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| Category: || Fantasy Fiction |
Posted:|| September 2, 2019 Views: 170|
Chapter 1 of the book The Fae Nation
A seMi-sober conversation in a pub
"There's three types of people"
“There’s three types of people in Britain,” said Peter, placing his pint mug on the bar with a tad more force than was necessary.
“Those that can count to three and those that can’t?” ventured Bob.
“What? No. That doesn’t even make sense. No, I’m being serious, there’s three types of people in this country, is what I’m saying.”
“Those for, those against and those –“
“And I’ll tell you what they are.”
“Thought you might.” Bob’s grin was lost on Peter.
“There’s the fae, the racists and the hippies.” Peter delivered the line with the finality of a hanging judge.
“You’re lumping all the fae together? Only my experience is, you ask four fae a question, you’ll get six answers.”
“No, I’m generalising,”
“Hell, I’ve heard you arguing with yourself, and you lost the argument.”
“The fae in general, is what I mean. Not specifics, but generally. It’s what your people do, anyway.”
Peter waved his mug, slopping beer onto the counter. “Yeah. Not you, maybe, but you in general. You generalise. You make laws about us.”
“We make laws about us too.”
“Yeah, but you don’t make laws specifically for you though. Like, murder. You got a law about murder, and it applies to everyone, right? You can’t go around murdering people, and we can’t either.”
“I could think of a few I’d like to.”
“Ha! Can’t we all. No, I mean, there’s no law that’s just for your people but not for us. But us, oh no. There’s laws for us, and just for us. Like housing.”
“Yeah. You know, if we want to buy property, we got to prove residency for three generations. Us! My father saw the first people arrive. Before the Celts, even. And not by boat, neither. Walking across the land bridge, and we were here already.”
“I’d be amazed if your dad would have been sober enough to see anything at all, let alone remember it.”
“That’s racist, that is. We’re not all drunkards.”
“I’ve met your dad.”
“I meant in general.”
“He was in his underwear, singing.”
“He wasn’t at his best.”
“It was ten in the morning.”
“Okay, okay. Anyway, I didn’t mean my dad per se. My forefathers, is what I meant. My fathers in general.” Peter took another swig from the mug. “What I’m trying to say…” He frowned, staring at the line of optics as though they had his dialogue written there, if he could just focus. “What I’m saying is, we’re lumped together.” He let go of the mug and circled his hands to encompass the fae nations. “We’re all lumped together, like we’re just one thing, right?” He moved his hands to the right and banged them onto the counter again. “And there’s the racists. No offence, but you know what I mean. Want us all gone. Think we’re subhuman. You know how many fae end up in hospital? And that’s just the ones who trust your medicine. That’s just the ones who aren’t floated down the Thames or buried in shallow graves. They don’t count them, you know. Not properly. Not like your people.”
He looked down at his hands, circling the racists, and frowned. “Oh, yeah, and then there’s the hippies.” He encamped the hippies to the right of the racists. “You know the sort. They come here from all over. You ever been to Glastonbury? Not the concert, I mean the town. Jesus! You can’t spit without hitting a dream catcher. Seriously, I could arse-rape one of them and they’d be like, ‘oh, is this ethnic? Is this some sort of ancient ritual? Do you mind if I Instagram it?’ They’re as bad as the racists, in their way, lumping us all together.”
“So, what are you saying? I’m a racist?”
“No. no.” Peter waved the suggestion away. “No, you’re all right.”
“You’d better not be calling me a bloody hippy.”
“Jesus, Joseph and Mary, will you just be serious for one moment? You think it’s a joke?”
“I think you’re getting all too maudlin. Maybe have a shandy next?”
“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. But you won’t be able to laugh much longer. The time’s coming, and I’m being serious here, the times coming where you’re gonna have to pick a side. And you know what? You won’t be able to pick our side. And there’s fae who won’t care if you’re racist or hippie.”
“Yeah? Because I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve said, ‘your people’”
Peter waved his hands in front of his face as though someone had passed wind. “No, no, no. You know I’m not a racist. Jesus, don’t I drink with you? Haven’t we eaten together? But the whole society, the government, the police, you know, everything, they’re all out to screw us over. And you know it, Bob. You know it.” He grabbed his beer and downed it in a long draught.
“He bothering you?” Both friends turned to look at the newcomer. He wore a T-shirt that might once have been a tent, and his plus-sized jacket looked as though it was about to rip at the seams.
“No, we’re – “ Peter was cut off by Bob’s upheld hand.
Bob smiled at the stranger. “No, we’re just chatting, that’s all.”
“The stranger leant forward into Bob’s face. “Only we don’t like your sort here. Maybe you should go drink someplace else.”
Bob raised his eyebrows. “You think? Well, okay, maybe you’re right.” He slid off the bar stool. He walked to the end of the bar, lifted the flap and stepped into the service area of the bar. He walked around to face the huge creature.
“On the other hand, maybe we should ask the owner of the pub, because he’s the only one who makes the rules about who can drink here and who can’t. Have you seen him lately, Peter? Oh wait, that would be me.” Bob leant forward until his face was inches from the troll’s. Unseen, under the bar, Bob rested his fingers lightly on the pickaxe handle that lay there. He smiled brightly and said in a low voice, “Listen. I got a living to make. You pay for your drinks and don’t make trouble, you’re as welcome here as anyone. You make trouble, and I’ll let it be known that you’re a Ministry spy, and guess how many pubs you’ll be able to drink at then? Your choice, sunshine. Have a good time like everyone else, or piss off.” He leant back but still kept his hands resting on the club. Much louder, he said, “So, what’s it to be, sir? A pint of beer? We got some real ale on tap.”
The troll stared at him for a long second, then snarled and spun on his heel.
“Goodnight,” Bob called at his retreating back. He pointed at Peter’s empty mug. “A shandy?”
“Stuff that for a game of soldiers. No, I’m meeting some people.” Peter climbed off the stool and looked up over the bar at his friend. He jerked his head at the door. “See? The fae are pissed, and it’s going to get worse. Pick a side, Bob.” He shook his head sadly. “Sorry.”
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