Strange Little Bloke
It had been another long day in the cubicle foxhole warring with middle management. All I wanted was a beer, two shots of Jack and a cigarette. Walking down Strawberry Street towards the city, I decided I was going to stop at the first pub I came to and have all three.
I bellied up to the bar of this inner-city pub whose name I forgot as soon as I saw it. It was the type of pub where a man could sit, drink his drink and not be either blasted by loud music or bombarded by sporting fixtures. Very few of this type of establishment exist these days. It was a pub made for a drinking man.
I had just taken the first sip of beer after my first shot and about to light my first cigarette of the day, when this strange little man sits on the stool next to me and dives right in.
“So, this is true, I tell ya. I knew this bloke who knew this bloke who’d do ya for the right amount of money. But you’d hafta offer the right amount, if ya know what I mean? Anyway, let me finish the story before I loose it. So one night, this big fella walks inna this pub we was at and decks me mate. No ‘g’day’ or ‘you fuckin’ cunt’. He walks right up and decks ‘im. I laughed about it for weeks after. It was one of the fuckin’ funniest things I ever seen. Yeah, good story. So whadda ya think?”
I lit my cigarette, took another sip of my beer but couldn’t think of anything to say. The bloke prodded me with his elbow. “I said whadda ya think?”
I looked at his elbow then back at him. “Listen, mate, I’ve had a hard fuckin’ day, alright, and I just want to have my cigarette, my beer and my Jack in peace. I don’t want to have to fuckin…”
The little bloke held up his hand for me to stop, at the same time prodding me with his elbow. “Hey, hey, listen, mate, listen, I know where ya going with this, ‘kay? Don’t say anuther word, right. I’m not fuckin’ dumb, mate. So let me tell you another story, then you can make your mind up, ‘kay?”
He didn’t wait for me to respond before he continued. “I was with me mate, you know, the one who got decked. We was at this pub on Cleveland Street playing pool in this back room. Me mate was givin’ me a hidin’ that night, right? I usually beat ‘im, but he was on fire and I was four balls behind ‘im. Anyway, so the same big bloke as before, he walks in to the pub, straight up ta me mate and fuckin’ decks ‘im, just like last time. Only this time, when me mate goes down, the big fella drops his knee inta his face and messes ‘im up good. Me mate was spittin’ out his teeth. It was one of the funniest things I ever seen, I tell ya, one of the funniest. So, whadda ya think now, mate?”
While this bloke was telling me his story, not only was he inches away from me, so close that spittle punctuated his story on my face but he used his elbow to reiterate his point. He spilt my beer all over me and didn’t even blink or pause. The cigarette I had so desperately wanted was still unlit in my hand. The little bloke had successfully filled up so much space, I could hardly move around him. All I could think to say was “Good story, mate.”
I lit my cigarette, blew a plume a smoke over the table and picked up my second Jack, all without trying to look at the bloke. He stayed quiet for a few minutes before he started in again.
“So, did ya really like it? No, really, did ya? I got plenny more, if ya wanna hear ‘em. Do ya wanna hear some more, mate?”
I tried to be as polite as I could. “As I was saying mate, not that I don’t appreciate a good story, but I just want to finish my drink and cigarette in peace, okay? Nothing against you, mate, but…”
Again, the bloke jumped in before I could finish. “Even after that last story, fuck me, even after that one. Okay, okay, you just gonna have ta listen now, mate, don’t get me fuckin’ pissed off. You’ve had your say, let me have mine.“ He thumped the table in front of me. The barman looked up from his newspaper, but didn’t say or do anything else. The bloke continued.
“So, I was out with me mate, the same mate as before, the one who got decked one night, then done over anuther night, right? You know the one, I told ya about ‘im. Anyway, we was down at this pub on King Street, near the train station. We was playing the pokies when that big bloke, the one who came in before and did me mate over twice, well he comes in the door. Me mate just about fuckin’ shits ‘imself when he sees ‘im. Me mate gets up and goes ta hide in the dunnies. But the big fella sees ‘im and follows ‘im. I snuck in behind ‘em to see what was goin’ on. Me mate is hidin’ in one of the dunnies and this big fella, he just kicks the fuckin’ door off its hinges. Me mate is fuckin’ screamin’ in there. He jumps on the fuckin’ toilet and tries ta kick the big bloke in the nuts. But the big bloke grabs his leg and pulls. Me mate, fuckin’, he falls down head first into the bowl. Cracks his head a fuckin’ beauty on the way down. Fuckin’ blood went everywhere. Then the big fella pushes me mate’s head down into the water, like he’s dunkin’ him. He fuckin’ punches me mate in the head at the same time, and me mate is fuckin’ flopping about like a fuckin’ fish. It was the funniest thing I ever seen. Even if it cost me. So, whaddya think, mate? Good story, ay? Worth at least a beer and a cigarette, I reckon of that one, ay? Whaddya say?”
I was stunned. “What did you mean by ‘it was worth it’, mate?”
The strange fella looked at me and cocked his head. “Oh yeah, I mean it was worth paying the big fella ta see mate cop a hidin’. It was fuckin‘ hilarious. I still laugh thinkin‘ about it.”
I shook my head and took another big drag on the cigarette. The strange little bloke sat beside me nodding and tapping his fingers on the table like he was waiting for something. I was aghast. “You paid to have your mate beat up just because you thought it was funny?”
“Nah, mate, you got it all wrong, you got all wrong. Me mate, he was fuckin’ cunt, mate. He fuckin’ deserved it all.” He laughed; a hard, short bark of a sound. This strange little bloke was now making me very nervous.
But I needed closure. “So, let me get this right; you paid to see your mate get beat up three times because you thought it was funny and because you didn’t like him even though he was your mate. Weren’t you afraid the big bloke would kill him?”
“Nah, mate, he’s a professional. I didn’t have enough money to get me mate done over proper? Next time, maybe. I might get a discount now I’m a regular customer. So mate, whaddya think? How about that drink, ay? Mans as dry as a fuckin’ sand jockey here.” He looked over my shoulder and nodded his head at someone.
I turned and looked around. There was a giant of a man sitting at a table by himself, nursing a beer and glaring at me. I bought the strange bloke three beers and let him smoke half my cigarettes before he let me go.