Day 08: He Paid for the Drinks with Coppers

Jane sat down at the table oppos­ite him. “I took the liberty of get­ting you a drink,” he said, “I hope you don’t mind.”

No, it’s fine. Thanks very much. What is it?”

Vodka and diet coke. I wasn’t sure what you’d want and it seemed like a safe bet.”

It was. Thanks.”

You already said that.”

Well, I’m grate­ful. What are you drinking?”

Why? Think­ing of get­ting another round in?”

Just curi­ous.”

Lager of some sort. The stuff here is pretty shit.”

Oh. Should I have chosen some­where else?”

No, no, you weren’t to know. Not your fault.”

She lif­ted her drink and took a sip, then wrinkled her nose. “Are we sat near the bathrooms?”

He looked around. “Maybe. Why?”

I think I can smell them.”

Want to change tables?”

Yeah.” They picked up their drinks and moved closer to the beer garden door, but Jane could still smell some­thing. “I think it’s fol­lowed us over. Let’s just fin­ish these and go some­where else. Maybe some­where that serves drinks you like?”

Oh, I only drink my homebrew really. I got this because I thought it would look weird if I didn’t drink.”

Yeah,” she smiled a little awk­wardly, “just a bit. People would think you were try­ing to get me drunk.” She tried a laugh but he didn’t join in.

Want to go to my house then?”

I think it might be a bit too soon for pro­pos­i­tions like that.”

I meant so I could have a drink.”

Still.”

OK, you’re right. That was weird. Sorry. Is it the first time you’ve used the website?”

The dat­ing one?”

Yeah.”

Yes. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I think I’ve only seen people meet like this on TV. Sorry if I seem a bit awk­ward. It’s nerves. Not because of you, just because of the web­site and stuff.”

It’s fine. You don’t seem awkward.”

Have you used it before then?”

Oh yeah. Loads.”

Loads of dates?”

Yeah,” he nod­ded, “well writ­ten pro­file or some­thing I think.”

She took another sip of his drink whilst he stared at his. “What do you get up to then?” she asked, “you know, when you’re not meet­ing dates in pubs for a not-drink.”

Oh, I spend a lot of time online. I think that’s why I get so many res­ults on the site. I’m always avail­able to chat and stuff. I don’t just sit on the dat­ing web­site though,” he laughed, “no, I’ve got pro­files on a few of them, so I can swap around. I really like read­ing too.”

Any­one I’d know?”

What?”

Would I know any of the authors you read? Or books?”

Oh. No. I don’t read books. Any­body with enough money to put things on paper and get them pub­lished and in schools and lib­rar­ies and everything prob­ably can’t be trus­ted. That’s my the­ory. I read Wiki­pe­dia a lot, and loads of blogs and stuff. You know, things writ­ten by real people. Not some suit or g-man.”

Erm. G-man?”

Yeah, you know, a gov­ern­ment man. Dressed in a black suit, wears sunglasses and has no name and stuff. Like in X-Files, but that’s mostly lies too.”

G-men are lies?”

No, the X-Files. See, what they do is make shows like that which lead you down the wrong tracks, and so you go off chas­ing ali­ens and lying in fields star­ing at the stars, but mean­while they’re doing totally dif­fer­ent things that you never hear about.”

They?”

Yeah, the g-men and the gov­ern­ment and Coca-Cola and people like that.”

Right. OK,” said Jane, lift­ing her drink again and look­ing across the table. She’d iden­ti­fied the smell now. It was the smell of some­body who hadn’t washed in weeks and it was sat oppos­ite her. “So, what do they do?”

He’d aban­doned all interest in his drink now and was speak­ing intensely. Lean­ing for­ward and lock­ing his eyes on Jane’s. “Have you ever heard,” he whispered, “of Loose Change?”

The 9/11 con­spir­acy the­ory film?”

Yes! Isn’t it great?”

I haven’t seen it.”

Oh, don’t worry,” he star­ted fish­ing around in his bag, which sat beneath the table, “I’ve got some DVDs of it. I always carry a few around, just in case.” He pulled out a black DVD case and held it out for her, “don’t worry. They encour­age you to make copies.”

Er. Thank you. That’s very kind.”

Don’t worry about it. I feel it’s my duty to edu­cate the sheeple.”

I’m sheeple?”

Oh, I don’t mean it in a bad way,” his voice was get­ting louder and his ges­tures more manic. Jane leaned back, slightly fur­ther away from him. “Most people are sheeple, they just need to have their eyes opened. That film was like a gate­way for me. It made me start ques­tion­ing everything. You know, how much do we really know?”

I think I need to head off. I’ve got an early day tomor­row and this,” she ges­tured to her drink, “has gone straight to my head.”

Oh, that’s alright. Shall I call you tomor­row? Or tonight? I don’t really sleep much if you’d like me to call you before you go to bed or when you wake up. We can meet up and talk about things. Like, did you know that most money is slightly radio­act­ive? They’re try­ing to irra­di­ate us all bit by bit so that we become immune, then they can start using nuc­lear weapons again and we’ll be able to move straight onto the land.”

Jane had stood up and put on her jacket. “Not tonight. I need my beauty sleep.”

OK. I can’t call you tomor­row. I’ve got another date. But I might be free after­wards. I’ll see how it goes.” He winked at her. “Any­way, I’ll be think­ing of you.”

Ah-huh.” Jane was at the door and headed out.

He sat there a little longer, star­ing at his drink. He picked it up, took a sip, frowned and dribbled it back into the glass, then walked out of the pub himself.

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