"The hour-hand dragged by gravity down to six: Time. No gentlemen, no "please", even time running low. As he pushed at the bar door ("PULL") then adjusted his technique (passerby snigger) billow-clouds of unguent warmth kissed cheeks cold from the long post-round and he felt them colour like dusky sunlight on a corn-field stinging a face whose eyes had frosted and now melted warm salt onto grizzly chops burning as he stood as if a stranger at the entrance of the busy public house which had changed a lot more than he had these last thirty years and where his old friends stood at the bar (they had agreed early on that only women and gays sat down) laughing as men laugh who have had several and cannot be heard by wives and whose children have grown and fled the nest or are otherwise orbiting beyond reach.
Seeing Gary, Gazza, Gaz (named after the West Indian cricket legend, couldn't tell them that), stood in the doorway wiping his eyes Giles grinned with the tint of delight bullies get when they sense vulnerability and shot out a sharp elbow that caught Smithy in his fat beer gut Smithy resented and Giles liked touching and later re-enacting before sleep. Smithy doubled then looked up through narrowing eyes to see their old friend approach in his sack-cloth uniform with burning cheeks and tracks of tears not from sadness or pain but only from cold so they thought.
Gary pushed through young couples who’d stepped in from bothering the high street their men looking happy for the first time in hours the women clutching bulky bags as if they held all the oxygen they would ever need and beyond the thin PUSH/PULL door that separated warmth from cold all was Mars or colder planets and reached the bar where Smithy now felt able to straighten as Giles softened and fat Coll with the whitened eye-lashes and belly so enormous even Giles couldn’t take the mick he wasn’t that much of a cunt held up his empty glass and raised his somehow vacant, caveman eyes and Gary nodded and tried to think of a witticism settling only on:
-Fucking hate Christmas.
That was enough: his oldschool friends laughed and Giles sprayed mists of ale which stung Gary's reddening cheeks as he closed his eyes and squeezed warm tears and again felt he needed to say something about this salt-water emanating from cold blue eyes in case they thought the loneliness of the season was somehow getting to him or something and elaborated:
-Fucking freezing an all, nearly froze me eyes shut down Parsley Street. Global warming? Fuck off.
This was a sage gambit amongst his old clique as none believed in AGW or rather understood the mechanics and the inherent difference between climate and weather (apart from Gary who read lifted New Scientists and did believe but kept to himself) but somehow had collectively and perhaps individually judged it was all bollocks what a load of bollocks only muesli-eating commies believed all that bollocks seen the price of petrol at Tesco while the fuckers ride hairy bikes to the ethnic day-centre off Communion Lane to weave hessian dresses and kiss each other on the fucking beardy clam lips while Gary works hard with his big fat satchel of junk including ones addressed to himself from the emergency payroll mafia who take NO for answers, who like the word NO, who use NO as energy, justification, crowbar..."
Ho! Ho! Ho! Read the rest of my festive story "Fathers 4 Jaundice" in issue 8 of the Literary Commune. And have a very Merry Christmas!