The Welcome Stranger [Barnaby Taylor, 2018]
Two pints, says Mepham as he walks in the door. Billy is already there. And Stu. Make it three, Mepham says as he spots the boys playing pool. How’s it going, lads, he says as he walks over. Billy is lining up a shot. Red ball, centre pocket, he says though he doesn’t need to. Just hit it, says Stu. And hurry up. Stu is always in a bad mood. It doesn’t matter what you do, he always see the bad in things. Billy isn’t so bad. A couple of pints and he likes a laugh. But Stu can be wearing if you are not careful. Mepham stands next to Billy. He puts the pints on the ledge by the mirror. Mepham goes to light a cigarette. His phone lights up. The text message arrives.
God aint glad. w’v foes of d faith n d kngdm.
Mepham looked up from his phone. Stop playing, lads, he says to the boys. You both need to choose, he said. What you gonna be? Alguacil? Alcaide? Billy looked up. What about you, he said. You need to choose as well. I already have, said Mepham. Malleus Haereticorum, that’s me. Typical, said Billy. You would be, wouldn’t you. I suppose you need me to choose as well, says Stu. You know you do, replies Mepham. You know you do. We have been through this a thousand times. We knew this was coming, didn’t we. The phone goes again.
God nos who’s rong n hs sinned. sn a calamity wl occur 2 doze hu av condemd us 2 deth.
Here we are, says Mepham. It’s kicking off nicely.