Two English students are sat in the Bristol Pear in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Outside there is a light drizzle as a train rushes over the nearby bridge. A bus nearly hits an old lady off her bike who tells the driver where to stick the non-existent sunshine. One student drinks a cider. The other a beer.
‘I’m thinking of writing forty five stories in a day,’ the cider drinker says.
‘Forty five stories?’ the beer drinker says, ‘That’d take some literary balls.’
They let the new found phrase hang in the air. They both smile. It’s a keeper.
‘Who do you think has the biggest pair of literary balls?’ the cider drinker says.
‘Someone Russian,’ the beer drinker says, ‘They published their stuff even though they would be exiled from their home, friends and family for doing so.’
‘Plus it’s bloody cold there,’ the cider drinker says.
The beer drinker nods.
‘It’s pretty cold in Birmingham too.’
The beer drinker arches his eyebrow.
‘What’s your point?’ he says.
They both take long sips of their drink.
‘It’s just, forty five stories is a lot,’ the cider drinker says.
‘Really? You’re going to do this,’ the beer drinker says.
The cider drinker shrugs his shoulders: ‘Do what?’
‘Zamyatin had to leave Russia! You’re a middle class white boy who’s writing for a bit of fun.’
The cider drinker mumbles something under his breath. The beer drinker points to his ear.
‘I said I’m doing it for charity too.’
‘Oh,’ the beer drinker says, ‘Then yes, you are completely right. You definitely have more literary balls than a man who was forced out of his country for life! Writing forty five stories for charity definitely means you have the biggest literary balls of every writer who suffered war and famine just to get their work published ever. Are you happy?!’
The cider drinker sinks into his seat and takes a sip from his drink.
‘But they’re quite big literary balls, right?’
The beer drinker finishes his pint and walks out into the rain.