It was only after pondering the last dribbles of his fifth pint (or was it his sixth?) that long-time Gooner John Manning made a stunning discovery, the kind that threatened to upend the footballing world, not to mention the nature of space, time, and matter as well.
“He’s…a…new…signing…” muttered John Manning. “He’s injured? Källström…is…injured…out six matches…” Others watched Manning, as he seemed to lose himself in thought. Just as their attention turned back to the wide-screen behind the bar, the sudden sound of shattering glass seized their attentions anew. Turning back to Manning, they were taken aback to see a man, once slumped dejectedly at the end of the bar, leaping up, disregarding the shards of glass that lay or the puddle of beer at his feet.
“Arsene’s unlocked it! He finally unlocked the secret!” raved Manning.
“What are you on about, mate?” asked a bemused Sally as she wiped down the bar. “‘Ave I given you one too many?”
“Ssh! Listen. I need a minute.” Manning rubbed his forehead, searching for the words. “This Källström guy, he’s injured, right?”
“Yeah, so what else is new? Sally retorted.
“So, he’ll miss a few matches, then, won’t he?”
“Pfft. A right genius, this one is, eh, Sal?” Darren snorted.
“Easy, Darren, dear. Give ‘im a minute,” said Sally, accustomed to defusing a scrum before it began.
“Right,” Manning continued. “It’s like this, see? He’s a new signing. He’s injured. When he comes back from injury—presto!—it’s exponential, this Källström guy.”
“Um, what? Fella, you really are arseholed.”
“Darren, just—just hear me out on this, okay? I think I’m onto something big here.”
“That’s what she said.”
“Classy, Sally. Seriously. Listen. Källström is a new Gunner. He’s injured, which makes him perfect for the squad. So, when he comes back, he’ll be a new signing who’s like a new signing. It’s, like, a new signing squared!”
“What the ‘ell are you talking about?” demanded Darren.
“Easy there, luv, give ‘im time.”
“Thanks, Sally. Hear me out here. This is big. I—”
“That’s what she—”
“That’s enough out of you, moppet. Listen, now. This is some kind of like, fusion energy we’re looking at. Arsene’s found a new player who’s injured, see, and when he comes back, right, he’s both a new signing and ‘like a new signing,’ dontcha see? He’s unleashing some new kind of cosmic force on the Prem! He’s the best of both worlds!”
“Riiiiiiight. Just like a shot of whiskey and a beer-chaser are the best—whoa.” Sally steadied herself by planting her palms to the bar. “Do you mean to tell me that this Kallstrom guy—”
“Källström. It’s Swedish, so you say it ‘SHALL-strum.’ See, the umlauts, they—”
“Shut it, Darren. ‘Round here, it ain’t Ca-Th-orla, it’s Ca-zzz-orla. Not OH-zeel. Ur-zel. So you can take your shall-strum and put it up yer bum. Call-strom. Say it with me. Callll—”
“You can cram it with walnuts, the both of ya. Mark my words. When this Källström finally gets to the pitch, he’s gonna help us lay waste to other teams. Have you seen his assists for Sweden? Have you? I’m telling you, this is some Stephen Hawkings level shite I’m trying to explain to you! You do know that the Nobel Prize is from Sweden, don’t you? Källström’s Swedish. All the pieces fit. Swedish. New signing returns from injury equals ‘like a new signing.’ Boom!”
With that final outburst, Manning slumped back down to the bar, apparently exhausted by the weight and depth of his intellectual discovery—that, or the half-dozen pints that had inspired the discovery in the first place.
Darren turned back to the telly and Sally poured him another pint.