“Nah, just in here lookin’ for me ma, said I’d have a drink while I’m in. Have either of yis seen her?”

The boys caught each other’s knowing stare but resisted the temptation for wisecracks.

“We’ve not been in long, but we haven’t seen her,” is what Gary said, delivering the line with the utmost concentration, so as not to let his drunken tongue slip and say what he was actually thinking: “Yer hair smells amazin’ – I want to make a nest out of it and live it in forever.”

Society frowns on that kind of remark and 99 per cent of girls don’t care for it either.

“Why are ya lookin’ for your mam? Forgot your house key, did ya?” said Collie, “cos if ya need a bed to stay in tonight I’m sure I could help you out. But no funny business OK, I’m not that sort of boy. In my experience yis girls have only one thin’ on yis’re minds.”

“Ya’ve got me there,” she said. “I’m after yer sexy body, always have been. And to think I got so close this time.

“Nah, I think I’ll be alright, ya dirty pervert ya.”

Collie smiled back. “Can’t blame a guy for tryin’. How’s life at the salon?”

“Ah not too bad, we’re quiet enough at the minute with all the debs finished for the year. Tickin’ over though. Had a wrinkly aul creep in today lookin’ for a happy endin’.”

“Do ya charge extra for that, or is it in yer standard package..?”

“I’ll give ya a kick in yer standard package, ya cheeky little bollix ya.”

Gary hadn’t said much since Charlotte came in. He never really did when she was around. He watched the way Collie flirted with her and wished, even with his substantial intake of Dutch courage, that he could match him. Charlotte was sound, he knew that, but while they had known each other virtually their whole lives he just could not get comfortable flirting with her. The erection in his trousers was making him uncomfortable enough as it was.


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