It’s 10am on Wednesday the 22nd April and I’m sitting in a down town cafe waiting for a mate to join me for coffee. He’s late as usual and I can guess his lame brain excuse. He forgets that he uses it every time.
He’s a really big bloke and never just comes in, he always bursts in. Today was no different except he had company. He was with a codger who looked old enough to be his father.
Before I had a chance to say anything, my mate plopped down in a chair, beckoned to the old bloke to do the same and said to him,” This is Max, I told you about him on the way over”. My mate then half turned to me and smiled out the side of his mouth but still didn’t acknowledge me verbally. The old fellow just looked me up and down. His face was expressionless, he just licked his lips.
When the lip licking was finished, the old bloke, whose name I still didn’t know said,”He looks OK to me, not the stupid bastard you described”. I felt my hackles begin to rise but I kept my peace. My so called ‘mate’ said,” Looks can be deceiving, he is quite devious, you can never tell when you’ve got him, he’s a clever lying bastard”.
I nearly broke in to their conversation but kept my mouth shut, waiting to hear what was going to come next. I didn’t have to wait long. My ‘mate’, talking to no one in particular said,”I’ll go order the coffee, short black for you”, he said, looking to his elderly companion.”Yair”, was the reply.
The big bloke rose from the table and I heard him give the order to the girl behind the cash register.
On his return, he again ignored me and addressed his comment to the old man,” We come here almost every day. It gets damn boring, hearing his yarns over and over again, month in and month out. I don’t know how much longer I can put up with it”.
Something told me to keep a lid on my rising anger. The old bloke said to my mate,” Well, I haven’t heard him say a bloody word since we got here”.
There was a short pause in their conversation as three cups of coffee suddenly arrived at the table. Short black for the old boy, cappuccino for my erstwhile ‘mate’ and the same for me. My ‘mate’ had obviously paid for the three of us.
“Pitty you can’t take a leaf out of his book then”, was the mate’s reply to the old chap. My ‘mate’ continued,” I wanted you to meet Max because the two of you are like bloody twins. You never shut up and neither does he. At least with Max he’s not a bull shitter like you. When I said he was devious, a liar and you could never tell when you had him, I was really describing you”.
Before either the old bloke or myself had a chance to say anything, my ‘mate’ kept up his running commentary on the old blokes apparent faults. “I promised my mother I’d pop in and see you every day as she used to do before she couldn’t do it any more. Well for the last ten years I’ve heard the same stories from you almost every day. I know that it’s just make believe but that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to. At least Max’s yarns have an element of truth about them. You are just a plain old pain pain the arse”.
With that I saw that the old boy’s lip began to quiver and I thought he was about to burst into tears.
I couldn’t hold back, things had gone too far, I just had to interrupt. I tapped my ‘mate’on the shoulder, he had his back half turned to me, and I said angrily to him,” That’s enough, you’ve not had the decency to introduce me to your guest, you’ve insulted me and now you’re insulting him. Why don’t you just piss off”!
With that, the two of them burst out laughing, great smiles on their faces. The old bloke said to me,”I’ve known him for years, his father and I were great mates. One day he told me what a practical joker you are and how he wanted to get back at you for the last great trick you played on him, but he didn’t know how. I put him up to today’s bit of fun. It’s worked like a beauty. He really got you going’.
My mate, now reinstated from erstwhile status, offered his hand to me and said,” Now we’re equal, no harm done, just a bit of fun, I’ll buy you a beer to make up for it”.
What could I say? I shook his hand and said,” good one, I’d no idea that you two were’t fair dinkum. Let’ go to the pub.”
We finished our coffee and off we went.
If my mate thinks that’s the end of it, he’s very much mistaken. I’ve got a ripper of an equaliser in mind.