Jake got to the pub fifteen minutes late, Stevie was there and already on his second pint. Jake got himself a pint and sat down opposite Stevie who had a huge smile on his face. Jake looked at him and just had to ask.
“You got a feather in your pants or something, why the bloody big grin?
Stevie’s grin suddenly turned into a full blown laugh.
“Just thinking really, it’s over ten years since you and me had a beer together and here we are back in the same pub, drinking the same lager, sitting in the same seats and you’re still fifteen minutes late!”
Even Jake had to laugh at that. Stevie was anxious to know how Jake’s first day had been.
“So where you been then, on day one?”
“Well, I fancied having a bit of a ride somewhere, so went to buy a travel card, ended up buying a piece of plastic called an Oyster card, bloody marvellous thing, took me everywhere!”
Once again Stevie laughed.
“Good for you Jake, where did you go then, on this bit of plastic?”
Jake hesitated for a moment.
“Oh, just here and there, anyway enough about me how’s the baby?”
Stevie noticed that Jake was trying to change the subject and went along with it.
“Little Jake? He’s great mate, a perfect little man, Steph’s booking the christening this week, don’t forget you’re going to be godfather, no excuses!”
“Ok mate, I’m in, you’ll have to tell me what to do and say, cos I haven’t got a Scooby!”
“Don’t worry about that Jake, they’ll have to be lots of rehearsals of course and the best place for that is right here in the pub!”
Jake stood up and was going to get another round in. Stevie stopped him.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Get the beers in”
“No way, you’ve just come out and I’m working, so until you get a job and start earning some dosh I’m getting the beers, no arguments!”
Before Jake could argue, Stevie pushed him back in his seat and was on his way to the bar. A few minutes later he returned with two beers and two small glasses containing a clear liquid.
“Cheers mate, what’s with the tiny glasses?”
“They’re shots Jake”
“What’s that then?”
“Fuck me, you have been away a long time haven’t you, well back in the day you would have called them chasers or shorts, nowadays we call them shots, everyone does them, you drink them down in one and then you have your beer”
“Really? Chasers were what sad old men had before I went away, what’s in the glasses then?”
“Fuck off, that’s an old ladies drink!”
“Straight up, it’s Sambuca; they do it in all kinds of flavours now, go on down it”
Jake picked up the glass and downed it in one. So did Stevie. Jake pulled a face in disgust.
“Fuck me; I need a beer after that just to take the taste away!”
They talked about little Jake for the next ten minutes, then Stevie sat back in his chair took a deep breath and leaned across the table and looked Jake straight in the eyes.
“Look Jake, were mates yeh?”
“I need to ask you about that night, you know, when you got shot, we’ve never really talked about it have we?”
“Nope, never have”
“Well, firstly let me say sorry for telling the old bill about the drugs, but at the time it seemed like the only explanation, you’d been acting a bit weird for weeks and me and the other lads thought you were on a bit of gear, that’s the only reason I said it to the police Jake, I thought it might actually help you, sorry mate”
“Forget it Stevie, it was a long time ago and I would probably have thought the same thing if the tables were turned”
“Cheers mate, so can you tell me, you know, what really happened?”
“I stand by the story that I told the old bill ten years ago, I was blackmailed into killing the Russian by three big guys I had never met before, they threatened to cripple my Dad and disfigure my Mum, that’s it Stevie in a nutshell”
“But how Jake, where, why you, it just seems mad!”
“They chose me because they knew I worked at Millers, they used to meet me in one of the old disused railway arches, they gave me a gun and told me to shoot the Russian at an exact time, if I didn’t do it they would hurt Mum and Dad, what else could I do?”
“Why didn’t you tell the old bill or tell me and I’d have gone to the old bill”
“They were watching me night and day, they were watching the house, they even followed Mum and Dad to the supermarket, I know it all sounds far-fetched but it’s the truth Stevie, if it was something else I’d tell you”
“Fucking hell Jake, it’s just so weird”
“Look Stevie as far as I’m concerned it’s over, I shot the Russian, went to prison, done my time and now it’s time to move on, so we’ve had the discussion and now let’s forget it ok?”
“Sure, sure, Jake, I just wanted to get it out in the open, we’ve done that and I totally believe you, won’t bring it up again”
Stevie went up to the bar, bought two more beers and two shots, then returned to his seat.
“Fuck me Stevie; I’ll be pissed at this rate”
“No harm in that Jake, we’re celebrating your freedom”
They downed their shots and sat back in their chairs. Now it was Jakes turn to take a deep breath, he leaned over to Stevie.
“Ok, now it’s my turn, I want to ask you a favour”
“Ok Jake, If I can I will, what do you need?”
“Sorry mate, not quite sure I understand”
“I need you for a few days, not now, but in a few week's time”
“Sorry mate still not with you”
“Spain Stevie, I want to get some sun for a few days, but don’t want to go on my own, fancy coming to Spain with me?”
Stevie’s face lit up.
“Love to Jake, I’d have to clear it with Steph first of course, but if I told her it was to keep you company I’m sure she’d be fine, why Spain?”
“Uncle Tom’s got an apartment out there, somewhere between Malaga and Marbella, all we need to do is get our flights, oh and of course I need a passport!”
“But what about your probation officer, are you allowed?”
“Yep, checked it out, all I need to do is tell them where I’m going, how long for and who with”
“Jake, I’m there mate, can’t wait”
Jake smiled, everything was going according to plan!