Hi guys.

Every now and then, I’ll imagine a place I’d really like to be.  Sometimes it’s my own privately owned tropical island.  Sometimes it’s a beautiful villa in the French countryside.  But no matter where I imagine myself, there are always naked coeds eager for my attention.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, every now and then, I come up with a place that I’d really like to visit some time.  This is one of ’em.

So, here’s a my stab at #FridayFlash again (even though I’m posting this on Monday).  It feels good to be back in it again.  Plus, the more I make it like Friday, the better, right?  Who likes Mondays?  Voldemort, that’s who.

[Note: There is a certain demographic that might find this offensive, so I therefore feel obligated to preemptively apologize to horses everywhere.  My apologies.]

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Powered By: J.M. STROTHER!

Powered by J.M. Stother!

HACKNEY’S PUB

Charlie slammed his beer down on the bar.  The sniggering that had been constant ceased at once.  Charlie stood.  For too long had he endured their constant jokes.  Their mocking glances.  Their smiles.  Always their smiles.

He turned and faced them and his body blocked the light coming from the bar mirrors.  He surveyed them.  There were no smiles now.

“I have HAD IT!” Charlie said, and his voice actually rattled the martini glasses hanging from the low ceiling.

“NO MORE,” he said, reverberating through the bar.  “I’ve been coming here for years and I have heard all of your jokes.  That’s right.  You may not have thought that I heard them…but I did.  “Why the big—paws?”  “That was a barbiturate?  BAR-BITCH-YOU-ATE?”  Get it?!  And you know what?  No more.  That’s it.  I’m outta here.”

Charlie walked briskly to the door, grabbed the handle and paused.  With a tear brimming at his eyelid, he said, “And you only do it…you only do it…because I’m a bear.”  He sniffled, spat and left Hackney’s Pub for the last time.

Before the crowded bar could react, Father McAlister stood and spoke in a light Irish accent, “I am a man of the faith and we are told to forgive and forget.  But what Charlie said was right, and I’m sick of your jokes too.  May God have mercy on your souls, you miserable bastards!  Come on, Hershel.”  This last he said to his friend, Rabbi Goldberg, who stood and followed the father out.

“Hershel!” Carl the barman said, who had just started to fully grasp the situation.  “Come on man!”

“Geh cocken offen yam, ya putz,” Hershel said.

The heavy veneer of fear that Charlie had laid over the crowd evaporated.  Laughter exploded throughout the bar and with each patron that left, the laughter grew in pitch and in stridency.  Tommy the horse, who never did anything to deserve this kind of treatment, stood and left, enduring comments about the length of his face all the while.  Linda, who wasn’t actually a prostitute but an actor who likes to stay constantly in character, left suffering through a barrage of wolf-whistles.  Then the rest: James the farmer, Terry the mime, Julius the stereotypical black guy, several costumed villains, a small army of furry creatures who had been drinking in the back, a trio of Martians, five ventriloquists, and Phyllis and Lula the Siamese twins.  They all left and Hackney’s was a racquet until most laughed themselves horse.

When it all finally died down, the bar looked at the one person left.

“You know,” the man said in a quavering voice, “I am a structural engineer.  I have a master’s degree.  I’ve even published books, for God’s sake!  And yeah, so I’m not good with changing light bulbs or making popcorn or changing a tire.  And…I mean…so what if I’m Polish? I just—” but whatever else he had to say was drowned in laughter.  When the crowd had wiped away enough of its tears to see the man again, he was gone and they laughed on.

Carl rushed to the door and yelled for the man to come back.  The barman didn’t actually know the man’s name, he had always thought of him as “The Pollack.”  He had enough control left to stop himself, but not enough to stop on the right moment.

“Hey, Pollack, don’t be—” Carl said and lost another patron forever.

When Carl returned, he found his bar in the same uproarious good cheer he had left it in.  He reached behind the bar and pulled out an air horn.  Carl pointed it at the ceiling and it took nearly ten seconds of pressing the button for the crowd to calm down again.  In silence, Carl walked slowly around the room.

“Guys, this is no good for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I get it, okay?  I mean, there are some…”interesting characters” that come in here and I can see why you’d make fun of some of them.  But guys, Tommy the horse was my best customer and I don’t think he’s coming back.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”

He paused and looked around the room.

“This is my livelihood here, fellas.  Do you understand?  And you’re driving them out.  So please, in the future—”

“Yeah, but come on Carl,” someone said. “A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar and—”

“No, I get it!  I get it, okay?  Just please stop driving off customers.  This isn’t that much to ask, is it?”

The crowd murmured its agreement.  They hung their heads for a moment and then looked to the jiggling bells of the front door.  A nun was standing in front of a mirror adjusting her headband.  Carl glared at the crowd for a moment and approached her.

“Hello, sister,” Carl said, knowing the whole bar would be listening.

“Oh, hello,” the nun said.

“You know…you’re free to come in if you want.”

“That’s very kind of you,” the nun said, giving him a chased smile, “but…you see, Mother Superior has a very strict dress code and, well, the wind has blown my coif askew.”  She looked again at the mirror and adjusted “whatever it is you call those hat-things nuns wear” as Carl thought of it.

“Oh,” Carl said, trying to remember the proper name for nun-hats.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened,” she said.  “Something about this street and the way the buildings are positioned, maybe.  The wind always blows me in here.  I really should stop coming into this bar, but I have a bad habit.”

Silence.

Shortly following this silence was an uproarious volcanic eruption of laughter.  The nun’s smile slowly faded until she too left the bar, never to return.

Carl turned and faced his bar.  He shrugged.

“What the hell,” he thought, “She wasn’t a paying customer anyway.”

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