“Ok Bazza, it’s your round!”
Barry looked at the three-quarters-full pint of warmish lager in front of him.
“I don’t really want another drink to be honest,” he replied.
“But it’s your round!” Toby remonstrated, aghast at his friend’s poor comprehension of pub etiquette.
Barry took a sip of his tepid pilsner, and felt the recriminations of his belligerent bloated belly.
“I’m not even going to finish this,” he protested
Chris and Toby looked pityingly at their friend.
“Why don’t you have an alcopop instead,” offered Chris, “you like that blue one.”
“No this is my last,” declared Barry, “I’m stepping out of the round.”
“You can’t just leave the round mate,” lamented Toby, “not when it’s your turn to buy…”
“Why don’t you just have a vodka and coke,” suggested Chris diplomatically, “that’s easy enough to drink.”
“Yeah, a vodka and coke,” agreed Toby, “we won’t judge you if you have a vodka and coke.”
“I’m going to be sick as it is,” whimpered Barry, “and I’ve got work tomorrow.”
“We’ve all got work tomorrow,” countered Toby, “and it’s your bloody round!”
“Yeah mate, it is your round,” Chris concurred.
Barry pondered this for a moment. An unpleasant combination of nausea, fatigue and an increasing lack of equilibrium were competing against his honour and reputation.
“Tell you what,” he offered, “I’ll get you two a drink, but I’ll sit this one out. Fair enough?”
“I could live with that,” conceded Chris.
Toby looked less convinced but held out his hand for the cash.
Barry deposited a grubby twenty pound note into Toby’s outstretched palm. It was probably a bit excessive for two drinks, but it was either the note or a handful of shrapnel of indeterminable value.
Toby staggered off to the bar, Chris turned his attention to the girls at the next table and Barry took another sip of room-temperature beer. It wasn’t getting any better, but he felt he should make the effort.
When Toby returned, Barry was pondering whether his glass was now half empty or half full, and wondering which of those states was preferable. Chris meanwhile had secured a phone number that would later prove to be fictional.
Toby placed three tumblers of tequila onto the table, sliding one to Barry.
“You’re not getting off that easy, you wuss,” he sneered.
Barry noted, with some regret, that Toby had pocketed his change.