The LinkMature

I remember it so clearly. Wednesday 22nd September, 2010. An awful day at work, I’d been under pressure all day and at five to six the guy who was supposed to hand me his report so I could finish my own had left whilst I was having a pee. The git hadn’t left me his report. Resigned to a tongue-lashing from my manager on the following day I accepted an invite from another of my late working colleagues to go pub for a swift drink.

Rebecca and I sat outside the bar, me sipping a cider and she one of those hideous cocktails that women seem to like so much. We chatted (bitched if I’m honest) about work, although we’d been on the same team for four months or so by this point ,we’d not really got to know each other very well. It seemed that we were both quite private people but we got on well enough, enough for a second drink anyway.

I know what you’re thinking, but no, this isn’t a story about a blossoming romance between two shy work colleagues. I‘m gay and Rebecca, well, I never asked, but either way she wasn‘t a man! We were just two people who needed to let off some steam about our crap jobs to someone who knew enough to be able sympathise and say the right things.

Course, we were also both aware that we should be grateful we’d still got jobs. The country was still limping along after the “Credit Crunch” and we both knew lots of people out of work through no fault of their own. So we bitched, but not as much as we would once have done, and kept an eye on the clock as neither of us were up for a late night out.

Two pints of cider ganged up on my bladder and I realised that I’d need to go before I left the bar. My journey home would take too long for me to just cross my legs. I excused myself, did my business, washed my hands and dried them on my trousers - no paper towels or working hand driers in the gents as usual - before returning to Rebecca. She was sitting in the quiet corner of the bar that we’d picked earlier, as far from a rowdy couple of young guys and an old man who looked like he’d had far too much to drink, as we could get.

“This place is starting to go downhill a bit.” I commented to Rebecca.

“They’ve had some trouble recently. Apparently one of the barmen was dealing drugs from here, Sue was telling me. They caught him on CCTV. A lot of the old regulars moved on whilst all that was happening.”

“Ahh. Another?” I asked, fairly sure she’d say no. I was right, still we’d been out for a little over an hour by then. “OK, well thanks for the drink - see you tomorrow then.”

We walked out of the bar together but went in opposite directions once out in the street. I was a little tipsy, nothing obvious but I rarely drank those days so I could feel the effects of the cider. I sat at my bus stop fiddling with my iPod waiting for the next bus.

And then, well I always struggle to explain this part, then I felt a sudden cold thrill down my spine, a shudder of animalistic pleasure, predatory, anticipatory, cold, evil. I’d never experienced anything like it before in my life. I’ve always thought of myself as a nice guy, one of life’s good guys, not a hero or saint but just your average nice bloke. But in that instant I realised it was all a lie. I was as rotten as the rest, worse in fact, so very much worse. Then it was gone, I was back to nice me, the guy who always came last but it didn’t quite feel as solid a certainty as before. The bus arrived, I got on it and went home to a microwaved dinner and a couple of hours in front of the TV.

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For a moment Greg felt eyes on him, he felt watched, exposed. It was an unusual feeling for him, leaving him feeling suddenly vulnerable. Then it was gone, he was back in control, confident (he refused to acknowledge the tiny worm of self doubt that had been left behind), but before he could act the woman he’d been following had, with the uncanny sense of prey, realised that something was wrong. She turned from her intended route along the canal tow path and returned to well lit paths back to a main road where she flagged a cab. Frustrated, Greg snarled silently and returned to hunting.

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The End

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