The Year of the Golden Pig XXI
The second thing I noticed was the 'lightweight, breathable, ideal for the tropics' fabric of the trousers on the guy who'd gut-punched me, the moment I came out of the Rose. Understandably, the punch was the first. The Yanks call it a sucker punch. It sounds quite comical to the English ear. Unless, of course, you've ever received one. I toyed with the idea of getting out the zippo and testing the flammability of his man-made fibre, but it was too painful to move.
The toe of a brogan nudged my ribs, I must have been a bit woozy: all I could think of was how we Brits would have called it a brogue. My step-father used to rave about new-fangled, new-world spelling; 'color' would make him so angry. One of my teachers at school had spent a whole period explaining that these spellings had been taken over the Atlantic by the Puritans. The owner of the shoes and shiny trousers was speaking; I tried to get my head straight and empty of the nonsense. Maybe I'd hit it on the way down.
'Get up, I said.' I heard at last.
He wasn't big. His biceps strained at the short sleeves of his button-down-collared shirt. He was wearing what civilians call a regimental tie. I guessed he would have called it striped. In any event, he hadn't been in a Guards regiment. Not unless on exchange from the US Army. Thanks to Hollywood, an accent from Boston, MA. was more recognisable than one from the Lincolnshire Fens. It was the nasal honking of the Eastern Seaboard, not quite as aggressive as New York or New Jersey, but almost as grating on the ear. Or perhaps I wasn't prepared to like the way he spoke. I didn't like the way he introduced himself. The punch really had hurt. He had the buzz-cut favoured by US Government employees and tiny, piercing blue eyes staring out of a face that was sweating, although the evening was cool.
'MacArthur.' he said.
It was an invitation to speak, but I had nothing I wanted to say. A shrug seemed as good a response as any.
Maybe he realised I didn't like his accent. Or perhaps he was miserly with words. The tensing of the muscles in his upper body said a lot for him. I gave him another non-verbal response, keeping my finger out of reach of his paws. It got two words out of him, though:
He wasn't so good, when someone could see a punch coming, but it didn't matter anyway. The cosh from behind put me out cold.