I wrote this just now, but I am feeling half-asleep, so beware of snaggy errors. Otherwise, please enjoy yourself--and the ride! Warning--it is fairly long, but it was hard to pick a selection. It all seemed so necessary. So read what you want and then skip on out to others. And remember that there is always time and opportunity to take part, yourself!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
“You want another?” the barkeeper pointed a thick, stubby finger at Shane's glass.
He wasn’t even done with this one. He shouldn’t.
“It’s on me,” a man said. He had light brown hair, and a slight accent. Sort of German-sounding, Shane thought. He was wearing all black, except for a fake green carnation, which he had pinned to his shirt.
“Thanks, but I’m fine.” Shane held up his mug. It was light—he looked at it. It was empty.
“I’d say you’re fine. Fine and dandy.” The man was not old or young. He snorted. “You dandy.”
Shane didn’t really know what to say to that, so he accepted the drink. The barkeeper poured green liquid into his glass.
“None of that swill for me,” the man said. “Give me ale, real ale.”
“We don’t serve—”
“Check again.” The man pulled some large coins out of his pants pocket, and slid them across the table and directly into the man’s hands.
“Right, sir,” the barkeep said. He stared at the coins, then looked at them with big eyes. He came back with a pitcher of ale, which he poured out for the man, slowly.
“Bombs away,” the man said, and as Shane watched, he downed the entire amount. He put his cup down, coughed, and wiped some amber drops away from his mouth. “Thirsty, weren’t we?” he asked.
“You certainly were,” Shane replied.
“Both of us, I’d say.” The man nodded at Shane’s mug. Again. Empty.
“Another round,” he called out. “Shane’s treat.”
Shane tried to remember if he had told the man his name. Well, of course he must have. Otherwise, he wouldn’t know. It was as simple as that. Then he realized what the man had said.
“No thanks, I’m done. You can treat yourself.”
“I saved your life, Shane. You’d best repay me with a drink. It’d be rude, not to.”
Shane shook his head. “How did you save my life?”
“You needed more beer. And I got you some.” The man chuckled.
Shane stared at him, then beckoned to the barkeeper. The man hurried over, filled his cup again—this time, with ale as well. He refilled the man’s cup, too, and then walked away, staring at them intermittently. “I’m sorry, do I know your name?”
“No, of course not. It’s Tom.”
“Tom.” He nodded. “We haven’t ever met before?”
“I’m sure you’d remember, if we did.” Tom took a sip, and then sighed. “Perfect. Just perfect. Have a sip of yours.”
Shane did so, automatically. The ale bubbled over his tongue. It really did taste good.
Allie bobbed over. “Are you having fun?”
She was always pretty, but even prettier drunk. And she was. He glanced over his shoulder. Per was standing, guardedly, watching her. And him, probably. He was friends with Shane, but he served as her boyfriend (and bodyguard) first. She wouldn’t get into any trouble tonight, then. “Sure, I am. Good. Good, good.”
“Great!” she slurred. At least Shane wasn’t that drunk, yet. “I’m going to go.”
“Girl you want, mate?” Tom asked.
Shane blushed. “Lower your voice.” He paused. “Mate.” Maybe the accent was Australian, instead of German.
He kept talking in a normal tone. “I think she likes you, too, to leave her boyfriend in order to see if you were having a good time.”
“Well, she’s like that.” He took another sip of ale. Maybe he was starting to feel the buzz. He drank a little faster, and tried to change the conversation. “How did you come here?”
“I walked,” Tom said, and his eyes seemed to twinkle. “How did you come?”
Well, that was Allie, again. So insistent. Per couldn’t say no. Shane said no all the time—just not to her.
“You do like her, don’t you?” Tom finished his ale, but a few minutes later, his mug was filled again. The barkeeper stood to the side, looking increasingly suspicious as Shane sucked down more of his own, and held it out.
“No more until payment,” the barkeeper said.
“Pay the man, Shane,” Tom said.
Shane pulled out enough money for the three rounds from earlier, a few other drinks that he had enjoyed earlier, and for two more rounds. The barkeeper stood there and counted. “I need payment for one more round, for the two of you.”
“Tom said he’d get it.” Shane put his wallet back in his pocket.
“Pay it for me, Shane, and there’s a good man. For saving your life.”
“Pay it for me, Shane, and there’s a good man. For saving your life.”
Shane pulled his wallet out again, dug out the money, and handed it to the barkeeper, who immediately filled his mug and then scurried into the corner. He looked at Tom.
“Wait a minute. You didn’t save my life.” His brain was working slower, and his mouth felt mushy. He was getting drunk.
“Give a guy a break.” Tom looked off to the side, almost dreamy-like. “I used to work here, you know.”
“You’re getting me drunk,” Shane said. Or slurred. Maybe not yet.
“What do you think of the décor?” Tom asked, suddenly.
“The décor. Think, man. You can’t be that wasted.”
Shane stared around. “It’s nice. Nice. Nicey-nice.” He stared. “Could use a few more crappy lep-er-kans, though.”
For a second, he thought he saw Tom’s eyes flash. Of course, he didn’t. But he imagined he might have.
“You may imagine a lot,” Tom said, but the voice was in his mind.
It seemed like gold coins rained down upon them, and a huge cry went up throughout the room. Music swelled, and Shane stayed where he was.
“Why did you come here?” Shane asked again.
“It was mine, once. I didn’t bog it down with this trash.” He fingered the foil shamrocks. “So I come back, every so often. Because I must.” He looked away. “Here comes your girl, again.”
He felt her hands touch his back before he turned and saw her. She was grinning, her hair falling at times across her face. “Hi, Shane.” She began to rub his shoulders, then his back, and then her hands were going everywhere. And he tried to mind, like a good friend. He tried to dislike it.
“Shenanigans going on, Shane?” Tom took a leisurely sip of his ale. “Ah. I don’t know why ale is always so rare to come by.”
Shane’s glass was empty, again, and the room felt like it was spinning. Then Allie was gone, and Tom was there, but he was poking him in the back, again and again.
Everything went black at some point, and he and Tom stood in the midst of a green plain. Tom was turning in circles, talking to himself. “There is treasure. I know there is treasure.”
“There is treasure,” he mumbled.
“Oh. You’re here.” Tom smiled, then walked over. He was shorter than Shane had realized. Tall enough.
“Where is here?” Shane asked.
“The edge, baby.” Tom motioned him to come closer, and he did.
Tom punched him. Hard. So that he fell to his knees. Shane felt the air whuf out of his body. He tried to catch his breath. And then Tom kicked him in the face. “Leprechauns aren’t crap, you son of a dog. Let that be your lesson.”
Something wet dripped down his face. He was bleeding. He wiped at it with his fingers, but that didn’t staunch the flow. “What the hell?”
Tom smiled, and patted Shane on his face. “I do like you, though. And you like the girl.” He looked around, then smiled even wider. “It will do. You will need to get me some coinage, though. Even from the old country, we desire coinage.” He laughed. “And ale. Not like these new upstarts.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The treasure, my boy!” It echoed, melted, and Tom was gone. The green faded into brown, into black.
He didn’t remember leaving, but when he woke up the next day, Shane wasn’t at the pub. He wasn’t at his apartment.
But he was holding Allie. She moved when he did, and pulled away. With some relief—mostly relief—he realized she was still dressed from the night before. So was he.
His face twinged.
“You got into a fight, didn’t you? With Per.” She was moving around, tucking strands of hair behind her ears. She was prettier when she was drunk, but she was at her most beautiful when she woke up in the morning.
“I don’t know,” he said, and he stretched, and rubbed his face. It was crusted over.
“I’m sure you crushed his face.” She gave him a friendly peck on the cheek. “I’m sure he deserved it.”
“How did I get here?”
“I don’t know.” She snuggled into his arms. “My head is killing me.”
His head hurt, too. But all he could think of was something from his dream, something about that Tom character.
Had he only been a character in his dream? It was hard to say. But now he placed his accent. It was actually quite obvious, and he had no idea how he had missed it.
It was Irish.
He smelled Allie’s hair as she began to snore gently beside him and wondered where he could find some coins.