A Costly Tale

“I’m telling you he had no idea. Not a clue.”

“Get away!” I didn’t believe this guy for a second.

“Swear on my life it’s the truth. He was in bed with both of them, all night long, doing you-know-what and he never noticed that the blonde guy only had one leg.”

“It just can’t be true.” My scepticism is one of my best features by the way.

“Straight up. He only noticed when he tried to sneak out and put on the wrong trousers by mistake. The prosthetic was still in the trouser leg!”

                I thanked him for the story but there was no way I was gonna write about that. Not enough to do anything with. I wasn’t looking for amusing anecdotes. I wanted a story. Something I could get my teeth into and maybe even win something on the back of. I looked around, almost desperately for someone who looked as though they at least had a history. Everyone in the bar looked like cartoons. No depth whatsoever.

                I sat at bar for a few moments, drinking of course. I thought people would be taking my arm off at the chance to recount a tale or two. So far nothing. A cliché ridden sap-fest about two sailors who fell in love with some girl in Rio and then found her again in Turkey, and damp squib of a ghost story that ended with the ghost leaving quietly and a happily ever after. What the hell is that about?!

                The barman poured me another drink and I looked at the wood of the bar, hoping for some sort of inspirational idea to form in the grain. Of course, I was disappointed.

                The next part of the evening is the sort of thing that only happens in movies. The door of the bar flew open and a silhouette filled the empty space. Mist surrounded the figure and all heads turned to face this new arrival. Then it emerged from the darkness, limping slightly. Into the bar stomped the man, wet boots slapping on the wooden floor. He had a gnarled face, only one eye and grey hair hanging lifelessly from beneath a black hat. He slowly dragged himself to the bar and ordered a large rum. I stared at him and he turned his world weary face and looked into me with his dark eye. I looked back to my drink and he took his rum to a table in the corner. The barman winked at me.

                Now, I was pretty intimidated by this guy, but I needed a story and by God I was gonna get one. If he didn’t have a tale to tell then no one did!

                I found myself standing in front of him, spinning my glass in my fingers. He growled at me. “Yes!”

                “Pardon me. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind talking with me for while.”

                “I ain’t got nothing to say to you, boy.”

                “Sir, my apologies for bothering you but I’ve done the rounds in here looking for someone with a story to tell and no one has anything worthy of putting pen to paper.”

                “And you think I’ve got something?”

                “I think if anyone in here looks like they’ve got history to tell it’s you, sir.”

He thought for a moment, looking me up and down. I could feel something in his gaze. Judgement? Was he sizing me up before rising to kick the crap out of me? Fortunately he remained seated and growled at me.

                “So you want a story? Something to grab you by the balls and crawl into your head? Well boy, it just so happens I can help you. It’ll cost you though.”

                “How much?”

                “You can measure this cost with metal circles or pretty pieces of paper. The real cost of this story will be up to you, but to hear me tell it will cost you enough rum to see me through to the end. Mind you, I drink like a fish, boy.”

                Before he could change his mind I’d bought a bottle of rum from the barman and sat at the man’s table. He had a strange look in his eye. I imagine the same look a maniac with an axe would have as he loomed over his victim and swung downwards. He didn’t have an axe fortunately. He had words. How dangerous could they be?

The End

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