Tag Archives: Pub

Ms. Grundy and the Bone Ghosts (2)

Lloyd the bartender looked across at Mary O’Shea. His eye sockets seemed far too large for his skull. “You know, Mary,” he said. “I’ve been known to satisfy a few ladies in my lifetime. In fact, a couple of the dames were so worked up that they had to be physically scraped from the ceiling of my love lounge… That’s my bedroom, of course.”

Mary did a pffft sound with her mouth. “Come now, Lloyd. Are you saying you want to get with me? Are you actually telling me that you’re the male specimen I should climb aboard for a pleasure cruise?”

Lloyd grinned like a horror movie. His eyes flipped toward the ceiling. “Did you know, Mary, that I take residence right upstairs? Right above this very bar? Why, we could be grinding pelvises in short order.”

“Lloyd!” Mary O’Shea burst. “You’re much too old and gross. And I imagine your breath tastes like baby diaper charcoal and your meat and two veg are most likely shriveled up beyond recognition.”

“Ouch,” Lloyd said. “I may not look it, Mary O’Shea, but I am a human being with a certain degree of feelings. How can you be so cruel?”

She motioned for another pour of whiskey. “I’m sorry about that, Lloyd. I suppose I’ve swallowed a few bitter roots today. It’s that damn Allison Grundy. She has a gift for turning the sweet to sour.”

“Oh, Ms. Grundy,” Lloyd said, his hands on the edge of the bar and his expression one of sympathy yet irritation. “I swear, that woman was born with a puckering pickle in her mouth.”

Mary O’Shea slammed the shot, ran the sleeve of her Navy blue business suit jacket across her mouth, and sighed. She was beginning to wobble with unpleasant drunkenness. “Well, Lloyd,” she started out. “I’m afraid I’ve lost my hankerin’ for a spankerin’. But thanks for everything.” She carefully got down off the bar stool and turned to make her way to the exit.

“You be careful now, Miss Mary,” Lloyd called out to her. “I don’t want to find out in the morning gazette that you wrapped your car around a tree. I could call a taxi for you.”

She turned and waved him off. “I’ll be fine, Lloyd. You don’t have to care for me so much. Focus on yourself for once. Maybe consider consulting a plastic surgeon.”

“A plastic surgeon. What on Earth for?”

“Your skull, Lloyd. Your skull.” And with that she hobbled to the doorway and disappeared into the remains of the day.

With a day off and in his apartment above The Village Fig pub, Lloyd the bartender looked at himself in the singular bathroom mirror beneath a yellowed glow. He grasped his jaw and turned his head this way and that way to study the skull that encased his eyes and brain and teeth and muscles and sinuses and canals and blood. He stretched his wide eyes even wider. The bony sockets did seem too large — as if his death skeleton was forcing an early appearance.

He looked at his teeth. They were small and slightly yellowed but not chipped or uneven. He stuck out his tongue as far as he could and studied the bumpy wet organ. “Uh huh, uh huh,” he clumsily muttered aloud. “What’s a man to do when time is his greatest enemy? I can’t grow younger, Miss Mary O’Shea… Fiddlesticks! Maybe I do need to see a doctor.” He gave up on his self-inspection, turned off the bathroom light and went to the living room and glanced out the window that overlooked the halfway quiet street below.

Lloyd noticed that Constable Harley O’Shea was leaning up against a lamp post and gnawing on some sort of nasty Greek wrap, it was the pale pita that gave it away. And then as if some invisible spirit whispered something to him, he suddenly looked up at Lloyd in the window. The constable’s mouth was agape, his eyes narrowed. Did he know something? Lloyd wondered. Had he been watching, listening to things inside the pub? Did he have a spy set on his wife’s tail? And he thought of her tail. That plump rear-end.

Lloyd moved away from the window and went to the nurse-white neatly cluttered kitchen and fixed himself a cold chicken sandwich with salted cucumber wedges on the side and a fat glass of Ovaltine. He sat at the small table for two that rested between the kitchen and the living room — furniture with function, a wall without a wall. The moment he bit into one of the cucumber wedges there came a loud pounding at his door. He jumped for it was a violent noise, like NCA raid knocking, a battering ram in the ready perhaps.

Lloyd moved toward the door and peered through the peephole. Constable Harley O’Shea peered back. “Open the door, Lloyd. We need to talk.”

Lloyd cautiously opened the door, only about four inches though, and looked out. His heart pounded like a tom-tom. “Yes? What can I do for you, Harley?”

Harley moved closer to the crack and peered in. His eyes danced over the scene inside as much as they could. “I’ve got some questions. May I come in?”

“Questions about what?”

“I’ll let you know when you let me in.”

Lloyd conceded and opened the door all the way and the bulbous constable strolled in. “Thank you, Lloyd.”

“What’s this about?”

“It’s about my wife, Lloyd. I’m sure you know Mary, right?” He paused and grinned at Lloyd. “Of course, you do.”

“Has she been hurt? Is she missing?”

“Why. Did you hurt her? Did you kidnap her?” Harley suggested with a sneer.

“No… It’s just she had a few too many yesterday. I didn’t want her to drive. I just hope nothing bad has happened to her.”

“Is that right? Do you care that much for her, Lloyd?”

“Well, I mean. I would be concerned for any of my customers that had too much to drink.”

Harley O’Shea tried to step further into the house. “Do you mind if I look around?”

“Look around?”

Harley tugged at his belt. His belly had an annoying habit of pushing it down. “That’s right. Look around.”

“Look around for what?” Lloyd was unnerved and wanted to know.

“Oh, you know. Things.”

“What sort of things?”

“Things. Things like maybe a stray high-heeled shoe. Maybe a pair of women’s underwear. Maybe the lingering scent of a perfume. Maybe a lipstick-stained wine glass. Maybe a bottle of personal lubricant. Things, Lloyd.”

Lloyd scoffed. “There’s nothing like that in my apartment.”

Harley shrugged. “Then there’s nothing to worry about.”

“I think you need a search warrant.”

The constable laughed. “Is that right, Lloyd?”

“I’m pretty sure.”

Harley roughly clamped a chubby hand on Lloyd’s nimble shoulder. “Look. We can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way would be to just let me have a little look around. You said yourself there’s nothing for me to find. So, there you go. Easy peasy. We both go on with our day. But, if you want me to go through all that trouble of getting a search warrant, well, then I’d have to come back here with a pack of men, and I wouldn’t be in a very good mood, and I’d just have them toss your place good. It would be a horrible mess, Lloyd. Horrible. Now, do you want all your things just thrown everywhere? I mean, especially since you apparently have nothing to hide. What do you say, Lloyd?”

“But I still don’t understand why you want to look around? What am I being accused of here?”

“Well, I suppose I do owe you that… I’m accusing you of messing around with my wife, Lloyd.”

“I don’t think that’s a crime for the law to be involved with,” Lloyd snipped.

“It’s not? I beg to differ, Lloyd. It’s a crime against me. It’s a crime against my Mary. It’s a crime against the sanctity of our marriage. Hell, it’s a crime against the very foundation of a decent society.”

“I haven’t done anything criminal,” Lloyd said. “All I did was do my job. I served your wife drinks and we talked. That’s it. It’s standard procedure in my line of work.”

“Well, Lloyd. Then you won’t mind me exercising my standard procedure. Now, just step aside and let me do my job.”


The Weirdo in the Willows (One of 2)

Weirdo in the Willows. A line of leafless trees in the winter. A bright yellow disc, the sun, punctuates the sky.

There’s a Weirdo in the Willows. He looks like a garden gnome but he’s a real person. He’s not ceramic. He’s not animated. The paint on his face is chipped, though. He’s short. He’s stocky. He’s tricky. The tip of his red hat droops. His shovel is rusty. His hands are rough, weathered, thick. He smells of good soil and broken dreams.

When he’s not sashaying along through the willows, sometimes weeping along with them as they do, sometimes weeping so much he cannot forage for mushrooms the way he likes to. It’s one of his hobbies. He makes potions, too. He makes them with the mushrooms and medicinal herbs he finds on his long, enchanted walks. He enjoys out-of-mind experiences just as much as out-of-body experiences.

The potions are strange potions and he cooks them up in a big black kettle that rests above a roaring fire in the low kitchen he has in his hut, his home, his hacienda, his hole, his stone bungalow where the flames of his potion fire paint the walls a warm orange, like marmalade on buttered bread, and that same fire keeps him snug like toast during those cold, lonely nights, snug like Alex DeLarge down in the candy-apple red Duke of New York as he plots some criminal scheme. But this wasn’t New York. It wasn’t even Old York. It was just plain old Middle of The Road York, out there on the edge of the forest where the willows mingle with the oaks and the animals and the waters and all the strange things of the night.

The Weirdo in the Willows likes to sit at the self-hewn wooden table with a mug of chemical fear set before him. It’s always exciting to him when he tests out a new, steaming elixir. His hands usually tremble as he brings the mug to his mouth for the first taste. He sips some in, it most often tastes funny. Sometimes he spits it out. But mostly he smacks at his earthy gnome lips and then releases an exaggerated “Hmmmmmmmm… I wonder what will happen to me now.”

Most of the time he just tips over right there at the table, falls asleep and has very potent dreams full of vivid colors and strange people in strange places he had never been to before. When he finally wakes up there might be a stream of new sunlight coming in one of the small windows, and it stirs with the leftover ashen mist that floats about in the air. He usually groans about stiffness and then moves himself over to the small bed on the other side of the stone hole, the bungalow, the hideaway, the fortress at the edge of the forest. He works himself in beneath a heavy red blanket, pops the hat off his head and tries to get a few hours of proper rest before going out into the frightening big world.

It was around noon when the Weirdo in the Willows woke up. He remembered it was a special day. He was going to the town beyond the great hedge for an afternoon of spirits and wanderings and starings and maybe even some peepings and tricks. He sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his thick, rough hands together in sinister delight. He giggled oddly and hopped down onto the floor.

He quickly busied himself with making hot cereal and a cup of wild mushroom whack tea to add a bit of sharpness to the day. It was so hot, and he sipped carefully between spoonfuls of the cereal. He chuckled all along the way. “Oh, it’s going to be quite the day,” he said aloud in a cheeping sing-song way. “A day of fun and madness and maybe even a spanking or two… Hee Hee! Oh my.”

Once finished with his breakfast and a proper cleaning up, he stood on a stool at a high window and looked out. The sky was gray and growling. The tops of the trees were lightly swaying so he knew it would be a walk full of blustery kisses on his robust cheeks. He happily sighed. “Oh, I do hope it rains or snows or both! Hee Hee!” And he hopped down, washed his face, and cleaned his odd teeth and bundled himself up for a day against the world and its weather. He grabbed his pack that hung near the door and went out into it.

The Weirdo in the Willows walked against the wind and the beginning spits of cold rain. Even though the world around him was gray, he began to see it all in bright colors that moved like rainbow syrup. It wasn’t long before he came upon a familiar clearing and there saw the town’s professor of psychology deep in thought beneath an umbrella.

“Professor Tongo?… What are you doing?” the Weirdo in the Willows asked.

The professor spoke without looking over at him. “Quiet now. I’m studying the brain of the Earth.”

“The Earth has a brain?”

The professor sighed in perturbance. “In all actuality, or theoretically, the Earth is a brain, kind sir… Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to carry on with my research in peace.”

“That’s all very interesting,” the Weirdo in the Willows said. “But would you take a moment to study my brain? There’s something quite whimsical about it.” And with that he removed his cap and there atop his head was the protrusion of a glass dome and inside the dome was snow and bright colors like the aurora borealis and plastic people and things. “Go on. Peek in there and you’ll forget all about your Earth brain theory.”

Somewhat intrigued, Professor Tongo carefully moved toward him, his narrow eyes puzzled, the lengthy and thin body slightly trembling. He stood tall over the Weirdo in the Willows, adjusted his glasses, and looked down into his volcanic cranium. “That’s right. Get a good look.”

The narrow eyes of the professor widened with everlasting sweet madness as he looked deep into the swirling scene of kaleidoscopic winter of liquid clowns and clouds and beyond in the realm of somewhere else where dreams are always bright and colorful and vivid like psychedelic funk and never let one down.

“It’s… It’s amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” the stodgy professor reported. He suddenly stood tall again, the soft rain turned to pillowy sleet poetically dripping off the edges of his umbrella, his narrow slit of a mouth now agape and struggling to utter speech. “I want you to return to the university with me. I need to study you further.”

The Weirdo in the Willows replaced the cap atop his head and the vision machine in his brain automatically shut down. “No can do. I’ve got plans in town today. I have no time for your upper crust pretentiousness.”

“But you must!” Professor Tongo demanded.

“But I must not! I’m going to the pub for socializing and other feats of mischief… If you’ll excuse me now,” the Weirdo in the Willows said, and he jumped a little bit in the air and quickly moved his feet without gravity before dropping back down and heading off.

“No!!” the professor yelled out after him, and he scrambled forth toward the gnome-like little man and stood in his path. “This is far too important to ignore. This could be one of the greatest breakthroughs in psychological theory in eons. You must be studied. You owe it to society.”

The Weirdo in the Willows looked up at him. “My good friend. I owe society nothing!

“But you do.”

“I do not! What has society ever done for me except leave me banished and encapsulated in a shell of emotional torture without a hint of empathy or love. Society is full of ill-hearted beings with no other purpose than to make the world a horrible place for everyone else. Society has done nothing but kick me down, spit on me, and shun me, and now I am returning the favor! Good day.” 

The Weirdo in the Willows walked into The Whistling Fox and strolled up to the bar. The other patrons there quieted and watched him with distrustful eyes. When the barkeep saw him, he groaned and tried to duck away… But it was too late.

“Hey Sam!” the Weirdo in the Willows called out as he made his way to a stool and hopped skyward to sit upon it. “If you line ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em back. I want to get obliterated! Hee Hee!”

Sam the barkeep rolled his eyes toward the small troublemaker. “You’re not gonna get all wicked and weird in here again are ya? Because if you do, I’m tossing your ass.” Sam moved closer and pointed a finger that looked like a crooked breakfast sausage. “Because of you, little fella, I got customers that swore they’ll never come back here. You’re eating into my livelihood because of your damn weirdness. I have a right mind to refuse you service… And I can do that.”

The Weirdo in the Willows looked around the warm pub of brown and cream, an orange fire crackling away in the stony wall on the far side. The faces that sat at small tables or just leaned were dirty and angry as they looked back at him. He threw his hands up in the air “What!?”

No one answered and he turned back around to the bar just as Sam started setting down a row of small glasses and filling them with amber liquid. He filled a frosted mug with ale and set that down as well. “You finish that, and you’re all done, and you go home. Got it?”

The Weirdo in the Willows hissed in reluctant agreement. “Fine. But believe you me, this is the last time I’m coming in here.”

Sam the barkeep chuckled. “Good.”

This is the first of two parts. Look for the second and final episode, coming soon to cerealaftersex.com. As always, thank you for reading and supporting independent content creators!

A Reversal of Reverence

When one is inside a living hell
one begins to wonder if life is really hell
and that we are living as damned souls
rather than breathing, beating flesh
is it a reversal of reverence?
or a carving into a dirty brick wall
running along an avenue
in some dirty brick town hall
where everyone lives and dies at the mall
because shopping soothes the grated spirit
and machine guns make us heavenly patriotic
we all share the same hell,
but it’s personalized just for us
a little agony here,
a little sadness there,
a few suicidal tendencies sprinkled in between
like tooth-cracking rock candy on a wedding cake
spelling out disaster
and the peace sign
all muddled together
painted in a gleaming red of blood
and all the crystal tears dry up
and blow away in the breath of broken angels slouched at the bar
my world is spiral notebooks full of spilled and infinite ink
and dreams filling these white, chalky veins
dreams of innocence twisted inside out
like guts in a blender
and the torturous high-speed button is stuck,
lashes of a wicked wind like a bunch of reckless bros
tossing back Fat Tires at a pub in Nob Hill
and smoking black cigarettes with a scent of pine
and when will it be time
to throw the switch
and juice it up real bright and glossy
fizzing orange firebombs
licking at tender wounds
while wearing this metal hat
and laboring in the pain
of beachside memories
of little boys tossing sticks at the water
and maternal maids bracing themselves
against a chill California wind
and then what of him
as he shakes bone-chilled against the cement
of some dead-end den
watching the whispers of a life gone by
float to the endless sky,
but he never wants to say goodbye

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Bucky the Horse and the Gods of Radiation (3)

The air was dead still and full of natural carnage. Papa shielded his eyes from the strange bright light with a worn hand. He moved his head against the horizon and surveyed the landscape — everything was wiped clean. He turned and yelled down the cellar.

“The barn is gone, and all my new fencing, too.”

“Can I come up?” Linnifrid called out from beyond a veil of invisibility.


The girl poked her head up into the light. “Oh my, such destruction. Do you think Bucky is all right?”

He answered her without looking at her, his eyes still glued to the land. “Oh yeah. He’s all right. Animals have a sense about these things. Though… I can’t say he’s anywhere near now. I’m afraid you’ll just have to let nature takes its course.”

Linnifrid stepped completely out of the cellar entrance and stood toe-to-toe with her Pa and looked up into his steel-colored eyes. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying? You expect me to just let him go like that?”

“Be realistic, girl. That horse is probably miles from here now. And look at this place. I’m afraid there’s too much work to be done around here and I need your help. He may find his way back.”

“Sometimes you can be a cruel man,” Linnifrid steamed.

“Watch that now, girl. You’re not too old for a whipping.”

“Go ahead and whip me then. But it will have to wait until I get back from looking for Bucky!”

Linnifrid stomped off in the direction of an unrecognizable horizon and Papa called after her. “Now what do you think you’re doing, young lady?”

She turned and pouted. “I’m going to look for my horse.”

The man who felt old sighed. “Hold on. I won’t let you go alone. But we’re not going to spend all day doing this.”

Linnifrid brightened. “Thank you, Papa. Where do you think we should look first?”

The man scratched at his head and looked off into the distance. “We may be right to try down at the pub by the lake first. You know how that horse likes to drink.”

“That’s a good idea, Papa, but which way?”

Papa scanned the horizon, looked back at the house, and then his eyes moved to the never ever lands again. He pointed a shaky finger out into the air. “That way,” he said.

Bucky saw that the pub inside was dim and quiet as he nudged the door open and stepped inside. “Hello? Is anyone here?”

There was nothing at first, but then a cat jumped up onto the bar with a screech, startling Bucky a bit. “Hello there, Mr. cat,” Bucky said as he drew closer. “What are you doing in here?”

The cat’s eyes glowed wide as it studied the looming animal before him. “What do you want?” the cat hissed.

“To tell you the truth, I could really use a drink. Do you think you could pour me a beer or two or sixteen?”

The cat grinned. “Well, I’m no bartender, but I suppose I could try.” The cat got up on its back two legs and pulled down a mug from a rack above him. “This big enough?” the cat asked.

Bucky shook his head in approval.

“What kind of ale do you want?” The cat asked him.

“What kind do you have?”

The cat scanned the bar. “I don’t know. I can’t read. But there’s a white one, a blue one, and a red one.

Bucky thought about it for a moment. “Red,” he squarely said. “I’ll have the red one.”

“Ok,” the cat grinned, and it strategically worked a paw to pull on the red handle. Out came the beer, missing the glass and running onto the floor. “Damn it,” the cat said. “I’m just not coordinated enough to get it in the glass.”

Bucky leaned his head over the bar and looked around. “I have an idea,” he said. “Yank the tap handles and let the beer spill all over the floor. I’ll just lap it up.”

“That’s pretty smart, horse,” the cat said, grinning some more, and then he pulled the handles and the beer began to flow like a river all over the back of the bar. Bucky smiled, came around the corner and started drinking at the growing pool of ale.

“I’m getting in on that action,” the cat purred, and then it jumped down into the beer pond and began to move its tongue furiously until its fur began to swell.

After the horse and the cat got nice and drunk, they went outside and rested in a field of grass. The yellow of the sky was somewhat fading and there were now growing patches of pale blue. The cat looked up, and then over at Bucky. “Hey, horse. Are you married?”

Bucky sighed. “Don’t be ridiculous. How can a horse get married? Are you married?”

“Well, no. I’m not married. I just thought that with you being such a fine looking horse you’d surely have a wife.”

“I don’t have a wife. But I have met up with a lot of female horses, and well, provided services, if you know what I mean.”

“Huh? You mean you have a lot of girlfriends?”

“Yes. Something like that,” Bucky boasted.

The cat scratched at its head with a wet paw. “Then you’re sort of like a polygamist.”

“A poly –ga-what?”

“A polygamist.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Bucky wanted to know.

“You know, those guys who take on a handful of wives. They live in the desert, I think.”

Bucky scrunched his face and blinked in the emerging sunlight. “I’ve never heard of such a thing. It sounds illegal.”

“I’m just saying. Your life is sort of like that.”

“It isn’t anything like that. Maybe you should just stop talking for a while.” Then Bucky tried to change the subject. “Did you know that tree over there is stuffed full of money?”

The cat’s eyes widened. “Really? How do you know?”

“The tree told me. He can talk.”

The cat eyed the horse suspiciously. “You’re drunk and full of shit. Trees can’t talk, even I know that.”

“Well, he talked to me. Just before I went into the pub.”

“Oh yeah? Then prove it.”

“All right, foolish cat. It’s right over there.”

The two got up from their spots on the grass, crossed a wide gravel road to the other side, and went down along the very edge of the wooded wild lands until they reached the tree.

“Well,” Bucky beamed. “There it is.”

The cat went to the base of the tree and sniffed. It slowly circled the tree and looked it up and down. “It’s just a tree, you damn fool.”

“No, no. He can talk. He can really talk!”

Bucky moved closer and butted his nose against the spot on the trunk where the face used to be. “Hello?” he mumbled. “Mr. Tree. Are you in there?”

The cat shook his head at him as if he were a complete fool. “Have you ever had brain surgery?”

Bucky turned to him. “No. My brain is perfectly fine. Perhaps it’s the wrong tree.”

The horse carefully examined the tree all the way around. Then he saw all the carvings and was relieved to know that he wasn’t that crazy. “Ah hah,” Bucky said. “See these? These are the exact same carvings the tree had me take a look at. The exact same ones! See, I was right.”

“But the tree still isn’t talking,” the cat said with a shifty snark.

“Maybe he’s sleeping. He’s an old tree, he’s probably tired.”

“And where’s all this money?” the cat asked.

Bucky moved his eyes up through the wayward branches, but no matter how hard he looked he could not see the opening that used to be there, the opening where all that money was. “It was here. I swear it was here.”

The cat seemed disappointed and started to walk away. Bucky called after him. “Wait. Where are you going?”

“I’m going to suck up some more suds from the floor of that dirty pub. I have a great life. See you around, horse.”

Bucky watched as the cat wandered off and then it disappeared beyond the door of the bar. He felt sad and puzzled and somewhat tricked. He worked to try to make his mind make some sense of it, but no matter how hard he tried, his head was all fuzzy.

“I’m getting old,” Bucky said to himself and the empty space around him. “There’s no more use for a horse like me in this world anymore.” He looked straight into the wind and wiggled his ears. Then he walked off and went through the curtain leading to the wild woodlands and vanished.