Two goldfish in a tank…

About a year or so ago, I came across some stories I had done which I had no recollection of writing; they featured a lonely man, Gus, wandering around the water meadows by the sea near a village very much like the one I live in. I began to write some more stories about him and he began to meet people, other people in the village especially in the pub (not a little like my local, the Dolphin) especially on quiz night when he found himself drafted into a team.

Here he visits the pub again, sadly his quiz team aren’t there…

“Hey Gus! Where’s your team tonight?”
Gus looked round; he was becoming used to people in the village knowing him but this recurring friendliness was still a pleasant surprise.
“I think I remember them saying they couldn’t come anymore… someone has moved, someone works nights…” this forgetting things was annoying… there was nothing wrong with him he was sure, it was just lack of practice and a sign of how far he had retreated into himself… Well this had to stop! “Are you in need of an extra rusty brain?”
The guy who had spoken to him pulled a chair out in invitation and Gus sat down; they obviously knew his name which was kind of nice and it turned out that they were Mike and Adam. Thursday night, apparently, they met up with their writing group, wrote for an hour and a half and then came along to the pub for the quiz.
Having sat down Gus realised he needed a drink and went back to the bar.
“Otter?” the dark-haired barmaid called to him from where she was pulling a pint of the local cider… well that was nice too, that the bar staff knew him… he was becoming a regular as opposed to a visitor.
The usual three men were sitting at the bar and the one next to him, the one who was a photographer so he’d heard,  glanced up and greeted him, how’s tricks, Gus, he said.
Gus had a ridiculous burst of emotion which it took him a moment to identify, so long was it since he had last experienced it… happiness, he felt happy and he gave a little chuckle… it sounded a little wheezy, much out of use, but it was definitely a chuckle…
“Share the joke, Gus?” the bloke at the bar said and his two friends also looked at him… the chuckle might have been louder than he realised.
“Two goldfish in a tank,” he began, the gag rising like the fish subject of his joke. “One says to the other, ‘you drive and I’ll man the gun’…”
It took a moment for them to catch the punch line and then there was much guffawing, and when the barmaid arrived with Gus’s pint of Otter, the photographer insisted on telling her ‘Gus’s joke’. As Gus went back to Mike and Adam, his new team, he heard the barmaid whose name was Jami tell Russell the lad behind the bar…
This is ridiculous, I’m just in an ordinary pub, on an ordinary quiz night, with ordinary folk, and yet I feel as if I’ve been given the keys to the kingdom…
Who used to say that… you look as if you’ve been given the keys to the kingdom?  His uncle, Uncle Connie…
“Evening folks! Welcome to the quiz!” the landlord bellowed, and the teams hushed, bent over their answer sheets. “Which Roman emperor, born in what is now Serbia, was proclaimed Emperor in York, and died in what is now Turkey?”
“Blimey,” muttered Scott. “That’s a bit heavy for a Thursday night pub quiz, and ideas, Adam? Gus?”
“Yeah, I had an old uncle with the same name – Constantine,” and what a weird coincidence that he should just be thinking of Uncle Connie as the question was read out… this boded well…

© Lois Elsden 2018

Here is a link to my publish books; if you haven’t read them I would love you to do so and would very much appreciate your comments – a little review on Amazon would be splendid! Thanks in advance!

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