Because dirty old men in pubs inspire spoken word.

MENCHA 

The guitar hasn’t been played for seven years and twenty nine days. It lies on its side, lovelessly leaking.

At every pub crawl, I ask the poor lost soul, Paul, what he plans on doing with such an instrument.

He shrugs, says ‘nought’ with northern affectation, pours me another cider, grins wider then shuffles away.

This pub is called Mencha. I do not understand. I ask the poor lost soul, Paul, exactly why it is so called, but he has to pass as he washes the glass and unsticks my elbow from the bar so he can wipe down the surface.

He says. “You ask too many questions.” 

It’s just my conscience and liquor and me, and the smoke that wafts in from the back gardens.

My fingers itch to get at the strings but there are not six, just four, so instead I ask for more cider.

Hello darlin’. 

I glance to my right, and consider my options:

To flight or,

To fight.

But my glass is half full, so I remain seated and politely ask the stranger:

Can I help you? 

His laser eyes glide over me, as though my clothes are wrapping and my flesh is a prize.

I grip the glass harder and consider smashing it over his head.

Don’t be like that darlin’. Would you like a drink?

Inform ignorant imbecile I have already obtained one. He nudges his friend.  Too hard. Imbrues his jacket with brew. Laughter ensues.

I grip the glass tighter.

The guitar is lying lovelessly. 

You’re so pretty. Come here often, darlin’?

Charming.

Pause to consider age gap – at least thirty years.

I move to sit beside the guitar in the corner of the dusty, musty bar.

He follows.

His eyes are unfocused and he’s dazed from the whisky that he continues to tilt down his throat. A layer of grease coats his coat, and he reaches out a hand and –  

I jerk back, irked, tell jerk to jerk off, go beserk.

A low note vibrates, shakes the air around us.

He smirks and theorises:

Darlin’, don’t be a prude. Just making conversation. 

A conversation instigated with his eyes and continued with his hands. What an inspirational, sensational conversationalist.

He surmises:

You must be a lesbian.

Runs a hand over his cold, bald, egg-shaped head, sniffs, miffed, downs the drink, heads out the bar, friends in tow.

I watch them go, pondering my newfound sexuality.

I replace the guitar. You can’t tell it was ever shaken.

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