We All Do It
Dave saw the expressions around him and immediately wanted to gather his words back up and swallow them.
‘You do what?’ Mike asked, like an interview room warrior for the FBI who’d just watched his suspect’s mask slip.
Saying it again was the opposite of what Dave wanted to do. He emptied two inches of his pint and looked around for an exit, or an ally.
Nobody spoke. Lauren even went so far as to leave the tall table they were gathered around and head to the bar, presumably in disgust. They weren’t going to let him off the hook. He was left with no option but to double down.
‘Surely we all do it, right?’
Mike shook his head and exhaled through his nose with all the self-righteousness of a man who plants a tree after every breath in order to maintain carbon positivity.
‘It’s a victimless crime.’
‘Ah,’ Mike gave a ‘gotcha’ smile. ‘But it is a crime.’
Dave made a mental note to try and shake Mike’s hand with unwashed urinal fingers at the first opportunity.
‘It’s not really though, is it? It’s not like I’ve murdered anyone.’
‘That’s not really…’
‘I know, I know,’ Dave had to interrupt. If he let Mike finish his condescension he might just end up pissing directly on him from where he stood. ‘I just think that swapping the occasional yellow sticker onto a new item doesn’t really do anything except save me a couple of quid on my microwave dinner.’
‘Those things cost pennies to make, the shop are still making a profit.’
Nothing at all.
‘Are you honestly saying you’ve never done anything similar? Never eaten grapes on your way round the supermarket? Misweighed some penny sweets in Woolies?’
‘Woolworths went bankrupt,’ Mike spoke so quickly it was as though he’d been waiting for that exact example. ‘How does that make you feel?’
It made Dave feel like putting his thumbs into Mike’s sanctimonious eyes until they popped and leaked fluid down his smug bastard cheeks. Dave could see the others begin to fidget uncomfortably with the tension.
‘Anyway,’ he looked for an out. ‘Whose round is it?’
‘It’s mine,’ said Lauren, returning with a tray full of pints and wines. She set the drinks down and sidled round to stand beside Dave. She placed a shot glass in front of each of them.
‘You’re buying shots for the thief now?’ Mike asked indignantly.
‘Shut up, Mike,’ said Lauren. ‘Or do I need to remind everyone exactly what you did to make me divorce you?’
Mike retreated, first into himself with a grumble, then to the toilet with a shuffle.
‘I’ve got a couple of vouchers for the curry house next door from when I complained last week,’ Lauren spoke to Dave in a low voice. ‘You fancy losing this lot and heading over?’
‘How bad is it, if you had to complain?’
‘Dunno, I’ve never been before.’
Lauren smiled until Dave caught on.
He raised his shot, and the pair sealed their arrangement with tequila.