Riding back from the cemetery, I bumped into Dave at some traffic lights on Holloway Road. I pulled up beside him and stared wide-eyed into the side of his head and revved my engine to get his attention. He turned round, saw me and nearly fell off his scoot, which lightened my mood a bit.
“Careful, you may smash a couple more mirrors, and that’s a fair bit of bad luck you got coming your way judging by that” I shouted over the engines.
Somehow, he heard me, but only said “Fark off Alex!” in his strong Cockney accent.
“Fancy a quick catch-up at the pub?”
“Woi not, ey? First raand’s on you though for scarin’ the shit outta me!” he laughed.
We rode off and went into the White Swan on Upper Street a couple of minutes later. Just as we sat down at the bar, the door opened again, and in walked a laughing group of girls, falling over nothing as they tried to get past the threshold. I turned to Dave and said “They’ve started early, haven’t they?” He nodded in agreement and called the barmaid over. I hadn’t forgotten Dave’s condition of going to the pub, and asked him what he wanted before the barmaid got over here. As always, it was a pint of Stella. Personally, I can’t stand any kind of beer. Everyone thinks it’s a bit weird – an Englishman who hates beer, but it’s personal taste, like in everything. Still, I was gonna get him what he wanted.
Before I’d decided what to have, the barmaid came over, and I was taken aback completely. She had beautiful, wavy blonde hair and wonderfully deep blue eyes. Her smile was so sweet it made my heart (and probably my facial expression) sink, and I was in a state of bliss. When she spoke, it was like sweet soul music to my ears, and, even though all she said was “What can I get you?”, I couldn’t get over it. She’d spoken to me. I was infatuated.
Dave gave me a firm nudge, and I realised I’d been staring at her for a while now. I tried to get my bearings, looked around at Dave very sharply with a shocked face on as if to say “Help me out here”, but lost my balance on the barstool and fell on my side to the hard wooden floor of the pub. The drunk girls roared with laughter, as did a couple of other punters.
“You said they’d start’ed early! ‘Ow many you ‘ad? Or you still ander the effect from larst noight?” Dave laughed.
I regained my composure, sat at the bar, tried to ignore the fact that my cheeks were blushing violently. I ordered a Stella for Dave and a cider for myself. Smiling to herself, the barmaid went to get us our drinks. Dave turned my way and said “You’re tryin’ ta pull ’er, Oi can tell. Whenever you try ta pull a bird, you mayke a roight prick outta yeself!” He laughed.
“Fuck off, Dave, I…” My voice trailed off. I couldn’t think of an ending to that sentence. Dave just smiled cunningly as she returned with our drinks.
“’Ere, love, mar friend ferncies you, will you go aert with ‘im sometoime?”
I was even more embarrassed than when I fell onto the floor. I gave Dave a stern look, and he laughed back at me. But to my surprise, the barmaid said “Yeah, why not, ey?” and left, giving me a little wink.
“You absolute bastard, Dave” I chortled, still not knowing quite what was going on.
“Mate, I can read you loike a book. Let’s jast ‘ope that you can’t find anything wrong with this wan, she’s farking beautiful!”
“I’ll drink to that!” and we clinked glasses and drunk.
Dave had been off on holiday with his family to Wales for the last 2 weeks, so we chatted about that for about an hour, nursing our 2 pints. Sometimes he could be a bit hard to understand with his strong accent, but I’d known him for a while now, so I’d kind of gotten used to it, but there were still those moments where you wondered just what the fuck he was trying to say, especially fucking rhyming slang. We all hate that, and he just uses it to piss us off most of the time.
At about half 2, Dave simply said “See ya” and legged it out the pub, probably so he didn’t have to pay for his. The barmaid saw the empties and started to come over. We exchanged glances for a split second, before I looked away, rather embarrassed. I’m awful with girls, I blush way too much and more than likely blow my chances.
She seemed different however, as she carried on walking over, and took the glasses. I put on my ‘cool’ smile and said “Thanks”, and she bared all her teeth in response. She came back again without the empty glasses, held out her hand and said “My name’s Eloise”
Thinking I was being a soppy git, I tried not to say “That’s a beautiful name”, but then decided to risk it, as girls tend to like that stuff. The only problem was, instead of something that could’ve been a romantic gesture, it ended up as me nodding like a pigeon, eyes darting around the room and, eventually, “…Yes”.
She started laughing and asked “You gonna shake my hand or what?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. I’m not quite with it because… I don’t know, but, erm, er, shit, I’ve buggered this one up” Was my train of thought, that somehow found it’s way to my vocal chords and spewed out. I really thought that was it, but she carried on laughing. I didn’t know if she’d been at the cannabis or was actually happy.
“You’re not very good at this, are you?” She asked jokingly
“No, to be fair, I hardly ever get this far without a few vodkas.” The first sentence to come out of my mouth since Dave departed.
“Well, there’s a first time for everything” She smiled. “Here’s my number, call if you want to go further without alcohol, and if you feel you can hold your nerve long enough to have a conversation” She took a pen and had a little laugh to herself. Showing that I had a sense of humour, I laughed as well, but not too much, otherwise that would’ve killed any remaining chances I had. Fake laughs are a big no.
Eloise passed me a leaf out of her order book with the numbers 475 8630 written on, and departed, beaming at me from ear to ear.
“I’m Alex by the way” I shouted after her, picked up my Parka and left, with a quick glance back. She was still beaming, and that’s when it hit me.I had a girl’s number. And that’s all I cared about right now.