Started a new short story (or at least that’s my plan).
It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was. A midsummer front had scraped across the Isle of Skye and moved into the highlands along with a blistery, rain-sharpened wind that couldn’t make up its mind which way it wanted to blow. It forced me to hunker down for another pint. Well, ‘forced’ may be too strong of a word. In either case, no matter how I describe the weather that evening from so long ago, it doesn’t make the events of what transpired any less real or any less cliché.
Friday nights found me at the local pub ever since I’d mustered out of the service. The owner, Lockie McClary, was a nice chap and had seen some action himself. He never talked about his scars…or at least he never finished talking about them. Whenever he got to the part of the tale that explained the long lines across his scalp and down his neck, he would clam up tighter than a Scottish Laird’s arse. I could understand his hesitation; I don’t know anyone who willingly walks through nightmares that are disguised as memories. Even I leave out details here and there because they still hurt when the weather turns cold.
Lockie decorated the walls of his pub with the various pieces of memorabilia he’d picked up in his travels. An old, percussion cap shotgun hung on a rack made from the upturned hooves of some animal or another he’d had taken on safari during one of his rare furloughs. On the wall next to the loo, draped a large shield made from preserved animal skins and painted with flashy colors in some zig zag motif that probably meant “protect me from my enemies.” I never got used to looking at it, so I’m sure that if I’d seen it on the battlefield, I would have stared at it hypnotically instead of paying attention to the warrior holding it. A long spear sat over the copper-etched mirror behind the bar. During the Second Boer War, Lockie’s great-grandfather killed a Zulu warrior intent on running Lord Robert Baden-Powell through with it. Lockie had a standing bet passed down from his grandfather; any man taller than the spear could have it. There were other little trinkets here and there as well that might have been confused with the cheap jewelry you’d find in the local craft show if you didn’t know Lockie had found them on the other side of the world. But the centerpiece of his collection was a greater kudu head with perfectly spiraled horns. An African antelope might have seen out of place in the Scottish Highlands, but it lent an air of the exotic to the Stake and Ail Arms.