“No, it’s early yet,” the older man said, in a belligerent voice. “I probably fell over because I haven’t eaten all day. I didn’t drink all that much.” He sounded like a man who was used to getting his own way. He wasn’t going to allow a woman to browbeat him.

It was true that he hadn’t drunk very much; not yet anyway. Eric remembered serving him only two beers.

“Let’s order some food.” He looked at Eric and said, “I’m sorry about the damage. I’ll pay for any breakages I have caused.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it,” Eric said. “I’ll get you a menu.”

Eric glanced at the young lady. It was clear she wanted to be anywhere except at the pub, but she sat down again. There was something ethereal about her.

John, the other barman, had already cleared up and business was back to usual.

Eric took the menus over to the table himself. He wanted to look at the young lady again. She was nothing like any of the women he had bedded before.

Moses ordered a steak. “What are you going to have, Avika?”

“I’m not hungry, thanks,” she said softly.

“I’m not going to eat alone,” Moses said, and glared at her. “She’ll have a chicken salad. She likes to eat healthy.”

Eric could see Avika was mortified. She nodded her head at Eric. “Okay, I’ll have the salad and a glass of your house white wine, please.”

She had such a lovely timbre to her voice that Eric could have listened to it all night long. He wondered what she was doing with a jerk like Moses.

“I’ll have another beer and a brandy and Coke,” Moses grinned. He looked like a cat that had swallowed the cream.

When the drinks arrived, Moses drained his beer in a few gulps and then, even before the food had been served, he ordered another brandy and Coke. Avika barely sipped at her wine.

“Slow down, Moses,” Eric heard her say. “You know your blood pressure’s high. And you’ve been under a lot of stress all week.”

“Stop fussing, Avika. And don’t keep reminding me of the terrible week we’ve had. I’m here to drown my sorrows, not to be reminded of them.”

Eric was kept busy serving drinks at the bar but every chance he got he looked up and watched Avika. She was small in stature and dressed smartly in a black skirt and white blouse. She had a little, elfin face and huge, dark eyes.

Several times he noticed Moses reaching his hand across the table and trying to take hold of hers, but each time she grabbed it back. He wondered again what she was doing out with a man like this. Her whole demeanour cried out for him to leave her alone.

Now Eric was serving drinks at the other end of the bar. A big party of people had come in and they kept changing their minds about what they wanted to drink. Eric hadn’t looked in Avika’s direction for several moments, when suddenly he heard another almighty crash. He turned around quickly and looked over the bar. Moses was, once again, lying flat out on the floor.

Eric rushed over to his side. “He clutched his chest and then just keeled over,” Avika said. “Why can’t they ever listen?” She was close to tears.

“He’s unconscious,” Eric said. He whipped his cellphone out of his pocket and dialled 10111. “He’ll have to go to the hospital.”

“This is all I need. Fool,” she added. “I should have been home hours ago. I better call my Mum and tell her I’ll be even later than I am.”


Tell us what you think: Avika doesn’t want Moses to touch her, and doesn’t seem upset at him collapsing, so why is she out with him?