I am working on an A-Z challenge, this one featuring short pieces of fiction. Today’s letter is K for kick in the pants.
Just off the Boat
I sat in the pub, content to nurse my Jameson on ice, without giving so much as a single thought as to why I was here in the first place, especially at the ungodly hour of two in the afternoon. I watched the other patrons of the club, as they chatted and guffawed their way into inebriation. The music was standard jukebox fare, and whereas I didn’t object to it, there was nothing about it that floated my boat, either. When the door opened and the old man strolled in, I paid little to no attention to him. He ordered a Guinness at the bar, looked around him, his eyes settling on me, and he moseyed over, asking if I minded him taking the seat across from me.
“You look like a man who could use some good news,” he said amiably.
“Really? And why would that be? More importantly, what’s the good news?” Babble on, old geezer.
“Sure and you’re drinking by yourself, and though it be good whiskey, there’s plenty of lads and lasses in here that you could be prattling away with.” He winked and took a large draw on his dark beer. His voice had the lilt of the old country, as though he’d just stepped off the boat.
“True enough,” I agreed. “I’m not feeling particularly congenial, and that’s the long and the short of it. If you were to ask me why, I’d say it was a long story, but I don’t want to be short with you, so I’ll give you the condensed version.” What was I doing here, drinking by myself?
“I have a friend-let’s call him an acquaintance-who has disappointed me greatly, but I’m not sure he did anything wrong,” I began. Well, that was reasonably accurate.
“What’s the difference between a friend and an acquaintance?” he asked, nonchalantly.
“A friend is someone who wouldn’t stab you in the back; an acquaintance is someone who could become a friend, but has not yet done so.” After all, David had not stabbed me in the back; he had just not been acting like a friend.
“I sense there is a woman involved,” he said, almost resignedly.
“Well, you figured that part out, all right. She works in town, at the coffee shop where I eat my breakfast, most mornings. I work in the trades, and I need a good bite in the morning, before I hit the road.” I thought about Amy, her long black hair, twinkling eyes and merry laugh. She was sweet, she was pretty and she was not attached. I’d been fancying her for some time now. She worked from seven in the morning to four, every day but Saturday and Sunday, which was all right because I didn’t work the weekends either.
“And there’s this friend/acquaintance who is trying to whisk her away from your fancy, and into his arms. Go on.”
How’d he get there so fast? “Actually, that’s just it. He didn’t really do anything wrong. He just didn’t do anything right.” I’m making a mess of this story.
The old dude said nothing so I continued. “Her name’s Amy and I thought she was keen on me, at least until this morning. When I came in, my friend-or whatever he is-was already there, guzzling coffee, eating his bacon and eggs, and making with the palaver. When he saw me, he didn’t seem to think it was any big deal, but he knows that I fancy her; we work together and I’ve told him.”
“So what you’re saying is that he was intruding on your space, going after your girl.”
“That’s just it-she’s not my girl-yet. I haven’t done anything to make her my girl.” I was beginning to see the problem.
“Faith and begorrah! Now you’re getting to the bottom of the bottle. What you need is a good swift kick in the arse.” He was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“And I’m more mad at myself, than I am at Davey. I’d better have another Jameson.”
The old duffer looked sideways at me. “What time did you say your lassie worked till?”
“Oh, damn! She’s off in fifteen minutes. I better get a move on.”
“Now you’re talking. I’ll reserve that swift kick to your backside...for the moment. You’ve got a job to do, and you don’t need any more Jameson to get it done. Now, be off wit’ you!”
A week later, I stopped in to eat breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, served by my favorite girl. As I came in the front door, I caught a glimpse of my old friend from the bar, scooting out the side door. Surprised, I turned to Amy and asked, “Did you see that old coot, who just scuttled out the side door?”
She giggled and said, “Sure, and that old coot, as you refer to him, just so happens to be my grandfather.”
Was that a slight lilt I noticed in the way she said that? “And a fine gentleman he is, at that. I’d like to drink to his health, just about now.”