Rings and Fings: Episode 20
The breeze had picked up by the time they had reached the village. A lump of stone stuck down by the side of the road had Kelly carved into it. The black paint had faded away long ago. It wasn’t so much of a village, just a collection of houses that happened to be in close proximity to each other. Six street lights were spread along what could be called the high street. The council did not even bother to give them an official sign. “By the time you read it you’ll be out the other side of it.” They had a point.
Rachael and the Traveler stepped into the pub’s spacious car park and were subjected to the pub sign’s light. Old pubs like this always had its sign separate from the building on a solid post painted white and about eighteen feet tall holding a frame that held the swinging sign.
Rachael looked up at it. It was a basic silhouetted valley in the bottom half and a witch on a broomstick flying around against a starry background in the top half. Rachael stopped to regard the sign. Maybe she was stalling for time. “This was it; the bloody pub.” Who would be in there? Was this a big mistake? Her excitement was tinged with anxiety. She zipped up her leather jacket.
“The Hexanfrau,” said Rachael. “Don’t you think that is a curious name for a village pub?”
The traveler looked up, then said, “Maybe, but she does a lot for the valley whenever there is a war.”
It wasn’t that she never knew when he was joking or not, it was how he said this stuff with a straight face. He said things that made her laugh until she cramped, and sometimes she just did not know.
“You mean did?” stated Rachael trying to clarify things.
“Did?” He said with a curious half smile.
“Yes, DID things for the good citizens of Kelly during the war.”
“Wars,” said the Traveler. He turned his big pointy nose to the increasingly cloudy night and breathed in heavily.
Beer, Cheese and Westerly Breeze
“I smell fresh ale.” He started for the entrance. After a second she followed him. “And nothing is better with ale than fresh bread and cheese.”
That reminded her of Mike Oldfield’s opening lines from ‘on horseback’ off Ommadawn.
“I like beer, and I like cheese, and the smell of a Westerly breeze.”
As anxious as she was, she would rather be with this man going into this pub than anywhere else in the universe.
Lars the owl watched keenly from a nearby tree as the pair made their way to the pub door.
The Pub itself was a fifteenth century barn. It used to be one of the suddenly required rest stops for the horses, carriage drivers and passengers from the days when the Cornwall to London road was a major trade route. Locals also began to use the place as a meeting spot and somewhere to get away from home and enjoy a pint of ale with their mates. They could discuss farmer things and the outside elements that affected the valley, usually wars and economic depressions. Eventually public houses were just called Pubs.
A warm glow emanated from the two large windows at the front of the structure. As Rachael stepped onto the wooden steps that led up to door, she could feel a vibration through her boots. The traveler was suddenly in front of her. He grabbed the iron handle and pulled open the huge wooden door, which was one half of the original barn doors.
The smell hit her first, ale and humans, and an energy that shouted that people were having fun. It reminded her of that time just a few weeks ago when she walked through the nearby town just after being fired and watching and listening to all the people having fun in pubs and in the streets. She had been crying. Funny, that was when she had first seen the traveler, throwing his colorful rings into the air. Now here she was, markedly happier and going into a pub with the very same traveler. Before she could dwell on it any longer, the tall man beamed down at her, with that I-know-everything-is-going-to-be-okay-smile. Her trepidation melted away. She was tough inside. Somehow she knew he sensed that, maybe because she tried to shoot him or because she whacked farmers around the head with Russian pigs. At this moment though she felt everything was in him. Her heart was racing with thoughts of if she went in here, if she let herself be protected by him and if she liked it, and “I wish I had my Purdey, and, and . . . Oh my! Look at this place!”