Rings and Fings: Episode 23
Rachael drifted back to the pub from the bay and found herself staring at the Traveler. He was fuzzy and glowed orange from the fireplace flames. The pub came back into focus as the last notes from the shanty floated from the stage and puffed out like ash around her ears. She took a swig of her ale. She placed an elbow on the bar and rested her head against her hand, “So tell me where you go in the mornings? “
She felt ok about asking. She had only seen him angry once when he was fighting Spam, but not really angry, just different. He had told her to go inside, for her own safety perhaps, or so she would not witness the violence, maybe.
He just smiled and said, “It is my morning exercise.” She felt like asking why he didn’t use the front door but that was a question she would have for a normal lodger. “I run around the valley and gather things like the food, and stuff for the chariot.”
“Yes thanks again for that.” She had not bought food for weeks now.
She knew he had the coins so she wouldn’t inquire further, and if he wanted to call the Volvo a chariot, then OK.
“So what about the sparking coins rent deal, and every time I mention it, you always ask me if Kelly Mill is my farm.”
He drank back some ale, then said, “The sticks made the coins flash when you tried to take them for rent, it is an old security system, to make sure the rent goes to the rightful landlord,” he smiled, “Or lady.”
Rachael bristled, “Security system? But it is my farm; my parents died and they left it to me.”
He seemed to be thinking about something else. “Alright then,” he said, then turned to her and asked, “Do you know what happened to them?”
“I know they died.”
He took a long swig and looked around as if he had heard a noise, she took upon herself to change the subject.
“So, how is my chariot getting on?”
“I was hoping you wouldn’t ask; I wanted it to be a surprise, but. . .” He finished off his pint, “Very well.”
“Oh yes?” she said skeptically; she knew he did not have the tools or expertise to fix it and was probably just hammering things in the workshop and drinking ale with Len.
Two fresh pints were placed on the bar in front of them.
It was obvious that Jord had told his assistants to keep the ale on a drip for these two. They acknowledged thanks and picked them up.
She heard the wind outside trying to make its point against the sturdy pub.
A Bear Walks Into a Bar
"Did you ever hear that joke about the bear going into a bar in Canada? You know the one about the big paws?"
Rachael looked at him; she was fuzzy. "What now?" she thought. She was about to say that she hadn't when the one of the musicians made an announcement.
"Well, we are off for a few ales, shouldn’t be too long, and don't forget it is music night so if anyone out there wants to contribute to the evening, just let us know." He looked around at the general silence, he nodded to his partner and they left the stage eagerly heading for the long bar.
"I should buy those chaps ale," announced the traveler as the house music came on.
"Oh, really why?"
"Why? Why they are excellent minstrels and I have a shanty I would like to sing."
She chuckled, "I hope it's more cheery than the cliff song."
"It is." He stated as he launched from his stool and approached the two musicians. They looked taken aback even a little worried as he stopped them in their bar bound tracks. Of course he soon charmed them.
They broke out into jolly smiles and eager words as all three reached the bar. Ales were bought; hands were shaken. With a wave he left the two and waked back to his barstool, gesturing for more ales.
He sat down and she looked up at his smiling big nosed long face, "So you’re going to sing a song with these guys?"
He took a swig of ale. "Yes, it is arranged."
The Traveler Joins the Musicians
He reached down and deftly opened his bag with a wiggle of his long fingers.
The bag seemed to open of its own accord. He pushed his hand in and pulled out a very old looking black violin. The traveler began to pluck earnestly at a few strings. A bow flew up from the bag, Which he deftly caught with a flash of his hand.
"How did he do that? Man this hobgoblin is good stuff.”
He drank and plucked and tuned until the two musicians had finished their ale laden break.
He smiled at her then left for the stage, followed by the musicians sipping on fresh ales. With a quick hop he landed lightly on the thick planks.He turned to the crowd and started playing that thing.
The two musicians just made it on to the stage as the traveler began to stomp his black booted foot on the stage boards.
The denizens of the bar began to look toward the tall man in black. It was almost like a drum backbeat.
The musician wearing the hat nodded his head a couple of times then began to blow into his whistle, attempting to keep up and in tune with this new addition to their band. The other began to pull and squeeze an accordion. The traveler strung along with that violin like it was a lead guitar.
The music was so frenetic, catchy and danceable that people just started jumping into the space in front of the stage and dancing or just standing there smiling and clapping their hands.
He started singing. He stopped playing while he opened up with the lyrics.
Now the crowd was hopping! Jord, who was watching keenly, knew his business. He dimmed the house lights letting the amber stage lights come forth. The fiery lanterns that were spaced along the walls and the huge fireplace seemed to enhance the thumping danceable music.
The only people who were not dancing were the crew of the farmer’s table and Jord himself although his two bartenders were hopping around behind the bar. There was no one to serve anyway.
A handsome tall man, she somehow recognized grabbed her hand and did not bother to ask if she wanted to dance. He just drew her into the dancing frenzy that was happening in front of the stage.
Bang! She suddenly found herself letting loose. She banged her big boots on the wooden floor and swung her arms around. The big handsome guy grabbed her hips and swung her around and up into the air and placed her down so that her heavy boots landed gently on the wooden floor.
It was amazing! The energy that grew from this was that other people in the pub seemed to be producing various instruments and climbing onto the stage to join the frenetic show.
A monstrous man with a crew cut, big eyes and a huge smiling jaw climbed on the stage carrying a huge double bass.
He held across his body like a guitar. His Giant fingers Ripping at the loose strings producing a sound so bassy it sounded like he was playing it in a big damp dark cave -- abab baba buhmm buhhmm buhhm.
The musician playing the accordion placed it next to him on the floor then picked up a bodhran and began to bang it fiercely; the cipin a blur in his hand. There were now at least a dozen people playing various instruments on the stage. The song continued with the traveler’s new band ripping it up and actually joining in with the previously unknown chorus like they were a journeyman band.
The crowd was going crazy! The two musicians felt compelled to stand and play their instruments after so many years of sitting. Exchanging anxious looks which suddenly broke and their faces lifted into smiles. They began to dance, years of stifled energy sitting on wooden chairs suddenly unleashed.
Likewise most of the pubs customers were now jumping and jigging on the dance floor.
Jord looked on intrigued. The traveler had become energy, a whirling thing of blackness trying to saw his ancient black violin in half just to play a song.
The Hex, The Hex
His energy became theirs, and as he entered the chorus again everyone sang along.
Suddenly, with a huge leap, he was off the stage and playing his violin like a demon, and the new bomb wave of energy hit the crowd.
The bearded shanty guys moved behind him and played like they had never played before. He leapt back onto the stage for the final strokes and bowed swinging the fiddle under his shoulder and pointing the bow straight at the fire which puffed and roared as though he had sprayed petrol on it.
The crowd went wild and cheered like there was no tomorrow. The traveler took a bow and motioned to the wide-eyed, sweating musicians to do the same. A wider gesture was made to the impromptu band who took uneven bows to the adoring audience. The huge bass player seemed especially happy.
The rejuvenated musicians started into another song, many of their impromptu band members remaining on the stage. The smiling traveler made his way to an equally smiling Rachael. She shook her head chuckling then they headed towards the bar.
The evening carried on like that. The energy was up. The music played. People danced. Rachael and the traveler danced sometimes together, sometimes with other people. Lots of ale was drunk.
Spam stood in the doorway of the pub, surveying the scene, a square bandage covered his nose.
He nodded to the farmer’s table, and again to Officer Church, for it was him that had called the barely recuperated farmer boy.
They acknowledged him back trying not to stare too hard at the cage device on his face.
Spam slipped back out of the pub door.