Coping With Loss

Fuck Rooney. Fuck Cole. Fuck England.

Stanís Seat came to a slipping stop outside of Prashantís SuperDrink Off-Licence at the junction of Bethune Road.

Fuck Tina.

The rain was out of the blue. The day had started perfect, warm, sunny and England set up to stuff the Germans. Now it was raining and England were fucked.

A woman, fat and pretty in Pringle and Burberry, crossed behind him. She gave the car a hard stare through the rain and disappeared.

People came and went, turned up, made a judgement of you and vanished. Tina had done that to him, he had loved her but she had judged him and found him wanting. How could you cope with that?

And fucking England didnít care, they had too much money, they were taking the piss.

He got out of the car.

The off-licence was a cube. It was as if a concrete block had been dropped, hollowed out and called an off-licence.

In its small, barred window a single illuminated sign read: beer.

He went in.

A customer was calculating with a member of staff how much alcohol he could buy with the money in his pocket.

"Keep some by, Johnny," called an older man from the back of the shop.

Johnny looked up from his coins. "Why?" he asked.

Yeah, fucking why, thatís what England makes you ask. Them and Tina.

Stan stepped up to the counter, stood next to Johnny who was six inches shorter, his hair ropes of grease, his face puckered, a funnel for alcohol.

You couldnít help but see that.

"Catch the football?" Johnnyís smile was missing teeth.

"No," lied Stan.

"Just as well, they were shit, even Lampard and heís world class."

Lampard Ė world class? That fuckís father was a better player than him and he was crap.

The shop assistant turned to Stan. "Yeah?" He wore a cross of St. George pin.

Stan had worn his lucky England shirt to watch the game but he had no luck any more. He loved England, and Tina. He didnít expect them to be on top of the world every time but to try, show some fucking willing.

"Whisky," said Stan.

Just some passion.

The Germans, bloody Nazis but at least they seemed to care. It meant something to them like it didnít anymore to England, like it didnít to Tina.

"Cider," said Johnny.

"What?"

"Thatís the value drink, penny for penny," Johnny nodded at that, said: "I used to be Martini," and shook his head at the errors of his ways.

Was Stan supposed to be interested?

Johnny smiled: "But cider set me straight and the price, right every time."

Cider wasnít that a girlís drink, come to that wasnít Martini?

"Bells, Teachers?" asked the assistant.

"Teachers."

Stan made his choice and a bottle was produced. Good that, to say what you want and have it given to you.

He turned to leave.

"Nasty out there," said Johnny.

"Itís coming down," said the assistant and shrugged at something seen before.

Stan stepped out.

The rain was heavier, wetting him like Tina had been wet, at her best, in their bed.

He crossed to his car, holding the bottle of whisky by the neck like a club.

Fuck England.