'LUNCHTIME DRINKIES' Jack was lost in thought. Not unusual for him. The wind was battering the walls of the pub. Storm fucking Doris. But it was what it was. Jack was drinking water. 7 hours until 9pm... He was considering Lara's question, from their epic phone conversation of the previous evening: "If you were someone else, would you want YOU as a friend?" A good question. Best answered with humility, yes? Jack had been cocky, but had meant it: "I'd consider myself lucky to have me as a friend." Cocky or not, he considered it true. He might be a complete arse in life... unlucky in love, mediocre at most life-skills, pretty nondescript/ugly when it came to looks... but he was a good friend. He'd always done his best in that regard. Unlike those flighty twats who'd shout "BFF!" and then drop said friend without a second thought. Yes? His friends were also his heroes. Why did he believe in his friends so much? Yet rarely believe in himself? He often did the old-fashioned thing, mentioning "chums". There were friends, chums, and associates. A lot of overlap, there. Associates? People he spoke to. Knew their names. Chums? People he liked. People he drank with, at the pub. Friends? People he really cared about. People he loved. What was it that Emerson had said? "A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." Jack was a little bit Proustian, when it came to friendship. He had quality friends. Good people, all. Though none of them could eradicate the emptiness he often felt in his soul. He still loved them, though. He could give them no greater praise, surely? "More?" was the brutal question. He shook his head. "I'm good, thank you." Surly barmaid shook her head, and moved away. "Good? This isn't bloody America..." she muttered. Jack smiled. He liked solitude. Though he often felt lonely. Often in company. And yet? His friends defined his life. Whether they were made in the summer of 1998, or the spring of 2O16. Or the early days of 2O17, indeed. Jack sipped his water, happily. He wasn't lucky. He was blessed. Whether Doris was at work, or not, his life could be a whole lot worse... Which was saying something.