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| Category: || Fantasy Fiction |
Posted:|| January 25, 2020 Views: 22|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Chapter 9 of the book The Fae Nation
Peter tries to drwon his sorrows
The fae are gathered in a ghetto in London as tensions rise
Peter climbed up the stool and sat at the bar. He rummaged through his pockets and laid the contents on the counter. Bob came over, looked at the money and raised his eyebrows.
“Too much for a drink, not enough for a night of passion. Well, not with me anyway. You could try Dawn…”
“Oh, there’s not enough money in the world,” said Dawn, twisting past Bob, a glass in each hand.
Peter stared at the money. One note and a collection of coins.
“That’s all the money I have in the world,” he said.
“I mean it. My total sum worth. How much drink will that get me?”
Bob pushed the money back towards Peter. “Judging by your looks, not enough.”
“No, I mean it. Three shorts? Four?”
Bob sighed. “You know the definition of a friend?”
“One who’ll drink with you?”
Bob lifted the flap on the bar and came around to the public side of the bar,
“One who’ll tell you what you need to hear, not what you want. What’s up?”
Peter didn’t lift his gaze from the small pile of money, as though staring at it would make it grow.
“Lost my job.”
“Okay. Dawn? Two Bushmills.”
Peter pushed his money forward, but Bob pulled it back.
“Listen,” he said. “This one’s on me, but then you’re cut off. I love your money, mate, but you’re not in a fit state to drink a little, and you’ve not got enough to drink a lot. Talk to me.”
Peter shrugged. “I’m broke and I’ve lost my job. What more is there to say?”
“I thought you hated your job.”
“It was a job.”
Dawn slid two glasses across the bar. “Do all the staff get a drink?”
“Sure. I’ll take it out of your wages anyway.” Bob Held out his glass. “Sláinte. Remember, it’s sipping whiskey, and it’s your last.”
Peter clinked his glass against Bob’s. “Sláinte agatsa,” he replied. For a moment it looked as though he was considering throwing it back in one, but then he took a sip.
“So? Tell me about it. Why’d they sack you?”
“I might have hit a colleague.”
“Did he deserve it”
“Oh hell, yes. Maybe not in the balls, though.”
“You hit him in the balls?”
“With a shovel.”
Bob coughed on his drink. “Yeah, well, that’ll do it, all right.”
The two men chuckled. Then Peter shook his head.
“Lost my job, though. Even if it was a shitty job. Literally. You ever been down the sewers?”
“No. Why would I?”
Peter shrugged. “I don’t know. They do tours, you know. No, straight up. You people actually pay to go down there. Not the bits I had to dig out, obviously. So next time your toilet gets blocked – “ Peter held up his glass – “You’re welcome.”
“Cheers.” The two men took a sip in unison.
“Was it worth it?” asked Bob.
Peter shrugged. “Does it matter? It happened.”
“What did he do?”
Peter shook his head. “You weren’t there. Just his attitude. Let the fae do it. Leprechaun? Oh, right. Give me your gold. He meant it, too. Like it didn’t count, if he was robbing a fae. Not like robbing a human. Because we’re not. Okay, so we’re not, but that doesn’t mean we’re less, you know?”
Bob nodded as if he understood.
“So, what now?”
Peter shrugged. “Beats me. No one’s going to want to employ a fae ball-breaker.”
“Not the council, maybe, but what about, you know…”
“Who? The fairies? They won’t look at me, even though I’m – anyway, they won’t. Maybe five other leprechauns in town; they’re keeping their heads down. The elves? Do me a favour. Who? You tell me. So what? You think I might try out for basketball? Supermarket shelf stacker?”
Bob looked at the row of optics. Dawn could just about reach them, but she was more than head and shoulders taller than Peter. Peter followed his gaze.
“No, I’m not asking for charity. Anyway, I’d have to buy stilts.”
“Sorry mate. I mean, I just don’t have the demand, anyway. Not even for cleaners. Hiring you would mean sacking someone else.”
“No, no. Not your problem. I get that.”
“No, it’s not like that. It’s just, I don’t know what I can do.”
“Sure. Isn’t that the way of it?”
Bob turned to the newcomer. ”Sorry, but I’m – Oh, Miss Gordon!”
“Okay, then I’m Bob to you. To be honest, I’m Bob to everyone except the taxman, but you can pretend it’s special if you want. Peter, this is Amanda Gordon.”
Peter raised his glass to her, his face deadpan. “Whoopie-do, Amanda Gordon. Want to buy me a drink? Because this mean bastard won’t let me buy one.”
“Ignore him,” said Bob. “He’s sober. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
She wiggled a rolled-up bill. “You said I could put up a poster?”
“Was I drunk?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
Bob waved at the cork board against the wall. “Then fill your boots. Just don’t cover up anything that hasn’t expired. There’s drawing pins on the board.”
Amanda made her way to the notice board.
“That’s Amanda Gordon,” Bob told Peter.
“No, but Amanda Gordon. You know. Her dad was Alexander Gordon. Finder of the Fairies Gordon.”
“At the risk of repeating myself, whoopie-do.”
“You have no soul, you know that?”
“No, what I have is no money, no job, and by the end of the week, no bed. Excuse me for not fawning over some human, no offence.”
“You know, maybe she could help.”
“No, I mean it. She runs the fae liberation front, or something. Equal rights. Power to the pixies. Her name carries clout, and she’s more than your average hippy.”
Peter stared at his drink. “You’re a friend, okay?” he said at last.
“No, I mean it. For a human, you’re okay. All right, you take the mick, but then you do to everyone. I’ve bought you drinks, and you’ve bought mine, and we’ve laughed at the bastard world together. That counts for something, and that’s why I’m drinking this fine Irish whiskey you’re paying for, but it’s no more than we’ve done before. Well, okay, maybe I’ve bought more than you, but then you’re a businessman and I’m a customer, but we’re mates, right enough, and that’s why I’m drinking this whiskey. Because we’re friends, understand?”
“Not a word.”
“Right. But it’s just a drink, between two friends, and I’d buy the next round with a song in my heart if you’d let me. But I’m buggered if I’m going to accept fecking charity from some lanky woman who’s trying to ease her conscience.”
Bob swilled the drink around his tumbler. “Pride’s a wonderful thing for those with money,” he said.
Peter tossed back the rest of his drink, grimaced and slammed the glass on the bar. “Or those with friends,” he said, scooping up the money on the counter and stuffing it into a pocket.
“Hey, now – “
“No, feck it.” Peter waved him into silence. “I’ve got other friends, you know. Fae friends. I don’t need favours from you lot.”
“Peter, don’t be like that.”
Peter slid off the stool and tugged at the hem of his coat, shaking his head to ease his collar. “No, I got thing to do, people to see.”
Amanda walked up from her task at the notice board. “Leaving?”
“Up yours,” said Peter, holding two fingers aloft as he stalked out of the pub.
She turned to Bob. “Up mine?”
“He’s had a bad day. He’s, well, he’s had enough of tall people for now.”
Amanda nodded. “There’s a lot of that about. You can understand it, I suppose. I just wish I could make people realise it’s the minority.”
“You sure it’s the minority?”
“Of course. Oh, they’re vocal, but most people are reasonable, right?”
Bob shrugged. “How would I know? What are you drinking?”
Bob indicated the room. “This is a pub. We’ve got coffee if you’re scared alcohol will loosen your self-restraint and throw yourself at me.”
“Oh, we don’t have that much alcohol,” said Dawn, from behind the bar. “No one has. Am I working alone tonight?”
“I am the owner,” said Bob. “You don’t get to nag me unless you marry me.”
Dawn gave a theatrical shudder as Bob made his way back to the business side of the bar.
“I’ll have a white wine,” Amanda told Dawn. As Bob made his way to customers at the other end of the bar Dawn placed a wine glass on the counter and started pouring.
“Can I ask you a question?” said Amanda.
Dawn shrugged. “You’re the customer.”
“Do you get bothered much? By men, I mean.”
“This is a pub, dear.”
“Yeah, but I mean, because you’re, you know, fae.”
Dawn put the cork on the top of the bottle and rammed it in with a hard slap. “From humans, you mean? Of course I do.”
“How does that make you feel?”
Dawn slid the glass towards Amanda and sighed. “Look, I’m part of the establishment. I serve drinks, but I also got to have a rapport with the punters, you know? So we joke, sure. You’ve seen me and Bob. Part of the act. And some guy has a bit of fun flirting with me, where’s the harm? But I stay this side of the bar, right? If I’m iffy about anyone, Bob’ll pay for a taxi. Anyone gets handsy or offensive, Bob’ll ban him. It’s not like most of the money comes from humans anyway.”
“It’s always humans?”
Dawn shrugged. “There was a fairy once, one of the Green Park trash, but I’ve got brothers. Otherwise, yeah, it’s always your sort. You don’t know this? You don’t know human men will bang a hole in the wall if you put lipstick on it?”
“They’re not all like – but yeah. I just thought, men were men, regardless of their race.”
“Maybe they are. But only humans want to be unnatural.”
Dawn acknowledged a customer at the counter, waving an empty glass.
“Women too. No one but a human would try to get their jollies outside their species.” And with that she left to serve the other customer.
In the UK the two finger salute is roughly equivelent to flipping the bird
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