The starter sentence for F-F-F #18 is in bold. The rest is me...
WHISKEY IN THE JAR
"As the sixth shot of whisky burnt its way down, I suddenly remembered what I left the house for."
The whisky kicked like a cold hearted mugger’s steel toe capped boot. I put the half-bottle of Bells in my inside coat pocket. It was comforting; like a woman’s soft touch on a lonely night.
“Are you getting on or what pal?”
My reverie was broken. I stepped aboard the bus and handed over a mishmash of shrapnel. The driver, a jobs-worth with a face like a red party balloon, cursed as he sorted the coins. Ignoring him I tore off my ticket and stumbled along the aisle.
Fifteen minutes later I opened my eyes, pulled out the bottle and took a surreptitious swig. An oldie tut-tutted and whispered to her coffin-dodging companion.
I belched, rang the bell and staggered off the bus. As it pulled away I toasted the two old biddies with the Bells then stuck my last Silk Cut between my lips, fired up and walked away; the damp from the pavement seeping through my worn brogues.
In bygone days, when you opened a pub door, you were confronted with billowing cigarette smoke, men throwing arrows and nineteen seventies tunes playing on the jukebox. Nowadays it’s all polished floors, pine furniture and couples playing Scrabble. Not a frigging domino in sight.
I ordered a light and bitter from the antipodean behind the jump. Between her shoulder blades a large floral tattoo was partially visible the rest of it hidden beneath her vest top. Classy.
“Light and what?”
Whatever happened to English bar staff… I wanted to ask: What’s with the hairy knees and sandals? In bloody January!
I was too tired to explain and asked for a pint of Guinness instead. I sat at a table and gulped the black stuff down to the label. When the painted lady turned her back I topped it up with Bells.
By the time Kipper arrived I was finishing my second and wishing I could afford another.
“Valentine!” Kipper had woeful dress sense. He was wearing his trademark, wide and loud, necktie. “You look rough as a dog’s arse.” He produced a roll of banknotes, “This is for you.” Cackling, he pulled off the elastic band and flicked it at me, “Put that round your rhythm and blue. It’ll stop the sole from flapping.”
The recently married Kipper was a flash, sarky bugger and, I thought, needed taking down a peg or two.
“A large malt Kipper.” I pulled a manila envelope from under my coat, “Then we’ll talk business.”
Kipper was a bookie and owned a string of shops. He had hired me to snoop on his staff. Somebody was dipping sticky fingers into the till and Kipper did not like to be taken for a fool.
Kipper returned with two malts and a couple of packets of cheese and onion. His bushy eyebrows were meeting in the middle of his forehead and he shook his head despairingly, “Silly cow flooded them with ice.”
“Jeez.” I fished cubes out and sucked my digits, “If it’s not a pint of Fosters that lot are clueless.”
“Cheers,” Kipper raised his glass.
“Up your hairy hole,” I had not yet been paid and was a little tetchy.
“Well, what’ve you got for me?” Kipper drank some whisky and stuffed potato crisps into his north and south.
I slid the envelope across, “Why’d you pick a poncy joint like this to meet?”
“The missus likes it.” He opened the envelope, “The house Pinot Grigio is rather good…” Kipper choked and coughed, pebble-dashing the waxed tabletop. “What the fuc...”
I downed my malt. Kipper’s boat-race was turning several shades of red. He looked to be on the verge of a ferocious rage. Or worse, tears.
“You’ve gone a funny colour my old son.” I slipped my hand into his sky-rocket and extracted my wages, “Same again squire?”
I waved a twenty and the painted lady sauntered over, chewing gum with the finesse of a camel. She said, “G’day,” for the third time in the space of thirty minutes.
“Two large Macallans.” I pointed to a bottle, “The twelve year old malt and no ice.”
The painted lady got busy with the drinks, then said, “Is your friend all right?”
I looked over my shoulder. Several of the glossy photographs had dropped to the floor. Kipper was staring at one and shaking like a dementia patient on speed.
“He’s had better days.”
“I recognise him.” She placed the glasses in front of me, “Usually in here with a young blonde.” Taking the twenty, she added, “She’s partial to a dry white wine spritzer.”
“That’ll be the wife.” I sighed, hammered down one of the malts and signalled for another, “That’s not all she’s partial to.”
© 2010 Alan Griffiths
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