On the House

Pub sign, Durham

Pub sign, Durham

Part 1 of some Sunday fiction for you, from my alternative version of Doncaster

“You’re a right arrogant cuss, Gary Sanders, coming in ‘ere, throwing your money about like there’s no tomorrow,” the landlord said. “Which there may not be, unless you get out – now. ”

Up til then, it was a quiet Sunday evening at “The Bird & Baby” pub. It was April, and the students which usually filled the tap room were in their rooms at nearby Doncaster University, studying for their exams. Quiz night wasn’t due to start for another hour or so: neither the kitchen staff, scouts’, nor porters’ team had turned up yet.

The only other punters in that night were a large bloke in his late 50s who was propping up the bar, and nursing a pint of Guinness; and a middle-aged man with grey hair, who was sharing a small table with a black-and-white cat.

The Bird’s landlord looked at Gary, then looked at the glass pint glass he was drying. Then he spat in it, and set it on the age-darkened, oak bar.

“What’ll you have?” the landlord asked Gary. “It’s on the house.”

“I’ll report you to health and safety,” Gary replied. “And it’s Bertram-Saunders.”

“Bertram-Saunders, my Aunt Nelly,” the landlord said. “Your Dad’s Georgie Sanders – Bert were his dad’s middle name. So don’t you come in ‘ere, throwing your fancy fake hyphens about. Anyway, your dad’s banned from Baby. I thought you knew that.”

Gary flinched as the cat appeared from seemingly nowhere, and jumped up on the bar, landing on the beer towel. The cat blinked briefly at the man at the bar, then turned to the landlord, and asked, “What’s the roast today?”

Smug, or happy? You decide.

Smug, or happy? You decide.

“Beef. Sorry, Jake, you just missed it. I can make up a couple of cold sarnies for you and the inspector, if you like. One wholemeal with English mustard, one beef, no bread?”

The cat nodded, then started coughing. Three two pound coins appeared on the bar.

“I’ll add it to Thwaite’s bill,” the landlord winked at the cat, as though sharing a private joke. Or not so private, as the man at the bar smiled.

“Thanks,” said the cat, who swallowed the coins, then jumped off the bar, and padded over to his companion.

The landlord turned away from the bar, and shouted, “Val! Can you make up some roast beef sandwiches for Thwaite and Jake, love?”

He turned back to Gary Sanders, who was looking pale under his tan. “Did you say ‘inspector’?”

The man who was standing next to Gary smiled again, and the landlord replied, “That’s right. Chief Inspector Thwaite, and his Sergeant, Jake. They come in here most Sundays: well, Thwaite does. Jake, not so much.”

Gary swallowed, then said, “I’m not my dad. Just because he’s barred, doesn’t mean I am.”

Not just barred, it's York bar(red)

Not just barred, it’s York bar(red)

Then he flushed, as the landlord made another deposit of spittle in the pint pot. “Anyway, what gives you the right to ban my father from your crappy old pub?”

“This,” said the landlord, pointing to the sign above the bar, which said that Harold Langdon was licensed to sell beers, wine, and spirits under the 2003 Licensing Act. “Because it’s my crappy pub. Now bugger off, unless you still want that free pint of Smiths.”

Harry the landlord grinned, showing good dental work, which glinted at the fact that the Bird & Baby was doing good trade, despite the lack of patronage from the Sanders’ family.

“I’ll bring my dad round,” Gary threatened.

“Barred,” said the bloke standing next to him at the bar. He was a big, grey-haired bloke, and was nursing a pint. He had been following the conversation between Gary and the landlord with quiet interest.

“I’ll get Ken Sykes round,” said Gary.

“Sykesy was nobbut a bully when he was in short trousers,” Harry replied, “and Tim here,” Harry indicated the big bloke, “gave him a right kickin’.”

“We were both four at the time,” Tim reminded Harry.

“Sykesy cried, didn’t he?” Harry said. “Cried like a little baby.”

“He was four years’ old,” Tim repeated.

“Well, he’s a big bloke now,” said Gary. “Bigger and younger than you,” he added, looking at Tim.

“And?” said Tim, who was six foot two, and weighed just over 17 stone.

“Bigger’n you, Granddad,” said Gary, who was 28, while Tim and Harry were both 63.

Two seconds later, Gary’s face was up close and personal with the bar, and both his arms were being held against his back by Tim, who leaned against him.

“Listen to me, lad,” Tim said, as he breathed beer-breath into Gary’s left ear. “Are you listening?”

Gary whimpered.

“Ken Sykes was a bully, he’s nowt but a bully now, and he’ll like as not die a bully. He’s also a bully who I can whip, because what he has on me in weight, I’ve got more than him in brain cells.”

“Smartest lad in our class, Tim were,” Harry said.

“So how come you’re a bouncer, if you’re so smart?” Gary tried to sneer, but it’s difficult to be sarcastic when your face is pressed against a bar.

“Beer ‘n food on the house, plus my mind’s free to write poetry, and watch ‘Jeremy Kyle’ every morning, before pub opens. Lot of poetic inspiration to be had from our Jeremy, plus I can sort my socks whilst I watch.”

Poetry in Sheffield: "What if" by Andrew Motion

Poetry in Sheffield: “What if” by Andrew Motion

“Poetry? Really?” Gary tried to say, but gurgled instead, due to the pressure on his throat.

Tim rearranged Gary slightly, so that the younger man could breath, and speak, with a bit more ease.

“Yes, really,” said Tim, who had excellent hearing, as well as a flair for rhyme and metre, and a taste for Guinness, and Sunday dinners. “And you know who was in our class at school, besides Harry, and Ken, and me? Your Dad, that’s who.”

Once again placing his mouth against Gary’s ear, Tim said, “Georgie Sanders came into this world with nowt. He may have a stack of legal and illegal businesses now, but he’ll leave this world with nowt, save a shroud, some spit in his eye, and maybe a bullet or two in his back.”

Like a bored cat playing with a mouse, Tim stepped back from Gary, then shoved the younger man back, hard, against the bar.

Plays with mouses: August 2016

Plays with Mousies: August 2016

“You’re in the hands of a poet, all right,” said Harry admiringly, as he polished some more beer glasses. “Many the times I’ve seen Tim apply the complete works of Shakespeare to a particularly obnoxious drunk’s backside.”

“That’s only if they’re a bit obnoxious,” said Tim. “If they’re really nasty, I like to take Boswell’s “Life of Johnson” to their johnson.”

Gary muttered something, then said, “I didn’t ask for him to be my dad.”

“No, you didn’t, lad. But you’re coming up to 30 now – plenty of time to make a break, and strike out on your own.”

Tim released his prey, leaving the younger man gasping.

“Bet your dad wasn’t a right prick,” Gary choked out, as he coughed, then rubbed his neck.

“No, he were a nice bloke, my dad. And a drunk. Harry’s dad, he had to bar my dad from the Baby.”

“Kept throwing up in gents,” said Harry. “Mum got tired of having to mop up every time Tim’s dad went for a piss.”

“Anyway,” Tim continued, “you didn’t just spring out of your dad’s head, like Athena. What about your mum? She was in our class, too. Sweetest tempered lass I’ve ever met, besides my missus.”

“Mum doesn’t care about me,” said Gary. “All she really cares about is my brother Michael, and her stupid cat.”

Gary glanced quickly toward the table where Inspector Thwaite and Sergeant Jake Cat had finished their sandwiches, and were enjoying a quiet drink. Jake didn’t turn around, though his tail fluffed out til it resembled that of a black-and-white fox.

Cat with Carpe

Cat with Carpe

Part 2 will be published on this blog next Sunday, 13th August. If you enjoyed this story, please buy an e-book of “Koi Carpe Diem: Five Tales of Paws, Claws, and Mystery”, featuring Inspector Thwaite and Sgt. Jake, or contact me for a signed paperback, featuring artwork by Tom Brown.

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About Sheila North

I am an author and ex-journalist, who has written novels, short stories, and poems. I also help facilitate a writers' group. Check me out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sheila-North/
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