17:31 office burst. Suits and skirts through leaves and litter. Into the Vaults – beer pulled from pumps, fast as steam engines. A pint of Old Tom settles into my glass. Ale swallowed to wash down administrator’s pill. Handshakes flirt between colleagues. ‘I don’t know why I’m drinking this stuff with you.’ Mark leans into his black pint. Pale skin, round face, hair glued down. Screwing a cigarette into his mouth he scratches fingers into yesterday’s stubble. Unlit cigarette drawn to lighter flame. Our ashtray comes undone. Sticky tables rough under fingers. Grit beneath polished shoes. Elbows clear paths through Friday night noise. Coats folded onto windowsill glitter with diamond sleet melt. Mark puts down the papers given to him by personnel and they soak up spills. Clara wafts the smoke away from her face and covers her mouth. Her expressions are planned in advance. ‘We are going to miss you.’ Smoke sharp fingers into collars. A ceiling fan stirs excitement as peanuts spill into a puddle.
Mark slackens his tie and grins wide as the bar.
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