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William part 2

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April 21st 2017  |  0  |  Category: Adventure , Fiction , Romantic Love , Tragedy  |  Author: Lucas Barstow  |  256 views

Chapter Two
The next day in the same pub, William the storyteller had taken his seat at the bar and four or five glasses were next to the man’s own drink, at least three of them empty.
The Stranger once again strode into the pub and took his seat next to the storyteller.
“You’ve already started, isn’t it a bit early?”
“It’s never too early to have a drink, if you think it’s too early then why the bloody hell are you here?” his language got a bit stronger but his tone hadn’t changed, The Stranger wondered if he could be joking.
“I am spending a few days in the area and because you seem to be the most interesting person around here I decided to ask the locals of your whereabouts, they didn’t know so I came here because I left you here last night.”
“You payed for me to stay here, thanks, that means a lot to me but why did you bother?”
“You said you had no home so I got you a bed for the night.”
“How much do I owe you then?”
“Nothing, you were doing me a service by giving me some entertainment. If you wish to know the cost then I’m not going to tell you, you shall have to accept that it was my gift to you out of the generosity of my heart.”
“That’s a bit soppy isn’t it. If I’m staying in that room, where are you staying because the only other room is where The Barman sleeps?”
“I am sleeping in a wagon.”
“A wagon?” not fully understanding what The Stranger meant because a wagon was a thing, not a place.
“You know, one of those wagons that the travellers use, they pull them with horses.”
“Where were you? A wagon isn’t a place, what is the place that you are staying at?” William asked, trying to make his question clear to The Stranger who wasn’t giving him the answer that he wanted.
“I travel all around the world, wherever the work is. I often sleep in a traveller’s wagon. This particular one is behind the pub.” He sounded sad as he spoke as if he had regrets.
“All around the world, where’ve you been?” Now that his new friend had offered new information, William was trying to extract as much as he could.
“Can we get onto something different?” The Stranger was getting uncomfortable, he had realised his error and was trying to force the conversation away from himself.
“Don’t want to talk about it, not all people like telling stories, I understand. Wait a minute, there is no way you would give me all this drink and lodgings for the night without wanting real payment.”
“The Barman was the one letting them out and we were spending so much on drink that he decided to be generous with his pricing, with entertainment and cheap prices I can be very generous indeed.”
“Oh, ok then. So you want to hear more of my story, eh?”
“Yes I would very much appreciate it if you would finish your tale.” The Stranger’s tone had lifted and he didn’t sound as sad when speaking.
“Um, yeah, ok, so…” William hummed to fill the silence, the asked “… where was I?”
“With your father in the garden.”
“Was he sat down or stood up?” said with an expression of confusion coming onto his face.
“He was sitting.” Every word The Stranger spoke was perfectly blunt with no expression at all, whatever it was making him sad had clearly passed.
“Right, well… My father was an old man, going bald but had the biggest and bushiest eyebrows you can imagine with a ring of hair going around his head but what hair he had was grey and looked about ready to drop off, he was sat in his rocking chair with his straw hat covering the top half of his face and you couldn’t see his eyes to see whether he was asleep or not. I gave him a prod, just an attempt to get his attention but he started flailing wildly like a madman or even a man possessed, truth was that he couldn’t see under the hat but once he’d got his bearings he calmed down a little and the first thing he said was “Oh, William my boy, is it time?” to which my answer was “no bu- “”
“Time for what?”
“If you would let me continue then you may be able to find out.” Expressing his annoyance William had taken on a harsher tone as he told The Stranger that he would prefer silence. He went on, once again speaking with a calm and gentle tone but confused by the distraction. “Now what happened next?… er, ah, right. I asked him what he thought about Margaret and Keith, whether I should worry or not and he seemed to think that it was harmless, told me to stop worrying and that they were just plotting together, doing something to make me happy, a big secret which would have gone towards explaining the issue with the bedroom. The rest of the day was fairly normal and insignificant, you know just pottering around the house doing little jobs like washing clothes, washing plates, cutting grass and giving Solomon a bath in the river but nighttime was the next good bit. You want to know why? Well I’ll tell you why, me and Father you see, we realised that we needed food to eat and that we could only get food with money or trade and that neither of these were available during the slow times so every few nights we would go out and break cart wheels whether it was active vandalism like hitting them with hammers or just weakening the spokes so that any weight would make them fall to bits or just digging holes in the road, not very deep but deep enough for the cart to fall down and knock the wheels out of position, this helped because I would also fit them onto carts for the right price of course. I know, it wasn’t exactly what you would call legal but it kept up demand and kept us with food on the table.”
“You spent your nights with your father committing sabotage to drum up some work. What happened when you got caught?”
“We didn’t. We knew the area and how to escape plus father was in no danger, he could really run, even at his age. What does sabotage mean?”
“It’s just another word for breaking things, comes from a French word because of people throwing their footwear at things, the footwear was clogs and the translation to French is sabot. This doesn’t matter now, it will in future though.”
“Ok then but I’ve never heard of it.” William laughed loudly, this was probably the happiest he’d been all night, his little trips with his father must have been fun The Stranger thought and he knew that he was teaching him things to do with the destruction. “Hang on a minute, isn’t it time you bought me a drink?” William stated, still smiling from his cheerful outburst.
“Barman, another whiskey here for my friend and a beer for myself, keep them coming and I will pay extra for good service.”
“So the next day dawned and a few hours later Keith showed up to collect Solomon and take him to the crop fields, as expected. The day itself, well once again not much happened, hardly worth mentioning really. Margaret cleaned some clothes for me to look smart for when Cooper arrived to go for that drink but the evening was when it started to get really interesting because Keith returned, without Solomon. When we asked him, he told us that he had left him with Wendy, the local medicine woman, he said the boy was probably fine, just tired even so we pressed him for more details……”
“What happened to him?”
“Am I not allowed to pause for tension, I can’t be a good storyteller if my audience won’t let me.” The fury coming back into his voice. Once he had taken a drink and calmed down he carried on with his story “Anyway, what Keith had said was that he had left Solomon sat behind him as he worked, turning around every now and then to check that he was safe and comfortable and that once he had convinced himself that this was so he just carried on through the field until it was time for dinner which was when he went back to get Solomon. Apparently Solomon seemed to have fallen asleep, resting on the crop so he was probably comfy but after some increasingly forceful attempts to wake him, he still couldn’t wake my boy up so he took him to Wendy and left her to look after him, he had told Wendy to wait for either me or Margaret to collect him and that was that really. We thanked Keith for trying to help after which he left. I went into the village to find Wendy and take Solomon home but before I reached her house a runner came up to me to deliver a message, he told me that Cooper had got some important work to do, something about a dodgy road causing one of the local lord’s carts to crash.” At that moment a soft chuckle left his lips.
“Was that because of- “
Still chuckling, William answered the question before it was asked “Yes, it was, but look on the bright side, I had four more wheels to make and with the standard and style that The Lord would want, you know with livery and stuff, I could raise the prices and really fill my pockets.” Isn’t anticipation a wonderful thing he thought to himself – or he would have if he’d have known the word anticipation. “Right then, back to Wendy. When I did get to her house and open the door I found Solomon laid on her table, still asleep and when I touched him, he was cold. I was worried, but that goes without saying, I asked Wendy what was wrong with him, I was probably more aggressive than I should have been but her reply managed to calm me.”


“How were you aggressive?”
“Put my angry voice on, clenched and raised my fist, had a furious expression on my face and just generally tried to intimidate her. Her reply to my question was that the coldness was just a reaction to her Wake-Me-Up concoction and that if I came back in the morning then he would be fine and I could take him with me. I left and took a steady stroll back home, cursing at the fact that Cooper wasn’t able to come out. I got home and Margaret was all dolled up, full make up and wearing one of her best dresses, she was just stood looking out of the front window. She looked confused and questioned me upon my return. Once I had explained what had happened she seemed to panic and was asking me questions like “so, you haven’t just forgot your keys have you?” and “are you planning on going out again tonight, or not?”. Once I had calmed her down I went to make us both a drink. I came back into the room from the kitchen carrying two mugs and heard Keith’s voice coming from outside the window, what he said that day will never leave my mind but once he had finished I walked, not even meaningfully or purposefully, just walked straight out of the door, down the road and to the pub where I got so drunk that I woke up next to a pig, I was at the farm, happily laying in the mud but once I had remembered what had happened I wished that I had never woken up.”
“What had Keith said?”
“It disgusts me so much that he could say such things but as I remember it, he said “my love, my love, yes Margaret, where are you my beauty, now that your husband is gone we can go”, she then tried to shut him up, as if it mattered by that point, he rebelled against her attempts to silence him. In what can only be called a loving tone “why should I be quiet my darling, the neighbors already know of our love and haven’t told William, when the cat is away, the mouse can come out to play. I will dine you on the finest foods in the land and let you drink the best wines I can find, no matter what cost, I even have a poem for you:
My love, my love, I will give you my love,
Let go of your man and fly like a dove,
Break loose your bonds and let yourself be free,
Come on my darling, run away with me,
Now let me speak about your great beauty,
Your face is sweet and your body fruity,
Your eyes are pathways into a dreamland,
Magic I feel when I take your soft hand,
The hair upon your head is like the sun,
Radiant, pure, better than anyone,
Which is like your spirit and your good heart,
We shall share a meal, for dessert a tart,
My love for you is undying and true,
Come with me and please love don’t make me blue.
I am not a poet as you know but I did my best for you, which is more than you can say for that no good husband of yours.”” He had reached a point in the story where he was losing his wife but at this point William burst into laughter.
“Why are you laughing?” The Stranger asked.
Still laughing William replied “That bloody idiot, he did his poem wrong.” The laughter was maniacal now. “He had spent his time making the poem which was supposed to be a sonnet, he had got the ambic tenamater right and his rhyming was good but he had written the whole thing in rhyming couplets.” He had to stop talking at this point because he was laughing so hard that he had started to cough.
“Ambic tenamater, I think you mean iambic pentameter. It seems to me that Keith was not an idiot, even if he was incorrect. He was making an effort to show affection to your wife which so far seems to be more than you’ve managed to do.” At which point William threw a punch at The Stranger who dodged the blow and swung back and because William wasn’t as quick on his feet so The Stranger’s fist planted itself in the middle of his face which left William unconscious on the floor. The Stranger and The Barman moved William into another room.

A few hours later William regained consciousness and returned to his seat at the bar where there was a glass of whiskey waiting for him, he took a sip then spoke.
“I’m sorry for lashing out, I shouldn’t have done it.”
“I probably shouldn’t have provoked you, I could have just let you continue the telling of your story. Do you want to carry on?”
“Alright, you know the deal, I get drinks, you get a story. When Keith went quiet, that was when I walked, not even looking at him on my way out but I knew that he had seen me because I heard him swear under his breath then he called out “William, please let me explain” but I just kept walking. So then, on the farm with the pig, on the floor, in the mud with a pounding headache. The smell, worse than anything you can imagine, well not anything, I mean unless you can accurately imagine the smell of a pigsty forced up your nose and covering you as a mucky, sweaty, smelly, fat, pink, hairy thing stood so close that it might as well have been sat on you.”
“Not sweaty.”
“What?”
“Pigs don’t sweat.”
“What do you mean pigs don’t sweat, where do you think the expression sweating like a pig comes from?”
“I have no idea where the expression comes from but it is inaccurate, pigs don’t have any sweat glands therefore they are unable to sweat meaning pigs don’t sweat, instead of sweating they cover themselves in water or mud to cool down.”
“Alright then, I didn’t know that but the pig did smell. Once I had come to my senses and recovered from the nightmare that was last night I strolled down to the river, on my way people kept giving me funny looks, were going out of their way to avoid me and I think one woman even threw up because of the smell, a smell that was so bad that it wasn’t just a strong sillage like you may get with a fine perfume but was instead an unholy mist that followed you and attacked and devoured anything or anyone it went near.”
“Enough about the smell, please stop telling me about it, I understand that it was so bad that it is memorable but I don’t want to hear it. Now what happened at the river? Barman!” The Stranger didn’t like hearing about the smell but the level of detail that the smell was being described in was interesting, almost like William enjoyed remembering it which was understandable with a sick child and an unfaithful wife.
“I stripped off, washed myself in what was, when I got in an almost clear blue, it came from a fresh spring up in the mountains somewhere, but when I had finished washing myself and using rocks to beat the muck out of my clothes, it had become a sloppy brown mess heading down river with the beautiful clear stuff rushing down to replace it, well the river wasn’t rushing that much, proof of that was the fact that I could stand in it, it was more like gently sweeping.”
“And after your wash?”
“I laid myself and my clothes out on some rocks on the bank to dry, then fell asleep for a bit.”
“You were tired, why? You had just woken up!”
“There is a difference between sleeping and drinking yourself to unconsciousness I’ll have you know. Yes, I was tired so I went to sleep. When I woke up I did the sensible thing and got dressed then took the scenic route down through the wheat and corn fields and past Cooper’s workshop to Wendy’s place. As I was passing Cooper’s he called out to me to tell me that he needed some wheels for The Lord’s cart by the end of the week, I asked him if that was all he needed, it was. Then I carried on down the path to see Wendy. I got there and found Solomon still laid on the table with his eyes closed and he felt even colder than before. At that moment Wendy came charging through the room, brandishing a chamber pot full of yellowish-green liquid, we both know what that was. As she ran into the room she bellowed in a strong voice, so strong it was intimidating “get the bloody hell out of my house or I’ll make you wish- “, then she slowed down because she had realised who I was, she softened her tone, put down the bedpan and said in a tone usually reserved for delicate situations “oh William, your boy is not well, I’m sorry but he has not recovered at the rate I expected, I’ll keep him as long as he needs and do all in my power to get him back to full health-”” Another outburst of laughter for no obvious reason came from William who then carried on telling what Wendy had said ““-you go back to Margaret and pray for him.” My response to her saying that was rather rash.”
“Why, what did you do?”
“Walked out and slammed the door. Could you put me up for the night again? The same room as before will do fine, that is if you’re willing to pay.”
“There’s still an hour until closing time.”
“I know but I’m tired.”

 

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