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Accidentally Killybegs - Short Story by Brand King

I ordered a beer and placed my journal on the bar. There was three or four other people in the pub, milling loosely around some tables by the front windows. One of them had a guitar in a case that was open. I noticed there was a small stage in the corner. Some music later, perhaps. The barmaid placed the beer on a mat in front of me and I handed her a five euro note. She was pretty. I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. She had firm breasts that poked confidently into the fabric of her black t-shirt, arriving everywhere in the world a fraction of a second before the rest of her did. Girls with breasts like that didn’t talk to guys like me. I couldn’t get any part of me on to the bus to Ardara on time.

She handed me my change, flashed the briefest of smiles and went back to some obscure task at the other end of the bar. That was that then. I got down to the serious task of updating my journal with the day’s events.

A few minutes later the door burst open and four loud human beings walked in. Americans. They talked—all at the same time—right the way up to the bar, where the two men then teased one another about the prospect of getting a Guinness.

“It’s a food you know, Bob. You can include it in your meal allowance.”

“I told you, Carl, I’m game if you’re game.”

“I don’t trust a drink that isn’t ready when it’s put in front of you.”

“I don’t trust a drink I can’t see through.”

I imagined them re-enacting this scene all over the country for the benefit of awestruck locals. They ordered two Heinekens and asked their wives what they were after. The wives, however, were busy discussing bar snacks.

“What are you supposed to nibble on?”

“They’ve got peanuts. We have peanuts in America. It’s not so different.”

“I prefer pretzels.”

“So do I, but what can you do?”

One of them ordered a soda water and lime, while the other asked for a ‘small beer, not Guinness, with lots of lemonade in it.’ They also asked for a packet of salted peanuts. While waiting one of them noticed me scribbling away at the end of the bar.

“Is that a poet, do you think?”

I was copying down their conversation, as much as I could, word for word.

“Too tall for a poet.”

“Poets can’t be tall?”

“Not Irish poets. The Irish are short. Look at the waitress here.”

The barmaid and her breasts were trying to concentrate on making the drinks.

“Do you think they know each other? We could ask her if he’s a poet.”

The barmaid put their drinks on the bar and announced the price into the vicinity of the four in the hope one of them would offer to pay. Bob, I think it was, pulled out his wallet. Soda & Lime waited with him while the other two found a table deeper into the pub. In the hope she was still looking at me I tried to take on the appearance of a poet. That is, I ran my hand through my hair and threw a pensive look at the ceiling.

But she stayed silent and Bob signed off on the bill, dropped a five euro note on the bar and said in a loud voice: Thank-you very much.

Then they were gone and the prospect of the poet question with them.

It was regrettable. If she’d asked, the barmaid would then have had to acknowledge my existence in a realm outside that of a customer. She could say I don’t know, shall we ask? Or she could lie and say yes, he is. And then it would be our little joke. Or she could have said I’ve never seen him before, I think he’s passing through. That would have been fine too. I could live with being mysterious like that, anything that made me something other than a mere customer. But they finished their drinks and left and whether I was a poet or they found somewhere that sold pretzels, neither party will ever know.

Yankee doodle dandy

The barmaid’s hair is sandy

She has nice tits

A shirt that fits

That woman ordered shandy

Patrons gradually drifted in and the man with the guitar began to test his equipment on the stage. I kept scribbling away but was soon running out of things to write about. I really wanted to find an excuse to talk to the barmaid. I felt pathetic being so wrapped up in getting a girl to show an interest in me, but it was what it was. I’d escaped Australia and the judgement of the women there. I just wanted the women on this new planet to see me differently.

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