“Oh, come on! Don’t be so boring!” Peter shook his head in exasperation.
“I can’t. I’ve got work in the morning,” said John. He finished his half pint of bitter shandy and wiped his moustache across the back of his hand.
“Shirk work!” said Peter. He laughed at the rhyme and repeated it until it got on the others’ nerves.
“Actually, it’s getting rather late now,” said Michael, shoving his arms into his coat sleeves. “Early start in the morning and all that.”
Peter was appalled. “What happened to you? We used to have such fun. Every night. And now I don’t see you anymore.”
“You’re seeing us now,” observed John.
“And it’s been lovely,” added Michael. “But I must get back. Her indoors will be waiting up.”
“It’s barely nine o’clock!” Peter cried in dismay.
“And I want to see the kids before their bedtime – and, no, Peter, before you get that look in your eye. I’m quite sure they don’t want to go visiting any mermaid coves or pirate ships, thank you very much. They have the internet now.”
“You’ve changed,” Peter said bitterly, as though it was the worst accusation he could make.
“And you haven’t,” said Michael. “And that, old boy, is the problem.”
“I know who’ll stay out with me,” Peter brightened. “Wendy. She never let me down.”
John and Michael exchanged glances. “Listen, old chap,” John began.
“About Wendy…” said Michael. They sat him down and told him news of their elder sister.
“Dead?” Peter gasped. “It’s not possible. I’ll get Tink. She’ll bring her fairy dust and –”
“Sorry to have to tell you, old man,” said Michael. “But we’re none of us getting any younger.”
They left him there scowling at the fireplace, until the landlord approached and said he couldn’t have unattended children in his pub. Peter walked out in a daze. Wendy dead… and John and Michael a pair of curmudgeonly old farts with wives and mortgages and everything.
He looked up at the full moon over London’s skyline. Well, bother them! Bother them and blow them! He wasn’t going to miss out on adventures while there were still adventures to be had. He raised his arms to the clouds and went up on tiptoe, but try as he might he could not think of a single happy thought to get himself off the ground.