PART THE THIRD of TWELFTH FIGHT sees our hero, Frank, in the only licenced victuallers in the town, The Goat, The Bard and The Ugly. He approached the bar and a gnarled, grisly looking knave is cursorily wiping at a glass.
“What ho, weary traveller, park your purse, your heavy sojourn lighten, here rehearse.”
All around were characters in varying states of physical decay. Cards snapped with menace, gun cartridges spun like roulette wheels. The music was rancid fayre that no-one should want to play on.
Frank, with little enthusiasm, rifled a look at the bartender:
“Lay out six glasses for an hour to pass, My present lacks pleasured solace, alas.”
The bartender puts seven glasses and in each darts a shot of unrefined whisky. Frank makes short work of the first and posits a question:
“Ist there a pillowed promise in this town, a tired head and body needs to lie down.”
A woman looking like a Chinese lantern passes comment, casually:
“I’ve a house that leans called The Rising Son, where the night goes down well with anyone.”
“Nay, mistress, tonight my bed be of dreams, of a life of warm truth not of cold seems.
For such soulless pageantry I’ll no more, I yearn delicate wiles of frosted hoar.” Frank retorts.
Mistress Lightly then says, slightly indignant:
“There’s a milliner that will braid your hat, cut you lace, you pretentious twat.
By what right do you condemn comely trade? And what makes such a man so tired and staid?”
Frank, taken aback by her clipped tones:
“Love, tis the only rub I have suffered, so must shun mere succour as proffered
my hangdog condition mere flesh can’t slake; any pride thus shown can only be fake.”
While Frank was thus engaged, a shady figure has taken up a position partly concealed by the grand stairwell that wound up to the first floor. A too familiar clicking could be heard – it was more than a tut of disapproval. Frank’s ears pricked up, the mistress’s dress bellowed in fearful anticipation. Frank put his hand on his weapon and stiffened himself.
A shot rang out and the mistress’s earring went spinning under the bar. Frank dove under a table and deftly cocked his pistol. The moment his unknown adversary popped his unshaven gurning fizzog from the balustrade, Frank let rip and said:
“If thou be for stalking, not talking; your future’s for lying not for walking.”
Mistress Lightly, on seeing the would-be assassin lying under the stairs, head pierced by a true bullet:
“Dost thou not inquire as to who was that?”
Frank interjects, still on edge:
“Such crass contact from a portentous twat;
deserves no more than a reply of lead, short of better questions, he’s better dead.
Worse yet, such marred expression I portend, is not diminished nor at an end.
Alack, there’s more leaden talk in my ear, one needs not brain nor meeting with a seer.
Promised a dozen kind tiffs in my fate, to survive, be wise and to contemplate
on the whys and wherefores that undermine, a life of some peace and feeling just fine.”
Already as Frank slunk his weary way to the doors of the establishment, there was a group forming, malice in their gizzards and not so green swords in their holsters. Mo Bother, their ring leader whispered to the audience:
“He’ll not make twelve, he’s going down in five, wrapped in the wagon canvas, dead, not live.”