Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Bastards, Cowards and Shopkeepers

The Bastard saw The Coward shuffling towards the baker's doorway and increased his stride, attempting to get in first. 

He didn't quite make it but just as The Bastard expected, The Coward gave way as they met at the entrance shoulder to shoulder.

The Bastard made no apology as he pushed his way through, clearly irritated. The Coward said nothing but thought The Bastard probably lived his life irritated.

The Bastard, safe in his entitlement, stood at the far end of the small shop, hands deep in pockets, head down, glaring at the sandwiches prepared and laid out before him. The Coward waited.

The lone Shopkeeper smiled at The Bastard. A woman in late middle age, in clean pressed white overalls and cap, brushed imaginary pastry crumbs off her hands and asked, 'Can I help you?'

'Wot yer got?' The Bastard demanded sullenly, not looking up from the display of freshly filled bread rolls, baguettes, sausage rolls, pies and cut sandwiches.

The Shopkeepers head moved back a fraction in surprise, and her smile became fixed.

'Well, we have ham salad...'

'Don't like salad. Wot else yer got?'

'Well, there's tuna...'

'Don't like fish. Wot else yer got?'

'Well, if there's nothing here you fancy, we can make you something if you like?'

'Naw, no time. What else yer got?'

At this point, The Bastard's mate began shouting from the street outside.

'Hey, fishies open!'

The Bastard ignored him, and continued to glare at the unappetizing feast.

'Hey! Hey, mate! I said fishies open!'

But The Bastard wasn't listening.

A thin lad, a good head taller than The Bastard came in, pushing The Coward aside and stood aggressively close to The Bastard. He mouth almost kissed The Bastard's ear as he shouted:

'The fuckin' fishies open! Come on! Wot yer waitin' fer?'

The Coward and The Shopkeeper exchanged glances and said nothing.

A flush rose up The Bastards neck, merging in colour with a rash of angry red spots. The snake tattoo around his neck seemed to glow, a steel earring reflecting the heat. The Bastard looked up and scratched his shaven head.

'Wot the fuck you lookin' at?'

The Coward glanced away.

'Come on! Fuckin' fishies fuckin' open!'

The Bastard glared at the sandwiches, then at The Coward, but ignored The Shopkeeper.

'Yeah, awright then.'

With hands pushed deeper into his jacket and shoulders hunched, The Bastard and his mate left the bakery without a word or another glance towards either The Coward or The Shopkeeper.

The Shopkeeper clenched her fists and growled quietly in frustration at the departing backs of the young men, then at The Coward who smiled wanly and shook his head.

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