The Incredible Bearded LandladyMature

Bessie, when she comes, is a large, spotty teenager who seems intent on flirting with me. Despite the fact that I’m female. Needless to say, this is slightly awkward. Mrs Landlord is a larger and spottier version of her daughter. Okay, maybe I’m being slightly unfair. Again. I’m just irritated, that’s all. I’m sure you’ve been there before. What about a little bit of human compassion? No? I didn’t think so.

‘Now, come to think of it,’ Mrs Landlord says, scratching her chin that looks suspiciously stubbly.

The Incredible Bearded Landlady. Huh.

‘Yes, he did look a bit odd - a bit off colour, so to speak - I remember saying to that nice Argus Philips - you have met Argus, haven’t you, Sergeant? - well anyway, I remember saying to him - he plays an awful good hand at cards, Charlie - you don’t mind if I call you that? - awful good, the champion for a fair distance, he is - though of course he’s not the same since poor old Mabel died - such a shame - and him a bachelor now and all - although he’s going on sixty - but you wouldn’t know it to look at him, would you? - such a handsome bloke - anyways, I says to him: ‘Argus,’ I says, ‘Don’t you think Bernie Watts looks a bit peaky?’ And he says ‘well now, yes I do,’ and then he says ‘Give him sommat to drink, sweetheart, that’ll sort him out, put a bit of colour in his cheeks.’ And so I did - gave him a drink, I mean - but he didn’t look much better for it, did he, Bessie? - and then, he left so early - must’ve been only half-ten - and him as usually stays an hour or so - and he came in late as well - I can’t help but wonder, Charlie - I mean, Sergeant - I can’t help but wonder what happened to the poor man - what with him being so sad after that awful business with his wife and all - well now, I ’spect you know all about that - you’re not a policeman for nothing now, are you?-’

And she laughs, but it’s more like a goddamn walrus. Jesus, how does she keep going?! I don’t think she’s drawn breath once.

‘Anyway, Bessie might’ve seen more than I did - it was awful busy that night - what with my hubby off because of his back - he gets it awful bad sometimes, Sergeant, he does - and it was all I could do to keep everyone’s glasses full - although Bessie is such a help to me at times like this, you know, Sergeant - she’s such a good girl - takes after her father - and some as say she does me too, but there you go - people will flatter you - they’re so good round here, Sergeant - but again, I ‘spect as you already know all this!’

She breathes. I open my mouth to excuse myself - this is not what I had in mind at all, but she’s off again like a rocket.

Twenty minutes later, I extract myself from the stifling presence of Mrs Landlady with a resolute decision never to enter that goddamn pub again, not so long as I live, not even if there was an armed criminal in there and a chance of a gunfight.

Well, maybe then. But not for anything else.

The End

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