“…And so the penguin says: ‘Dude, he’s not an eggplant, he’s retarded!'” I raise my eyebrows expectantly at Radzinski, but he looks puzzled as he absent-mindedly rubs his glass with a cloth for seemingly no reason.
“I don’t get it.” He says blankly.
“Oh”, My face drops. “Because the penguin…”
At that moment, Dennis Lawrence pushes open the door to Radzinski’s, revealing the thick snow that’s settled outside. He steps in from the frigid cold to join us, looking extremely pleased with himself.
“I’ve done it!”, he exclaims triumphantly, waving a sheet of paper in his hand.
“Done what?” I enquire.
“Arranged our friendlies for the winter break!” He beams, offering me the piece of paper. Excitedly, I snatch the sheet and scan my eyes down the list of teams and dates. My face drops.
“Who are these?” I ask. Dennis looks taken aback.
“They’re… they’re our opposition.” He offers weakly.
“There’s a million of them… And these are all bloody Polish Second Division sides! Third tier sides! How are we meant to prepare against these? And come to think of it, why are you arranging the friendlies? I didn’t ask you to do that.” Dennis looks crestfallen as I barrage him with my scathing, negative logic. I continue to scan the page. “And here, look! 7 matches in 16 days? Are you insane?” I bat the sheet of paper with my hand and give it back to him. “And these are all confirmed, are they?” Dennis nods, avoiding eye contact. “Perfect.” With that, Dennis shuffles back out of the bar and into the snow as I glare after him.
After a short pause, I hear “Bit harsh.” In Radzinski’s gruff voice. I sigh.
“Yeah you’re probably right.” I acknowledge. “I’m going to see if I can catch him up, get him back in for a pint.” Radzinski smiles darkly. “Of beer. A pint of beer.” I clarify, narrowing my eyebrows and throwing back the dregs of my Polish lager. “Nobody wants draft wodka, you maniac. Watch the cats will you?” He nods. There’s not much to watch to be fair, they’re both curled up in one of the old booths with bellies full of wet food. They aren’t going anywhere.
“Piece of icing on the cake.” Radzinski says thoughtfully, as he gazes at Meatloaf and Burnie.
“Great, thanks.” I laugh, as I don my trusty grey coat.
As I open the door, I hear “Franjo”. I turn to see him still rubbing the glass with the cloth for seemingly no reason. Still staring vacantly at the cats. “Merry Christmas.” He mumbles.
“Merry Christmas, mate.” I smile. And with that I step out into the cold.
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