I hate socialising with the people I work with. It's not that I hate them in particular, well not more than I hate anyone else, but rather the fear of losing the face I present to the world through socialising. A chance for intimacy, a crack in the façade, and soon a prying tongue could tear it all away as easy as a crowbar on rotting wood. And worse, it might not be a prying tongue that undoes it all. It could be a loose one – my own.
        Carter sets a whiskey on ice in front of me. Single malt from a Scottish looking bottle top shelf. 'Hainesy,' he says with an oily wink.
        Who the fuck does he think he is? Hainesy? Fucking Hainesy! The familiarity of the prick. Carty. Carto. Carzza. He's got one of those names you can't diminutise. How about Cunto. 'Yeah, thanks, mate.'
        He gives me a learned corporate nod and wanders over to a group of girls who work on the floor below us, his lighter already flaming the tip of their unlit cigarettes. His wedding ring has already disappeared – he uses a sunbed regularly so you can't tell. They laugh politely at his small talk – I can't hear what the cunt is saying – but they start smiling in earnest when the drinks make their way over. Oh, the joy of being the boss and not having to answer to every fucking line on the Amex bill come month end.
        I can fucking do without it. The less people know the better.
        Who needs someone to rip down the bricks and mortar around your heart and mind. I'd say soul, but that's a crock of shit. Vulnerability. That's what a predator looks for. And if one day you see that weakness in your own reflection you're fucked. Like that cunt Craig. He's fawning over the Ice Queen on the dance floor, making a right cock of himself. He moves like a right plonker, his pint slopping everywhere. Suzanne pulls him by the tie towards him, her hips swaying to the music, a little thrust now and then to the drumbeat. She twirls him then spins him away and the sad bastard is grinning and laughing. I can see a horn forming in his trousers. I must admit, for a cold bitch, she's looking hot tonight. The knee length black skirt has hitched halfway up her thighs and she's undone the top button of her blouse, revealing curves normally left to the imagine of others. Not mine but.
        'Think he's in?' Duncan shouts over his beer. He's wearing some sort of lecherous you-know-what-I-mean leer. His Mickey Mouse tie grins out from the wobbles underneath his chin. Fucking computer geeks.
        'What makes you say that?' I shout back. I stare him in the eye until he looks away. Which isn't long. I don't know much about Duncan except he's into lesbian porn and computer games. He's definitely not a player within the company.
        'You know.' He nods at Craig as Suzanne slides against him then away. Duncan laughs and splutters. Globs of spit cascade into the drinks on the table. He wipes his lips nervously with his hand. 'I heard that…you know…that you and her…um…'
        'You know.' He taps his forefinger against his nose.
        The shit song by that boyband, Boyzwank or whatever, pumping out of the speakers is almost finished. 'I can't fucking hear you, Duncan. The music's too loud.'
        He leans forward and shout, 'I heard that you and her…you know.'
        'Who? Me and her? Who the fuck is her?'
        Duncan steals a quick glance at them and leans closer. 'I heard,' he screams as the song stops, 'that you fucked Suzanne at last year's Christmas party.' I'm laughing as the twat fails to lower his voice quick enough and I'm up and off to the bogs, leaving Duncan to deal with the daggers from the now silent dance floor. Pseudo Echo's Funky Town 2000 starts up and Craig tries to thaw the blizzard that's just blown anew.
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