It was a clear summer morning. The wind was brisk and blowing through Steve’s hair as he sat on his patio, enjoying his morning cuppa. “Life is a ritual”, that’s what Steve Hobart has always believed in and followed. Drinking his morning tea was a part of that ritual for him to start his day. Even in his early voluntary retirement days, he struggled to let go off his routine as it was the most relaxing thing for him in a stressful and chaotic world. He never understood how some people can live their lives without a following defined routines and rituals. Everything has to be laid out, planned and followed to the tiniest detail for him, probably the only thing that he didn’t like about Peter.
It has been 42 summers since Steve first met Peter. In those days, Steve’s dream was to be a professional football player and he was working hard to achieve it. School, training and homework. He loved the discipline and the predictability in his daily life. He wasn’t the most popular student in his school but he was a different person on the football pitch. His coaches had promised him a trail with one of the biggest clubs in the country, if he kept on doing what he was doing. It is through football that Steve met Peter.
A year younger that Steve, Peter was the brother of one of the coaches, Roger, and Steve met him at a barbeque party at Roger’s house to celebrate a successful U-15 season. They hit-off instantly, as if they have known each other for years, and thus began their strong ad lasting friendship. Nothing could keep them apart, not even the incident that effectively killed Steve’s ambition to become a Premier League footballer. He was never the same person again, the only thing that kept him going was his routine and Peter. He became a loner and cut off contact from almost everyone else apart from Peter. It was as if something had left a huge vacuum in his life and he was trying to fill it up with his strict routines and dislike of people.
As Steve was sat at his patio, reminiscing about the days gone by, his smart phone rang. “Peter Tashkin” it displayed as the caller. The corner of his eyes lit-up as he picked his phone.
“Steve! Something has happened” – shouted Peter from the other end, without even giving Steve a chance to say “Hello”.
“Calm down Peter. What’s the matter? Is this another of your failed attempts to brew your own beer?”
“There is no time to explain. Just come over to mine … it’s very urgent”
“OK but at least tell me what is it about? Do I need to call anyone else? Do you need a doctor? Ambulance? Police?”
“Oh for God’s sake Peter, just stop trying to organise everything perfectly all the time and come over as soon as you can. I got to go”
The phone line went dead, leaving Steve in doubt and anxiety. His best friend seemed to be in some sort of trouble and he needs to be there but that was not the plan for this day. He was supposed to drink his tea, read the news on his smart phone app, take a shower and then fix the chest of drawers. He had the morning planned! But now this.
Mumbling something inaudible under his breath, he got up from his chair and limped towards his car. The limp in his left leg has stayed with him since the incident, the reason why he couldn’t pursue life as a professional footballer anymore but, he does not like to talk about it. He didn’t want to remember the pain, not the physical but, the emotional pain of losing not only a promising career in football but also the one person he loved more than anything. They say, it’s better to have loved and lost than to not love at all, but Steve wasn’t so sure.
to be continued ….