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Accidentally Killybegs - Short Story by Brand King

I’d missed my bus to Ardara and wound up in a place called Killybegs instead. I’d have to make do.

I walked up the main street of the little fishing town and saw a sign for budget accommodation. Inside there was no reception, just a flight of stairs that led to a landing and a few beige painted doors. I looked at the sign out front again. There was a phone number. From a phone booth nearby I dialled it and a woman with a heavy accent answered. I told her I was after a room for the night. She said that’d be fine, and nineteen euros, and I said that’d be fine and she said I’ll see you there in a minute. I hung up the phone, walked back to the door of the place and she was there. I gave her money and she gave me a key.

This travelling malarky was easy.

My room was simple—a single bed and a dresser amongst four wooden walls, the planks of which were painted a snot coloured yellow. They didn’t look too soundproof and I wondered if the entire building, or the insides of it at least, weren’t in the final throes of commercial use. The developer squeezing the last few euros from its tired walls before the sledgehammers of gentrification converted it into a Costa. It wasn’t the Hilton, but it suited my purposes and I walked back down the stairs feeling reasonably satisfied I’d put a roof over my head for another night.

Coming in the door as I exited was a tall, thin man of about 30. He had blue eyes, edging towards grey, and a receding hairline that did nothing for the shape of his cranium. An innocent, warm smile though and he seemed genuinely happy to see me, though of course we’d never met.

“New neighbour?” He asked.

“I guess. Room four.”

“Wonderful,” he said, and I realised now that he was English. “Staying long?”

The story of why and how was there, but I didn’t want to have a conversation. “Just for the night.”

“Backpacking?” He asked. Full of questions.

“Kind of.”

“Australian?”

“Yep.”

The Englishman broke into a smile.

“You smoke?”

“No.”

His smile faded a touch, then remerged.

“Weed, I mean.”

“Oh, right, ha, umm, sometimes.”

I rarely did. I’d had a couple of bad experiences with it years earlier, when the foreground broke free of its anchor and spun angrily towards me like the contents of a painter’s brush bucket disappearing down a plughole. Since then I only tried the occasional toke when the planets were in alignment.

“Want to have a smoke later?”

I didn’t, but also I did. He was a friendly chap and I was only ever going to be here this once. I felt I should say yes to more things.

“Sure, maybe...”

“I’m in room one,” he said. “Come by later. Or I can knock on your door? I’m Anthony, by the way.”

He offered his hand and I shook it.

“Jude.”

Anthony was no different from most people I introduced myself to. They heard the name and their mind went to the Beatles song. I could see it in their faces. What differentiated people was what they did next. Generally I could put them in to three categories. There were those that just burst out with Hey Jude, like the song! Or words to that affect. As if the fact there was a famous song with my name in it would be a revelation. Some of the people in this category formed a sub group. They were the ones who thought it appropriate to sing a few lines to me. These were my least favourite people. The second category contained those who wanted to say something about the song, but stopped themselves. I could see it in their eyes, trying to get out. I guessed they knew I’d heard it all before. The third category belonged to those who said something along the lines of cool name, or better yet, betrayed no surprise at all, as if they associated with people with Beatles song names all the time. Girls called Prudence and Eleanor, guys called Maxwell and Bungalow Bill. Anyway, Anthony belonged to the second group, his eyes widening then gleaming as he tried to keep the melody inside. We parted company with a vague plan to meet up later somehow.

After dining in a cafe cum restaurant I found a pub with windows. These were important as I liked to get a feel for a place before I committed to it, be able to plan my approach to the bar. Without windows I might walk in to find it full of men in biker jackets, or hipsters. They’d look at me and I’d look at them. Then I’d want to leave, but couldn’t. Once people had seen me enter the idea of spinning on my heels and escaping was worse than having to quickly neck a half pint and pretend that was all I came for.

This one looked good though, with just a few people in attendance and a girl working the till. I entered and situated myself at one end of the bar. The barmaid was in her mid-twenties with light blonde hair just below her shoulders and a healthy figure beneath that. Her jeans were held up with a studded belt, the kind you see around goth’s necks. She was no pseudo vampire though. I’d seen a few of these belts around; she was fashionable.



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