Monday 15 July 2013

from Oh, Freedom

Despite the cold, I was sweating when I got there. A card game was in progress up the back. Immediate silence when I walked in. Someone muttered something. It sounded like 'performance', but I let it go and sat down next to Big Kostas. It wasn't him who made the remark, it was his brother-in-law, Bruno, the male model, all brushed hair and lightning teeth. I didn't know the other two players. Kostas skidded the cards across the baize. He tipped the wink to the waiter and a bottle of beer and a glass were placed at my elbow. I watched the game in silence. Biriba. It was a matter of time before someone started shouting, that was half the fun, especially if you were just watching; heated team disputes were what it was all about.

The hand finished. Kostas noted the score on a pad then started shuffling the pack. Bruno looked at his friends, the ones I didn't know, then turned to me with a perfect grin all over his mouth. 'Funny seeing you in here,' he said. 'And a Friday at that.'

Kostas started dealing the cards. 'Shut it,' he said.

'What?' said Bruno. 'I'm just wondering why he hasn't been in recently. Maybe he's been working the back shift. Eh, Tommy, have you been working the back shift?'

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