Unsightly Competition

"You know what it's like trying to compete for attention amongst a room full of monkeys?" C asked casually, sprouting from his mouth any random idea to hop into his head.  This one in particular happened to catch the bartender's interest.

"They outnumber you, they out screech you, and they bite you.  And if you even try to trespass in their territory, they through poo at you.  Very unsightly."

"If you're trying to make a comment about the state of my tavern here,"

"Parish the thought," C replied off-handedly.  "I would never say such comment about this bar."

To this, the barkeep grunted his approval, and continued to clean mugs from behind the richly-stained bar.  The atmosphere was dark, the lights dimmed to attract cigar-smokers and gangsters, of which there were none.  Simply a handful of casuals, eating their portions in piece and keeping their conversations low.  Nearby, an enormous dish tank sporting five different specimens was the most prominent, albeit eerie, light source.

"I'm referring to those monkeys down the street."

The barkeep, a tall, petite woman in her mid-30s with dark hair twirled into a bun atop her head with loose strands leaking out, nodded silently.  Sagely.  Nothing more needed saying, for they both were in agreement.

That 'Protagonize Pub' down the way.  Rash.  Unpredictable.  Insane.  Always changing.  One day a deserted western-saloon, next day a bustling and brimming modern bar, next day a futuristic "space" bar.  The building itself was as unpredictable as the occupants inside.  At any man's discretion, the whole place and the people in it could become anything: pirates, cowboys, hicks...  even penguins.  It held no rules.

This bar, the Lazy Sleuth, held rules.  It maintained order, because C knew that the building could never change from it's dimly-lit, largely quiet atmosphere with a 1950's motif.  C knew, with his heart whole, that order and tranquility would thrive in this bar.

So long as the others never caught wind of it.

A growing tinkling from overhead brought with it the realization of a beginning rain shower outside.  Which was fine.  C had no where to go.

"I'll take another alcohol-free beer, please," C ordered, proffering his shot glass to the lady barkeep.

C refused to drink from anything more than a shot glass, lest he not be fit to walk home.  At his request, alcohol-free beer was poured into the cup, which was as clear as water and tasted like it, too.  C wondered briefly the astounding technology that could make beer not only alcohol-free, but also make it look and taste like water.

Crazy stuff.  But not crazy like the pub down the way.

"You've been in here a while," observed the barkeep, casually, as C sipped.  "But I've not heard your name yet."

"C." said C.

"Yea.  What's that stand for?"

"Doesn't stand for anything.  Just C."

"I see."

"No, I am."

C drank.  The barkeep cleaned.  All was well.

The End

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