Story Without Verbs

Monday morning and another long journey to the site, the unspoken anger from last week just below the surface, John and Bob on opposite benches of a swaying and jolting pre-dawn tube train, hard-hats on the floor between their feet, when suddenly

    – Bob.
    – John.
    – Fuck.
    – What?

A moment of expectation though with traces, possibly, of the familiar resignation, an acceptance of other Mondays not so dissimilar: always different, always the same.

    – Lunchbox.
    – Again?
    – Fucking lunchbox.
    – You stupid, absent-minded pillock.

Seemingly mad at his own forgetfulness, furious teeth over the top of his stubbled lower lip, and only the one remorseless word (apparently) in John’s emptied and unreliable mind.

    – Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
    – Christ alive, John.  Public place and all that.  Less of the fuck, mate.
    – Every fucking Monday.  Always the bloody same.
    – You and your vanishing lunchbox.
    – Amazing. Unfuckingbelievable.
    – Sure. One of the last unsolved mysteries.

Like last Monday morning, at about the same time on the same train, just short of the long platform at Shoreditch. The confessed forgetting of John’s lunchbox, a miserable thing in any case, nothing special any other day from Tuesday to Friday, usually no more than a bag of unbranded crisps and a limp, plasticked pasty.  Pathetic.

Bob, on the other hand, Bob’s legendary Monday snap. A regular miracle, a very special bag of sandwiches famous on every London site from here to High Barnet.

    – Bob, me old mate, me old mucker.
    – What?
    – Any spare sarnies by any chance?

On a Monday. What a strange coincidence. And yesterday, like every other Sunday, Bob’s weekly visit with the family to Chelmsford. Nice ride in the car, two pints in the Lamb and Flag with Dad, and then his Mum’s unmatchable Sunday roast.  Perfect.  And always the weekly improvement on perfect: her routine parting gift of leftover chicken sandwiches for the Monday. Chicken, more often than not.  Or sometimes pork and pickle. Occasionally, beef and mustard. 

    – Earth to Bob.  Mum still on good form?
    – Never better.
    – A Mum among Mums, genius.  The bread, the meat, the butter, bit of pepper, spot of mayo.  Lovely.
    – Not today, John.
    – But Bob, last Monday . . .
    – Not today.

Above the seats opposite, up above Bob’s bemused but hopeful face, his pleading detestable face, a saving selection of suddenly fascinating adverts, for Heatbusters and Windsor Castle and cheaper car insurance for single ladies over the age of 25.  My Mum, my sandwiches, my lunch.  Nothing more to it.

    – Just this one last time, Bob.  God’s honour.
    – No, John.  Not after last week, never again.

From now on, it depends. If this particular Monday is destined to be no ordinary Monday, which after all is the premise of most stories, Bob and John will have to act, and therefore change; events will move forward, things will happen. Many of those things are likely to be regrettable, and nothing will ever be the same again. Such is the tyranny of verbs.

Alternatively this story, like a thousand million unwritten stories lived day by day in most lives, can continue without verbs, stop before it starts, come to an end before any real harm is done.  If Bob and John are lucky.

    – Please, Bob. Pal to pal.  One sandwich. One half of one sandwich.  Pretty please?
    – Oh alright then.
    – Thanks, Bob. Nice one.  Solid.
    – But not next Monday, or the Monday after that!.
    – Sure, Bob. No problem.  Mmm, beef and mustard, my favourite.  What a gent.

(The end, until next Monday.)