Tony had not taken to the news of his contract well. After leaving the LTV Head Office, he had wandered into his car and driven slowly and contemplatively home. Tony wasn't sure if it was technically possible to drive contemplatively, but if it was, he had just done it.
His car pulled up at his house, he walked to the door and turned his key in the lock. Stepping in to his hallway, he called out hello to Alison, and said he was off out for a bit. She walked through from the kitchen, but he had already left.
Tony walked at a rapid pace towards the underground station, his mind completely distracted from the process of moving or looking what was around him. He bumped into three people in the short three hundred metre walk, and nearly tripped over on a kerb as he crossed the road, almost getting hit by a car in the process.
The dazed Tony wandered into station, and continued his empty walk towards the ticket barrier. He scanned his Oyster card and walked through to the station. He had decided to get very drunk, but he wasn't sure where.
The train arrived and Tony stepped onto it, walking a few paces down and sitting in one of the many empty seats. After a few minutes the train reached the next station, where several university age students got on, the girls were wearing leggings, and the guys were wearing what appeared to be leggings, in a range of colours so bright that it would dazzle a rabbit. They moved over to near him and sat down in the surrounding seats.
“Evening. Have you got the time please mate?” One of the guys asked. Normally the first rule of the underground is that speaking to a stranger is punishable by evil eyes and tutting, but asking a question with the word 'mate' at the end is usually accepted.
“It's about five o'clock.” answered Tony.
“Thanks, mate.” replied the guy. “Hang on. Aren't you that guy off the TV?”
“Er.. well, I do appear on TV sometimes.” Tony replied, still wanting to remain in his own world of quiet contemplation.
“I knew it! You do that show, what's it called? … The Tony James Show, that's the one. Are you Tony James?”
Tony managed to avoid rolling his eyes. “Yeah, that's me.”
“Wow. I love your show. Mario Wright and Kerry Prost, love it.”
Tony definitely got close to rolling his eyes this time.
“Who's on this week?” the guy asked.
“I don't know yet I'm afraid, I find out tomorrow.” Tony replied with a truthful sense of dread.
“Ah ok. Good luck!” replied the guy, finishing just as they reached their destination.
As the students walked off the train, Tony put his hands to his head and let out a very soft whimper. It was great to be recognised when you were doing work that you enjoyed, but horrible when you were doing work you hated.
A few minutes later and he reached his destination, or at least his first destination. He walked off the train, through the station and out into the cool breeze of the late afternoon.
Tony decided that left was the best way to start. He walked along the busy street until he found a pub, opened the large door and wandered to the first bar stool he could find. Acknowledging the barman, he prepared to start what would be a long night ahead.
“Hi, can I get a large vodka and coke please?” Tony asked. “No ice please.”
“Sure thing.” replied the barman. “Early start isn't it Tony?”
“It's been a crazy day so far.” Tony explained. “Frankly I've had more enjoyable operations.”
“Ouch. Sounds nasty, what happened?” the barman enquired.
Tony then proceeded, over the course of several large drinks to explain to the barman just what had happened. For some reason he decided the polite young man seemed like a level headed and trustworthy character.
“That whole situation seems ludicrous.” commented the barman. “I can't believe that's even possible, it's like weird plot device from a crappy novel or a sitcom. A contract with no possible way to escape.”
“What can I do? I'm completely stuck doing a show that I hate. If I had decent guests it would be fine but I'm being given talentless idiots, and it's only going to get worse.”
“Well, personally I'd say if you have no choice then just do your best to enjoy it.” came the barman's advice. “It might not be the best thing you'll ever do, but at least you'll be popular when the next good opportunity comes along.”
“That's good advice, thank you...er..” Tony realised he hadn't found the barman's name.
“It's Patrick.” replied the barman. Tony spilled his drink. For a few moments he had thought the barman looked familiar, but now he knew.
“Yes, about time you remembered me.”
“I am so so sorry. It's been so long, and I have been completely distracted.”
“That's ok. My dad misses you, he always asks how your show is going. I won't tell him all of that bullshit though, just that it is going well.”
Tony laughed, his first real laugh that day, one he had needed badly. “Thanks, don't want him getting big headed and thinking I need him.”
“Too right. His ego is big enough as it is.”
Tony smiled at the thought of his kind, selfless friend having an ego. “It was so nice to see you Patrick. I'll pop back next and let you know how the show goes.”
“I'll already know Tone, I do watch it.”
“Oh god, tell me you aren't a fan of Born in Sussex and all that stuff?”
“Nah, I just read that Stephen Fry was due on.”
Tony chuckled, said goodbye to Patrick and headed off to the next bar in much higher sprits. Coincidentally, spirits and higher prices were what awaited him later that night.
Around 11pm, a slightly worse for wear Tony walked into “Cubism”, a fashionable club with a décor made entirely of square shapes and cubes. It looked fantastic, but the jagged corners provided a lot of misery once people started to lose their coordination. Spread over three huge floors, it was by any definition, a maze of a building.
Tony ordered a whiskey from the bar and sat down on the abstract square seats. He sipped the drink and placed it on the table. Still in better spirits, he looked around the club.
“Tony!” A voice came from across the room, it was too dark to make out who it was. “Tony!!”
Tony puzzled himself over who it was, until he made out a pair of bright red trousers coming through the crowd. Feeling his positive spirits draining away by the second, but too polite to run away, he answered. “Sam!”
“How are yas doing Tony?”
“I'm okay thanks Sam. Just having a bit of a night on the town.”
“Great idea ain't it.”
“Er.. yeah. You with friends?”
“Yeah, I'm out with Abbie ain't it.”
Tony smiled at the thought of the intelligent flame haired woman who had been the high point of the disaster that was the last show. This thought made speaking to Sam a touch more bearable. “That's great, would you two like to join me for a glass of wine?”
“Sure ain't it. I'll ask Abbie, meet yas here in a few minutes ain't it.”
With that, Sam vanished into the club, returning twenty minutes later with Abbie, just as Tony had decided to give up on seeing him return.