“Take that shit off, man.”
“Get out of my fucking face.”
“You can’t wear those things inside. You look like Elton John. It’s like wearing a sign that says ‘douche.'”
“They’re fucking Oakley’s, okay? Leave me alone.”
“What does that even mean? Oakleeysss. It’s the middle of fucking winter. Take that shit off your fucking face.”
“It’s a brand. An expensive and fucking respectable brand. Not that you would know anything about that. You probably buy your sunglasses from Woolworths.”
“Woolworths went bankrupt, you fucking dumbass.”
A girl with big eyes and big tits walks in and both their eyes dart to the door. Louis pulls off the sunglasses sharpish and fiddles with their legs.
“Don’t you think they’re a waste of money? I mean how much did they cost? And all you’re going to do is sit on them or lose them, or fucking… have someone nick ’em when you’ve had a few.”
“No way man, they have a lifetime guarantee. These babies will pay for themselves. They’ll last longer than I will."
He holds the sunglasses out and taps them against his beer.
“The way you drink, that won’t be hard.”
The two sit in silence and Louis slips the sunglasses into his pocket.
“You seriously think they mean it when they say lifetime guarantee. They don’t mean forever. They mean for like a year, maybe two. You’re a sucker. You’ve been swindled. There’s no way they’ll just give you another pair if you break them”
“I’ll fucking prove it to you.”
Louis stands up and yanks the sunglasses from his pocket dramatically as though he’s pulling rabbit from a hat. He drops them on the floor. He stamps on them repeatedly.
“They said lifetime guarantee and if they didn’t fucking mean it, I’ll sue ’em to high fucking ’Eaven. These cost me a month’s bloody rent. And if it kills me, me children’s children are going to be sending these pieces of shit back to the manufacturers when they break to get a brand new fucking pair free of fuckin’ charge. These sunglasses are the magic-bloody-pudding-pots of eyewear. They’re the fucking holy grail of UV protection. And they’re going to last for eternity. Just like they promised in the adverts. Eyy-turn-it-tee.”
A lens ricochets across the room under his shoe.
“Jesus, they’re bloody indestructible.”
He stands up, flips a knife out of his pocket and pries out one of the lenses. He leaves the pieces on the floor and walks to the bar. By now, several of the men have started watching, fascinated. The barman rolls his eyes and moves on to serve the next customer.
“Up to your old tricks again I see, Louis.”
“Have you got an envelope I could pinch, Danny?”
“Yeah, course.” He grabs one from behind the counter.
“And a stamp and a pen?”
“Geez, you don’t ask for much do you? “ I’ll be back in a second.
“Thanks, Danny. Much appreciated. “
When Louis has his materials, he walks back over to the booth. A barmaid is standing over the sunglasses with a dustpan and brush. Her skirt is too short but Louis doesn’t notice.
“Leave them alone. They’re fucking mine,” he says and she shrugs and moves on.
He scoops up the broken plastic and glass and shovels it into the envelope.
“Sam, will you look up the address of Oakley headquarters on your phone? “ he says to his friend. Sam doesn’t say anything, but brings the phone out of his pocket obediently. Louis licks the envelope, hocking up globules of saliva to get a good stick. Then he seals it and plants a big wet smooch on the flap.
“I’m popping out for a fag, boys, I’ll see you in a second.” A few of the men at the bar look up again interested.
He crosses the road, dumps the parcel in the red postbox and laughs.
He finishes his cigarette, chugging it noisily like a steam train. He stubs it out under his shoe, walks back into the The White Hart and sits down next to his friend.
“So who’s buying”? he says, downing his pint in one.
Sam rolls his eyes and gets out a wad of cash.
Two weeks later a set of brand new Oakley’s arrive on his welcome mat. Louis shakes the package, and runs his hands across it like a kid at Christmas. When he’s 100% sure they’re a pair of brand spanking new glasses, he opens the door and slams them in the hinge, making sure they’re good and broken.
He finds a pen, scribbles out the address on the envelope, replacing it with the address for Oakley headquarters, which he’s learnt by heart. He writes the word REDIRECT in big fat letters on the envelope.
He says to himself, “Lifetime fucking guarantee.”
Jessica Cook works in publishing. She has previously written for a range of publications from Time Out to The Skinny and has a MA in English Literature from The University of St Andrews. She is quietly praying that one day someone will discover that unicorns are real. Fingers crossed.
All rights reserved to Jessica Cook.