The sand blonde hair of a man who used to ride a BMX and gave me my first cigarettes in his waygone youth greeted me at the doorway. Still in the company of the same friends. Their names return to me now. Big and Little Sam, and Vick. We passed our days sat on sodden timber benches in a shroud of sycamore around the sports centre and passed white lightening hand to hand. How coincidental to happen upon them in this pub, so far from our old lives.
One of the great hardwood roofbeams had fallen in and exposed the room to the blackened sky. I looked at the way the snow wrapped their clothes like bedsheets of fine ash. They lay huddled around a dormant campfire built under the ruined roof and their lashes were crusted with frost and I imagined how their last pleas to the world were met only by the air that froze their lungs once the life had passed out of them.
There was no way to take their wedding rings but to sever the fingers.