They came out of the Odeon theatre as a group, four of them rearranging themselves on the High Street pavement, the evening cold and fresh alongside them.
‘Well, that sucked,’ Scott said.
Adam rubbed the back of his neck. ‘I thought it was okay.’
‘Oh, god, no, no, no,’ Scott continued. He looked at Richard, and Lauren was beside Richard, just in view. ‘It was so painfully by-the-numbers it hurt my soul. I should have known better. Stallone in the mountains, how the hell was that ever going to be any good?’
Lauren hooked her thumbs in her belt loops, challenging. ‘The start was awesome, I was petrified. When he dropped that girl, hell, did you see that coming?’
‘Of course I did,’ Scott said. ‘He has to fail in the opening act to set up everything that happens next. Boring.’
‘But did you feel it, man? Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it.’
Scott looked at the sky. ‘Then what can I say? It sucked. End of story. What a crap year for movies this is turning out to be.’
They were making their way down the street, towards where Richard had parked the car. Adam and Lauren were in front, and Richard fell in by Scott. He raised his eyebrows. ‘Smooth moves.’
‘What?’ Scott feigned ignorance.
‘Arguing with her. That’ll work.’
‘All part of the plan, man.’
‘You actually have a plan? That’s kind of creepy.’
‘Of course I have a plan, dick. You’ve seen how successful I am when I just rely on my personality. Besides, you fucking scheme as well, I know you do.’
‘What is this?’
‘Setting up Adam and Kirsty? Tell me that isn’t a plan.’
Richard hesitated. ‘Not really...’
‘Bullshit, of course it is. I have no idea why you’re doing it, but you’re doing it.’
‘No, it’s more, I don’t know. It just seems like it could work. Don’t you reckon?’
Scott shrugged. ‘I am the last person on this earth you should be coming to for that kind of advice.’
Adam and Lauren waited for them to catch up. Lauren had her arms folded to stay warm, but she was grinning. ‘So is this how you guys spend your evenings? Movies and talking shit?’
‘Mostly just talking shit,’ Scott said. ‘Somehow it never gets old.’
‘And, and basketball,’ Adam said. ‘We have training on Tuesday and Thursday, and games on Friday.’
Lauren looked impressed. ‘How committed.’
‘But, it’s worth it,’ Adam continued. ‘We’re doing quite well I think.’
Richard agreed. ‘We’re doing fine.’
‘Some of us are doing fucking awesome,’ Scott said. He mimed taking a shot. ‘For the three! Boom! What a beautiful sight!’
‘That means nothing to me,’ Lauren said.
‘On Friday,’ Scott said, suddenly skipping from foot to foot. ‘I pull in this rebound and scream up the court, oooh! Is he gonna slow it down? Is he gonna drive it in? Neither! I hit the top and no-one’s marking me so I light it up... swish! Three points! The crowd goes wild!’
Richard smiled indulgently. ‘It was a nice shot, but Ray gets a couple of those a game.’
Scott danced around them as they reached the car. ‘Not swish through the net! Besides, I’m hundred-percent accurate for threes, that makes me the best three shooter in the team!’
‘One from one, you mean?’
‘Hundred percent, bay-bee!’
They got into the car, pulled the doors closed. It was warmer inside, out of the wind. Adam had taken the front passenger seat, on account of his long legs, so Scott and Lauren shared the back. Scott caught her eye: ‘You should come watch on Friday.’
She shook her head, smiling ruefully, and Scott’s spirits fell. But she said, ‘Yeah. Why not?’
Scott grinned, setting back in the seat, and when he looked forward he saw Richard watching in the rearview mirror. Scott gave him the finger. It was gonna work.