Jay steps into the kitchen, and it is surprisingly very tidy. He opens the large fridge freezer and it is sparsely filled with cans of beer, several take-away left overs, and a bottle of Nandos extra hot sauce.
‘What do you eat?’ Jay loudly calls out to Alan.
Alan saunters into the room and glances nonchalantly into the fridge.
‘You hungry?’ he asks Jay. ‘What do you want … oriental or pizza?’
Jay attempts to answer, but Alan walks purposefully out of the room. Jay shrugs and opens a kitchen cabinet. Neatly set unused dishes that he recognises. He opens the other cabinets and recognises all the cutlery and kitchenware – all immaculately arranged and clean. He smiles widely to himself – evidently Alan doesn’t bother with these cabinets, or the kitchen.
In the next moment, Alan returns with several take-away restaurant flyers.
‘Fuck you smiling for?’ he asks.
Jay softly shakes his head, still smiling.
‘Okay then,’ Alan says, and gestures to the flyers. ‘None of em take cards and I don’t have cash.’ He hands Jay a Chasing Dragons Chinese restaurant flyer. ‘I’d suggest this. They are fantastic. Their …’
‘It’s still the same flyer,’ Jay interrupts, astonished.
‘Oh, yeah, you were here when they opened. They’re still …’
Alan stops abruptly as his phone begins to ring.
Jay notices that Alan’s demeanour instantly changes to anxious. He watches intently as Alan pulls out his phone, glances at the caller ID, turns the ringer off and returns the phone into his pocket. Jay has the urge to ask about the call, but decides against it.
‘Yeah,’ Alan continues. ‘They’re still the best. But then again, they aren’t too many of them in Epsom?’
‘Them?’ Jay inquires with amusement.
‘Yes. Chinese restaurants.’
‘Very well,’ Jay says. ‘The Waitrose still around the corner?’
‘Let’s go. I’ll cook.’
‘I don’t have my car.’
‘It’s around the corner; we’ll walk.’ He gestures to Alan’s beer belly. ‘You need the exercise.’
It’s early evening and the clean leafy streets surrounding their home are quiet. Alan lags a few steps behind Jay; he’s struggling to keep up with Jay’s brisk walking pace.
‘Fucking slow down already, it’s not a race,’ Alan says.
‘Keep up. We’re almost there.’
‘Fucking hell, you seem to forget I was faster than you.’
‘What?’ Jay laughs. ‘Stop that.’
‘Really, what you forgot now?’
‘There’s nothing to forget. I know you were pretty fast …’
‘I have the school medals to prove that. Where are yours, eh?’
‘Firstly, I never ran in school.’
‘Yeah, you thought you were to cool to sweat, eh?’
They laugh as they turn the corner into another quiet residential street; Waitrose supermarket can be seen further ahead in the horizon.
‘Secondly, we never raced each other.’
‘I’ll race you to the store.’
Alan immediately takes off running. Jay shakes his head in amusement and chases after him.
Jay quickly catches up with Alan and slows down a moment to keep pace. He taps Alan’s head and impressively picks up pace, leaving Alan behind.
Jay stops at the entrance to the supermarket – his breathing is regular, no sign of exertion. He watches Alan approach and admires the fact that Alan didn’t give up the race.
Alan arrives, panting, and raises his arms above his head as he attempts to regulate his breathing.
‘That’s sorted then,’ Jay says.
‘You cheated,’ Alan says, between heavy breaths.
‘You don’t drink or smoke.’
They laugh. Jay turns to walk into the supermarket and Alan slaps him on the back of the head and runs past him into the supermarket.
‘I win,’ Alan declares.
‘Yeah, sure, you did,’ Jay says sarcastically, and picks up a basket.
They walk along the fruit and vegetable aisle of the somewhat busy supermarket.
‘Do we need anything for the house?’
‘Well, yeah, you have seen the fridge.’
‘I mean like toiletries and all.’
‘What? Do you think I don’t shower?’
Jay laughs as he selects fruits.
‘Oh my god, you’re so funny,’ Alan exaggeratedly declares.
‘Shut up. How about some fruit?’
‘What? Do you think I’m gay now?’
Jay shakes his head in mild amusement.
‘I’ll go get some stuff and meet you at the checkout,’ Alan says. ‘And yes, we need toiletries.’
Jay smiles as he watches Alan saunter off into another aisle. He carefully selects vegetables and places them neatly in the basket.
Alan stares through a vast array of beer, indecisive about what six pack of beer to choose.
Jay methodically picks more foodstuffs and household supplies; without pausing to make a decision, as if he has a list in his head.
Alan still stares at the array of beers. He sighs in frustration and grabs a six pack of Peroni – like always. He takes a couple steps to the spirits and stares lustfully at the array of spirits.
Jay walks to the checkout and waits. There is only one person – a sweaty middle-aged woman in a yoga outfit ahead of him.
Alan grabs a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and a bottle of Grey Goose vodka with his free hand.
It’s Jay’s turn. He glances around looking for Alan before he forces a smile back at the young redheaded checkout assistant and places his basket on the counter.
Alan walks towards the checkout and, in stride, grabs a bag of Haribo with his teeth.
The checkout assistant diligently scans the items as Jay looks around for Alan. He sees Alan and grins as he watches Alan approach.
‘You’re so predictable,’ Jay says.
Alan opens his mouth to speak and the bag of Haribo falls.
‘Nice,’ Alan says, and gestures to the juices in the basket. ‘You bought mixers.’
He dumps the beer and spirits into the basket.
Jay chuckles and says, ‘Really Alan? No, they’re not mixers. They are for breakfast.’
‘Oh, I know. A little vodka and orange with breakfast never hurt anyone.’
Jay smiles and picks the bag of Haribo.
‘I haven’t had one of these in years.’
He places the Haribo in the basket.
‘They don’t have Haribo in New York?’
‘They do. Just never had them.’
‘Hmm,’ Alan mutters, and grins mischievously.
‘A hundred and forty-two Pounds, please,’ the checkout assistant says.
Jay reaches for his wallet and Alan tears open the bag of Haribo and turns it over into his mouth.