Jem looked up at the sign above the door and promptly received a massive splash of water to his face. The Bull. This was it. He pushed the door open and stepped inside to escape the rain. A shout came from across the room.
“Simon!” shouted Jem, crouching down and aiming a couple of playful punches at Simon’s paunch before the two long lost mates hugged in solidarity. Jem ordered a pint of lager for himself and another for Simon, who drained the last of his glass before the two retreated to a quiet corner. Simon took a large pull on his beer.
“So Simon, what you been up to mate?”
“Ach you know how it is. Bit of this, bit of that.”
“Do I ever. It amazes me where the time goes.”
The two exchanged small talk for a few minutes but the unease between them was clear. Eventually Simon brought the conversation to a head.
“It’s what 18 months since all of us were together”
“I know. There we were, not two years ago. Me, you, Pete, Ed, Shaky and Dan. Not a care in the world. Then it all went tits up rather quickly.”
“You’re not wrong” said Simon. “Pete didn’t surprise me in the slightest but Ed shook me. I didn’t think I’d ever get over that one.”
“Nor me. It’s always the ones you least expect isn’t it? Mind you, what about old Shaky! He said they’d only take him kicking and screaming but when the chips were down he crapped himself. What a wuss.”
“Aye, was always going to happen with him. More mouth than balls that one. Was messy when he went though.”
The two men sat back for a moment, simultaneously drinking from their pint glasses, clearly remembering the comrades they’d loved and lost. It was Simon who broke the silence.
“You know what Jem? I think we should raise a glass to those that have fallen. There’s only the two of us let, but let’s celebrate like we were six once more.”
Jem shift uncomfortably in his seat for a few seconds, fingering the rim of his pint glass. Clearly he had something on his mind and was struggling to say it.
“Jem? What’s up mate? You okay?”
“Actually Simon.” Said Jem, a sudden note of seriousness in his voice. “Actually, that’s why I’m here. I wanted to tell you that I’m getting married in August and I’d like you to be my best man.