The Numbers Game
by John P Brady
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ Pat asked when he walked into the room. Brendan sat pensively at the kitchen table.
‘No!’ he answered sharply. ‘Yeah, alright.’
‘What's wrong with you?’ asked Pat as he calmly walked over to fill the kettle. He was in a relaxed mood. He’d spent all morning screwing his Swedish girl and now she had gone off clothes shopping and wouldn’t be back for hours.
‘Ahh, I did the dirt last night and I'm not too proud of me self,’ said Brendan still looking into space.
‘But sure you've done that plenty of times before!’ laughed Pat. ‘Who was she? Foreign?’
‘Sure it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t have done it.’
‘Relax, will ya? That’s not like you,’ observed Pat as he searched for two clean mugs.
‘Ah I know but this one's been around for a while, you know, and it's not right doing that on her.’
Brendan was clearly upset. He and his Polish nurse had been going out regularly for a few months and he had grown to feel something for her. The tea arrived, strong and beginning to darken the mug. Brendan took a sip and then decided:
‘I’ll have to break it off with her.’
‘With who?’ asked Pat. It was always hard to be sure which girl Brendan was talking about.
‘With the Polish girl, what do you mean "with who?”’
‘Well you’re a mysterious man!’ commented Pat.
‘No, that's it! I'll have to deliver the news to her tomorrow,’ stated Brendan decisively.
‘But sure, did you not say she's coming round this evening?’ reminded Pat.
‘Ah yeah, but I'll have to put her off, tell her some bullshit.’
‘So who was the one last night then?’ persisted Pat.
‘Just some girl at the club. Irish. Ended up going back to her place. The usual carry on.’ Brendan was sparing with the details.
‘The usual carry on! Ha! Ha! You’re some man for one man!’
He met Kasia, the Polish girl, for a quick coffee the next day and cut ties there and then. He made up an excuse instead of coming clean.
‘We’re getting too serious,’ he had said. The poor girl was filled with sorrow. She sat sobbing in the café and wondered where she had gone wrong. Brendan, traumatised by the scenario, had to get out of there.
‘I’m sorry. You’re a lovely girl,’ he added, heading for the door.
‘I just couldn't look her in the face after doing the dirt, you know?’ he told Pat later that evening.
‘I think you're mad, she was a grand girl. I know well you'll be going mad around the town looking for another one by this time next week,’ replied Pat, who’d evidently seen it all before.
Fast forward to next week and Brendan was on various internet dating sites drooling at the mouth searching eagerly for a replacement.
‘Brendan, what are ya at?’ Pat asked.
‘I’m on the laptop, usin' d'internet.’
‘You can shove your porn up your hole,’ replied Brendan as he tried to concentrate.
‘Looking for a ride,’ he would shamelessly admit if you asked him; embarrassment was not something that pervaded his life.
He used dating sites, paid, free, every variety he could find. He searched tastelessly and indiscriminately for a girl that might be willing and game. Messages were sent and eventually some were received.
‘It's a numbers game,’ he reminded himself. ‘The penny will drop, it will fall into place. It's only a matter of time.’
One girl replied with what seemed to be optimistic tones.
‘Now you’re talking!’ he exclaimed. A few more messages and he asked her to meet, later that day.
She would be going later with a friend to the Laughter Lounge, she told him but he was welcome to come along if he was doing nothing else. He wasn’t doing anything else. He was abundantly available for such invitations.
‘I’ll be wearing a red top,’ he was advised in the message.
‘Ho ho!’ chanted Brendan as he walked down the hall.
‘What’s up with you?’ asked Pat.
‘I've got meself a date tonight,’ he gloated.
‘You cute hoor ya! How did you manage that?’
‘Ah, it's a numbers game!’ Brendan reiterated his motto.
‘What did you do? Go on the internet?’
‘Ahh! Numbers game!’
Later he put on his best jeans and made for town, walking down the quays to the Laughter Lounge.
‘Ten euro?!’ he shouted at the bouncer. ‘I've only got 20 on me and I want to get a couple of drinks in there too. Would you do it for a fiver?’
‘Where are you from? Poland? Dobra! Kurwa!’ said Brendan.
‘Ahh you know Polish swear words!’ laughed the bouncer. ‘Let this one in, he’s a friend!’ he instructed the cashier, a bored, stoned student. Only Brendan could, with basic words, engineer an opening.
‘Ok,’ said the Polish bouncer, ‘have a good night.’
‘Dobra,’ shouted Brendan.
Once inside, he searched for a girl with a red top and he spotted about five. He sent her a message.
‘I'm at the bar do you want a drink? Brendan.’
She replied: ‘Ok, a vodka and coke. I'll meet you there.’
‘Shit!’ sighed Brendan, a vodka and coke would cost him about 8 euro and with no guarantee of getting anywhere, it was a false economy.
She arrived full of beans and enthusiastic smiles. They talked rubbish trying to make each other feel comfortable. She was reasonably attractive but wore a slightly desperate look on her face. Brendan didn’t mind.
He was invited to their table where her friend was sitting quite bored. They began a useless 3 way conversation in which Brendan endeavoured to gain their trust. At one point he noticed one girl look to the other to give a vague sort of affirmation of his good character. He looked out for such signs. He now knew it was on. Victory was within his grasp. The two girls left for a toilet chat. In there, he was mentioned more than once in-between motivational comments about her figure, how good she looked tonight, her choice of man and the justification of her actions. She was ready to proceed.
Brendan eyed the two girls as they returned from the toilet/discussion chamber. The friend would be leaving, she announced, as she had to work in the morning, you know how it is, etc.
Brendan was alone with his internet date that he had only encountered virtually that morning. It only took a simple ‘Would you like to come back for a cup of tea?’ and they were leaving together.
The friend stayed just long enough to see if I was alright and then she was game ball,Brendan concluded privately.
Back at the ranch and Brendan was making the tea. She didn't seem to want it though once he put it on the table. She asked which room was his and soon began dragging him there while taking his shirt off.
‘Holy smoke,’ thought Brendan, ‘I met a wily one tonight!’
He went into the room with her and laid her on the bed. After a bit of fondling she was ready for the main course.
‘Wait!’ shouted Brendan. He dashed naked across his room and picked up his bicycle helmet.
‘Put this on!’ he advised.
‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Am I going for a ride?!’
‘You sure are!’
He wouldn’t begin until she put on the helmet.
‘What are you gonna do to me?!’ she asked tying the strap.
‘I’m gonna give you the ride of your life!’
Next morning Brendan came strolling into the kitchen, shoulders back, looking relaxed. Pat was there already.
‘Cup of tea?’ Brendan asked with a smile.
‘Aye! You cute hoor! I don’t know how you do it!’
‘Did I not tell ya it’s only a numbers game?!’
John P Brady is a writer and teacher who has left the green isle of Ireland for the burnt soil of Sicily. His first collection of stories, Back to the Gaff, will be published in 2014. Detailsare on his website where you can also find a blog about food, culture and life in Italy.
This story is protected under international copyright law and cannot be published in any format with out the permission of John Brady.
I offer my great thanks to John for allowing me to share this stories with my readers and I am greatly looking forward to his forthcoming collection of short stories, Back to the Gaff.