When the creeping bleary dawn light coasted its way coldly across his cheek, he took a moment before he lifted a calloused hand to rub awake his itchy, grey, stubble face. He had an aptitude of being born as he stretched outwards involuntarily but was startled when his limbs thudded against the solidity of a coffin in all directions. It was at this point his sense of smell assailed him… taints of urine mixed together with disinfectant. This stink in turn caused his shuttered eyes to open, peep like at first but then blossoming into a full red veined flash. There, oozing blackley from the toilet stall door and barely six inches from his face was a scrawled line of graffiti that told him “Billy Bradshaw, sucks balls for pints of Piss”.
With the agility of a one hundred and five year old, he struggled into an upright position, grabbing at the toilet bowl like a lifebuoy for leverage. “My legs are in bits” he told his reflection in the bowl.
He twisted himself around and sat on the loo, wiggling his toes and bending his knees until he could feel some blood running through them again. He sat there for a few minutes and farted, the stench of which would have drove a pig out of a pigsty.
To say he was feeling rough would have been putting it mildly. His head pumped and his brain rattled around his skull as the effort of standing up nearly knocked him down.
At least he knew where he was, in his old haunt, his local – The Cock and Pheasant – and yes he was a living example of the former half of the house’s name.
He left the men’s room and made his way to the bar and seeing no one there, he went for the front door, trying out the locked handle, knocking and banging on the glass surrounding the sides of the door. No Answer!
He turned himself around to get a look at the old clock in behind the bar. He needed to get his baring’s so to speak but he had to toddle over a lot closer to the bar to actually see that the big hand was at 5 and the small hand was at 7… Basically it was 7 am in the morning and some.
“I have been forgotten about” he whispered and felt kind of lost.
It struck him for a moment how pathetic this was. Obviously no one had missed him. He certainly had not been reported missing to the police and there was no one at home, no wife or mother to stand at the front doorstep, twisting her apron in anxiety.
He stalked over to the Pubs door again, and banged on it a few times, rattled the glass on the windows but with no joy.
He began to think of himself as a hostage, a kind of prisoner in effect, to the Vintners Association, a poor innocent victim of “Big Alcohol”.
“Those Fucking Bastards” he cried, and it felt strange to hear his voice so loud in this place – it was usually sucked into the murmurs of others, heard by ears that don’t listen and couldn’t care less.
He walked slowly back over toward the bar and stated to the mirror behind it that “No one gives a shit”. Then he hung his head low and really allowed himself to delve into the emotion of self-pity for a good three minutes or so.
After that, as always, the bright side of things made its presence felt, this time it was in the form of whiskey. His eye caught sight of Frank the owner’s famous bottle of MaCallan. Frank would dispense this only on rare occasions, to toast someone’s large win on the horses or to console someone on the final decree of divorce. It was handed out like liquid gold and Frank never tired of describing the origins of the bottle when such auspicious occasions arose.
Frank would say “I bought a crate of this McCallan on my last fishing trip to Scotland. Its €288 per bottle, a rich mahogany colour, fermented in finest sherry casks giving a complex plate of chocolatey raisins, with orange peel and ginger tones. Distilled twice through copper pot stills” Then Frank would hold the glass up to the light before handing it over to the lucky recipient and say soothingly “Enjoy, Scotland’s finest whiskey my friend enjoy”.
Remembering all that inviting talk the forgotten soul dragged a barstool around to the inside of the counter and stuck a glass up McCallan, twice for good measure. He relaxed, enjoying the view from this vantage point, looking outwards instead of inwards. He realized he was in the best of company really, that being the company of himself and McCallan. The whiskey was smooth and warm like the finest lovers kiss you could ever have.
By the time Frank came whistling in through the door at noon, the lonely occupant was falling down with Frank’s finest locked up good inside him. Frank Roared out “What the fuck are you doing Bradshaw?” his eyes locked on to the empty bottles beside him. “Well I’m not drinking pints of piss!” slurred Billy and toasted his glass to the room.
Caith Maith, (aka) Karen Goode, Founder of the Shannon Storytellers from Athlone. Published in Its first anthology. Loves the craic and the development of creativity in adults. A socially conscious artist bring her project AcrylicsCraic to the community and business world in Athlone.