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Offer out of the Blue

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Posted 06-25-2010 at 07:41 PM by canadiancreed
Updated 06-25-2010 at 07:55 PM by canadiancreed

The world can be found in an alehouse.

Where else in the world can you find such an assortment of humanity in such a small area? Especially in a small village such as this one. You've got your entrepreneurs running the joint, the respectable few or blue bloods coming for a snifter of something top-shelf to put on airs of their supposed culture. Your local gentry that come in afterwards to get a good drunk on and chase off the "class" of society, and then, you've got the lads that are after nothing more then a good skin of liquor and a good knuckle bruising or two. Even the aroma of stale ale and the human condition that seems to sink into the very board of the buildings that house such establishments.

Normally I'd fit into the latter two. but not today. Now dont' get me wrong, I enjoy a good mug of ale and a wee nip of the creature, and I have no qualms with getting into a bit of a tossup for whatever reason you have. But today the ale wasn't tasting as good, the back was hurting eve more then usual, and a lack of direction of where to go was once again staring back at me. Like a bad penny, it keeps stopping by uninvited. Another swing of the mug contents to try and chase off reality was in order.

"Seamus O'Phalen I presume...", a voice, heavy with a French tinge spoke to me from behind the mug currently filling my field of vision. Stopping my consumption of my latest draft of ale, I slowly lowered my drink, eager to check out who had the poor sense to interrupt my afternoon task.

Sitting across from me was a gentlemen of some stature and bulk, in well kept clothes that still had the dampness of melted snow. He didn't' have the look of considerable wealth, but he gave off airs that he knew the value of a penny, and kept as many of them as he could from being spent. A full face only helped to solidify this opinion, with it's only adornment being a tuff of a mustache lodged firmly under the nose. As the mostly empty mug gently tapped against the table, I quickly looked around the establishment, noticing that it was mostly empty, outside of the barkeep and two equally decently dressed gents with no interest in the goings-on of this table.

"If your looking for the sheriff, he's not here.", the stranger replied with a slight smile. "He's still recovering from the brawl here last night".

Well it seems he keeps on top of local events, I thought. That answers if he's a local or not. "So what if I am this person your looking for?", I finally replied.

The stranger smiled, looking like it was a common occurrence to him. "Then I've got a job for you."

I paused for a second, my mug currently frozen on the way to my mouth once more. "And what makes you think I need one?", I finally replied, the confusion of this stranger knowing my current dilemma easing from my mind.

The bartender, a bald portly chap with a slight waddle, had strolled over with one glass in hand, handing it to this uninvited guest of mine. From the look of it, it contained just simple water. He's either a teetotaler, or is cheaper then I thought, I mused to myself. A quick glare over his shoulder by the bartender answered that not much was left on my credit. "Well for one thing...", the stranger paused, taking a sip of his newly arrived beverage, "Steven's patience with folks that don't pay their tab is quite short, and considering that most in the town know that you can handle yourself in a fight, he'll probably use his little cannon."

My eyebrow raised at this odd description. He gazed to above the bar, where when following it, I noticed a Brown Bess Musket mounted proudly, and without dust covering it above the row of spirit bottles.

As I contemplated just what they would do to a man's backside, if he was lucky that the shooter had poor aim, the stranger continued, "..and he'd have no issues, since his brother is the sheriff of the town." He paused, having another sip of his drink. "You remember him decently enough, don't you.", smiling that smile of the cat that just ate the canary.

I knew him all right. The gent last night that stumbled into me, two sheets to the win. The one that got pissy that my drink was split on him because of his clumsiness. The one that threw a wide punch before I replied with a quick tap to his jaw, which turned out was made of glass. And the one that then had five buddies join the fray and turned the place into a barroom brawl. My eyes narrowed at the dwindling thought of being able to stay in town for much longer. "So what's the job that you mentioned?", I curtly replied, finishing off my ale quickly after.

"It's quite simple really.", he replied. "I'm putting a team in for the new baseball league that they're forming up here in Middlesex County, and I need someone that can manage the lot and wont' be stinking drunk while doing it."

I laughed out loud. I was expecting something shady like robbing a competitors business, or moving some ill-gotten gains, not "manage a bunch of grown men playing a child's game?", I blurted out, barely able to get the words out over my guffaws.

His permanent smile quickly vanished. "Oh most of the boys you'll be managing have the mentality of children, but the pay certainly isn't.". reaching into his coat pocket, he tossed a small bundle of coins, making a healthy jingle on the table. "It's your choice. Take the job, or take your chances on the road."

Staring at the bag of coins, I thought to myself about my options. I didn't have enough money to pay my tab, which meant a quick flight out of town and praying the locals were poor shooters. Then what? The rail line ended here, and trying to hitch a ride would stand a good chance of a cracked skull if the railroad folks found you. A few farms and mostly bush surrounded the town, and that was usually a good way to starve or freeze. On the other hand this guy wants me to be wetnurse for a few touched folks playing a child's game. Little work, get a summer in the sun and be on my way with some coin when this crazy idea falls apart. The choice seems pretty obvious.

"I accept."

"Splended.", he replied with a return of his thick French accent. "Come to the field just north of the train station in town. You should know where that is.", he exclaimed, quickly shaking my hand as he got up to leave.

I smiled, watching him leave as the bartender came back to the table, a fresh mug of ale in his hand. His disposition seem to be slightly more friendly, knowing that he'll finally be paid. I'll admit, so was mine.

All I have to figure out is how you play this colonial version of rounders. That couldn't be hard. Not as hard as learning this stranger's name it seems.
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