May 15, 2006

Truth is Ghost (3 of 7)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

What had attracted Mr. Omega’s eye was the newspaper. The headline was at least a year old – Britain Gives In, Stubs Out: Smoking Illegal – and the old man had not turned a single page since they had entered the pub. He puffed his pipe, crossed his legs, uncrossed his legs and put on the best heartfelt performance bar none of “ordinary elderly gentleman #6”. While Mr. Omega knew his reaction would probably be mistaken by that young fuck for hair-trigger paranoia, he was merely well versed in the teachings of the fearsome Cloth pedagogues. Observation is root, it was said. The old man was feigning the bystander.

“That twat needs to be dealt with,” Mr. Omega said to Mr. Alpha.

Mr. Omega scanned his memory, wondering if he had seen the old man before. Was there something… familiar… about that hunched-over figure? That dull, navy mac that seemed as if it had endured many a bad day at sea. Those bifocals bent slightly out of shape, that a little money could easily have fixed. Those white threads of hair shooting out from beneath a cap like the fading smoke trails of a firework. It all came together. Mr. Omega was jolted with sudden, shocking certainty – he had never seen this man before in his entire life.

“I want to check him out,” Mr. Omega said, turning to Mr. Alpha who was engaged in uncharacteristically amiable banter with the bar man.

“I can get some in,” said the bar man.

“Don’t worry about it man,” Mr. Alpha responded, “we won’t be around these parts again.”

The bar man broke into a smile of relief, complete with missing teeth and bad breath.

Mr. Omega asked the little shit who was still playing with his half-empty glass, “Well, what do you fucking think?”

Mr. Alpha turned to Mr. Omega and responded with restrained eloquence. “What the pig god of fuck are you whittering on about?”

“Manners, boy. Why don’t you go wash your mouth out with some fucking soap? I am talking about Mr. I-am-so-fucking-minding-my-own-business sucking on a pipe over there. He’s watching us. He’s been reading the same fucking page of that paper ever since we got in.” Mr. Omega banged the bar with his fist, startling both Mr. Alpha and the bar man, to add emphasis that he thought necessary to ram the point home like a blunt pencil through an eye.

Mr. Alpha answered politely but a smirk piggybacked his words. “Well I guess he obviously needs checking out.”

“I’m going to check him out, mate.”

“You do that. I’ll be right here. With this fucking sodding beer.” Having apparently reminded himself of his difficult plight, Mr. Alpha suddenly yelled at the dead air in the pub, “I can’t believe you don’t have any bloody lager!”

The air appeared rather unmoved by his outburst, but the bar man began to waddle backwards with his hands clenched into incomplete fists against his chest, as if securing the remainder of his life within them, a valuable treasure that would never be recovered if stolen.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2253

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