Disorderly Behaviour ctd.
‘Seen him? Course I’ve bloody seen him. He’s got his arse parked in my parlour, fartin’ an’ drinkin’ an’ swearin’ an’ I’m just about fed up with it!’
Seama didn’t know Aldo Rodber particularly well but he could tell the man was at the end of his tether. Landlord of The Dog’s Last Breath, Aldo generally tried to maintain an air of propriety and the words arse and bloody were reserved for his most unruly guests. He had his standards.
‘I take it you’ve been letting him drink too much?’
The landlord was quick to his own defence.
‘Letting him? Think I’d say no to him in that mood, do you?’
Seama nodded in sympathy.
‘He’s a little hard to handle sometimes, I suppose.’
‘Well you suppose right. He came in last Tuesday afternoon with a face like thunder; din’t tell no-one what he was so het up about and none dared ask. Most just got out of his way, to tell the truth. Settles himself in a big chair next the fire, yells at me to bring him two quart of beer and a bottle of that whisky he’s so fond of; drank ‘em down until they ran out, ordered up the same again and carried on until he passed out. Slept until noon next day and then started all over again. Been the same routine ever’day since. I think he’s only been out of the chair t’have a pee – a decency for which I suppose we must be grateful.’
‘Why didn’t you give him a room?’
The landlord puffed out his ample cheeks. ‘You might have other ways about you than I can credit, mister wizard, but can you see a normal bloke like me shifting that great lump? I did try. Near put my back out. Oh I wish you’d do something about him; if you could only get him out of the parlour it’d be a start. Bad for trade, he is, stinks to high heaven and he’s forever bothering my customers.’
‘He can get a little argumentative…’
‘Argumentative I can handle, it’s all the silly jokes that’s causing the trouble. He spent yesterday evening making frogs fetch up in people’s drinks, then he turned my best gravy green and no one’d touch it. One daft bloke gave ‘im a talking to. Well you’ve never seen anything like it: made a cloud hang over his head and it rained and rained on him, right there in my parlour, till the floor was a lake and this stupid bugger soggy as a drowned dog. Upped and left at a ruddy trot, I can tell you, and I don’t blame him but that’s another regular gone and I can’t see him coming back. Not until that joker’s long gone.’
Seama couldn’t help grinning at the absurdity.
‘Well you might think it’s funny but ‘at’s money to me.’
Seama tried for contrite. ‘I do beg your pardon, Mr Rodber, honestly I do. I can see this has been something of a trial for you. It’s just that he’s normally so reluctant to use magic – I think I can see why now, but I didn’t realise drink could make him so… well, ridiculous.’
‘And I still don’t see why that should be funny.’
‘Perhaps you’re right. Well then, I suppose I’d better do something.’
Just then the door to the back parlour burst open and a young woman ran out, half in tears and half in a rage.
‘That’s it,’ she cried, ‘That’s definitely it! He can get his own food and sodding drink!’
‘You want to tell him that, Mr Rodber.’
‘What did he do?’ asked Seama.
Sally looked up at him ready with a sharp word but then blushed, realizing who he was. ‘Never you mind, sir!’ she said, then turned on her heel and more or less ran for the kitchen.
Seama took a good deep breath before he plunged into the room. Visibility was poor: none of the lamps were lit and though the fire seemed to be drawing well enough the atmosphere was very smoky. But sight was not the most offended of Seama’s senses.
The unwashed, inaccurate pissing, drink-reeking stench of the man filled the room, that and the uncontrolled wheezy laughter of someone in hysterics who’s been laughing for far too long. The high backed chair by the fire was rocking with both. If only the fire had not been lit; if only he didn’t insist on wearing woollens and fur even in the height of summer; if only he wasn’t six feet tall and three feet broad; if only it hadn’t been Tregar MacNabaer it might not have been so bad.
‘Tregar?’ he called out cautiously, ‘Tregar Mac?’
The laughter faltered. Seama made his way towards the hearth. The laughter ceased. As he rounded his quarry’s den a leg shot out, took him down by the ankles and sent him tumbling head first into the chair opposite. The laughter rang out with renewed vigour and the only words to emerge between the gasps and guffaws were:
‘Go’ ter wetch… ye feet en her’ laddie.’
Seama, furious, struggled to right himself, getting his cloak all tangled in the process.
‘That was not funny, Tregar.’
Tregar did not agree and continued to giggle like some huge, idiotic bear. Seama glared at him, trying to regain a little dignity, and yet leapt to his feet in alarm when a loud voice shouted out just behind him: ‘Whoopsadaisy!’ The rug he landed on promptly jerked from beneath his feet and dumped him back in the chair.
From the empty bar in the corner by the door a deep brogue rumbled out: ‘Make yoursel’ cumf’t’ble, zurr’ quickly followed by a much sweeter tone, in a passable imitation of the departed serving girl, piping up close to his ear: ‘Now my love, what’s your fancy?’
Seama’s annoyance reached a critical level.
‘For Gods’ sakes, Tregar, get a hold of yourself.’ But Tregar was far beyond the ability to take his advice, and far beyond any ability to see the danger signs.
‘Ay, just what I said to the wee lassie,’ he giggled, ‘Well, somethin’ like that.’
Enough was enough. Tregar didn’t seem to care what he did or said and Seama decided to respond likewise. He stood up, aimed a sharp kick at one of Tregar’s shins, and then, without any further physical contact, he flipped the armchair backwards sending Tregar arse over tip, crashing through an occasional table, to belly-flop painfully on the Old Dog’s polished boards.
A lesser man might have given up but the bloody-mindedness in him forced Tregar to bounce up onto hands and knees before he succumbed to the vomiting. The vomiting knocked the stuffing out of him, and Seama relented in his invisible grip on the man’s stomach.
As the pool of mess spread before them, Seama called out to Aldo, who had been waiting anxiously outside in the corridor.
‘Landlord,’ he commanded, ‘A room and a bath, if you please, and lots of cold water.’
THE BEST OF MEN
SONG OF AGES
An epic fantasy of monsters, gods, warriors and wizards, of heedless villains and decent everyday people.
Available as a Paperback Original
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COINCIDENT - The Best of Men Pt 1
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Wilf Kelleher Jones
A Song of Ages