By Stephen Marriott
The tree is in full blossom and Dave is sitting alone – his soccer shirt had faded further. Rubbing his arms he looks up, squints down the street and stands. Pacing up and down the bus stop he glances around before he quits his pacing and removes his cigs from a pocket. He lights himself a smoke and remains alone during the time it takes to smoke it. Just as he’s stubbing out his smoke with a foot, Sparky appears at his side. Sparky is wearing a polo shirt and has a plastic bag in his hand.
“You’re cutting it fine,” uttered Dave as he looked at his friend strangely. “Not wearing your shirt?”
“I’m not coming,” uttered Sparky with a tone of guilt.
“To the game. It’s all happened a bit fast but I thought why not, what I got to lose. I didn’t have a single job this week; I’m going to Spain.”
“Am I dreaming or something? Stop taking the..”
Sparky interrupted, “That chick I got talking to last week, remember after the match in The Ship. Turns out she actually lives in Marbella, she was just visiting her family. Been messaging each other all week – she knows people in the building industry and says they’re gagging for sparks. So I bit the bullet and bought a plane ticket before I gave myself a chance to think about it. I fly later this afternoon.”
“I don’t know what to say, you’re not joking are you?”
Sparky shook his head to say no and reached out his hand with the bag in it.
“Came to say adios and to give you this.”
Dave took hold of the bag, peered inside and removed its contents, revealing Sparky’s soccer shirt.
“Figured I wouldn’t need it but don’t worry I put it through the laundry,” continued Sparky before adding a grin to his words. “You won’t smell like a hipster.”
Dave held the shirt against his body, “I might have to cut down on the pasties.”
“It’ll fit fine,” replied Sparky.
“Have you seen Jarvis, the bus ain’t gonna wait for him?”
“Nope, I haven’t heard from him all week? Tell him I’ll message him.”
The engine of the approaching bus momentarily distracted their attention, before the two friends turned back to face each other.
Sparky reached out his hand to shake Dave’s, but instead, Dave embraced Sparky for a moment before pulling away.
“Don’t want people getting ideas,” muttered Dave foolishly.
“It’s alright mate, Mum’s the word. I better be going then if I’m gonna catch that plane.”
Dave nodded at Sparky and quickly glanced around his surroundings before he said, “Looks like it’s just me. Who am I going to take the piss out of?”
“You’ll find someone,” replied Sparky with a wink as he turned to leave.
“They’ve got Sky TV over there?” Shouted Dave.
Sparky looked over his shoulder and shouted back, “Yeah, believe so mate.”
Dave responded with a smile, then turned to face the bus and stepped aboard.
“Single ticket or return?” Asked the bus driver from under his hat.
“Return,” responded Dave matter-of-factly reaching for his wallet.
The driver then tilted his hat up and Dave suddenly realised he was talking to Jarvis.
“You’ve had your hair cut! And what you doing there, where’s the bus driver?”
“I am the bus driver, got my bus license earlier in the week.”
“But you’ll miss the game?”
“Maybe, but this time next year I’ll be driving the team bus!”
“Let’s hope they don’t get relegated first, more glamorous driving the bus of a premiership team.”
“We’ll do it, won’t we.”
“After a day like this, think I’d believe anything!”
Jarvis reached for a button and the doors of the bus closed. Then Dave moved along the bus, found an empty seat next to a United fan and changed his soccer shirt.