Sunday, July 5, 2009

05:14 - The Saint George Tavern

Continued from 00:01 - From the Journal of Simon Mercy.

The two men who entered through the back door seemed right at home among the early evening crowd of the St. George Tavern. The first was thin, wearing blue jeans and a faded black t-shirt - on the front, two skeletons screw against an atomic blast backdrop. This charming image was encircled with the epithet "Born to Kill, Not to Care." Despite his long, black hair, he was clean shaven - if not for the color of his skin, pale and dusty, he might have been Native American.

Behind him came the shorter of the two men. Dirty and disheveled, and dressed in layers of tattered clothing with a long, scraggly beard and wild, unkempt hair; this man wore a great big smile on his face, showing half a dozen missing teeth. He chuckled at odd, inappropriate moments.

"Tha's a good'un, newfish," he said at the first's back. "I been stutterin' about in the seventies for four or five years now."

The first man turned around for a moment. "The name's Simon," he replied, "Simon Mercy."

"That's what I thought," the older man snorted, staring for a moment at the bowling game in the corner. Simon continued on up to the bar.

"What're you drinking, old man," he asked; but his companion was still watching the video game. He turned back to the bartender. "Give me two scotches - Black Label, on the rocks," he glanced back at the old man, "better make them doubles - and follow 'em up with two more when we're done. I don't know when we're leaving, so I'll settle up for all four right now."

The bartender gave him his first two drinks, which he carried to a booth right near where -
dammit, he thought at the old man, straining his will, what is your name?

The old man closed his eyes for a moment, he pinched the bridge of his nose as if he had a headache. Then he straightened and sat down with Simon.

"You don't gotta' do that," he said. "It hurts my eyes when you do that. And the name's Roland Southwick, by the way. What are we drinking?" He took a deep swig of the scotch and smiled wide. "A man after my own heart."

"I've never met -" Simon started, "what I mean is -"

"What you mean is, you seen me shining like a beacon back there on the Rue duh sandjack and didn't know what to make o' me, huh?"

"Basically, yeah."

Roland leaned in close to the wide-eyed Simon, "You ain't never met another one then, huh?"

Simon sipped his scotch, "I haven't. I thought maybe I was the only one. The first maybe."

Roland stifled a snort, "well," he replied, "you might be at that. How - uh - how long you figure you've been at it," he waved a hand in the air, "
extending I mean?"

Extending, huh?" Simon took out his iPhone and looked through his notes. "Eight months."

"You're just a baby! You even get out of your lifeline yet? Nevermind, don't answer that - and don't ask me about - you'll figure it out or you won't.

"This is too much," he continued, draining the rest of his scotch as he went, "I only called ya' a newbie to rile yer' goat. I didn't think you really was one. Shit, boy? You stutter yet?"


"Aw, fuck me sideways," the bartender interrupted Roland's exclamation with the second round, clearing the first glasses as he did so.

"Shit, Simon," Roland rubbed at his beard, scratched his neck and took a quick glance around the bar, "let's go somewhere quiet. Gimme' your hand and pick out a nice lonely spot where we can talk like men."

Simon took the old man's hand and the two of them vanished.

It was like they stopped being there. As though they'd never been. The glasses were gone, the water spots from their drinks were gone, the seats weren't even warm. The only remnant of their visit was a little less scotch in the bottle, a little more cash in the till, and two missing rocks glasses that might've been broken the night before.

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