The public house was gloomy and a pall of smoke filled every inch of it. Sir John walked to the near empty bar and sat down. The place was filled with menace and bad humour.

“Good job I didn’t bring Marie,” he said to himself. “Goodness knows what might happen to her in this place.”

A sour looking fellow with a bowler hat loomed from behind the bar.

“Good evening, sir,” he said, the pleasantry doused in contempt. “How may I help you.”

“I’d like a half pint of your finest ale and, if you know, the whereabouts of one Mister Bobblewit,” said Sir John.

The publican’s eyes rolled and then darted to the right of Sir John. A decrepit looking man of indeterminable age and long greasy hair was sitting there staring in front of himself.

“Whadyawanimfor?” said the man, slurring the words.

“I’m hoping Mister Bobblewit can assist in helping me find some artefacts,” said Sir John. “Do you know where I might find him.”

“Buy us a drink and I might tells you,” said the man, turning to Sir John and showing his pockmarked face.

“A drink for this gentleman,” said Sir John to the publican, who was just returning with Sir John’s beer, holding it at arm’s length as if it was infected.

“No, no, no!” said the long haired man. “You gotta buy US a drink. You and me. Can’t you speak the English? Two whiskies.”

“Er, two whiskies,” said Sir John to the publican, and turned to the long haired man. “So, you know where he is?”

The long haired man looked pointedly at the barman and waited. When the two whiskies arrived he drank his in one slug, then indicated to Sir John to do the same.

“Thass besser,” said the long haired man. “Now, you buy two more whiskies and sit in that corner there and I shall send Mister Bogglewit to youse.”

aa-ch-6-color“Bottoms Up!”

Sir John did what he was told and sat in a corner conspiring to be even shadier than the rest of the bar. After a short while the long haired man came and sat down next to him.

“You’re Mister Bogglewit?” said Sir John.

“Yes, indeed,” said the man and grabbed his whisky. “Bottoms up.”

He drank the drink in one shot and stared at Sir John until he did the same.

“So, what’s your name,” he said, “and don’t tell me your real name.”

“Er … my name is Patrick,” said Sir John.

“Well, Peter,” said Mister Bogglewit, “how can I help.”

“I said my name was Patrick,” said Sir John.

“But it ain’t your real name,” said Mr Bogglewit, “so why do you care? Tell you what, get another drink in Percival and tell me what you need.”

Sir John returned with two more whiskies which were drunk rapidly. Sir John was beginning to suspect he would be drunk rapidly, too. He decided for the bold approach.

“I am looking for the lost Diarmuid of artefact Mac Dubh,” he said. Something seemed wrong with the sentence, but he wasn’t sure what it was.

Mister Bogglewit nodded sagely.

“The pretty bits of glass, yes I knows what you wants,” he said. “The question is, have you got the money?”

“Two more whiskies, on the house,” said the barkeeper dropping two drinks in front of the men. He winked at Mister Bogglewit when Sir John was knocking his drink back.

“I am fully prepared to go the paying price,” said Sir John. “In fact…”

“Wait!” interrupted Mister Bogglewit suddenly. “Shh! Do you hear that?”

Sir John listened to the murmuring chatter in the bar and watched the table spin a couple of times.

“I don’t hear anything?” he said.

“No,” said Mister Bogglewit looking around suspiciously, “me neither. You wait here and I’ll get the goods.”

He went away whilst Sir John sat reeling in his chair. He was pleased to have solved the case and thought he was making a genuine friend with Mister Bogglewit. He considered telling him this fact when he next came back. Mister Bogglewit appeared in the seat next to him with a bag. There was a sound of chinking glass from inside.

“Here you go, friend,” he said. “For you, a mere 5 pounds.”

“Thank you, friend,” said Sir John, gleefully handing over the money. Thank you very much indeed.”

The Auld Alchemist: Chapter 7

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