Thursday 19 October 2000

The barman is a 19-year-old boy in a Jim Rose Circus Sideshow t-shirt. She doesn't know he's 19 at this point, just that he's young, that's all. He looks perfectly normal except that his teeth stick out from his mouth. They protrude. It's majestic, she thinks. They unfurl like a rose in bloom. He's so.... intoxicating. He could do damage with those teeth. He's a shark disguised as a boy.

Her friend chats to a bald man in a Burberry shirt and a belt with an enamelled pic of Queen Mary on it. They talk Dutch together. The pub crowds go away. The barman switches off the lights and blows out all but one of the creepy candles. He locks the door and pours them another drink and puts on a Pixies song...Pixies! They start talking about the Breeders and Black Francis and Slacker and Clerks and oh my god, says the 19-year old, you were there? At the Brixton gig? and she's caught off guard, somwhere between proud and jaded.

Next to her a man with a huge beer belly is telling her all about the Ripper and she really does not want to know. It's a masonic plot, he explains breathlessly, his eyes unfocused, staring past her shoulder at the street beyond as his beerbelly rubs up against her hip. And then he's telling her how good he is at guitar. And then he's feeling her fingertips to see if she really does play guitar like she tells him she does. He's making her feel his fingertips, the hardness on the pads of his fingers, like small flat stones. And all she can think is of a line from a tv drama, where the nasty boy looks at the geek's dirty fingernails and says what kind of girl would let that inside her?

The candle flickers, the boy puts another set of drinks on the counter, and she smiles up at him, pulling her hand away from the fat man. The boy smiles back, teeth bristling in the candlelight, gleaming like knives.

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