Mermaid

The young, handsome man darts down the street, eager to escape the heavy downpour that has soaked his jacket and jeans. He grimaces as his foot sinks into a puddle and cold rainwater floods his shoe. Rounding a corner he spots ‘The Famous Cock’, the local drinking hole and breathes a sigh of relief. He pauses in the doorway and ruffles his curly, brown hair. Loud music and laughter reverberates through the heavy oak doors. Bright coloured lights pulse behind the window curtains. The man takes a deep breath and lets his muscular shoulders untense before pulling one of the heavy doors open and slipping inside. He is hit by a wall of noise and flinches at the sudden change of environment. It takes his eyes a while to adjust to the harsh pink light that bathes the ceilings and walls. A loud cheer greets his arrival and narrowing his eyes he notices a gaggle of middle-aged women huddled round one of the corner tables at the rear of the pub. Some of them are wearing frilly pink tutus and scarves. Others, sparkly hats and large sunglasses. As the young man makes his way to the bar, a high pitched wolf whistle is directed at him, followed by raucous laughter. The young man ignores it, feeling slightly intimidated and orders a drink. The rest of the pub is fairly empty, a few old regulars occupying the stools around the bar. One old geezer makes a cheeky remark at the group and they lap it up, firing back with a stream of filthy obscenities that soon silence him. The young man removes his waterlogged jacket and drapes it over a stool. More cheers and wolf whistles, even a few claps as the group eye the man’s tight shirt and strong arms.

‘Take it off, take it off.’ One of the women shouts enthusiastically.

The others join in and begin drumming on the table with their hands. The young man’s face turns a bright shade of scarlet and he buries himself in his pint, feeling exposed. He turns his back to them, trying to avoid their attention. They let out a collective sigh of disappointment. It seems to do the trick through as soon their attention is shifted to a tray of shots on the table in front of them. One of them produces a large inflatable penis from under the table and they begin batting it around like a beach ball. The barman, an elderly chap with a permanently tied expression raises his eyebrows at the young man. The young man chuckles and moves over to one of the fruit machines. He strikes lucky and a few coins fill the tray. As he bends over to scoop out the winnings a hand curls around his left buttock. He jumps in surprise and spins around. Two of the hens stand before him, big cheeky grins plastered on their faces.

‘Ooooh nice and tight.’ The taller of the two says, a pink cowboy hat perched lopsided on her head.

The young man’s eyes dart around madly, looking for any signs of a possible exit. The shorter woman with an enormous pair of breasts moves forward and places a club-sized arm on the fruit machine next to the young man’s head. With his back pressed up against the fruit machine the young man feels penned in, the close intimacy of the short woman making him itch beneath the collar. Her wide face looms in close and for a minute the young man fears that she is about to kiss him. What happens is far worst. Grabbing him firmly around the neck she shoves his face between her breasts. The young man claws at the short woman’s arms, suffocating in the thick mounds of flesh. He can hear muffled and distorted voices far above him. Eventually her arms slacken and she relents. The young man emerges back into the room, gasping for breath. It takes a few seconds for him to regain his surroundings. The room is a hazy blur.

‘Alright, alright that’s enough.’

The elderly man swims back into focus. He is leaning on the bar pumps, his craggy features pulled tight in a deep frown. Before the young man has had time to recover the taller woman grabs his face in both hands and sticks her tongue down his throat. The young man chokes and gags as cigarette smoke and vodka fumes flood his nostrils. He flails helplessly as she clings to his face, sucking the air from his already straining lungs. Eventually she releases her grip and the young man stumbles back into the fruit machine, nearly knocking it over. The rest of the hens still sat at the table whoop and applaud as the short and tall woman perform a victory dance.

‘Right that’s enough. Out you go.’ The elderly man announces.

The hens cry out in protest and lob the inflatable penis at the bar.

Come on. Move along ladies. I’m locking up now.’ He repeats firmly and starts clearing away the drinks from their table.

The hens squawk and screech, throwing up their arms in protests.

‘Just one more round.’ One of them pleads but the elderly barman shakes his head and remains stony faced.

Their protests finally die out as they realize that the stubborn barman isn’t going to back down.

‘Come on girls, this place is shit anyway.’ The tall woman decides, pulling on her leather jacket.

The hens down the remainder of their drinks and stagger haphazardly to their feet. As they file past the young man they wink and blow kisses.

‘Call me.’ One of them mouths and places her thumb and little finger to the side of her face.

Another one reaches out for the young man’s crotch and he bats her hand away, his patience growing thin. They cackle as he stands there awkwardly, his hands covering his lower regions. The last hen stumbles past and the young man relaxes slightly, letting his hands fall to his side. On their way out of the heavy oak doors the tall woman calls over he shoulder.

‘See you later loooover boy.’

The young man shivers as she runs her tongue over her nicotine stained teeth. They all burst into roars of laughter and disappear out the pub doors. The young man remains rooted to the spot, listening to the hen’s laughter slowly fade away. When he can no longer hear them he allows himself to properly relax. Calm in he knowledge that they won’t stage a comeback. The elderly barman places a double whiskey on the bar.

‘Here mate, get this down you.’

‘I don’t have any money left.’

‘Don’t worry about it. It’s on me.’ He says sympathetically.

The young man returns to his stool and takes a large gulp from the whiskey. It’s the smoothest whiskey the young man has ever tasted and he feels the warm after burn spread through his chest.

‘Nice isn’t it?’ The barman says with a proud smile.

‘Thank you.’

‘Don’t mention it.’

‘No I mean thank you for chucking them out.’

The elderly man shrugs.

‘I don’t know how much longer I could have endured.’ The young man says, taking another swig.

The grim taste of fags still lines the inside of his mouth but the whiskey is doing a good job of washing some of it away.

‘Count yourself lucky that I managed to kick them out. I hate to think of the next poor sod that they are going to get their claws into.’

‘Well thanks anyway.’ The young man reiterates, feeling relieved that it is all over.

He finishes the remainder of his whiskey and pulls his jacket on.

‘You can stay if you want.’ The barman says upon noticing the young man getting to his feet. ‘I only said I was locking up to get rid of them.’

Thanks but I’m done for the night. I feel dirty and unclean. Need a shower to feel like myself again.’

The barman nods understandably and moves down the bar to attend to another customer. The young man zips up his jacket and heads for the exit.

‘Night.’ He shouts behind him as he shoulders open one of the doors.

‘Night Nick.’ The barman calls after him.

Nick stands in the pub doorway and peers up and down the street. It is still and silent. When he is sure that the coast is clear, he thrusts his hands deep inside his jacket pockets and starts off down the street, moving quickly with long strides, eager to get home to the safety of familiar surroundings.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

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