Being my entry into the bar scene blogfest. For anybody particularly pedantic, this is strictly speaking a pub rather than a bar, but these days it's hard to tell the difference anyway. Enjoy.
A man walks into a pub.
So far, so normal. Except that it’s my pub, and normal people really shouldn’t be able to walk into it. I mean, when you site your taproom on a nexus in the space/time continuum (I mean, it’s five o’clock somewhere, and it's pretty handy with the licensing laws too) you expect a lot of things. Passing trade from places the other side of the universe, for example. Norse gods complaining that you’ve watered the beer down with handy oceans. People promising to pay their tabs once some giant beetle runs off with the sun. That sort of thing. Not ordinary, slightly shabby looking humans wandering in asking for a pint.
Though things might have been simpler if he’d just asked for a pint.
Instead, he wanders straight up to the bar, apparently unfazed by either the sight of a couple of Celtic goddesses downing whiskey by the half-pint or a Many-Tentacled-Thing attempting to play darts, and asks me what there is to drink.
What sort of question is that? I mean, it’s bad enough when it’s just a normal bar, full of beer, lager, vodka, cider, and all the things with stupid names that the real-ale mob have given us. Me, I’ve got a pub that features unreal ale, not to mention a list of cocktails that most people really wouldn’t want to drink. When the average Haitian death god asks for a zombie, he isn’t messing around.
Even so, being a conscientious sort of landlord, I list a few of them. The new bloke raises an eyebrow.
‘Is that all?’
Something about that eyebrow irritates me. Maybe it’s the way he’s managed to make out that a Flaming Volcano With Real Lava (we get a lot of fire gods in. They tend to be thirsty) is nothing. So I list them. I list every damn drink in the place. Does he order one? Does he so much as twitch? Of course he doesn’t.
By this point, of course, a few of the regulars have decided to chip in. Apparently they think that, just because they happen to be omniscient, they know more than I do. Before I have the sense to say no, a couple of them have jumped to my side of the bar and started mixing things. That’s your other problem with gods, of course. They tend towards bossiness.
One who can’t seem to make up his mind if he’s a spider or a man (and who seems to spend all his time trying to trick other people into paying for his round, for that matter. I don’t know why I let him in, some days) comes up with something that has more rum in it than Jamaica. The stranger shakes his head.
‘It’s not right.’
A passing hob tries something with far too much cider. Another shake of the head. Soon, I’ve got valkeries producing little things with umbrellas in, thunder gods arguing about how you mix the perfect Manhattan, and a fertility goddess wondering aloud if just throwing all of it in a bucket might work.
The stranger won’t drink any of it.
Eventually, the stranger sighs and says he’ll do it himself, rolling up his sleeves like a conjurer about to perform, or at least like a workman who doesn't want to get them dirty while he does the grouting. He takes a pint glass and starts putting things in. A dash of this, a splash of that, a shot of things I didn’t realise I had. The result isn’t the muddy concoction it should be, but something clear and sparkling.
Maybe he’s not so normal after all.
Finally, and with a smile that means he isn’t instantly blasted into a small grease spot on the floor, he plucks a hair from the head of the nearest goddess and drops that in too. There’s a fizz, and something changes in that pint glass. The stranger raises his eyebrow again.
‘Take a closer look’
I do, and find myself staring into blackness. Not total blackness though. Points of light pierce through it, and clouds swirl on the edge of vision. Staring at the lights seems to bring them closer, until I’m nearly blind with it. Somewhere in it, my eyes insist that there are things orbiting the lights, unformed yet, but with the promise of so much more. I pull back from the pint glass as quickly as I think is safe.
‘And you’re going to drink that?’ I ask. The stranger shrugs.
‘Well…it might take a while to settle.’
He drinks one of the Manhattans, to be going on with, he says. In fact, he drinks most of the things the others have put together before he leaves. Doesn’t pay for any of them, of course. Doesn’t drink his own drink, either. Says it still isn’t ready. Which is how I come to have the thing sitting behind my bar. The stranger swears he’ll be back for it.
I suppose I’ve just got to make sure no one spills it in the meantime.