Camden

‘Steve? Steve come on, pick up,’ said Dave into the phone needlessly as it rang. He jumped up the steps of the underground station two at a time, dodging old people and couples.

‘Mate, where’ve you been?’ came the reply. ’I’ve been waiting here for ages.’

‘Sorry man the tube got held up,’ apologised Dave hurriedly. He fumbled with his ticket at the gates while holding his phone. ‘One day they’ll get mobile coverage underground.’

‘Huh, one day,’ said Steve on the phone. ‘Are you here or what?’

Dave burst out into the grey daylight outside Camden tube station. ‘Yeah, I’m here now, where are you?’ He scanned the crowded pavement, getting jostled by people on all sides, but couldn’t see his friend.

’I’m right here outside the station. Standing by the signpost.’

‘Really?’ Dave looked awkwardly through crowds of smoking youngsters and chatting friends, but saw no-one by the signpost. ’There’s no-one here.’

‘Seriously mate, I’m right here, have been for the last twenty-five minutes.’

Dave pushed through the crowds, coughing on the air. Everyone seemed to be smoking around him. He made it to the signpost, where still Steve failed to appear.

‘Look mate, I’m sorry I’m late, but there’s no need to pull my leg.’

‘I ain’t pulling your leg mate. What happened, did you get off at the wrong Camden?’

’Don’t be stupid, there’s only one—’

Dave stopped, then looked around him. Young men with coloured mohawks shared cigarettes by the railing, while old men in flat caps shuffled by with newspapers tucked under their arms. Above him, the old buildings were stained black with soot.

‘Oh no,’ he moaned, rushing back into the station. ’I’ve got off at the 1976 branch. I knew I should’ve changed at Edgeware Road. Go and get a drink, I’ll be there in half an hour.’

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