Sunday July 5th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the protector.

Started our day off with pancakes and bacon this morning before going to the beach to meet up with our bakery friend and his son. Had some good fun there before heading back here for lunch.

Which, if I recall correctly, was around the time that Max realized he has not been getting nearly enough sleep lately. Cue the meltdown.

Eventually we gave up and let him have a nap, which was good for all of us. Because we all slept. Of course he was still cranky when he woke up, but at least that finally passed. And he still managed to get to bed tonight at a reasonable time, so that's a win-win in my book.


The pub was quiet, but not unusually so. Not for mid-afternoon on a weekday at least. Three tables were occupied by men and women who were not looking for trouble. The stools lining the bar were empty, save for the one in the exact middle.

That particular seat was struggling to support the muscle-bound bulk of a man working his way through his fifth drink of the hour. He, too, was not looking for trouble... but he was not hiding from it either.

Was he inviting it? Perhaps.

Luke, the bartender, had already considered cutting the man off and sending him home. He could sense that no good would come from the man continuing to drown his pain at his current rate. By the time his problem drinkers (in every sense of the term) arrived the man would be a bomb ready to go off at a moment's notice.

He placed another drink in front of the man (Luke was still trying to work up the nerve to inform the man that he'd had enough for today) and lingered for a moment, polishing an imaginary spot of dirt off the bar. The man didn't even look at him before picking up drink number six.

"Rough day?" Luke ventured as compassionately as he could manage.

"You could say that."

"Want to talk about it?"

The man eyed Luke for a second, sipped his drink, returned it to the bar, opened his mouth, and then shut it again. Sighing through his nostrils, he ran a hand through his short hair and shifted his weight from one side to the other.

"No worries," Luke said, raising a hand in retreat. "I've been there bef-"

"She was my responsibility." The man kept his gaze down. His words were so quiet Luke had to hold his breath to hear him properly. "She was my responsibility and now she's gone."


morganna said...

Protecting the precious
Egg every day
Never failing, never
Giving in or giving
Up. While mama's at sea,
It's all up to me,
No one else.
I guess I'm on a penguin kick. :)

Greg said...

Pancakes and bacon sound nice; you remind me that I could maybe do chicken and waffles for tea tonight now. Although part of me is also craving spring rolls....
Hmm, sounds like you had an interesting day with Max; I hope that he sleeps through the night for you and wakes up rested and relaxed again!
I really had no idea where you were going with your piece at all until the end there, and even that was a little unexpected! The scene-setting is very nicely done; it doesn't warn the reader where you're going, but when the punchline hits the whole space takes on a more poignant atmosphere. Very nice!

The protector
"Did you get milk?" Agnes peered at the trolley, and her pince-nez glasses fell off her face into the shopping trolley. "Darn it, wretched things just won't stay on!"
Bettie put a carton of pancake mix into the cart, scooping the glasses out with her other hand. "What happened to these then?" she asked, handing them back. They looked almost mangled; squashed and distorted, with one lens frosted with hairline cracks.
"Bingo," said Agnes repositioning them on her face. They fell off again. "Madeleine was there last week."
"Ohhhhh," said Bettie in a tone of sympathy.
"I say, Madam, would you mind moving aside please?" Behind them in the aisle was a heavy-set gentleman with a white, walrus moustache and a red-veined nose. He was wearing plus-fours and golf-shoes.
"Yes," snapped Bettie. "Can't you see we're shopping?" She turned back to Agnes. "Mad Maddie? I thought they'd banned her after that incident with the... you know."
"The protector?"
"Well, yes."
"They did. Only she apologised and offered to pay for the repainting and they let her back in again."
"I'd have thought there was more than just repainting required. I mean, Dennis lost his false teeth because of that."
"He swallowed them, dear, and he's done that at least three times this year. No, they said that she'd made a sincere apology–" Bettie interrupted with a snort that would have made a horse proud– "and that since she'd donated the protector as a prize as well they were minded to let her back in."
"Madam, you are not shopping, you are gossiping!"
"She donated it?" Bettie half-turned to the man behind her. "Did you hear that? She donated the protector!" She turned back. "So who won it then?"
"Well, me, obviously," said Agnes. "And that's when Mad Maddie assaulted me. But I beat her off, with it actually. It's in the trolley now."
"Madam, I must ins-" His voice cut off as Bettie fumbled around amidst the groceries. "Is this it?" she said, lifting the protector. Around them, people started backing away.

Marc said...

Morganna - I'm a big fan of penguins, so no issue with that here! Also: this is an especially well done acrostic. It flows naturally and tells the story without ever seeming to sacrifice anything for the form. Nice work!

Greg - thanks for the kind words on mine :)

Aw man, now I really want to know what the protector is. I did enjoy the back and forth between these two, as always, with the added input from a bothered observer mixed in nicely.