The reason you decide to end the friendship is the thing he says on the phone, that hot motionless day when all the windows on the bus are open and still it feels like asphyxiation. Not the thing about north Africans – that’s not so much his fault as the way he was raised – but the bit about Katie at work. He went to her party last night – her fortieth, it was, free food and free drink all night, oh yes. And he was quids in because he’d only shoved some loose change in her card; she’d never know.
“The thing about tigers is the most dangerous ones are under our noses,” said Phil. He had been a keeper for a long time and the days were mostly boring now; it tickled him to scare people with facts.
“Zoo tigers aren’t afraid of people like wild cats, one.” He watched their faces.
“Two, they haven’t learnt how to kill quickly.” A sip of water.
“You’re still alive,” a pause, a slow sweep of the crowd, eye contact made with every last one of them, “when they start to eat you.”
The lady in the floral dress fainted clean away.