The first time Kevin Roach was mistaken for Tommy Ross he was in the White Lion. The mistake’s maker approached him when he was at the bar, getting in a round of drinks for himself and his workmates. She had bobbed red hair and neat, pretty features and she wore a T-shirt displaying her allegiance to the rock band White Noise.
‘Sorry to bother you,’ the newcomer said, as she materialized at Kevin’s elbow, her head inclined coquettishly to one side, ‘but my friends won’t shut up unless I settle it once and for all.’ Over her shoulder Kevin could see a garrulous party of girls staring over at him, heads bobbing in fascination. He sincerely hoped he could ‘settle it’ to everyone’s satisfaction, particularly that of the attractive young woman currently addressing him. ‘You’re Tommy Ross, right?’ There was a giddy excitement in the way she said it, an expectant gaze that willed him to respond in the affirmative. She looked ready to dissolve in liquid admiration.
Kevin wanted very much to be Tommy Ross at that moment, even though he had no idea who that individual might be. He faltered an instant, then undaunted by its lousy track record, fixed her with his most charming smile. ‘Can’t say I am – but I’m willing to be him for the night…’
The red-head’s smile faded and the excitement seemed to drain from her like a plug had been pulled. ‘You’re really not him then?’
‘Eh – no.’ Kevin’s burst of confidence departed, presumably to the same place as the girl’s interest. ‘Haven’t actually heard of him… Ehh…Who is he?’
‘Doesn’t matter. Sorry.’ And she faded off to her tableful of friends, before Kevin could summon anything further to say.
‘Nice one, Kev, what’s your secret?’ said Big Dave, as Kevin lowered a tray of brimming pint glasses on to the table. The rest of the boys roared with hilarity at their friend’s quip. ‘I mean, she looked like she was ready to shag you on the bar and you managed to get shot of her with your first line! What did you tell her you’d caught?’ The whole table creased with renewed laughter.
Kevin slumped into his chair, trying to mask how gutted he felt with a self-mocking grin. ‘Fuck off, Dave, and drink your pint.’ Over at the other table the rowdy girls no longer gave him a glance.