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May 11, 2019

Fiction: The tavern at the end of the ocean

This month's Words for Wednesday are provided by Margaret Adamson and her friend Sue Fulton and is hosted at Elephant's Child's blog here. This week's prompts are familiar phrases: Sun over the yardarm And/ or Going commando

Fiction: The tavern at the end of the ocean


Sun down is the best time for a drink at Sunny's Yard Den. Just walk down the road toward the ocean and at the end is what used to be a pirate ship and on the deck of this ship is the tavern.

On a Friday night, Arabella the owner, sits on a chair at the far end behind the counter. Her black-gray hair loosely plait hang down her back. An opened book lays on the countertop in front of her. She keeps her eyes on the book.

In the corner of the tavern, there is a tank on a platform all nailed down. The tank takes up almost half of the space where Arabella have placed a sign: Beware of Sharks. Do not stick your hand into the water. And indeed, the tank has two sharks in it - Jammy and Mushy though neither one of them are bigger than four feet wide. Arabella had gotten them as a payment after one of the patrons had too much brandy and redecorated the place with his fist. Since then, Jammy and Mushy became the main attraction for the tavern.

The bell at the door dings and Arabella looks up. Two men and a lady enters. One of the taller man laughs at the sign in front of the tank and then he takes a seat. Tourist. They get then now and then because of the sharks.

Jo serves the men and lady. Arabella returns to her book. She scarcely ever have to do any work but she likes to be there to keep an eye on everything and everyone. Her other employees Pat and Jingle, like Jo, serves the patrons. In the back Emily, Grant and Gilbert tends to the kitchen. Twins Quentin and Quirky takes care of everything else. But these people are not just her employees but lifelong friends.

Every now and then, Arabella would have to get up from her seat and talk sense into men daring each other to stick their hands into the shark tank. There have been a few bloody incidents but no one died. The authorities are never called but now and then, a patron would complain but nothing to fuss over.

The bell dings again and Arabella lifts her eyes. A tall man enters. He have black hair slicked back, a blue-gray coat with black boots that appears far too clean to be in this tavern. Arabella have never seen this man before and she knew almost everyone who comes into her tavern. This newcomer could be law enforcement or worse - a hunter. Arabella have always hated hunters. They would capture anyone dead or alive that would yield them a reward. Arabella listens as the newcomer takes a seat at the counter to her right and orders a beer. He gives her a nod when he turns her way. She returns a small nod and then turns back to her book.

The usual crowd enters and brings in the noise that Arabella is grateful for. Arabella waves at three old men in gray uniforms - Bob, Bobby and Robert - three brothers that have been regular patrons since the opening of the tavern.

Four men approaches the tank and one taps a finger at the cloudy glass. They laugh and joke with each other. A tall, skinny fellow with straw-color hair poking out of his head picks up a chair and places it down in front of the tank. He climbs up on the chair and starts rolling back his shirt sleeves.

Arabella sighs. Maybe having the sharks here is a terrible idea. But the tavern have become famous for them and removing them might mean less business and Arabella cannot have that. "Quentin! Quirky!" Arabella calls. Quentin and Quirky appears from the kitchen. They tower over everyone at almost eight feet tall. Arabella tilts her head at the tank.

Quentin and Quirky walks over in a few strides and pulls the man away before he could reach the water. "Let me go!" The man, whom now Arabella sees, is still a boy struggles but Quentin and Quirky keeps a firm grip on his arms. His three friends who are not that much older than the boy starts throwing punches at Quentin and Quirky. They easily blocks them. Quentin throws one fellow farther than he intended and the fellow lands on a table full of rough-looking men and a woman whose drink spills onto her gown. She throws a punch at the fellow's chin who falls and lands on the floor at a nearby table. The two men there stands up and before Arabella can say something, fight breaks out in every corner. Arabella leans back just as a bottle comes toward her. It lands behind her in a mess. The newcomer seems to be still sitting at the counter watching everyone.

Arabella heads toward the kitchen but stops when she hears a creaking sound. She turns toward the tank. Someone have made a crack in the glass which would not be a problem except the cracks are increasing. Droplets of water begins to leak out in between. If she gets her feet wet... She could not move. She could only stare in horror. Just as the tank is about to break, she is swept off her feet and carried out of the way of the rushing water.

Arabella is dropped gently onto her feet on a chair. She turns to the newcomer who grins at her. She nods and says, "Thank you." Still grinning, he replies, "You are quite welcome." He have carried her to a corner far from the tank and near the kitchen doorway.

She turns and watches as people scrambles about with a few heading toward the exit. The water streams out the door and onto the open deck but it leaves a wet mess all around the tavern. Jammy and Mushy wobbles about in the now almost empty tank. She hears their thoughts: what morons humans are. She almost laugh out loud.

"What is amusing?" The newcomer has been watching her.

"Oh, just...out there." Arabella has seen this happened just last year. The tank got turned over by a bunch of idiots who dared each other to do it. Arabella had been in the kitchen sorting out supplies. That same day, she had everything nailed down.

"Why do you even have sharks here anyway?" The newcomer looks at her with a lifted dark eyebrow.

Arabella laughs lightly. It seems like a good idea fifty years ago. People back then enjoys a few surprises but they were careful, not careless. She shrugs. "I am not certain."

The newcomer walks back to the counter, takes a long swallow of his beer and then shouts "Bill, please!"

Arabella is not quite relief when the newcomer is gone. He is definitely a hunter. Arabella should have know one would come if not for her, then for her friends.

Arabella, wearing a pair of rainboots, ushers out all the patrons. Bob, Bobby and Robert offers to stay and clean but Arabella insists that they go home. The tavern is closed. She turns over the Closed sign at the door after they are gone.

Time slips away and another night ends. After Jo and the rest finished cleaning up, they bid Arabella a good night. Arabella locks the door behind them. She waves at Jammy and Mushy already in their new tank from the glass man. She turns off all the lights and heads toward the back where she checks the lock on the back door. Quirky always locks it but Arabella always checks anyway.

In a corner in the kitchen, Arabella wearily walks down the small flight of wooden stairs to her little room below deck. She pulls off her boots and then she walks toward the center of the room where she turns over the floral carpet revealing a trapdoor. She lifts up the trapdoor by the indents with both hands. She stands for a moment looking down at the water. The ocean has once been her home but now all she can do is enjoy a little bit of it at night. She lifts her skirt and sits down. Then she lowers her legs into the water. Its coolness soothes her aching feet that soon turns to a wide pink-green tail. If any one of her friends knows she is a mermaid, none of them show it. As Arabella closes her eyes, she knows her peaceful life will not stay peaceful for long not when there is a hunter about.

11 comments:

  1. Ahh that was a yarn to enjoy. I hope the hunter finds mercy with Anabella in the end. I only wonder where the phrases went, not that I miss them, only wondering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I decided not to use the first phrase in its usual way but only as an inspiration for a story.

      thanks for visiting, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  2. Interesting, I love mermaid stories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mermaids stories are great.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  3. Of course she is against hunters. As I am, with much less excuse.
    Glad the sharks were saved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the sharks were never in danger.

      thanks for reading. have a lovely day.

      Delete
  4. I'm glad the sharks were saved too and hope they will be just as happy in a new tank. I wondered at first why Arabella couldn't get her feet wet, then found she is a mermaid, how wonderful :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mermaids are wonderful.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  5. I really enjoyed this story. The twist at the end was hinted at, but still a surprise. It made me want to read more, as if there was more to the story. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this story. I might write more of this story later.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  6. I would love that! I look forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete

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