I sat there more nervous than I’ve ever been. Some git taxi driver at the next table was shouting for his egg and chips.
I caught Julie’s wrist as she put my mug of tea down on the table. I sort of gestured and pulled her down to sit opposite me.
She looked at me blank, I couldn’t tell if she knew what was coming or not. She just waited.
“We can’t just keep messin’ about like we have done. I feel like – like we ought to do somethin’.”
Long, long silence.
” I know I’m no oil painting. And to be honest, you’ve probably got more money than me. Which ain’t much on cafe wages, I know.
But – we have a laugh don’t we?”
She looked at me.
“I’m not askin’ for nothing. I’m not expecting nothing. I just thought, like, we get on.”
She just looked at me and for a second she filled up and I thought she was going to cry. But Julie don’t cry any more, not after than the drunks and the wasters and the bullies she’s had to put up with. And the berks that don’t say nothing unless they’ve smoked something first or squirted it in their arm. At least I know I’m better than them.
But Julie looked away. Then she wiped the table in front of her with a jay-cloth from her apron, even though the table was spotless already.
She stood up, sudden. I thought, that’s it, I’ve blown it.
Then I got that look. That same look, I thought I’d seen before. Or I could have made it up.
She said, “don’t eat in here. Come back to mine. After.”
Then she went to fetch that whingeing bastard’s egg and chips.
But that was okay, ‘cos I knew we was all good.