You and Me and the Devil Make ThreeSubmitted by Tom Sorrell at 2013-11-02 22:01:25 EDT
Rating: 1.83 on 6 ratings (7 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
When I stepped off that 747 into Heathrow Airport I hadn’t a clue I’d wake up on the stone floor of a pub a short time later. It was a Saturday night in November. An old box television was above the bar, tuned to the pregame of a soccer match between Liverpool and something called Arsenal.
“Soccer my ass, you cunt. This is football!” a man yelled from my left.
“This is the English Premier League and Arsenal is a team based in London,” said a voice to my right. “They’re sometimes called the Gunners.”
“Fuck the Gunners!” shrieked a female voice from behind me.
“Yeah!” the whole place yelled.
With that the patrons launched into a song about the woes of traveling by oneself entitled “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which shall be known henceforth as Y.N.W.A. as those people sang that song no less than five million times.
I shook the alcohol-soaked cobwebs from my head and wondered how I’d gotten to this place as I pulled myself into a wooden chair at a table in the corner of the pub. I guessed I was in Liverpool and the 30 or so men and women in blood red jerseys with the number 8 on the back confirmed my suspicions.
“Even I know who Steven Gerrard is,” I said.
“That’s Ger-rard, you idiot,” someone said. “Not Gerrard.”
I frowned an apology and said, “I’m not from around here, guy. And I’m not one of those people who visits a place and speaks with an accent and uses words they hear local people say so they fit in or whatever. I hate those idiots. They have no souls. And as much as I wish I lived here, I don’t. I live in the States.”
The entire bar turned. The bartender raised a knife. Someone dropped an empty glass, which shattered loudly on the old stone floor. I gulped and did my best Rodney Dangerfield.
“So, yeah … you know … this is soccer to me,” I said with another gulp. “All due respect. Hey look, the game is starting!”
“It’s a match, boy. Not a game,” a toothless woman spat, as everyone laughed and turned around to watch the kick off.
Pretty soon they were singing Y.N.W.A. over and over and I was this close to punching someone when a man put a pint of Carlsberg in front of me. I thought this was a sign of respect for the kindred human spirit. It was not. I couldn’t help but notice a few folks snickering as I took a drink and struggled to swallow the urine-colored liquid. To say that Carlsberg beer tastes like goat piss would offend people who have actually sampled goat piss.
About 10 minutes later I had managed to empty the cup by pouring a little of it on the floor beneath the table each time the “Reds” had possession of the ball. I fully intended to drink, as I had severe dryness of the mouth, but I’d rather die of thirst than ever taste Carlsberg again.
After pouring out the last few drops I stood and walked to the bar, ordered a Newcastle and was glared at by everyone.
“We don’t say that word in here,” someone said.
The bartender pulled out his knife again, but an old man at the other end of the bar screamed at the referee and the whole place erupted into a debate on how to best kill a zebra. I was handed another Carlsberg, this time a bottle, and spent the next few minutes pouring it out.
“So is this game being played in foggy London-town?” I asked the man next to me as I sloshed warm beer over his leather shoes.
He shrugged and mumbled something like “Holloway” before turning back towards the TV and I decided to be the bigger asshole.
“Josh Holloway?” I asked the back of his head.
The man turned, annoyed. “Who?”
“From Lost. He was Sawyer.”
The man scoffed and turned away just as an older gentleman in a red toboggan hat slapped me on the back as hard as he could.
“Tom Saywer. Helluva song. An even better book,” he said. “But I bet you’d prefer A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”
He cackled and I grinned back at him, devilishly, like Bob Dylan circa 1965.
“I’m not from New England,” I said. “I grew up in the Midwest. Horner’s Corner’s, Kansas, to be exact. My fiancé went on a boat ride. It was supposed to be a three hour tour, but the ship hit an iceberg and she left me to ride horses on the beach with some asshole who looked almost like Jay Gatsby, but not quite.”
“You’re daft, boy,” the old man chuckled as he turned up his glass and finished the dark liquid it contained.
The bartender pulled out that damned knife again and glared at me. “Another word out of you and I’ll slit your throat,” he said. “We have no time for your American shenanigans.”
I looked at my bottle of Carlsberg and frowned when the man next to me grabbed it and smashed it to bits.
“Up with you, lad,” a husky voice shouted from behind me, as I was pulled into the thick arms of a large woman with red hair, green eyes and yellow teeth. She smelled like Carlsberg and laid a sloppy kiss on me with full tongue, then wiped her mouth with the back of her enormous paw and grinned into my horrified eyes.
“I like you,” she said. “You remind me of someone I used to know, back when I was an belly dancer.”
It was all too weird. The smell of that awful beer on the wretched creature’s breath was too much for me to handle, so I threw up in her face. Then I started laughing … and I couldn’t stop. Seconds later I was ejected from the bar to an audible groan as Arsenal scored to go up one-nil.
“Go Gunners!” I yelled as the door closed behind me.
I picked myself up and walked down the foggy street, illuminated by the soft glow of lanterns lining the road and noticed a man standing on the corner wearing a blue suit trimmed in gold. He smiled as I approached. His teeth were perfect.
“You’re a big Arsenal fan then?” he asked.
“I couldn’t give two shits either way,” I replied. “I don’t even know why I’m here, fella. This is just where I ended up after a rough night of drinking.”
The man nodded, as if he’d been there to watch it happen, but I knew he hadn’t. I’d have remembered for sure.
“Did you vomit?” the man asked, handing me a white handkerchief with LNS stenciled in red.
I nodded as I wiped my mouth. “Couldn’t be helped. That alleged woman inside made my stomach wretch and turn.“
“That’s not what I mean,” the man said. “Did you vomit last night?”
I tried to remember, but couldn’t. The man in the suit nodded at me, solemnly and handed me a card for a funeral home.
“Are you a mortician?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “One last question. If you had to choose, who is your favorite band?”
I paused for a moment, considering before answering.
“Led Zeppelin,” I finally replied, nodding my head to be sure.
“Therein lies the answer to your life,” the man said with a grin before disappearing into the night. The fog was thick enough to hide in, but rather than departing footsteps I heard laughter.
“So what?” I asked the blowing wind. “I’m supposed to be a rock star?”
The wind made a sound like a palm slapping a forehead and sighed past my face as I walked alone down the streets of Liverpool, my shadow trailing close behind.