“Tells a saucy tale, makes a little stir, Customers appreciate a bon-viveur
Glad to do a friend a favour, Doesn’t cost me to be nice
But nothing gets you nothing, Everything has got a little price!”
“What’s the damage?” Marius fished in his inside coat pocket for his wallet. Carlos merely printed out the till receipt, folded it and slid it across the bar. He picked up a glass and started polishing it, waiting for Marius’ reaction.
Marius absently picked up the receipt with his free hand, the colour draining slowly from his face as he saw the exact cost of his offer to buy everyone a drink.
“Wow.. erm okay. Do you er do you take credit cards?” he stammered.
“Of course” Carlos smiled and placed the machine in front of Marius “Insert your card then follow the instructions on the screen” he diplomatically turned away so he wouldn’t see the pin number. And also because he was having difficulty containing his laughter.
“Done” Marius’ put his wallet away “Or rather I will be..”
Carlos raised an eyebrow “What do you mean you will be?”
“My wife doesn’t always approve of my generosity to strangers. Especially in bars”
“Oh don’t look like that. It’ll be fine” he made a tight smile. Carlos suspected it wouldn’t be fine at all and he felt slightly guilty. But he was running a business and he couldn’t let a tab that big go unpaid.
Hook came wandering over having sensed the slightly uneasy atmosphere at the bar, he rested his elbows on the bar top next to Marius “I believe you know Javert”
Marius was a bit surprised but answered “Yes. Do you?”
“Sort of. I’ve crossed paths with him a couple of times. How is the old bugger? Still married to a woman who’s far too good for him?”
“Bit like you then..” chimed in Carlos before Marius could answer.
“Sod off Marin, I came over here for an intelligent conversation” retorted Hook
“First time for everything” grinned Carlos.
Marius managed a genuine smile “If you mean Eponine then yes. So how does a Pirate Captain cross paths with Inspector Javert?
Hook looked at him “I’m a Pirate”
“And he’s Chief of Police, or at least he is now” replied Marius
“I’m a Pirate” Hook repeated “It’s not all hoist the mainsail and Yoho Bloody Ho me hearties you know”
Tinker Bell rolled her eyes, here we go again she thought. Hook would be here all night now, regaling everyone with heavily edited stories of the “pirates life” or at least she hoped he’d have enough sense to edit them. No one would talk to them again if he didn’t.
“Even I know that one ain’t true!” guffawed Dustin as Hook finished another very tall tale of his pirating days.
“You know nothing of the sort. It’s as true as I’m standing here….” protested Hook
“Riding a bloody bicycle!” grinned the crocodile “Now if it’s true stories you want, ‘ow about the time you roped Jekyll into posing as a dock master just so you could unload that cargo of illegal booze…”
Hook spluttered his drink over the bar top “Don’t you dare…!” he began.
“Go on” laughed Marius “I dare you!”
“Right then” said Dustin “It all began one night in the middle of summer….”
Carlos wandered over to Beast and quietly asked him to watch the bar for him whilst he made a phone call. Everyone was engrossed in Dustin’s storytelling so it was unlikely it would be busy for a while anyway.
Closing the door behind him, he let out a sigh. As much as he enjoyed hearing this tale, and he must’ve heard it a dozen times or more, it was one of Dustin’s favourites. He’d also noticed how the large crocodile and Hook tried to outdo each other with their wild embellishments. So much so he wasn’t sure either of them knew what had actually happened any more. And besides if he had to play the congenial host for too much longer he was going to scream. Not that any one out there had any idea.
He took the receiver, sat on the stairs, dialled the number that he knew by heart and waited. The ringing tone seemed to last forever before a familiar voice spoke “Hi it’s Rose. I’m not able to take your call at the moment, leave a message and I’ll get back to you”
Except if your name is Carlos he thought sadly “Hi Rose, it’s me. Again. Please give me a call just to let me know you are okay.. it’s been a week.. I just wanted to.. I sent you a letter and.. well.. anyway..”
He didn’t know what else to say so he hung up. He stared at the phone, willing it to ring. But of course it didn’t. He heard the laughter from the bar, happy people, happy couples. He couldn’t help himself, he started to cry. Not sobbing but a steady stream of tears he could do nothing to stop.
“Carlos..” Beast stuck his head round the door “Where do you keep the.. Carlos are you okay?” he shut the door quietly behind him.
“I’m fine, I’m fine” Carlos felt his face start to burn with embarrassment “What are you looking for?”
Beast stood directly in his friends path “No you don’t. You can’t go out there looking like that. Tell me what happened”
“It wasn’t my fault, it was so stupid, if I hadn’t hired that silly tart none of this would have happened. I fired her when I caught her with her hands in the till, I didn’t know she was going to kiss me. I pushed her off but it was too late and Rose saw us. Then Rose left and she won’t speak to me and I keep phoning her and..”
“Woah! Slow down! I only understood half of that. Who is a silly tart and why were you kissing her? And tell me slowly this time”
So Carlos took a breath and told Beast the sorry tale. He’d hired a young bar maid to help out during busy times. Rose had said the girl had a crush on him but he hadn’t taken that much notice. One day he had seen her take money from the till. He’d fired her on the spot and was about to march her off the premises when she’d grabbed him and kissed him. He’d pushed her away but not before Rose had come into the bar and seen them together. He’d tried to explain but his words had got all muddled, making matters worse. Rose had gone to her mothers, he’d written to her, phoned her at least three times every day but to no avail. He hadn’t heard a word from her.
“I don’t know what to do” he confessed.
Beast was smiling at him “You are an idiot”
“I know that! I was rather hoping for some advice, you’re supposed to be my friend”
“Stick a smile on your face and turn around then” Beast wasn’t even trying to hide his amusement and it was starting to annoy Carlos.
“What? What the hell Beast! This isn’t funny!” his eyes were blazing, Beast thought about winding him up some more, but instead he grabbed his friends shoulders and physically turned him round.
Carlos found himself facing the opposite direction, his immediate response was to give Beast a mouthful until he realised who had been standing behind him “Rose” he whispered.
“I started home the day I got your letter. My phone battery died..”
Beast quietly made his way back to the bar. Looks like I’m in charge for the night he grinned.