Jack Menory’s Oldies Tigers were handing out a fearful pasting to a perspiring group of forty-somethings. Jack’s eighty-year-old legs twinkled across the turf like the hoofs of a dancing horse and he roared encouragement to his teammates as he swung his hockey stick with scant regard for heads and legs.
Whack! One went down clutching his ankle. Smack! Another down with his hand to the side of his face. On Jack charged, the enemy falling back on both sides like the Red Sea as he drove the ball relentlessly into the goalmouth. One look at Jack’s face contorted in fury and the goalie hesitated, just long enough for Jack to drive the ball in. He dropped his stick and clasped his hands above his head, turning to all sides of the field to receive the applause of his teammates. Six-one to the Oldies, who were still jigging up and down on the spot and flailing their sticks as their opponents bent, gasping, scarlet-faced, praying for the referee to call full time. At last he did.
‘Don’t worry, mate,’ Jack said to the opposing captain, dealing him a blow on the back that sent him staggering, ‘once you get your Optiviva you’ll be laughing.’
The Oldies milled about the change room chanting and shadow-boxing as their opponents hastily changed and slunk away.
‘They’re a fucking machine, those Oldies,’ said the captain of the forty-somethings. ‘I don’t know what’s in that stuff but I want it.’
It was a sad thing that a fit and healthy forty-five-year-old should be counting the days till he turned sixty, but that was the way it was. You couldn’t get Optiviva till you turned sixty. All you could do was try and keep yourself as fit as you could till then. And mind your p’s and q’s. If you didn’t, you’d never get it. You might even end up in The Meadows. Once you got it, though, the sky was the limit. Some of the Tigers were close to ninety.
In the coffee shop just down the road, Snowy Song was drawing out her cappuccino as long as she could. It was lovely and warm, and besides an interesting-looking guy had just sat down at her table. He opened a book but she thought he was sneaking looks at her from time to time. Snowy was used to people staring at her. She was right out there. Today she was wearing an old school tunic over khaki army pants and little red rubber boots with daisies on them. Over her tunic she wore a pale-blue mohair bolero with short sleeves that left her heavily-tattooed arms bare. Her face was dead white. She’d given up the Goth phase but she still liked the white-face look, sort of Kabuki. People often thought she was Japanese. In fact her mum was Chinese. Her dad had buggered off before she was even born.
‘Hi,’ she said to the guy. ‘Watcha reading?’
He turned the book towards her. The Alternative Heg something.
‘Politics, is it? Are you a student?’
‘Nah,’ he said, taking a swig of his cappuccino, ‘I’m an activist.’
‘Sort of like a greenie?’
‘No, I’m a youth activist. We’re gunna smash the corrupt Oldie machinery that’s drinking the lifeblood of modern society.’
‘Heavy,’ she said. ‘So are there a lot of you?’
Before he could answer someone clapped a hand on Snowy’s shoulder. She turned to see a red-faced old guy standing over her. In spite of the cold, he was wearing only very short shorts and a t-shirt with Oldies Tigers printed above a set of snarling jaws. Behind him stood a group of old guys in the same getup.
‘Right,’ he said, with a jerk of his thumb, ‘out. We want these seats.’
The Art Of The Possible is now available on Amazon and Smashwords, and forthcoming on iBooks, Kobo, OverDrive, Scribd and Barnes & Noble.