“One more pint,” James calls out into the empty pub.
“Help yerself. You know that,” the stockroom replies.
James had been coming to the White Horse since he was old enough to walk. He’d been limited to a glass of milk in those days but his old man drank enough for both. The conversations on the walk home were nothing compared to the secrets he kept.
His shoulder complains at his reach for the tap.
“I’m going ‘round the bar, Roger. Don’t shoot!”
The pint glass fills and just a hint of foam seeps over.
“Coppers! I’m being robbed!” Roger yells racking an imaginary shotgun.
“You’re a right funny one.”
“Back on the patron side of the business, sonny,” Roger says and wipes the bar.
Story after story and both men roar until a flashlight from the back entrance sweeps the room
“You didn’t lock it,” Roger says.
“You there – at the bar – state your business,” the officer demands.
“Just visiting an old friend,” James says.
The flashlight moves from James’ face to his dusty glass and spider-webbed taps.
“Didn’t recognize you, Mr. Hodges. I’ll walk you home,” the officer says. “My old man misses this place, too.”