It’s the early nineties. It’s Friday night and it’s an alphabet party.
The D-listers wave at the Cs and the Cs are leering at the Bs, but this is Dublin, so you have to ratchet it all down half a dozen notches anyway. We’re talking strictly G-list, even at the top of the heap until Van the Man walks in and Ron the Man bites back what he’s thinking. Jesus, what a fat bastard.
But you can’t say that even if you’ve been swept along on a flood of Lillies liggers and found yourself in a nouveau-riche bubble somewhere north of the Point, all indoor shades and terminal coolness. Or at least, you can’t say it about Van, even if he is a fat bastard. You can say it about that unshaven producer from the subsidised radio station. You can say it about that celebrity burger-flipper who’s always on the social pages, or the book-keeper with the high heels and the bad skin who passes for royalty in Indo-land. But don’t say it about Van.
Ron wants to stop Van and say, Come here you fat bastard, you never made a good album after Moondance, but he doesn’t and he’ll regret it as long as he lives. He’s too impressed by the pair of Miss-Somethings hanging off The Man, and he’s trying to get his head around why. The more he looks at the legend, the more he sees Norman Buntz from Hill Street Blues and he wants to say, Norman, you’re one fat bastard, but he doesn’t.
Because apart from Miss October and Miss February, Van is accompanied by Mister I’ll-Break-Your-Fucking-Legs.
Ah. That makes sense and Ron isn’t yet drunk enough.
Here comes Van. Miss February looks a little tipsy and Miss October looks a little angry. She’s whispering into his ear and pointing, but Van doesn’t look too worried. As he glides by Ron’s table, he lifts Ron’s drink and throws it back.
What the fuck? shouts Ron. That’s my fucking drink.
Van keeps walking and Mister I’ll-break-your-legs says, Chill.
Fuck you, shouts Ron. Anyway, Days Like This was shit. The rot started with Wavelength! But Van is gone, along with Miss October, Miss February and Ron’s drink.
It’s Wednesday and it’s the Rajdoot.
Ron enjoys the Rajdoot, though he can’t afford to come that often, but he loves when they serve him a meal with a sheet of real gold melting over it. They have no beer licence, but the nice Indian man at the door, who wears curly-toed shoes and a turban, will go across the road and bring you a tray of beer from the pub. He’ll do it with a smile, and because he knows Ron, he buys the first round himself and won’t hear any talk of being paid.
As the meal arrives, Ron’s companion nods towards a table in the corner. Look. It’s Van the Man.
And so it is. The nice Indian man with the curly toes is laying a tray of beer at his table. Ron recognises Miss February and Miss October before Detective Buntz, because Van’s face is hidden. His face is hidden by the plate he’s holding up to his mouth. He’s holding a plate to his gaping mouth and he’s using a fork to bulldoze the food sideways into his face while his eyes bulge and Miss February looks away. Miss October seems vaguely angry and whispers into his ear, but Ron cares nothing for any of it.
He approaches Van’s table. He picks up Van’s pint and he says, Thanks, Van. Nice talking to you the other night.
Van looks around, but there’s no Mister Break-your-legs.
Fuck you, he says.
Cheers, says Ron. There’ll be days like this.