The stranger and the boss’s son

Ben Human
4 min readMay 14, 2022
Photo by Danny Lines on Unsplash

Peter sat flung into a novelty bucket seat atop a gilded pillar, screwed down in front of the bar counter, front of house in his daddy’s tavern.

His dissolute bearing made him seem draped across the impossible seating, held upright only by the scruff of the neck from some invisible hook.

The barkeep neither met nor avoided his gaze, letting it slip over him, and reached around economically to ring the last round.

“Aw come on, you don’t mean that,” said Peter.

“Oh, but you know that I do,” the publican said.

Peter bobble-nodded ritual assent, put two palms on the counter, leaned forward and delivered the perfect last order.

“One bourbon, one scotch, one beer.”

“Right,” said the barman. “Queued up and comin’ on.” He put a Wild Turkey, two fingers of scotch and a Bud in front of Peter. “Not all at once,” he said.

“…” said Peter.

He surveyed the line-up of sweet small death and pre-sampled it before sitting back down, lifting the beer between index and middle finger and closing his eyes as he drew it down.

“Yup,” he said. Next, he’d have the whisky neat. In three to five, half the beer with the first chill gone off it. And finally, the glowing bourbon, just warm enough to light a tiny flame in his belly and behind his eyes.

The barkeep had taken to picking up, inspecting and polishing glasses.

Something was up. Peter summed up traffic to the left and right of him and saw.

A man of unkempt person considered him through the glass of the brass-framed door; not urgently, not maliciously. “Pawwkk, pok pok,” said Peter. The man said something in assurance and rapped on the glass, a bit undeferentially if bombast be the birthright of the well-born alone.

“I am he, and this is my house,” said Peter, in tones dogs and smart men know to pay obeisance to. He walked with the coiled, respectful readiness of proto-men to the front door and opened it.

“Ah, good evening sir,” said the man, holding hands in front of his sternum.

“Right,” said Peter.

Ben Human