The hotel bar's open till late on a Tuesday, the jukebox oozing an old Beatles track out into the dim interior. It's not exactly crowded in here: just the fat girl yawning behind the bar and the two men.
"I don't get it," says the taller one, running his fingers thoughtfully through his greying goatee beard, "we did great yesterday..."
"Mmmph," the other one shrugs, a spotlight from the bar reflecting off his shaven head, making the strawberry birthmark glow. Then he orders another Grouse and Irn-Bru.
"I mean, we had what, seventy, eighty last night?"
"Can we no' get some chips?"
The girl looks up from some, glossy, sleazy, tabloid magazine and says, "Kitchen's shut. Crisps, nuts and pork scratchings."
The tall one sighs, and slumps against the bar. "Was it something we said, do you think?"
"Naw," says the bald one, accepting a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch and tearing it open, getting little crumbs of greasy maize all over the place, "fuck..." He sooks the end of his finger and starts dabbing them up. "It's that Aberdonian bearded bastard. When it's just youse and me, we're fine, soon as his name's on the bill nae bugger wants to turn up."
"Yeah... Yeah, I suppose you're right."
"Aye." He nods sagely. "'Nother drink?"
The tall one thinks about it. "Babycham and blackcurrant, please..."
And so pass the wee small hours.
Yes, the event to end all events, the three-way tag-team bonanza that was to be Billingham, Brookmyre and some Bearded Bloke at Ottakar's Bromsgrove tomorrow has gone the way of all flesh. Even though the Brothers Grim have been packing them in all over the shop, tickets for tomorrow's event haven't been going like hot cakes so much as 'cold sick'. We couldn't even field a football team. And I'm talking five-a-side here... So it's been cancelled in favour of test cricket and a repeat of 'When Nipples Attack!' on Channel 4.
Shame -- it would have been fun!