We see him, now and then, shuffling along the road leading out of the village. Sometimes we see him in the local shop, his head unsteady, tilting at the sweet stand. But most often we see him in the pub, The King’s Head, on the left as you come from the green.
His name is Steve and he drinks lager. Sometimes he plays on the fruit machines, but most often he drinks lager.
The King’s Head is split into two parts, separated by a wall. The larger part of the bar is on your right as you come in and there’s always half a dozen locals here, whiling away the country hours. The left hand part of the pub has only a few seats and is where you can find the pool table, a couple of dartboards and, lately, me and George.
We go there to relieve the tension of unemployment. At the pub we can relax, shoot some pool and talk about jobs and how they’re for mugs and how we could make a whole stack of money in some scheme or other.
But we don’t drink. Oh no, we don’t drink, not like Steve.
I wonder about Steve a lot. He’s not employed either. I don’t see how he can be. He’s there, already drunk, when we pop in for a quick game of pool at lunch time and he’s still there when we leave. He drinks slowly, but steadily. Lager.
But then he does seem to go home for the evening. I wonder what he meets there. A wife? His mother? A housekeeper? Or the lonely click of his key in the lock, the tired creek of his old front door and the empty tick-tock of the hall clock…?